The Quiet Evolution of Dictatorship by Lance Polin
The Not-So-Quiet Evolution of a Dictatorship 11/8/2018
I didn't want to do this. Election time is over, and all of the roiling chaos will calm down, we figured, just like every other year when people stop caring. I wanted to do something light, something like a review--movie review, book review--even LeBron on the Lakers review!--but then something very troubling happened. This was yesterday. This was the President's odd news conference. It chilled my bones.
Now I try to avoid writing straight editorials here, but I cannot help myself today. I love my nation and an troubled deeply with the fact that I see it crumbling. America is no longer the land of the free, and it certainly isn't home of the brave if we refer only to Congress (particularly the Senate), a whimpering class of formerly successful people now in a struggle to not get fired from their jobs. It is almost like a nearly silent coup (except for the leader of the movement, who shouts everything out loud.). The whole world is being torn down. Critics are being silenced. There is threat in the air as people shoot up random places (another mass shooting today) and everyone is either nervous and scared, or filled with a false sense of pride, a dishonest patriotism that does not resemble anything like love.
Does anyone doubt that if it were now the age of World War II, and Trump were President, that we would join the Axis powers? I certainly don't. Trump would boast about his "very good relationship" with Hitler. He would be wary of the Japanese, but would certainly sell them weapons of war. Mussolini would be like a brother to him. It would be Churchill as the target for all of his mocking ire, while the far more eloquent Prime Minister would eventually sink to the President's level, and destroy him while England exploded and sank into the ocean.
Is it fair to state comparing Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler? The Nazis rose to power on a wave of anger and disillusion. Hitler's followers enjoyed listening to the charismatic speaker trash everyone and everything that Germany once stood for. They boiled when he assigned blame to the Jews. Jews were then regularly assaulted, robbed, even murdered with very little consequence. The leader might sniff some sympathy, then move away to another issue that inspired rage, and throw in a few threats to emphasize what might happen if he is not given complete power over the government.
The people, having lost a war and become economically crippled, see this shrieking madman as the only light of hope for a restored Germany. Many of them found his tone appalling. Many realized that he was a terrible person. Some people even rejected, outright, his bigotry and racism, but still had to side with him because he was the only one offering a path to the future. He was promising to make Germany Great Again.
Hitler went after the press. He actually called them "the enemy of the people," and accused them of lying when they reported on him in an unflattering way. He began encouraging people to attack the press, to get those traitors out, those diligent reporters who refused to cave to the Nazi's demands, and who only believed in freedom. Hitler accused them of lying, of making things up. It certainly did not help that a handful of them actually did, or at least exaggerated, taking a tone straight out of Hitler. It was propaganda, anti-Nazi crusades. But the Nazis suddenly had the government under their thumb. They had more power than the free press. It was easy to squash. He called the unfriendly press a group of hate-filled Jews and, after several years of this harping, managed to convince his followers, who had suddenly gone back at work making missiles and ships, and who now had a little extra money to go to a cabaret or boxing match or movie on a Saturday night, that they needed to help save the nation from itself.
I am certainly not saying that President Trump is targeting Jews, because I do not believe that he is. But people in a very large nation like ours, with millions and millions of angry, dissatisfied people seeking any notion of hope, are going to allow the more open atmosphere of prejudice to latch on to their own private hatreds, and we all start to burst out with apocalyptic rage. Trump, I believe, cares about nothing. He is like a ringmaster, watching the show. He enjoys the chaos, laughs behind closed doors at the anger he inspires in both his enemies and his followers. "Those morons are about to go to war with each other!" I am absolutely convinced he has said to many people more than once.
Donald Trump is not Adolf Hitler--let us get that straight. But he is a similar style of wannabe dictator, of need-to-be overlord or King, who believes that his own ideas are the only ones worthwhile; He is the only one who matters.
