Revisiting “The Perfect Storm”
Now to your comments about “The Perfect Storm”:
The blog is far more directed at the Tea Party Movement than at the Republican Party. It is this movement that troubles me greatly – not because they hold and express views contrary to my own, but rather because they have promoted violence, racism, and revolution as a means of addressing their concerns rather than entering into civil debate. Contrary to what you have said about your perception of my stance, it is indeed the message of this movement that either we all are with them or “we can go pound sand.” And yes, there has been violence born out of this movement. There have been Congressmen who have received death threats. Bricks have been thrown through the windows of some congressional offices (kind of like Kristalnacht), and racial slurs and racist language has been used. I look at this form of behavior and I do find it very Nazi like. As I said in the blog, the similarities between these violent expressions is just too hauntingly similar to the violence perpetrated against the Jews of Germany by the SA – the Brown Shirts. When we permit violence to replace discourse, we are heading for trouble unless we shut that down pronto.
I know that there are those who cringe at Holocaust analogies. However, every year, at our local Yom HaShoah observance, we include a reading called “The Shoah and Today.” This reading, which is reframed every year, attempts to remind us that if the death of the Holocaust martyrs are to have any ongoing meaning for us, then we must take whatever lessons we have learned from the Holocaust to heart and apply them as storm warnings in today’s world. Indeed, usually in that reading, we include the famous quote by the philosopher George Santayana, who said: “Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” I think that we all agree that making contemporary Holocaust analogies concerning Darfur and Rwanda are appropriate. However, it is my firm belief that when we wait for situations to turn as extreme as those before we make such analogies – when we wait for the acts of genocide to take place – then we are way too late. When considering Holocaust analogies, we should not restrict ourselves to the end product of the Holocaust but rather, we would do a far greater good if we turn our attention to the early stages of the Holocaust, when the Nazis were just getting started in what would ultimately result in that great human tragedy. For if we are able to honestly recognize disturbing similarities between early Nazi activities and events that are occurring today, then we can step back and say, “Hold on there! If we let this behavior go unchecked then it will end very badly for all of us.” In this light, the use of threats, violence, and hate speech to promote a political ideology should serve us as a massive red flag.
As far as the analogy that I made concerning the relationship between the SA and the Nazi Party, as compared to the relationship between the Tea Party and the Republican Party, upon further review I recognize that I was not as clear as I could have been and should have been. The SA was an official arm of the Nazi Party and whatever they did was at the behest of that party. While the Tea Party is in no way officially associated with the Republican Party, and they, in fact, deny any identification with the Republican Party, the connection between the two is strikingly obvious. They endorse only Republican candidates and they target only Democratic ones. Key Republicans, like Sarah Palin, openly identify with them and speak at their rallies. It would appear that the Republican Party is trying to ride the crest of the Tea Party’s wave of popularity, catering to them in order to gain their support in the upcoming elections. In this, the Republican Party is playing a very dangerous game, for the more they court Tea Party support, the more they become associated with the negative aspects of the Tea Party as well as with their shared ideologies. If the Republican Party wishes to avoid being identified with Nazi-like behavior, then they have to make it a point of sharply distancing themselves from such behavior, making it abundantly clear that they will have absolutely no truck with those who strive to go beyond dialogue, debate, and the democratic process and rather choose to travel the path of violence and hate mongering in order to achieve their political ends. Until the Republican Party is ready to do that, their silence presents itself as endorsement. If you lay down with dogs, you may get up with fleas.
Let me make myself perfectly clear. The Republican Party, the Tea Party; these are organizations. Their identity is directly tied to their ideology and also to the actions that are taken in their name. That is in no way to say that every member of these organizations are also, individually, to be so identified. That cannot even be said for the individual members of the Nazi Party, for there were people in Germany who joined the Nazi Party for various reasons, but who, themselves, did not personally identify with all of Nazi ideology and were repulsed by some of the actions of Nazi Germany, including its persecution of the Jews. This is to say that being a Republican or being a member of the Tea Party does not automatically mean that one identifies or agrees with every aspect of their party’s ideology or activity. There have been several reports of Tea Party members who have publicly denounced the violence that has taken place in the name of their party. However, there needs to be more such people. There need to be so many Tea Party members who step forward in this fashion that they make it abundantly clear that anyone who promotes or perpetrates violence and hatred have themselves stepped outside of the Tea Party tent. As far as the Republican Party members are concerned, there need to be more members of the Republican Party who are willing to express their discomfort with the growing relationship between their party and the Tea Party, that is as long as the Tea Party does not effectively separate itself from those violent elements within it.
Here are the links to two Youtubes which should help demonstrate why I am so concerned about the effects of the Tea Party in our society today: