Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hate, Violence, and Lessons of History. . . . .

Terrible events have a tendency of focusing people's attention. As I said yesterday, it is not always a matter of cause and effect, people see something that causes people to look at what has been going on and where they have been going. A health crisis, or a food crisis, or violent event, all of these kinds of events can cause people to reexamine how things have been going and why.

Now, personally I don't think we really need a terrible event to remind us that the right-wing has poisoned the political atmosphere in North America with vitriolic, hateful rhetoric that belittles democracy and belittles all of us. We should not forget our history lessons. Fascism in Europe (and we are not just talking about Germany here) gradually moved in against the back-drop of angry, hateful speech in which the right blamed the left for everything from moral decay to tooth decay. The vocal advocates of Fascism often tried to hide behind respectability and political legitimacy but when you look back you can see the gradual decay of genuine political discourse and the rise in scapegoating the vulnerable and systematic lying in the public sphere. And let us not forget that in many cases the vocal right-wing opponents of everything and everybody on the left, were not the ones who eventually took up arms and organized the worst events of fascism. Some people just set the tone that legitimized the more radical voices of hate and violence.

Make no mistake, people like John Baird, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Pierre Poilievre, and Glen Beck are the ones that are poisoning the political atmosphere and setting the stage for a shift in the paradigm. Today such hateful speech influenced one sad, unbalanced man. But history has demonstrated that such rhetoric can eventually pervert an entire generation to acts of terrible violence. No matter what these people say or do, we must continue to stand for a more compassionate, more cooperative, more humane society. Jean-Paul Sartre once said that we have two options for the future of our race, a form of Barbarism or a form of Socialism. The statement is more clear today than it was when the great existentialist first said it. The barbarians may be at the gate but the only method we have to struggle against them is a cooperative and compassionate society. In the 1930s, it took too long to realize where the anger and hate of the right-wing was leading. Let's not let it happen again.

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