Dr. Timothy Snyder: Lessons on Fighting Tyranny (Lesson #7)

This is a series of posts involving Dr. Timothy Snyder’s book On Tyranny. In the book, Snyder, a professor at Yale University who specializes in the history of tyrannical movements, shares twenty lessons on how to address and defeat tyranny.

Each lessons contains a short amount of text as well as a video featuring Snyder expanding on the text. This is lesson #7:

Lesson #7: Be Reflective If You Must Be Armed

“If you carry a weapon in public service, may God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no.

“Authoritarian regimes usually include a special riot police force whose task is to disperse citizens who seek to protest, and a secret state police force whose assignments include the murder of dissenters or others designated as enemies. Yet, without the assistance of regular police forces, and sometimes regular soldiers, these regimes could not have killed on such a large scale. Some police and soldiers killed from murderous conviction. But many others who killed were just afraid to stand out. Other forces were at work besides conformism. But without conformists, the great atrocities would have been impossible.”


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