The Road to Perdition

Perdition: noun. Utter destruction, from the fourteenth century Anglo-French perdicium. Ultimately derives from the Latin verb perdere, meaning “to destroy.

That we are on the road to perdition seems patently and painfully obvious:

  • Our legislators were perfectly willing to pay themselves while 800,000 of some of the lowest paid federal workers went over a month without a paycheck.
  • Our government approved separating 2,342 children from their families. Several have died in US custody.
  • Bethany Christian Services, an adoption agency with financial ties to Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education, was and remains the primary housing provider for immigrant children in detention centers. The cost is $700.00 per night per child.
  • It is unclear how many children are still separated from their families. Numbers range from 300-500.
  • The worst year for mass shootings was 2018, with one about every eight days.
  • So far this year over 1,000 people have died from gun violence.
  • This past week three 21 year old males killed 13 people.
  • Last year was the deadliest on record for non-binary, gender nonconforming and transgender persons.
  • For the second year in a row the government will borrow one trillion dollars to finance the occupant’s tax cuts.
  • Environmental protections are being rolled back at an alarming rate. For example, logging on federal land will be increased to produce more than four billion board feet of timber this year. It represents a 31% increase.
  • The permanent director of the EPA is a former coal lobbyist.
  • The Supreme Court is becoming increasingly partisan, a trend that is expected to continue with new nominations. Mitch McConnell’s refusal to consider president Obama’s nominee for the court represents an over reach of government authority and puts yet another nail in the coffin of democracy.
  • There are 954 identifiable hate groups in the US. The largest increases were seen in neo-Nazi, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ (to see a complete list click here).
  • Twenty hate groups outwardly identify as “Christian.”
  • There was a 66% increase in violence against disabled persons in 2017, the last year for which data are available.
  • Anti-religious bias was up 23% due to increased anti-Semitic violence.
  • One third of all Americans doubt that the Holocaust happened.
  • 48% of all hate crimes are gender biased. Since reporting of hate crimes is not uniformly mandated, the number is likely much higher.
  • Gerrymandering and voter suppression make it entirely possible we will have four more years of the occupant, a malignant narcissist and pathological liar with the emotional intelligence of a rock.
  • The occupant has retrieved xenophobia from the sewer of human interaction and set it on a course to acceptability.

There are frightening parallels to the post World War I world in Europe and the United States.  In the 1920’s the US pursued an “America first” type ideology that was isolationist, imposed hefty trade tariffs, and increased income disparity between those at the top and the rest of the country.  There was also immigration restriction that, at the root, was about keeping America white.

In Germany, Paul von Hindenburg was elected president and given broad executive power to defend Germany against foreign threats. He began using his powers to rule by decree and not by parliamentary process.  Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble and abolition of the parliamentary government were among the things that were abolished in that time.  Further, there was demolition of unions and widespread dismissal of civil servants.  There was a direct connection to this series of actions and the subsequent installation of Hitler as chancellor.

Crucial to the rise of totalitarian regimes is controlling the news media.  In the US the function is well served by Fox News and the Breitbart organization, among others.  By calling anything that doesn’t agree with the occupant’s perspective “fake news,” he is subtly and surely eroding the power of the free press to the point where truth soon will be irrelevant.

It is likely that many of the social rights instituted in the last fifty years will be severely curtailed as the Supreme Court becomes more conservative and more partisan.  By choosing which cases they will hear, they can effectively shape public policy that limits access to birth control, protects businesses that discriminate against LGBTQ persons, undermines affirmative action and increases voter suppression and gerrymandering.

It is said that those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it.  And while the period between World War I and World War II will never be exactly replicated, there are disturbing similarities that will likely have far reaching consequences for individuals, communities and the environment.

When hate is spoken into the world and meets nothing but its own echo, it rises unchecked.  When hate is spoken into the world and it is met with resistance and push back there is some hope that its destruction can be curbed.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The only thing necessary for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing.”

 

Sources: National Geographic, Southern Poverty Law Center, Human Rights Campaign, BBC, The New York Review of Books, Christopher R. Browning, the Suffocation of Democracy

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