Reichstag

When I was a kid sleeping did not come easy. Lulling myself into a sense of security felt both false and impossible. I could never be secure unless I was sitting two inches away from a television screen turning Stormtroopers from pixels into less organized orderings of pixels.

Every boy wants to be a cop at some point. Probably because of the uniform.

They say that anxiety disorders are due to the inability of the brain to turn of its flight or fight response. You essentially feel like every decision you make is life or death. You can’t calm down. Breathing is a waste of calories that could convert into speed. Or punching.

Thus the only way to really feel calm was to either always be winning or to not make any decisions at all. Given the horrible track record or eight year old boys when it comes to winning, I would often choose the later. Instead of playing, I would sit. Instead of sleeping, I would watch TV.

The History Channel used to air bizarre, trippy “documentaries” that were like animating a Jim Sterenko comic in live action. Typically they’d wait to pass the content boundary at around 10 pm. and then take you on an acid bath to the past. Sonorously narrated gothic prose danced over film with extra grain, going on about things like Nazi drug abuse, Nazi occultism, Nazi sexuality, and even Nazi pets.

Depending on the night, Hitler was everything from a drug addled sexual deviant to a satanic priest who wove numerology into policy and paintings. Hardly anything besides the footage qualified as history.

However, it was where I was introduced to the Reichstag Fire.

The Reichstag Fire was probably not a satanic funeral pyre to the bloodied spirits of German troops. But it led to something fairly similar in practice if not in spirit.

This is what the Reichstag looked like:

I’m so pretty.

It housed the German parliament. A parliament which had decidedly not burned down yet. At the time of the fire, a party known as the National Socialists controlled a plurality, but certainly not a majority, of votes. Their leader, a possibly satanic drug addled sexual deviant who wove numerology into paintings, had just been appointed Chancellor of Germany in an attempt to appease the party and its rabid, well-motivated supporters.

This is what the Reichstag looked like on fire:

I’m so hot.

It’s weird to think about, but this picture is not from a silent movie. Indeed, the outcry was very loud. A Dutch communist named Marinus van der Lubbe was arrested for the fire, having been caught at the scene of the crime blabbering on about the working man. Often times, we think of events like these as unifying stressors that bind a country together, like someone getting ready for a run in combat boots slowly lacing up their calf.

Hitler had something else in mind for combat boots, however.

The National Socialists, which we can just shorthand to Nazi’s since I’m done being cheeky, moved to quickly paint the Communist Party of Germany as responsible for the act. Hitler convinced Paul von Hindenberg, President of Germany, to essentially kick them out of Parliament. This left their seats open and elevated the Nazis to official majority status.

The rest is history. Technically, it all is.

Now, given the fascination with the Nazis it is not surprising that this story was never taken at face value. Some suspected. Some cajoled. Then there were those who came right out and said it.

“What if the Nazis set the fire themselves?”

Somehow, “Reichstag Fire” has not become an idiom, which is weird. It has many idiomatic qualities. It is vaguely foreign, makes you sound smart, and has a good story behind it that people like to bullshit.

I propose that we run with it. “Reichstag Fire” will now just stand in for any negative or destructive action a government takes and attempts to pin on someone else for the betterment of some goal.

We’ve done this just in time, you see.

To be clear, the analogy isn’t perfect. The Reichstag actually was set on fire. Unlike massive voter fraud by illegals, which did not actually happen. There is no evidence for it. It is implausibly difficult. It is hilariously insecure.

Keep in mind, this man actually won the election. He won it. Fair and square, with a little help from his friends. What would be the calculus behind something like this?

Well perhaps, if you light the spark, the flame will come. Perhaps you say 3 million people voted illegally. Perhaps you just make that up.

Perhaps you call an investigation into your false claim, based on bullshit and gaslights.

Perhaps your investigation finds “evidence”.

Perhaps that evidence means that voting needs to be harder. A little more restricted. Two forms of ID. Prove you’re a citizen. Prove you were born here. Prove that name is yours.

Prove you deserve to vote in a democracy.

I sound crazy. Admittedly, this is taking it far. I’m extrapolating with some extra “extra”. But when you look at what has happened with voting rights in North Carolina (article on that is coming soon), and the resistance to expanded rights in Virginia, and the entire history of poll taxes and literacy tests and voter ID you will see a pattern. You’ll see a trail of gunpowder right to the present.

All it takes is a match.