Thursday, November 8, 2012

It saddens me. It saddens me, and frightens me. Good people I've known all my life sounding off against the president as though he were to blame... To blame for what, exactly? Averting a Depression? Saving the auto industry? Oh - health care, that's right. Giving people who have little or nothing, something? Do they really blame him for the economy? Don't they remember 4 years ago - before he even took office - how that "D" word - the word never uttered in my lifetime as a real and viable threat, but only in reference to my parents' generation, the era of the Little Rascals, the Dust Bowl, dance marathons, and food lines - how 4 years ago we were all discussing it not only as a possibility, but a probability?

What are they afraid of? - for make no mistake about it - this is fear. Fear of Mexicans? Fear of another 4 years of enduring a black president? Entitlements, they say. Too many people getting things for free from hard-working folks like themselves. Hm... I don't recall how the Mexicans, or blacks, or "free loaders" steered us toward the "D" word 4 years ago. I seem to recall a whole lot of greedy investors, irresponsible bankers, and people spending more than they could afford. Too much government control - that's what they fear. They want to allow those Wall Street geniuses free reign to do as they please - everybody knows how efficiently and equitably trickle-down economics works. Too much government control - that's what they hate about that man...

Let's eliminate Medicaid. Snub out NPR. Slash investments in schools. Increase defense spending so we have enough weapons to wipe those Muslims off the planet - they're going to be the end of us if we don't watch out! Here, my sadness turns to fear. For, their fear - fear of the immigrant, fear of blacks (still), fear of homosexuals who wish only to love one another as everyone else, fear of those who are not precisely like them in their religious beliefs - it brings to mind two things from the past: Early fascism in Germany, and the novel, 1984. And what was the common thread between these two monstrous societies - one real and the other imagined? Fear. Fear used as a tool. Fear used to rile society to perform unthinkable and institutionalized acts of cruelty and cowardice against their fellow citizens. Hate Week reminds me very much of Fox News. It reminds me of these past two days - post-election - as some of my old and dear friends have been unable to contain themselves, as they have spewed, well, hatred toward the president, the Democrats, and anyone who has ever received an entitlement in his life.

A long time ago my ancestors came to America from northern Ireland. Scotch-Irish, they were - but worse than that, they were Catholics. I've only heard stories, read in history books of the fear protestant America had against these vile, grubby, free-loading mongrels from that barren land. Worse than blacks, they said. A plague spreading across the nation. Laws were enacted against them. Institutionalized prejudice was set up like roadblocks at every turn, thwarting their pursuit of happiness. It's been the same with every new ethnic people, every nationality, every religious group - we've feared them, put up barriers in their way, and in many cases oppressed them. Blacks, Catholics, Jews, Italians, Germans, Hispanics... The same scapegoat wearing a different jacket. THEY are the source of our problems. They are to blame. If only they'd go away, things would return as they were just a few years ago - this nation would be paradise.

The most mystifying thing about the hatred drumbeat is how those who profess to be the most religious, the most American... are in fact simply those with the most hatred in their souls. They frequently tout their knowledge of Jesus, yet I seem to have missed the Sermon on the Mount and How We Should Turn Our Backs on Our Fellow Man. I don't remember Jesus cursing interlopers crossing the border, seeking a better life (isn't that what His ancestors did for years and years in the desert?). I don't remember reading about Jesus' bitterness toward those seeking medical attention - those who had no money to pay. I'm sure He must have turned His nose at them, but I just don't recall...

I am afraid. I am not hyperbolizing, I truly am. I am afraid of where this nation is heading. I've read too much history. I've seen it happen in places just like this, to societies who were the paragon of progress, innovation, and enlightened thinking. Look no further than the 1930's in pre-fascist Germany. Like us, they believed themselves immune to cultural decay. They thought themselves - and were in many respects - the highest point in the civilized world. All it took was an economic downturn, a convenient group of people to blame, and a charismatic madman promising a return to glory.

Hatred fosters returned hatred which leads, eventually, to a disconnect with humanity's moral pole. I do not hate those who hate our president. I don't hate them for their views. I don't hate them for any of their beliefs. I wish only that they would act more like their savior, Jesus Christ, instead of those who demanded His death on the cross.

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