American Genocide

I think that’s a quite an exaggeration of the current global situation, and a serious minimization of what the Nazis were really up to.

Let’s not forget, the Nazis ran death camps and killed millions of people in the course of a handful of years. It was a very deliberate effort to commit full genocide on a number of populations.

When Trump is setting up full-on death camps, we can make an analogy. This is not a defense of Trump, or Modi, or any of them, in the least. Rather, it is a defense of a truthful recollection of the Nazis and the crimes they committed.


I’m not sure what your point in posting this is. Are you trying to make an academic argument about the Holocaust to someone who actually lost family to it, to make a point? Do you think as an American Jew of Ashkenazi decent, perhaps I lack some context for the events that led to the gas chambers? Do you think Trump and co. are building up to gas chambers? Prey tell.


Yes I do. I have studied the history and I am seeing it repeat itself.

I am pointing out that the Nazis didn’t start with death camps, they built up to it over many years. Just as they are building up in America, India, Brazil and other countries. If we wait for Trump to open death camps it will be far too late to do anything to stop it.

And while I didn’t lose any blood relatives to the Holocaust, people who I consider to be close family and care about deeply did. I’m not going to stand by and let it happen again.


Who do you think the Trump administration is planning to commit genocide on? What specifically are the set of similarities you see now that lead you to this conclusion, vs. the notion that the administration will continue to be assholes and awful to a number of communities that they can use as a wedge to garner the support of white conservatives – but maybe come short of genocide? Because there are thousands of examples of this happening in history, and it did not come to genocide. What makes you see the outright genocide pattern in the Trump administration?


Oh? Really?

What are those cages at the US-Mexico border where they separate families and let children die?
What is it about Guantanamo Bay? How about that Muslim ban? And that’s only the US.

In India, there’s Kashmir in addition to the anti-Muslim legislation - Indian citizens may have their citizenship taken away from them!

In China, the Uyghur culture and ethnicity is being erased.

Do you want me to go on?

Hitler’s ideas live on and I am not going to wait until there’s a death camp in my town to do something about it.


Not to mention the other precursors of genocide-enabling fascism and autocracy. For example: contempt for rule of law; constant outrageous, brazen, and often internally inconsistent lying; hate-mongering political rallies; purges of public servants who are “disloyal” to the regime; dismantling of and/or complete hostility toward liberal-democratic institutions; appeals to false nostalgia about a time when the country was great (a time understood to be one when people who weren’t white males “knew their place”); a cult of leader-worship; etc., etc.

As you suggest, there’s no particular harm or alarmism in assuming that all of the above, plus the policies you mention, make it more likely than less likely that a genocide will follow, and to act accordingly – especially if one is in a targetted group. See also Cambodia and Rwanda in recent history, and China currently.


I’m about as anti-Trump as it gets, and I’m not going to descend into Infowars territory by claiming the administration is preparing for genocide. Sorry, I’ll need to see a little more evidence it’s going in that direction before I make such claims. This is way into conspiracy site territory, sorry.

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I would also add the treatment of transgender people to that list. All of the countries heading towards fascism are rolling back transgender protection and trying to make it harder for trans people to be themselves.

This seems very similar to the destruction of the work at the Institut fur Sexualwissenschaft by the Nazis.

GROSS: If you’re just joining us, my guest is Robert Beachy. He’s the author of the new book " Gay Berlin: Birthplace Of A Modern Identity," and it’s about gay Berlin in the 1920s and early '30s, just before the Nazis came to power.

I think one of the heroes of your book is Doctor Magnus Hirschfeld who in 1897 created the world’s first gay rights organization which was called the Scientific Humanitarian Committee. And then in 1918, he founded the Institute of Sexual Science What did that institute do?

BEACHY: That institute was supposed to promote legal reform. So - and that had been one of the projects of the scientific humanitarian committee since the 1890s, but it was also supposed to be the first real center for sexological research. So it was supposed to be able to pursue different kinds of projects. It might be thought of as a kind of proto-Kinsey Institute. And it did, in fact, then undertake some really interesting - some fascinating work.

One great example is the kind of work that Hirschfeld did at the Institute on what we might describe as transsexuality. So Hirschfeld paid a lot of attention to the work of a pioneering endocrinologist named Eugen Steinach, an Austrian, who really discovered sex hormones. And so for Hirschfeld, this was a confirmation that sexual orientation was biological. He thought that it was probably an imbalance of male and female sex hormones that accounted for homosexuality or homosexual behavior.

He also then decided that one might be able to use sex hormones to influence behavior and also ultimately to transition to a different gender. So he was intimately involved in thinking about people who would describe themselves today as transgender, who felt trapped in the wrong physical body and wanted to then change to a different sex.

So at the Institute, they pioneered some of the first sexual reassignment surgery, and they also use some of the first hormone therapy. It ultimately wasn’t very successful, but arguably had a huge influence on what followed after the Second World War.

GROSS: He issued several what were called transvestite passes. What were transvestite passes?

BEACHY: He didn’t issue them. They were issued by the police.


BEACHY: But he was instrumental in getting the police to issue them. And what happened before the First World War a lot in the 1890s into the 20th century - cross-dressers, people who, you know, donned the clothing of the opposite sex, would end up being accosted in public, sometimes by private individuals but often then by the police who would accuse them of disturbing the peace. And they would then be charged, usually under the anti-homosexuality law.

And what Hirschfeld argued was that these individuals felt this sort of strong drive to cross-dress in public and should be allowed to do so. It was what he considered a medical condition. And he then wrote a book about it, and he invented the word transvestite to describe them. That was published in 1910.

