When I was a little kid I made friends with an elderly German man. Actually we started out as enemies, since his German Shepherd was barking at me from behind his fence, and I was so annoyed I was throwing gravel at him and trying to beat him with a branch. This man came out and yelled at me in a guttural German accent, which scared the daylights out of me. I thought he was some kind of escaped Nazi, and might make me stand with a live grenade on top of my head if he ever got his hands on me. While sporting a shaved head and a monocle, stroking the dueling scar on his cheek, smoking a gold-filtered cigarette, and evilly chuckling "Heh, heh, heh," of course. That's what movies had done to me.
Later, he forgave me for acting like Eric Cartman in South Park, and I forgave him for looking like Gert Froebe in Goldfinger. He turned out to be a pretty nice guy. When I told him he looked like "that Goldfinger guy," the next time I was eating a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich in his house he looked at me and said, "Ach, Mr. Vallace, for wunce you are eggactly vhere I vish you to be," which vas vhat -- I mean which was what Auric Goldfinger said to Bond once he got his mitts on him. He also told me the last kid who tormented his dog was rewarded with a trip to his basement, wherein was contained a table with straps and a laser (again, ala Goldfinger. I asked him he minded if I took my younger sister down there, since I saw an opportunity to put a permanent end to her hitting me with everything she could lay her hands on, including her steel-wheeled outdoor rollerskates. He responded it wouldn't be wise, since Mad German Scientists could make my lasered-in-half sister grow a new half, therely giving me twin sisters. I decided this was not such a good idea.
Years later, when I screwed up my courage, I asked him how in the world the Holocaust happened in Germany. This is what he told me, "Most of us did not know anything about it, because everything was censored and we could not travel freely. Some of us heard rumors, but did not believe them. A few said, even if the rumors were true, it was regrettable but necessary, because those people were enemies of Germany and would destroy us. Most Americans don't know it, but Hitler was barely elected, and it was due to what you call leftists." Gee, he wasn't anything like the subhuman, mass-murdering monsters that the contemptible Steven Spielberg tried to portray the Germans as in the dishonest piece of propaganda known as Saving Private Ryan.
When I supposedly grew up, I decided this attitude among people was a law of human nature. I call it the "Didn't Know It, Don't Believe It, Agree With It" law. It's a variation of the Three Monkey's Law: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil (someone should make a copy of that statute with Dubya's, Bill Bennett's, and Rush Limbaugh's heads on it).
Example: when I tell people the longest war the US was involved in was in the Philippines, and that we killed 200,000 innocent men, women and children, when all they were trying to do is free themselves from foreign domination, the response I get is, "I didn't know that." Sometimes it's "I don't believe that." Rarely, it's "Well, I'm sure it was regrettable, but maybe it was necessary" (which is just a way of saying, "I agree with it").
Now if I turn it around and say, "How would you feel if foreigners came here and slaughtered 200,000 of us because we wouldn't submit to their conquering and ruling us?" then I can sometimes see the little lightbulb clicking on above their heads. I've decided that's another law of human nature: it's hard to put yourself in the other guy's shoes. Although you should always do it. Anyone who dismisses the importance of understanding your enemy's mind is a complete fool.
When I tell people that our sanctions in Iraq may have killed a million or so people, mostly elderly people and, children and infants, I get the "Didn't Don't Agree" response a lot of the time. When I point out the US military specifically bombed water and sewer treatment plants in Iraq and Serbia, which are war crimes in violation of the Geneva Contention, again it's "DDA."
I have decided this attitude is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Specifically it's Sloth. Mental Sloth. Physical Sloth is Little League compared to Mental Sloth. People tell me I'm physically lazy because one of my purposes in life is to acheive a sublime state of physical slothdom, in which I rarely have to leave the couch and can use remote controls to have robots do all the work (ala' Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles), but that kind of laziness is nothing compared to those who look at pictures of deformed Iraqi babies (caused by our depleted-uranium weapons) and say, "Hey, our weapons didn't cause that," or, "It's regrettable but necessary."
Again, to turn it around, how would they feel if it was done to us? Is it any wonder so many people in the world absolutely hate the US government? My experience with a lot of foreigners is that they like Americans personally (we're so lovable, you know) but despise and fear the US government. Hmm...now that I think about it they sound like the average American!
Some people seem to think we should never, ever let the Germans forget what the Nazis did, even though the average German was innocent and most of the guilty are dead. Yes, we should punish the innocent all through the ages.
I sometimes wonder what was happen if America fell in the future and all the countries the US government tortured through the years could write our history books and be responsible for our education. They would attempt to make Americans never, ever forget what the USG did, just the way American liberals today pretend those alive today were somewhere responsible for slavery and should never forget it (let's conveniently forget there were black slave-ship captains and that freed American blacks owned other blacks as slaves). There is a lot of pleasure and self-righteousness, I guess, in always feeling sorry for yourself and thinking you are permanently a victim. Apparently this is another law of human nature.
I always look to the Roman Empire as a example of Republic to Empire to Hey, What the Hell Happened? I'm sure the average Roman citizen in those days was just like the average American citizen today. They went about their everyday business, mostly ignoring or trusting in their govenments (another law of human nature), then the next thing they know things have collapsed and the Vandals are carting off their women and their gold.
This kind of destruction always follows from being Slothful. And that, too, is a law of human nature. My Gert Froebeish friend found that our the hard way, no matter how nice of a guy he was. We, too, may find it out the same hard way.