i was getting ready to write what i thought was a funny Christmas post.
But something happened.
This Christmas season had not been joyous really. i could not quite figure out why. Oh, anyone my age has some sad thoughts about how Christmas is missing a dear one this year. But i felt that wasn’t really at the root of my sadness. Actually, it was more than sadness. It finally dawned on me i was afraid. i was scared. And not afraid and scared for me. Heck, in a month, i will be seventy-six and short of a gigantic disaster, i am out of it. I’m going to be pretty much okay whatever happens. But i am scared for my children and grandchildren.
What made me face my fear was reading Andrew Maraniss’ latest column for the “History News Network.” The link and Andrew’s comments as an introduction on Facebook are included below.
i hope most of you know i am almost apolitical. The two parties and the supporters of each seem only interested in getting themselves and others in their party elected. Individuals seemingly grab one aspect of a party’s agenda and ignore all the rest, including scary political maneuvering. Any means, many unethical or even amoral in my book, and certainly opposite of the morals, ethics, and code of conduct i was taught by parents, family, teachers, and coaches, are dismissed by political parties and their supporters to attack the other side.
As i have watched this go down and read and listen to good friends, good people, latch on to their party’g pitch, ignoring facts and manipulation of the truth, if not outright lies, it reminded me of two parts of our past: Nazi Germany and McCarthyism.
Andrew Maraniss and his father David Maraniss have written superb books detailing how both Adoph Hitler and Joseph McCarthy, along with their henchmen, manipulated the public with lies, fear, and nationalistic rhetoric to create terror and suppression of truth and justice. The aftermath of what both of those terrible figures of our past left is shame for our humanity.
David’s book, A Good American Family, details the injustice and the hardships of those blacklisted by McCarthyism. The central victim in this tale of our country’s shame is David’s father, Andrew’s grandfather, Elliot, who rose above the hardships and was a good man. i was mesmerized by the book and ashamed our country let this happen.
Andrew’s latest book, “Games of Deception” is a story of the U.S. team in the first basketball played in the Olympics. It was 1936. Americans, notably Avery Brundage, whose bigotry and catering to the Nazi regime hid the lies Nazi Germany was using to deceive the world.
Andrew’s column draws on the lessons he learned in researching and writing this book.
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In 1986, one of Maureen’s best friends growing up recommended a cabinet maker for constructing a large bookcase for my home office in my new home. The cabinet maker was George Hoemann. He was good. His cabinet stands behind me while i write, still a wonderful piece of furniture after thirty-two years. While the construction was taking place in George’s workshop behind his home, less than a block away from Maureen’s parents’ home in Lemon Grove, i visited often. While George worked meticulously on the cabinet, he and i talked of our past.
George had been a German infantryman in World War II. After the war, he immigrated and became cabinet maker. i was cautious in my questions about George’s WWII battle experience, but i learned he had been in several battles against the allies.
George was a good man. He loved his native country. But he was not proud of his country’s caving to Hitler’s Nazi program. Yet as he talked of his Germany, i kept thinking of how good people can be duped into representing bad things. Such duping has occurred throughout our history.
Somebody in the mid-1800’s duped a lot of people to fight a war against their countrymen, even against members of their own family. It was different then. States were more independent than now. Slavery was at the forefront of this conflict, but many chose to fight for their states, rather than fight against such a terrible institution.
And therein lies my fear, why i am scared.
i hear rumblings from folks who believe in one side of the aisle that they are willing to fight for their cause, even if their cause is lying to them.
Who is going to wake up before this polarization erupts into something much worse? When?
Regardless of anyone’s political beliefs, our current president has taken this kind of demagoguery to a new and dangerous level. Both sides have drawn lines in the sand, painted their opposition as evil. And people, good people, my friends are buying into it. Big time. Both sides ready to fight.
And my fear is many, enough, will not come their senses and not deal with people with different ideas with respect, and not adhere to the principles and procedures established in our constitution, something about “all men are created equal” and things like freedom and equality.
Thank you, Andrew for a wonderful column capturing my fears, and continuing to address inequality and men (and women) rising above the deception and succeeding in so many ways.
Andrew Maraniss’ Facebook introduction to his column:
“In the face of a mounting threat to humanity, a campaign of lies, inaction, and disinterest in the truth were all equally dangerous. It’s more obvious than ever before in my lifetime that those dangers haven’t gone away. They’re still with us, and every generation must resist them. If the first casualty of Nazism was the truth, then we must call out dangerous lies in our own time and raise alarms when we see justice or humanity imperiled. In his Nobel Peace Prize speech in 1986, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said history has taught us that we cannot be bystanders.”
The link to Andrew’s column is: https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/173853?fbclid=IwAR1ZcF5swK7p3ZPBNQvQnGHZ8ES9v-pOf7hJ1QcVIorp8A7cDyqEfurldm8.