The world is in a great deal of danger right now unless we all wake up to what is slowly happening. The blind followers of Trump--those legitimately angry and frustrated people who have seen their ideas of freedom fall apart as the modern world of technology and hypersensitive people shout in their faces and ruin their meals--these are the people who are easily used. And that's what they are--used. They are given a new definition of patriotism to uphold and told that their never-ending hatred is somehow good for the nation. They are told that they need to vent their frustration on the 'enemies-of-the-state,' that they need to restore order to an anarchic world that has fallen into such freedom that people have decided to fight against it. And this is no good. It interferes with business. It effects profits. It makes the world harder to control for those with an instinct for doing this.
And it is blind followers that they need. The faithful. Those who righteously fight for their new religion without taking a critical look at what they are told to believe.
It is a very dangerous time. Twentieth Century history should easily have warned us of this inevitability--of the rise, once again, of tyranny. We should have been able to fight this. But people who are scared and don't see the future in the shine of possibility, become the warriors of night, battling for a vision they do not and never will understand. Even the acolytes will fall, betrayed, because they stand firm on one single belief--perhaps it is the rule of law. And they, too, are painted as traitors when the only true traitor is the one with the system of undermining the world and reforming it in his own image.
I did not want to write this. I do not see hope in the turning of the House of Representatives. For years they have been in decline, a mumbling, bickering gang of grandparents, young radicals trying to make a name for themselves, and bored, greedy people consumed with the idea of a little bit of power 'and, I suppose, a few of them are decent people.' The nation has learned not to trust them even before they were told that the press was lying about everything. What are these people in Congress going to do other than provide someone to blame for the President? Instead of the Jews it is the Democrats. Liberals. Blacks. Women. Gays. The Press. All of them are the same today--the enemy, the victims, the whiners. The people that American are told it is no longer proper to care about.
I love America, truly. I love the very idea of it, a concept that has led to far more good than evil in the world. But this same freedom that grants me the right to express these opinions (as well as your right to attack me, mock me, call me a loony conspiracy theorist, or even a traitor) is what is under attack. It may not seem that way, with the lessening of social restrictions in bigotry expressing itself (and by 'bigoted' I am not just referring to racists and religious fanatics or even people who hate dogs. I mean everyone, with all of our bottled hatred for whatever it is we feel is wrong with the world). But this is yet another road to tyranny: a loosening on the restrictions to express your hatred while those who are targeted no longer have the shield of righteousness to save them from harm.
This is your president, true believers. This is what he is doing to our precious America. We may never recover. Even under our term limited system, does anyone truly believe that after he is out of office, and still a massive influence peddler, that his replacement, regardless of which political philosophy comes next, will employ the same manner of exploitation and terror in order to shift the nation in their chosen totalitarian way? It has happened in many nations. Remember when America was never attacked on our home soil? Then remember our reaction to Pearl Harbor? We banded together. We fought against the same sort of tyranny we are now giving sway to. But after 9/11 we accepted being terrorized. The world was a much more frightening place. We experienced tomorrow like a rape victim going back out into the world, trusting no one and seeing threats everywhere. And we needed to assign blame.
If you look, finally, at the results of terrorism throughout history, it has caused social disruption and, eventually, a full scale civil war. It has happened everywhere, all over the world, time and time again. Even here. (Do not say that It Can't Happen Here [https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780451465641&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used]) What do you think the American Revolution was? It was seen as terrorism in England, and it was,as far as they were concerned. But the terrorists won. The terrorists were renamed patriots, founding fathers, the soul of a new nation.
The winners of every civil war take on the role of heroes to whatever is left of their broken society. We are on the verge of civil war. This is not a paranoid claim, nor the rant of a partisan dupe. This is based on a study of history (you know, the thing that keeps repeating itself?) With such heightened fear, the increase in blame for our mutual mistakes, and a hatred of everything outside of ourselves, we eventually decide to fight back. Mass shootings. Bombs in the mail. Terrorism. Terrorism. Terror breeds terrorism. And it is on the rise in America.
Welcome to our fractured new world order.
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