Tuesday, March 15, 2016
The Better Angels of Our Nature
In 1968 I thought a candidate like the segregationist George Wallace was frightening but I knew he would never be president and he wasn't. He was, though actually paralyzed by an attempted assassin's bullet that relegated him to a wheelchair all of his life. The violence of the sentiment George Wallace engendered was epic. The fact he did not win reflected that as much as race played a part in American politics it was not the only part and as Anne Frank said of her time I said in mine: -- in my heart I believed Americans were basically good.
It is sometimes said that those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it. When a nation belches forth a candidate, like Trump who, despite his denying the essential violence of his campaign, serves to divide and not to unite then the dark history of another era shows its possibility again. Trump pits race against race, men against women, religion against religion, and nativist nationalism against the policies of inclusion. He is playing with dynamite and the explosive fuse is ready to be lit as minorities will not sit quietly by while they are attacked. Trump pits African Americans, Hispanics and other peoples of color, and religion as well as sexual orientated minorities against its majorities of white Christian men. Soon the Republican Party will become the Party of Christian whites no others need apply. The danger is obvious.
The forces of the right share a proclivity for violence because their message is one of hate and hate knows no promotional restraint. The right wing extremist can do anything he wants, including violence to secure often poorly thought out crackpot policies with a plethora of lies supporting their advocacy. The extremist right will gladly commit violent acts even murder to get what it wants. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, was an example extraordinaire of that and there are many more. McVeigh brought down the federal building of that city while it housed a nursery school and killed 168 innocent human beings including children. The extremists of the right even the populist right like those who support Trump are incredibly violent and will stop at nothing to advance the cause of an anti-federal government and a white power nativitist agenda. It is why Trump could not vociferously and immediately deny the support of David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan. He gets their votes.
The left, especially decades ago, has shown its violence too BUT the philosophic underpinning of the left is one of racial inclusion and not exclusion. The two sides are mortal adversaries. I stand with those who are for inclusion and not exclusion of the “other” because I know what it is like for one to feel excluded and not a part of the society in which one lives. I stand for justice and fairness for the minority and the oppressed. It is why I could never be a member of a Party that wants to reject human beings and not accept them, often because of the color of their skin, their religion or the person whom they choose to love and with whom they want to share a life. The right wing is simplistic and authoritarian in its understanding of issues that require not simplicity but the complexity of questioning and thoughtful analysis.
I say walk in another oppressed man's shoes and maybe history, with the repulsive Donald Trump heading for bone chilling victories, will not repeat itself and doom us all to eternal domestic conflict, war and international violence. The only one who can stop him is you. I believe we are a better nation than those who support Trump and one which shows, as Lincoln said, “the better angels of our nature.” I believe in my heart Americans are still basically good. Truly, the fate of nothing less than western civilization depends that we are.