It never ceases to amaze me how Americans can be fixated on the dangers of socialism, a movement that never made a serious in-road in the U.S., and overlook the growing danger of right-wing extremism, which has had a steady growth since Ronald Reagan. This growing menace is not being characterized here as some sort of silly little argument from a liberal. Call me what you will, but I am not a member of any movement of the left or the right. But creeping fascism, which is what extreme right-wing movements are, has made tremendous strides in the U.S. Few Americans know how many strides.
Secretly, clandestinely, insidiously, there is a real attempt in the United States to establish a fascist or fascist-like state. That is not just a word that I offer as an argument, I'm refering to real fascism. Developments in the U.S. over the last several decades have been very similar historically to what evolved in Germany and Italy just before Hitler and Mussolini came to power. And in both instances the primary moving force behind it all was corporate greed for money and power. Hitler used the term National Socialism [Nazi] to hide the anti-socialism of his benefactors and followers. Hitler also used the scare of international communism, the power of the Jews in Europe, and other motivating lies.
It is with dismay that I have been the cause and site of some very vitriolic and prejudicial comments by people who apparently misread what I write here. Both from the left and right, liberal and conservative, the misreading of my blog posts is alarming. While I welcome your right to express your opinion [AS IT RELATES TO THIS BLOG], I sincerely wish the hate words and misrepresentations would stop. Showing friends and people who know me well the comments here brings them to smile and then wonder where all the wrong assumptions come from and are stated so shamefully. In an effort to remind readers here that there is a more civilized manner to civilized speech and expression, I am posting some quotes. I hope both left-wingers and right-wingers read and process them.
"Most ignorance is vincible ignorance: we don't know because we don't want to know." -Aldous Huxley
We Americans are very good at lying to ourselves, being in denial, and assuming the entire world wants what we have. In our dreamland world we never see ourselves as brutes or bulls-in-a-china-shop. Here are some of the things we lie to ourselves about or are in denial about...
In Copenhagen there are lots of nice sounding words about global warming and what we are going to do about it. There are raised hopes for the new Obama administration to do more to help in this regard than the Bush administration did or didn't do. But nobody followed the guidelines of the Kyoto agreement when worldwide nations [except the U.S.] signed onto do something to combat global warming. Things only got worse. Empty words. What will happen at the current Copenhagen conference will be lots of show but nothing real. Western nations will be allowed to buy their way out of any serious changes, and some small amount of hush money will be offered developing nations.
It is difficult to admit that the U.S. is a nation in which prejudice and bigotry hold sway far too often. It is even more difficult to admit to ourselves how much prejudice we each harbor. It is easy to pass off some overgeneralization about a group of people that we have, and feel secure in having ample reason to hold onto that belief. Some bigotry is obvious, some is not. It is the latter that is more dangerous to our democratic society. But both kinds parade themselves far too often.
"In Rhodesia a white truck driver passed a group of idle natives and muttered, 'They're lazy brutes!' A few hours later he saw natives heaving two-hundred pound sacks of grain onto a truck, singing in rhythm to the work. 'Savages!' he grumbled. 'What do you expect?" -Gordon W. Allport
President Barack Obama called Reinhold Niebuhr his "favorite philosopher" and "favorite theologian." Obama's Nobel speech in Oslo was full of Niebuhr's perspective. Most of us know of the influences of people like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi on Obama, but Niebuhr's impact on the President's thought process is more profound. Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Senator John McCain in his book "Hard Call," celebrated Niebuhr as a paragon of clarity about the costs of a good war.
I was introduced to Reinhold Niebuhr in undergraduate college by a professor who had been a student and later a scholar of Niebuhr. Since that time I have watched as Niebuhr's influence grew, waned, and has evolved again as an intellectual and moral influence on presidential candidates and others.
What sells in the world's most capitalistic nation, the USA, are health care, pharmaceuticals, and whatever can be bought in Washington D.C. and state capitols. But here is what REALLY sells: violence. This is where the real money to buy politicians and propagandize voters comes from. This is where we have been sold the idea that manhood and toughness derive from bullying our way to being successful in the world. America sells violence, and spending on the military-industrial corporations and prisons are the real mother lode. This is where most of your tax money goes, and everything else gets immediate criticism when tax money is involved. We are happy campers to spend it on weaponry, military personnel, and locking people up for as long as possible.
Having served on prison-related boards of directors in Washington and Wisconsin, and as president of them as well, I can tell you clearly that the prison system in America is a dismal failure. And it is bankrupting our state and federal governments. But it is what people want: lock 'em up and throw away the key. Similarly, no matter that General-President Eisenhower, perhaps the most experienced man in the area of actual warfare, warned us about the military-industrial complex, we still fall in line when the behemoths of industry control us into believing that the more weapons we have, the safer we are. Both the lock 'em up and the military build-up philosophies are what is destroying us as a nation.
Presenting oneself as a Christian at this time of the year or any other, is easy. Following the words of Jesus of Nazareth can be quite another thing. Mistakenly, many Americans like to think of the U.S. as being a Christian nation. That does not reconcile with the words of Jesus. Read what Jesus is quoted as saying in the Bible, in this imporant sermon. Does it reconcile with the capitalistic, militaristic United States of America? Be honest. If you are a Christian and read what is below, you know we can do much, much better. [the very words of Jesus as quoted in..."The New Testament in Modern English" translated by Bible scholar J.B. Phillips, LUKE, chapter 6, beginning with verse 20]:
Then Jesus looked steadily at his disciples and said, "How happy are you who own nothing, for the kingdom of God is yours!
Far too many Americans think they have a corner on what is moral. We twist morality to fit our own prejudices, shallow thinking, judgmentalism, etc.
Religious people seem to be especially judgmental of homosexuals. Though disproven by all medical and psychological data, too many of us still think that homosexuality is a choice. However it is inherent, we are born with those traits/preferences. We used to think, not too many years ago, that left-handed children had to be made to write right-handedly because that was "normal." It is amazing that there are still large segments of our society who judge homosexuals as having made a choice to be gay.
It ain't so easy, is it Mr. President? You made it all seem so easy to do during the election campaign. Like your predecessors, you had pat solutions to complex problems. Now, faced with the reality of the office and the world, suddenly it becomes far more difficult. You criticized President Bush during the campaign [but surprisingly timidly], and you were immediately labeled this or that by people prone to prejudice and bigotry [not only the racial kind]. Naivete is par for the course when running for president. You cannot know everything, and many things you are not permitted to know or are shielded from knowing. So, making the wrong predictions and promises is par for the course. Those are "givens."
What is most alarming to me about you, President Obama, are the judgments you have made AFTER you have been in office for awhile. Frankly, I thought you would be more proactive in fighting for a single-payer health care system. It does not take a person to the far left to conclude that health care is a rite, and that all people should have equal and fair access to the best health care. Mr. President, you gave in by not taking the leadership role immediately, and became yourself a pawn of the big pharmaceutical and insurance companies who bought off both Republicans and Democrats. You had a ruddlerless ship of state on too many issues, with health care being a big one.