2021年6月25日 星期五

The Daily: The Threat of Day X

Why democratic collapse isn't so remote as a possibility. Plus, what it means to defund the police.

Hi everyone, we hope by now you've heard (at least some of) our new series, Day X. Our story starts with a German military officer who faked a refugee identity in an alleged far-right assassination plot intended to bring down the government. And over the past five weeks, we've explored how this case cracked the door open to a network of far-right extremists inside the German military and the police. We've asked some big questions, too, about what this means for the country's future and the threat to democracies around the world more broadly.

While the series is focused on Germany's present, it's a story inseparable from Germany's past. So we've compiled a guide to understanding the country's far right over the past century. Below, we explain why understanding this history is essential for making sense of the threat of far-right extremism to America's democracy, too.

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Drawing parallels across centuries — and across continents

Some German veterans responded to the humiliation of their defeat in World War I by forming militias and radical right-wing groups. These groups helped fuel the rise of Nazism.George Rinhart/Corbis, via Getty Images

Just over a century ago, after accepting its defeat in World War I through an armistice, the German government signed the Treaty of Versailles, in which the victorious Allies set the terms and price of peace.

The treaty declared Germany to blame for the war and ordered it to pay vast reparations, limit its armed forces and surrender territory. These bitter concessions became emblems of a powerful myth, particularly widespread among veterans: that Germany's military could have won the war, but instead had been betrayed and humiliated by the civilian leadership.

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This toxic conspiracy theory, known as the "stab-in-the-back legend," became a keystone of Nazi propaganda — in which the civilian leaders were portrayed as the puppets of leftists and Jews. After the war, many newly unemployed soldiers in Germany joined paramilitary groups that eventually supported the rise of Nazism. The groups, which were animated by a sense of grievance, plotted coups and assassinated politicians in the Weimar Republic in the decade before Hitler came to power. In Day X, Katrin Bennhold, The Times's Berlin bureau chief, interviews Franco A., a military officer on trial on charges of plotting terrorism. Like the members of the paramilitary groups in the 1920s, Franco A. believes in a Jewish conspiracy to destroy the German nation and is accused of plotting one or several assassinations meant to bring down the democratic government.

In conversation with Amanda Taub, one of our Interpreter columnists, Cynthia Miller-Idriss, the director of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab at American University, explained how this alleged plot has parallels with what we have witnessed unfolding in the rise of the American far right, specifically the events on Jan. 6.

Both this alleged plot and the insurrection at the Capitol could be cited as examples of an "accelerationist" ideology, in which far-right groups promise a moment when the institutions of government, society and the economy will be wiped out in a wave of catastrophic violence, clearing the way for a utopia that will supposedly follow. Cynthia sees this thinking present in both the German and American far right.

"In many ways, we can see how Jan. 6 was a kind of loosely formed coalition around this idea of accelerationism," she said. "My fear is that we are, as a country, starting to treat that like a one-time fluke rather than as a potential turning point."

She also explained the lessons to be learned from German history.

"I have thought a lot about the parallels with the Weimar Republic," the fragile period of democracy in Germany whose collapse allowed the Nazis to take power, Cynthia said. It was marked by a series of attacks, failed coups and other efforts to undermine democracy. And even though actions like Hitler's beer-hall putsch failed, German democracy was ultimately not strong enough to withstand the chaos.

That has made her alarmed by recent efforts to view the Jan. 6 attacks as a one-off.

"For me, the parallel is that I think a lot of people want to see Jan. 6 as the end of something," she said. "I think we have to consider the possibility that this was the beginning of something."

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Confused about what "defunding the police" means? Here are some answers.

This week, instead of calling one of our colleagues at The Times, we dedicated an episode to a conversation between a mother and daughter. They were sharing their perspectives, sometimes heatedly, about a topic that was a point of tension in the New York City mayoral race — but also across the country more broadly.

Yumi Mannarelli, who self-identifies as a socialist and is a registered Democrat in New York, supports the movement to defund the police, believing that money and energy put into police departments could be put to better use targeting causes of crime — such as enacting gun control legislation and tackling homelessness.

Her mom, Misako Shimada, however, is unconvinced. With recent attacks against Asian Americans and rising crime in the city, she explained that she believed there were good police officers and their presence made her feel safer.

Many of you wrote in with questions about some of the positions they shared, including: What does it mean to defund the police? And what could that look like in practice?

So we've compiled a few resources if you're curious about learning more.

A GUIDE TO DEFUNDING THE POLICE

First, our colleague Dionne Searcey explains what "defunding the police" means. Then, we explore why policing reform has been so challenging and look to the White House to see how President Biden is responding to calls to defund.

What Would Efforts to Defund or Disband Police Departments Really Mean?

Much is not yet certain, but here's what is known so far about some efforts to defund or abolish police departments.

By Dionne Searcey

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How a Pledge to Dismantle the Minneapolis Police Collapsed

When a majority of City Council members promised to "end policing as we know it" after George Floyd's killing, they became a case study in how idealistic calls for structural change can falter.

By Astead W. Herndon

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Biden Aims to Bolster Police Departments as Homicides Increase

The president made clear that he intends to approach crime prevention by investing in, rather than defunding, the police as he waded into an urgent national debate over policing.

By Zolan Kanno-Youngs

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A playlist for your weekend

By Desiree Ibekwe

One of The Vertical Club's aerobics teachers leads a coed class in 1984.Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

Summer is finally here. So once you get caught up on Day X, we've compiled a playlist of four feel-good narrated articles for you to listen to whether you're basking in the sun, sheltering from the heat or just in the mood for something lighter.

Listen to this story: The Way We Worked Out

In this article, Kate Dwyer explores the glamour of the 1980s in an unlikely place: The Vertical Club, a Manhattan gym that was cooler than a nightclub.

"People come to see and be seen," Tom DiNatale, the club's general manager, told The Times in 1984.

In its heyday, it was a place where celebrities worked out — its clientele included Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Cher and Diana Ross. Today, its fingerprints are still all over our modern spaces from Equinox to SoulCycle.

Maya Moore was the 2014 W.N.B.A. M.V.P. and Jonathan Irons was known to some as Inmate No. 101145. Their meet cute happened at a prison ministry in a maximum-security detention center in Missouri. Maya and her family believed in Jonathan's innocence and, together, they eventually got his conviction vacated after 23 years.

"There is life we want to live, things we want to do, things we feel called to do together to help make our world a better place," Maya told Kurt Streeter, who writes the Sports of The Times column. "This sense of freedom is huge for both of us now."

Listen to this story: An Ode to the Filet-O-Fish

In her letter of recommendation for The New York Times Magazine, Jane Hu extols the virtues of a McDonald's sandwich that is often overlooked: the Filet-O-Fish.

It's a story about the billboard-famous sandwich, but it's a story about family, childhood, identity and the ubiquity of Alaskan pollock, too.

On The Daily this week

Monday: Will the Supreme Court step in and settle the fight over restrictive voting laws?

Tuesday: Ahead of the New York City mayoral race, we speak to a mother and daughter about police reform.

Wednesday: The For the People Act could have been the most sweeping expansion of voting rights in a generation. What lessons can we take from its demise?

Thursday: How an export ban has left millions of people without coronavirus vaccines and imperiled the reputation of the world's largest vaccine maker.

Friday: The final part of "Day X."

That's it for The Daily newsletter. See you next week.

Have thoughts about the show? Tell us what you think at thedaily@nytimes.com.

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