Of a A Moustache, a Hairpiece, and a Beer Hall

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Firemen work on the burning Reichstag, Feb 1933 (Record Group 208: Records of the Office of War Information, 1926-1951)

“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

This is how I would take over a country.

First, I would invite a bunch of people who are full of hatred and blame their leaders for their dissatisfaction to congregate and talk about it, with banners and posters and news crews. Then I would watch the fights, and wring my hands, and say it’s not my fault, it is what the people want, and they have a right to speak their minds. Sooner or later, blood would be shed, and some of that blood would belong to my supporters. I would call those who died martyrs, and make them symbols of my cause. If I could collect some of their blood on one of my banners, or on the flag of my country, that would be even better, because then I could haul it out at will and show others what was done to me and mine while we were exercising our rights. If I was blamed, and went to prison, that would be good too, because it would allow support for me to grow alongside the backlash against the powers that be.

Next, while lying low, I would make sure that one of my own strongholds was destroyed. It would have to be in my own country, and in a manner that was clearly perpetrated by whatever group I wanted to point fingers at. Right now, I would probably choose Muslims, and my method would be suicide bomb; the actual perpetrator would be vaporized along with any proof of who they were, many would die, the shock value would be great, and the blame would be instantaneous; after all, that is “their” preferred method of violence.

I would use that attack to justify race hate, curfews, and disarmament of the citizens of my country. With martial law in place, I would remind the people that I warned them this would happen and tell them that I am determined to stamp out the problem. As my support grew I would begin to get rid of everyone who opposed me, using whatever means necessary, all the while blaming my actions on my enemy and ensuring the common people that I am their friend and that everything I do is for them.

That’s how I would take over a country.

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