But even before that, he managed to convince Berlin police officials to issue transvestite passes. And so if somebody had one of these transvestite passes - say, a male cross-dresser who liked to wear women’s clothing, he could then show it to a police officer and say I have formal permission to appear in public in women’s clothing. So this was a phenomenon in Berlin already before the First World War, and it continued then into the '20s and early '30s.

It is never just one thing.


We are three years into Trump. Three years into Nazi ruled Germany there were also no signs that there would be a genocide. Kristallnacht was nearly three years in the future, death camps were six years away.

Have you heard of the Madagascar Plan?

The original plan was to force all non “Aryans” out of Europe. That was in 1940, and it still wouldn’t have met your standards for genocide.

Trumpism already has a death count. Deaths that weren’t just avoidable, but were caused by the indifference of those who chose to put the victims in that situation.

Studying Nazi Germany to a level beyond what is taught at schools is horrifying, but it looks like it is necessary. Too many people seem to think that the death camps just popped up everywhere in January March 1933.


One of my favorite classes in college was a history class focusing on Germany from 1871 to 1933. It was a deep dive, with a strong emphasis on the rise of the Nazis. I have continued to study that since, including visiting museums and important landmarks in Germany when I lived there for a few years.

We’re already years into the slide into fascism. If you wait for evidence of genocide (or even documentation of straightforward genocidal intention) it will already be too late. This isn’t conspiracy theory, it’s the study of fucking history.

ETA: To be clear: don’t conflate the warnings of history with conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories start from a preconceived notion, collect circumstantial evidence that maybe-sorta supports the theory, and obliviously ignores direct, concrete evidence against the theory.

History happened. And as the saying goes, if we don’t learn from it, we’re doomed to repeat it.


Absolutely! Thank you for including LGBTQ+ in the conversation.


Truth. We are frogs in the pot and the water is getting hotter.


Ahem, ahem


Are you saying, to be clear, that you believe the Trump administration is actually preparing to commit genocide on a portion of the American population? I would be very curious to know which portion(s) of the population you think will be targets, and what makes you think that actual, literal genocide, is where they plan to go? Can you offer any evidence of this whatsoever?

This is btw literally the territory of Infowars, and other similar conspiracy sites who said the same thing about the Clinton administration, the Bush Jr. administration, and the Obama administration.

Me? I don’t think it helps the anti-Trump cause by suggesting such things, which as far as I can tell, have absolutely no basis in consensus reality. And the idea that by the time we’d notice any sign of it, it’s too late, so we should assume it’s happening now? This doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

Do I think the Trump admin (and others, btw) have fascist leanings, inclinations, even aspirations? Absolutely. Do I feel our oligarchy has been pushing us in that direction for years? You betcha. But “Trump is gearing up for genocide?” Back here on Earth, this sounds like crazy talk to me. And I believe in UFOs, and the idea that the multiverse is a conscious computer. But this? It is the liberal version of what Alex Jones does, IMHO, and is not only useless, but antithetical to building productive mechanisms to stop the obvious excesses of the Trump administration. There is such a thing as oligarchy and even fascism short of death camps – in fact, death camps and genocide are the outlier, even for dictatorships. The idea that we’ll see this in the USA under the Trump admin? It really seems bananas, and you bet I’d have to see more signs of it before leaping to this far-out conclusion.

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We already have people in concentration camps. If they were marched off into the desert on a one way trip, what will happen? Not as much as you think.

This is the same president who admitted to committing various felonies and was acquitted by his party members in the Senate in a fake trial without witnesses or evidence. Accountability is not happening on the current watch.


Roundups by ICE of undocumented immigrants began to be significantly accelerated by the Obama administration. It has gotten worse with child separations since then, but “concentration camps” (and I consider the US prison system to be another example of this, for many prisoners anyway) again, does not mean that the Trump admin is gearing up for the systematic annihilation of one or more ethnic or religious groups. It’s simply not the same thing, and frankly, not even close.

The problem with all of this conspiracy theory IMHO is that it very much can be used to delegitimize reasonable critiques of the administration on one hand, and on the other, blinds us to be aware of things that actually indicate a rise of genocidal fascism. If people cry genocide every time a dictatorial idiot does something they don’t like, the very meaning of genocide stops holding the power it very much ought to. I also think it’s exceptionally insulting to people who have actually been subjected to genocide, and very much know the difference.

I also find it interesting that my fairly straightforward critiques of this Infowars-esque conspiracy theorizing are getting blocked by community flags (the admins unblocked the first one, we’ll see about the latter one). Things have obviously gone downhill online since the Trump administration took power, and this includes FB, boingboing, and other places, but really? Is one not virtue-signaling strongly enough unless they make claims that Trump is on the verge of committing literal genocide? It’s ridiculous. Utterly. I strongly encourage some of you to ask yourselves, is my (reasonable) anger about Trump starting to push me into unhealthy territory.

I still see that nobody has responded to my inquiries about: What are the signs Trump is gearing up for genocide (and no, simply pointing to things the Trump admin has done to date that frankly do not imply genocide doesn’t cut it for me) and, what groups do you think are going to be targeted for genocide? Who is the Trump administration going to attempt to systematically annihilate to the tune of millions of individuals? Black people? Hispanics? Jews? Muslims? Because genocide is the systematic annihilation of the entirety of a population. It is not “doing a bunch of nasty stuff that I disagree with, so… genocide!”

I still like to think words have meanings. Saying Trump is gearing up for genocide is as “fake news” as anything, and it hurts the cause. Yes, stay vigilant, be on the lookout, by all means. But calling genocide? I simply do not get it.


From what I have read, several children have died in custody. It’s horrible. It’s a tragedy. It’s criminal. But genocide would be the Trump admin with the support of military and police around the whole country rounding up EVERY Latinx in the country, and murdering them, en masse. Do you not see the difference?

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