Hitler and the American White Man

There is a distinct relationship between the mental and physical make-up of the German Dictator Adolph Hitler and a significant number of American white men. By America I mean the United States and not Canada or Mexico. This relationship has existed long before Hitler took power in Germany and still exists long after he committed suicide in 1945. What is the basic foundation of this relationship? There is a fundamental need for white Europeans and Americans to feel superior to other races of people. The best way to show that superiority is through violence. Hitler’s target, with support of a large segment of the German population, as a manifestation of that superiority was the killing of the Jewish population. In America that target has always been Black Americans. Mexican Americans and Native Americans have also suffered in this country because of that Hitler mentality.

Adolph Hitler 1924

That need for power as expressed through violence is now on display in the courtroom in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The photos of Derek Chauvin’s knee in the neck of George Floyd are symbolic of what has happened for centuries between white men, and their need to use violence in their relationship with Black men. That same need to exert power over another race was clearly a manifestation of Hitler’s ability to get the German men to violently kill thousands of Jews during World War II. There is a nexus between the Gestapo soldiers, who manned the doors of Auschwitz opening and closing them as thousands and Jews were forced inside to a death chamber and a number of white policemen who undoubtedly do the same in this country. As I look at the expression on Chauvin’s face, with hands in his pocket while a man dies, I can imagine him being one of the Nazis soldiers having the same expression as they held the doors open at Auschwitz.

Gestapo soldiers

Derek Chauvin

One might argue that this is not normal behavior among the white man in America, and these incidents are an anomaly we could dismiss that seldom happens. However, that is not true. Their need to feel superior has existed since the inception of the country over 250 years ago. Thomas Jefferson in Notes of Virginia wrote of the superiority of Europeans over Africans, the first president of the United States, George Washington, displayed his perceived superiority by enslaving Africans for his own financial gain, something he could only do through force. Even the great liberator Abraham Lincoln believed that the slaves should not have an equal place in American society, which he viewed as a white only society. Hitler never believed that the Jews should have an equal role in the German society.

Thomas Jefferson
George Washington
Abraham Lincoln

There is a brutality to ideas and concepts that are practically as bad as the use of force in its destruction of other people. Over the history of this country, we have witnessed the use of the concept of racial superiority as a tool to justify murder by the lynch mob. According to Tuskegee Institute there were approximately 3,446 Black Americans lynched in this country between the years 1880 and 1968, and that is only counting the ones recorded. On June 1, 1921, over 7500 white men and children with a strong Hitler mentality, attacked and killed over 300 Black men, women and children in Tulsa, Oklahoma. These men, using the power of their weapons, would certainly have been members of Hitler’s goon squad in Germany a few years later.

Tulsa on June 1, 1921

The attack by predominantly white men on the Nation’s Capital is the most recent example of the Hitler mentality alive and well in this country. I would imagine many of those men are sitting and watching the trial of Chauvin, with their fingers crossed that at least one of the jurors will think as they do, and this killer should not be convicted. After all, he was just reinforcing the need to show the power of white men over Black men, as Hitler and his Gestapo displayed the power of the German white man over the Jews.

Nation’s Capitol Stormed on January 6, 2021

As this Hitler mentality continues to grow in this country, it creates a real dilemma for the future of the United States. Black men are no longer going to allow this vicious treatment to exist, be it by racists cops and other idiots carrying Nazi symbols at the Capitol. One fact we know is that without that badge, gun, handcuffs, and other cops assisting him, Chauvin would have been no match for George Floyd. And that is what drives the Hitler mentality white men crazy in this country, and why it is important that they cling to the Second Amendment and their mob mentality. It is about the whole stud mentality. They have a need to be the biggest studs in the room where, in reality, they are not. They get their strength through the use of guns and numbers. At some point that will no longer protect them from the growing anger of Black men who do not fear their guns, their badges, and their mobs. God help this country when we reach that point.

Adger Cowans: Renaissance Man

During the famous Harlem Renaissance, a cadre of talented artists from writers to musicians, sculptors and painters emerged to show off the great talent that Black America possessed and had been hidden for decades. Among the great artists were the painters Romare Bearden and Aaron Douglass and Sculptor Richard Barth. These are the men that set the precedent for further artists such as Gordon Parks. It is from these men and women that Adger Cowans grew and perfected his talent as a photographer and painter.

