John Stokvis

December 13, 2022

Who Goes Nazi (by Dr. Seuss)

Readwise Reader is an incredible app. It's coming out of private beta this week and if you read on the internet (if you're reading this, that probably means you) you should give it a try. 

It's made saving, managing, highlighting, and remixing everything I read for work and pleasure much easier and MUCH more fun. RSS, newsletters, PDFs, tweets, handles them all.

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To honor all their incredible work, I took one of my favorite articles and with an assist from their ghostreader feature, re-worked it in the style of Dr. Seuss. It's a 1941 essay in Harper's by Dorothy Thompson called Who Goes Nazi.

She writes about a party game where she and friend's guess at who (Mr. A, Mrs. B, etc.) at a party would collaborate or fight. It's a wry and beautifully written and a good reminder that people's ideas can never truly be divorced from their story.

Dorothy Thompson, possibly at one of those parties...

Enjoy! (and save the original article to Reader and enjoy that too)

Who Goes Nazi
by Dorothy Thompson (& Dr. Seuss)

Mr. A, oh what a guy,
His life is just so spry.
He's got no cash, but that's okay,
He's always had a way.
Nazism? No, not for he,
It just doesn't fit, you see.

Mr. B, now that’s a bloke,
He married for cash, that's no joke,
He fits right in, wherever he goes.
Success is his only measure, I suppose.
Nazism? It’s not his style,
It's just not a movement moves the dial.
But if it gains power, oh what a sight,
Mr. B will be there, ready to fight,
So watch out world, Mr. B is on the rise,
He's climbing higher and higher, before our eyes!

Mr. C is a man who's oh so smart,
With brains that are a work of art.
But his life's not been so fair and sweet,
He's had to work hard to make his seat.
He's moved among the rich and grand,
But always felt like he's in no man's land.
He hates his parents, that's no lie,
He loathes everything that makes him cry,
Pity, joy, they're not for him,
Inside he's got a burning ambition,
To rise so high that no one can see,
The man that he used to be.
He'd rise high in a Nazi regime,
But that's not where he came from, see?
He's a product of democracy,
A paragon of meritocracy.
He'd laugh to see heads roll, that's true,
But deep down, he's just like me and you.

Young D, oh what a chum,
He's a born Nazi, sure as your thumb. 
He's an only child, his mom's so sweet,
She spoils him rotten, no small feat.
He spends his time just having fun,
Seeing what he can get away with, oh so glum.
He's been ruthless to two wives, such a shame,
His mom pays the alimony, it's all the same.
He'd love a uniform, to look so dapper,
To swagger and lord it over all, the whippersnapper.

Now Mrs. E, oh what a lady,
She's a Nazi for sure, that's no maybe.
She seems so sweet, so clinging, so meek,
But deep down, she's just bleak.
She's married to a man, she thought a hero,
He treats her like a dog, a nothing, zero.
She tells herself he's a genius, but it's just cope,
But he's bored to death, there's no hope.
She'll be ecstatic to the first hero she sees,
Who'll tell her women should be on their knees.

Mrs. F wouldn't go Nazi, not for a day,
She has charm and grace and a winning way.
Her husband is happy, her kids love their mom,
She left her acting career long ago without a qualm.
She's popular with men, but not one of them wed,
And she never let money cares fill her head.
Healthy and sensible, she was full of glee,
Her style was as American as could be.

James, the butler passed drinks with a smile so grim.
Nazis were communists and below him.
Bill, the chauffeur's kin,
Is serving tonight, complete with a grin.
He works at night to pay for college,
Where he studies engineering, his idol is knowledge.
To him Charles Lindbergh is just a pilot with a wife,
Who talks down America, and that's not right.
At one point Bill snorts, and rolls his eyes,
Disagreeing with Lindbergh, and his lies.

Mr. G would certainly be a Nazi sympathizer,
He was a child prodigy, a born rationalizer.
He'd explain and excuse it if it ever came around,
His thoughts were always a-deviating, never quite sound.
When he talked of communism, it was Trotsky-style he'd choose,
And with Keynes he'd find flaws, he never wanted to lose.
In response to any idea, a counter-idea he urged.
If ever Mr. G became a Nazi, he'd certainly be purged.

H is an historian of Dutch descent,
Lives the Middle West where his family was sent.
He loves his furniture from the past,
And farms for fun – not for cash.
This party he loathes, that's plain to see,
Losing a job for a love affair was his destiny.
Yet he loves this land from sea to plains,
Each American war holds his family's bloodstains.
He can be genial, he can be ribald,
But if anyone tries to make this nation Nazi, he'll grab a gun and be bold.
To him to live on this land and be a patriot too,
Your ancestors must have been here before the Civil War, that's true.

Mr. J had a lot of dough,
A dozen firms he did grow.
He had a love of power and money,
He even thought Hitler was capable if a little funny.
He thought the Jews should stay away,
From politics and not have their say.

Mr L has just come in, a lion of the day, 
A labor leader powerful, fascinating, so they say.
His manner was strong, impressive, patrician, 
To appoint him or his henchmen was labor's mission. 
He had the best car of all, but never took a salary, 
For his expenses were covered, paid for by the peanut gallery. 
Mr B regarded him with contempt and some small hate, 
He'd use L to his advantage, before it was too late. 
L parroted B's speeches, with a Neanderthal's brain.
His instinct for power was infallible and plain. 
He'd take a percentage off the labor of every working man, 
To add to his political power, this was his plan.

Who goes Nazi? It's a parlor game quite ghoulish,
To see who'd get wise and who'd stay foolish.
Some people will never go Nazi, you see,
Including the gentle philosopher and Bill from the city.
The frustrated and humiliated intellectual,
The rich and scared speculator, the spoiled son,
The labor tyrant, the fellow who smells success,
They'd all go Nazi without much duress.
It's not race, color, or creed, but something Shakespearean,
It's something inside - that's the criterion.
For those who haven't anything inside them, it's easy to tell,
They'd go Nazi, sure as ringing a bell.
So try it at the next big party you go,
It's an amusing game, you should know!