Family Values

February 11, 2008

To continue on the theme of how “family values,” can ameliorate the pains and harms of life, I will talk about an undermining problem: how well humans compartmentalize, disassociate, and rationalize.

I suspect there probably were SS soldiers and concentration camp guards in Nazi Germany who came home and acted as affectionate parents to their own “Aryan” children. I suspect that there were slave owners and slave overseers in the antebellum American South who were perceived by their own children as caring and loving parents. In the same way, there were probably New England colonist parents who demonstrated love to their children after a hard day massacring Indians who fussed over the land the English Puritans had helped themselves to. I’ve heard of serial killers who led a double life as loving fathers and husbands in between murdering victims.

To a large extent we focus on the victims. We switch between admiring the Jews who died fighting back against the German troopers in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and lamenting the Jews who died after passively riding cattle cars to German death camps .

In the unlikely event anyone reading this is majoring and history (with perhaps a minor in psychology or sociology), and looking for a project, try studying the “Good German” parents who were also good German soldiers in say the Ukraine, or the good “Japanese parents” who were good Japanese soldiers in Nanking, or the good English parents who were good soldiers in the invasion of Ireland in the 1500s or the good colonial settlers in Australia who were good parents as they were moving the aborigines out of their way and so on. The list could get very long.

The family lives of the top leaders of the greatest genocidal atrocities of the 20th Century: Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, tend not to be great example of “family values.” However, I suspect that many of their faithful functionaries were able to combine adherence to the values of their leaders with domestic tranquility in their personal family lives.

Here’s an article illustrating how people strive to reconcile these apparently conflicting values right here in our good old USA.




4 Responses to “Family Values”

  1. pandemonic Says:

    Thanks for this very scary and thought-provoking post. I’m hoping I won’t have nightmares tonight.

  2. modestypress Says:

    I’ve decided at this stage in my life that “morbid cheerfulness” is the tack I am taking. Of course, that’s a fairly easy course to take as long as I am just reading books and web pages.

    If the secret police knock on my door, I am likely to prove myself to be all bluster and no willingness to face the firing squad with dignity and fine words.

  3. Pete Says:

    On a follow up note, Richard Butler is dead, and they burned down his compound. Used the fire to train fire fighters if I remember correctly. And I believe they are turning the compund into some kind of freedom park or something.

  4. modestypress Says:


    I think of situations with people like Richard Butler and groups such as the Aryan Nation as analogous to a small fire in the forest. If the forest is not especially dry, a little fire may just die out. If a forest is tinder dry, a little fire may start a conflagration that may consume the whole forest.

    Germany in the 1930s or Russia around 1917 were like tinder dry forests and Hitler and Lenin were the fires to get things going. At other times, such as America during the Great Depression of the 20s or Idaho over the last few decades, the forest wasn’t quite dry enough to catch fire.

    When we had first bought our five acres on our island, a neighbor burning slash on his property had the fire jump the road to start a small fire in one of the evergreen trees on our property. He was able to put it out with his backhoe before any serious damage was done.

    However, if I keep posting in my blog, who knows what trouble I will cause? I hope every reader has a hose and a water supply handy.

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