This Renaissance Man’s first passion was for photography. He told me in an interview that it began with his mother who was an amateur photographer as well as his Uncle Wilbur. At an early age, he was also influenced by an excellent book by Roy DeCarava and Langston Hughes, Sweet Flypaper of Life. It was a coordinated effort featuring DeCarava’s photography with Hughes’ poetry about ordinary people, doing ordinary things as they go about living their lives. Ohio University was one of the few schools that offered a degree in photography, and that was convenient for Adger since he lived in Columbus, Ohio. Naturally, he chose Ohio University as his school and began classes in the Fall of 1954. He admits that during his first two years he partied quite a bit, but always did quite well in his photography classes.

However, while home on vacation it was an encounter with several small children and balloons that convinced him to become more serious about his pursuit of photography as a profession. As he walked along Mr. Vernon Avenue, he noticed some young children staring at balloons. He bought the balloons, gave them to the children and took photographs of them. When he shared those photographs with people he knew, they had differing perceptions of what they saw in them. He listened closely to their comments because it provided him with an insight into their thinking. At that point photography became even more exciting to him, because he realized that he could move people without saying a word. “I affect their sentiments, their ideas and concepts about life and about art, and that is what pushed me over the edge to become a more serious photographer. I knew I could do works that touched people in some kind of way,” he told me.

As soon as he finished his four years at Ohio University, he made his way to New York, just as the great artists of the Harlem Renaissance had done. It was the place to be for young artists like Adger. There, his study of photography continued under the tutelage of Gordon Parks, who hired Adger to work on his projects for Life Magazine. The following year he had the opportunity to meet and talk with Roy DeCarava in New York. That added to his enthusiasm about his field. He was also influenced by Edward Weston, one of the most renowned photographers of the Twentieth Century, but he would not remain in New York for very long.

In 1958, he had the opportunity to work with an underground film maker in Brazil, who was getting into all kinds of trouble with the Brazilian government. Evidently the government did not approve of the work they were doing as critics of the government. But Adger did still photography for them, and that introduced him to a new venture into films. He remained in Brazil for a year and being there was an epiphany for him. He now expanded his horizon and began to write poetry, and he also began painting. He returned to New York with a new state of mind. He was not only a photographer, but also a painter, poet, and film maker. He knew that he could never again work for a magazine, because of the limits put on his creativity to expand as he saw fit. Among his favorite photographs are two that he had the pleasure to take of the late and great Malcolm X and his wife Betty Shabazz.

Over the many years of this man’s career, he has accumulated some amazing accomplishments. He has worked as still photographer for many movies to include, Dirty Dancing, Boomerang, On Golden Pond, Claudine, Sea of Love and over a dozen others. Adger is a proud member of the Kamoinge workshop defined as “a group working together.” He joined as one of the early members in 1963 and is still active in the group. As a group of Black photographers, their intent is to cultivate a supportive and yet critical artistic community that captures black life in all the member photographer’s vast experience. Their work presents to the Black community its dignity and positivity, which is antithetical to the stereotypical portrayal of their race by the media. Adger was recently featured at the Whitney Museum of American Art in a show titled Lou Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop. One of the photos featured in that show is simply titled “Footsteps.” That show is on its way to the Getty Museum. Adger’s works are presently on display at the Bruce Silverstein Gallery in New York City.

As a writer, I am always curious as to what makes other artists in different genres tick. I asked that question of Adger and without hesitation he said, “The photographer, painter and sculptor deal with those moments that have to do with the spirit. For me art is spiritual, because it comes from the spirit that moves you to do something, not because of what you think but what you feel.  I take pictures with my heart and not with my eyes. What I want to pass on as my legacy is the idea that spirit moves everything, and people do things because of how they feel and not because of what they see.  If I must come back through reincarnation, I always want it to be as an artist. There is nothing else I want to be and there is nothing else I am interested in being, because it is the most creative thing that you can do.”

Adger Cowans as a young man left his home in Columbus, Ohio and became one of the finest photographers and expressionist painters in this country. His talents are best described by the late great Gordon Parks in the following words:

“Not only is Adger Cowans one of America’s finest photographers, but he is also one of its finest painters. Through film and paint his keen sensitive eye hauntingly reveals things, places and moments that make up bonfires of our lives; those shadows we live and swim in as we grind out the drama of everyday existence…His individualism sets him apart-simply because he follows his convictions. His photography and paintings are possessed with certainties and reasons, and one has a thirst to see more. Mr. Cowans has acquired the freedom to master himself. And obviously he became free from the moment he chose to be.”

Adger Cowans who has become one of my closest friends and associates is an artist that I respect because of his love for his craft. Years ago, he decided not to sacrifice what he felt should be preserved through the magic of photography, and that is a dedication that we all should strive toward. He has given that to all artists, to include me, and that is something that affirms  his legacy for generations to come.