Now Trump and his minions are in the driver’s seat, attempting to pose as respectable participants in American politics, when their views come out of a playbook written in German. Now is the time for a much closer inspection of the tactics and strategy that brought off this spectacular distortion of American values.
What I want to suggest an actual comparison with Hitler that deserves thought. It’s what you might call the secret technique, a kind of rhetorical control that both Hitler and Trump used on their opponents, especially the media. And they’re not joking. If you’d received the threatening words and pictures I did during the campaign (one Tweet simply read “I gas Jews”), as did so many Jewish reporters and people of color, the sick bloodthirsty lust to terrify is unmistakably sincere. The playbook is Mein Kampf.
I came to this conclusion in a roundabout way. The story of Hitler’s relation to the media begins with a strange episode in Hitler’s rise to power, a clash between him and the press that looked like it might contribute to the end of his political career. But alas, it did not. In fact, it set him up for the struggle that would later bring him to power.
“It’s one of the most well-known stories in the history of science,” says Reinhard Siegmund-Schultze, a math historian at the University of Agder in Norway. “Göttingen was so dominant in mathematics internationally.”
In 1933, that dominance came crashing down. On April 7, two months after Hitler became chancellor, Germany passed a law making it illegal for Jews — or rather those considered Jewish by the Nazis — and Communists to hold civil service jobs, with a few exceptions including for people who had served Germany in World War I. That immediately forced several Göttingen mathematicians from their jobs. The crisis snowballed, and over the course of the year, a total of 18 left or were driven out.
By the time of Hilbert’s legendary dinner with Rust, Germany had lost its status as the world’s foremost country for mathematical research. America took its place — and today, though globalization has spread the wealth, the U.S. has retained its eminence. From Princeton and Columbia to Berkeley and Stanford, it’s hard to find a great math department in the United States that was not shaped in part by European mathematicians who came to or stayed in the U.S. because of the Nazis.
William of Malmesbury commenting ‘no ship that ever sailed brought England such disaster, none was so well known the wide world over’. One of the most obvious impacts of the disaster was the death of King Henry’s son, William Æthling, the only legitimate male heir to the throne. William’s death resulted in the succession crisis starting in 1120 and ultimately ending in 1153-54 with King Stephen and the future King Henry II agreeing that on Stephen’s death he would take the throne. Although this is one of the most recognisable effects of the White ship disaster, it has been studied extensively, leaving other impacts from the tragedy in the background. William’s death had many consequences but there were other results from the disaster, as the ship was carrying around three hundred people it is unlikely, that although the most well-known death was William’s, that no one else’s had any impact on history. It could be argued that England suffered the most from the White ship disaster, however the ramifications stretched far and caused more problems further afield.
An interesting episode of Gastropod on the history of the restaurant.. Listen here along with some notes. or via podcast. Rebecca Sprang's The Invention of the Restaurant is mentioned -- a fine read for the history.
Reading about the history of science education I came across the beginning of the letter grade system. Mount Holyoke College started using it in 1897 as a shorthand for the an existing numerical system:
A: Excellent, equivalent to 95 to 100 percent
B: Good, equivalent to 85 to 94 percent
C: Fair, equivalent to 76 to 84 percent
D: Passed, equivalent to 75 percent
E: Failed, less than 75 percent
With twenty years the system spread as schools had to report regularly to parents. Excellent, good, fair and passed made more sense than numbers. E was considered confusing... E for excellent or failed .. so it was replaced with F