Point of View Columns

Once Upon A Time…….

For weeks I have been debating with myself about writing this particular column. Two months ago I read “In the Garden of Beasts” by Eric Larson. The book chronicles the experiences of the American ambassador to Germany whose arrival coincided with the rise of Adolf Hitler to power.

The book is particularly powerful in its rendering of the initial response of the German people to the rise of Hitler. He was viewed as being something of a radical but there was supreme confidence that the institutional traditions of the German republic would bring Hitler and his brown shirted followers into line. His rhetoric and writings were dismissed as…..rhetoric and writings in support of political ambition. No great sin. No great crime.

In reading the book a chilling recognition accompanied every page – radical and overheated rhetoric was rationalized even as the authors of this hateful prose were explicit in their beliefs and goals for the coming of the Third Reich. And then…………..it was too late.

Most readers would write off any comparison of the early days of Nazi Germany to the times in which we now live in these United States of America. Except we read and hear the messages every day and any sane and rational person would have to wonder, what is the end game?

Michelle Bachmann is a radical Christian evangelical. This means a lot more than her believing in the teachings of Jesus Christ. She believes that the United States is a “Christian country” and that it should be governed according to the precepts of Christianity. It is as if the Taliban joined the G.O.Tea Party and substituted a cross for the star and crescent.

If questioned on the subject, she and her androgynous husband will state that “the American people don’t care about such things, they care about jobs”. Read “In the Garden of Beasts” and you will see similar responses from the supporters of the radical movement that ultimately became the Third Reich.

This country has never seen such a powerful doctrine of religious supremacy promoted at the national level. Texas Governor Rick Perry is running for president because God told him to do so. Beware of the zealots, they are always more dangerous than the cynics or the apathetic. And he is already catapulted to being a leading Republican candidate within moments of the announcement of his candidacy.

The battle cry of “taking back America” masks an agenda that ultimately creates an “us-them” scenario that has not been seen since the 1860’s. The G.O.Tea Party circus is about a lot more that making Barack Obama a one-term president. The radical evangelicals are riding the wave of racist-white-hooded tinged hate of Obama into a tsunami of creationism, dominion philosophy and Christian supremacy.

Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Mormons and atheists have very good reason to be worried about the coming days in America. But middle of the road, progressive and tolerant Christians should not feel smug or secure – dominion philosophy does not countenance debate, dissent or difference. After all, evil prevails when good people do nothing.

Michelle Bachmann believes that gay men and women are in league with Satan. Jon Huntsmann and Mitt Romney believe that the Garden of Eden was located in Missouri. Rick Perry believes that God has a mission for America (and presumably he is the leader of that mission).

Given the deep financial funk in which the United States is wallowing, the rest of the world must view the opposition to President Obama as being launched from some insane and nihilistic platform. Could the most powerful nation on earth, the planet’s largest economy, be considering the leadership of devout Christian dominion advocates at a time when logic, rational thinking and intelligent strategic planning are the last assets in the arsenal?

The antipathy against President Obama has clearly made a significant portion of this country cross-eyed crazy. In a time of deep economic crisis and global security dangers it is useful to pray. Waiting for miracles may not be such a good idea. Certainly it is written that God helps those who help themselves.

To be fair, the Bachmann-Perry-Santorum right wing of the right wing has never openly advocated extermination of anyone. This wing has, however, advocated the reduction of social services that will, in a logical progression, result in the deaths of men, women and children who are denied housing, healthcare, education and a basic social safety net.

The Bachmann-Perry-Santorum right wing of the right wing should be seen for what it is. Read “In the Garden of Beasts” and then look around. And be very afraid.

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3 thoughts on “Once Upon A Time…….

  1. Victoria says:

    Your column is well-informed — Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry’s message is clear — deeply-seeded, cemented in the radical christian philosophies — yes, we should be more than a bit concerned.
    But, perhaps we’d do best to advocate awareness and action instead of “fear”. To be afraid could mean we risk remaining inertial. If the history you so adroitly point to is to be our guide, then we mustn’t allow it to repeat itself.

    Victoria

  2. Jack Hirschfeld says:

    While I share a deep concern about the drift of American politics today, I would caution that a comparison to Nazi Germany is far too facile. Having been born Jewish in Berlin during the Hitlerzeit, I can assure you that the differences far outnumber the similarities. Antisemitism in Germany, and in Europe as a whole, had a far different history than American antipathy to its non-white minorities. For one thing, Europe had experienced the rise of an enlightened Jewish segment that had come to prominence within professional and cultural circles, and especially in the industrial/financial sphere. This is actually duplicated in today’s US—by Jews, once again, but not yet by other minorities. When the global depression hit Germany, it was in the context of the punishing debt that had been created not by spending in the economy, but by imposition of overwhelming reparations by the WWI allies. It was therefore easy for Hitler and his cohorts to identify external enemies as the source of Germany’s woes. Finally, it must be remembered that the German culture has a long and deep history of obedience and subservience built into it, as opposed to America’s prevailing culture of personal liberty and social rebellion. Yes, a smart demagogue can capitalize on the smoldering Christian fundamentalism underlying much of American family life and convert it into a type of social fascism, especially with the assistance of the wealthy classes (cf. Jack London’s The Iron Heel), but American populism has always been double-edged, and the task will prove more difficult than it seems— for both sides. Nevertheless, I agree with Victoria: awareness and action is the right prescription, fear is self-defeating.

  3. Pam says:

    I think you sir are dangerous to espouse these theories. If you want to break it down to a racist/religious issue then it is not the people who serve the Lord who are dangerous to this country. It is the American people who voted in a black man for President because of his color but who had no experience other than being an organizer. How many people in this country do you actually believe do their homework before they go into that voting booth? I think you would be shocked to know the true answer to that question.

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