(Note: replaced text Jan. 31, 2011)
There are many similarities between Germany of the late 1920s- early30s and today’s United States. Mix together horrific economic conditions within an intensely militaristic society, and then factor in centrist political parties that rule for the benefit of the elite and corporate interests. What you get is a poison brew. Granted, Weimar Germany in the mid to late 1920s had two fairly popular ‘third parties ‘competing with the top ones. On the right, the Nazi party drew lots of support from those who were fed up with the elites and at the same time frightened by the Communists. One has to understand that the German Communist Party did very well in the Reichstag elections, which caused much consternation within the ruling class. So much so, that although the upper classes had disdain and contempt for Hitler and his party, they chose to use the Nazis to counteract the Communist influence over the average common Volk. The focus of this column is the growing threat of a fascist mindset now in 21st Century America. To this writer, the so called ‘Tea Party‘ movement is a precursor. Many who follow the Tea Party banner do have legitimate gripes against how our government in Washington has been operating. The irony is that their direction is not properly focused. They rail and rant about too much big government and then most of them support our obscene and bloated military budget. How could true ‘fiscal conservatives’ agree to pay out 50 % of their federal tax dollars for this? Tea party faithful wish to cut many entitlements like Social Security and Medicare while saluting our interventions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, to the tune of (to date) one trillion dollars! Sadly, there is no vibrant progressive movement to counterbalance this right wing thrust.
I get most of my feedback by randomly speaking to those in my community or to my sales customers nationwide. In my local travels this Friday I spoke to three people on issues of national importance. My utter shock and dismay from their opinions caused me more anxiety than when I listen to politicians or pundits on the boob tube. What really hit home was just how little most Americans really know of history and of the….truth. There is so much misinformation and outright lying spewing from the mainstream media. Talk radio has become the messenger of choice for so much of this garbage, reaching far more of a nationwide audience than even the myriad of cable television right wing claptrap. Turn on your car radio and spin the AM dial. For every music station there is an equal number of right wing oriented talk shows.
I stopped for a slice of pizza at my favorite place. The pizza maker, let me call him M., was wearing a US Army Reserve tee shirt, with the saying ‘Freedom is Not Free ‘on the back. Did you serve in the army? No, he said, my brother has been in the reserves for 28 years now. Oh, I said, so he was too old to be sent over to Iraq or Afghanistan. Oh no, he boasted, he has been there for two tours already. I then realized I was treading on thin ice, but I liked the guy (and how he made pizza) so I continued. Too bad they have to be in those places… we really don’t belong there. Are you kidding, he shot back at me; we have to be there. After all, somebody has to be the world’s police. Why not us? Would you rather it is the Chinese? They would just love to be the ones to police the world. No, it is our job and we must do it! Why, I asked; why should anyone have to go and occupy another country? His eyes became emblazed. Oh, tell me, he said as his voice got more aroused; tell me, you think if we stopped policing the Middle East that those people wouldn’t come and get us? The Chinese would just love that. So would the Iranians. No, somebody has to keep this world secure, and it might as well be us! When I informed him that 50 cents of every tax dollar he sends to Uncle Sam goes for military spending, his answer was ‘I would give all of it for the military! ‘
I proceeded to the YMCA to work out in the gym. I met this guy there, a nice fellow who I never before engaged in conversation. He said he was from Springfield Mass. and was 59. We chatted about Florida and about the ‘good old days ‘of growing up in cities where there were neighborhoods replete with Mom and Pop stores. The fresh bread and produce, the German and Jewish delis and the butcher shop and candy stores…. All the foods we could buy daily, without having to go to mega stores in strip malls. I asked him if he worked. No, he had a job but got laid off last summer, after 12 years as a salesman for a national food distributor. They laid him off with really no explanation. It was a non union job, so he had no recourse and no help in finding a new job. Too bad. Nice guy. When I mentioned that I was a writer, and was of a ‘left wing ‘perspective, he said he was on the other side of things. He was a right wing conservative. He hated big government. I told him that it is unconscionable that some people earn tens and hundreds of millions a year, while guys like him cannot even find employment. He then proceeded to defend the super rich. He said it was not fair that the government takes 50% from a rich person (he did not know the facts on that one). When I told him of my idea to surtax millionaires 50% of any income they earn over one million per year, he dismissed it. The rich keep our economy going. We need them. I decided, at that point, not to initiate any talk of healthcare or of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. I just could not handle two doses of this rhetoric in one day.
As I was leaving the YMCA, I overheard this guy, early 60s, who was telling someone about the uprisings in Egypt. He was going on and on about the tanks coming in and firing on the people and the people attacking the police. I interrupted. Well, I said, you know that the Mubarak regime has been notoriously corrupt and repressive. They cheat and steal from the people, and they torture. He agreed… and then the caveat. He added that this is how it is in that part of the world. All those countries torture regularly. Plus, he added, the ones behind the uprising were the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, Hamas and the Iranians. So, this guy just assumed that the hundreds of thousands of Egyptian protesters were mostly being led by those groups. When I added that perhaps a fraction of the protesters were from those groups, he said well, maybe, but what will they get in place of Mubarak, another who will be worse? When I told him that America supported most of the dictators in the world, including Saddam Hussein, and that we torture, he was silent. So was I; enough for one day.
It seems that the deck has been stacked for so long now. Average Americans really do not get the truth on a regular basis… or at all! Lost souls floundering around, just awaiting the next savior to right the ill conceived and misplaced wrongs. Dare we call it fascism? Who will be the next Jews? When will more of the good souls stand up in public and speak truth to power? As the late Martin Luther King Jr. stated: Silence is betrayal.
Philip A. Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn NYC longshoremen. He is an activist leader and free lance columnist. Since the 2000 elections, he has written over 200 columns, many posted on various sites worldwide. Recently, he is finding a home at Dandelion Salad, New Jersey activist Ed Dunphy’s progressivepatriots.net or at his own blog at www.opensalon.com. Philip can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Egypt: US-Backed Repression is Insight for American Public by Finian Cunningham (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)