Monday, August 16, 2010

A totalitarian regime

...needs a fanatical following of true believers as well as the silent acquiescence and/or forced submission of the rest of the society.

If the events of the last almost two years are any indication, we have no end of fanatical followers -- be they birthers, tea partiers, anti-Muslim crusaders, marriage-equality deniers, border militias, etc.

Fortunately for the rest of us, they currently have no leader.  To be sure, some are trying the mantle on for size, but no one yet possesses the combination of savvy, calculation and brains such a leader will require.  However, if history teaches us nothing, it's a matter of time.

What happens then is up to the rest of society.  Will we silently acquiesce?  Will we allow ourselves to be forced into submission?

This article in today's Israeli daily Ha'aretz would indicate we have reason to be concerned.

In short, the politics of fear and hatred seem to be working, and (according to the article) Muslim leaders will soon announce they they will seek a different site for the "Ground Zero Mosque".  If this indeed happens, it will be, in the words of NYC Mayor Bloomberg, "a sad day for America".

Bloomberg is wrong about one thing:  the sad day he forecasts is already here.  The fact that this is even an issue is not only sad; it's pathetic.  It's also pathetic that our President -- the son of a Muslim father and, by far, the most "international" leader we've ever had -- has to tiptoe around the issue so as not to inflame the lunatics.  It's pathetic, too, that the Democratic Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, has to weigh in against the proposed community center for no other conceivable reason than he's running a very close race with Tea Partier Sharron Angle.  Put another way:  even if this center is ultimately built, we have amply shown ourselves to be a pack of bigots and cowards.  Even more damning:  we've shown ourselves to be un-American in our unquestioning willingness to toss overboard those ideals we are supposed to hold dear.

God help us.

[Image:  words of Martin Niemoeller, Lutheran pastor and prisoner at Dachau (1941-1945).]