I predict that unscrupulous and frightened campaign schemers and strategists within the Republican Party (such as Karl Rove) will convince their followers of the necessity of focusing the 2008 presidential campaign on xenophobia—fear of outsiders. Like all good fascists throughout history, they’ll find themselves “reluctantly forced” to flood the airwaves and internet with compelling commercials, “information,” “news stories,” “facts” and “statistics,” convincing a nervous American public that the only thing standing between “us” and a fatal, up-close-and-personal, all-out collision with a horde of terrible “others” so not-like-us as to be sub-human, is to vote Republican.
Unless the Democratic party immediately plans strong opposing strategies to defang and declaw this deep-pocketed “terrorize and divide” media onslaught before it “takes,” Republicans—and the corporatocracy—will win in ‘08. They have already begun their incessant, highly effective drumbeat of fear.
Right-wing talk-show extremists—politicians, preachers, “experts,” business leaders—terrorists all—are already terrorizing the public with their visions of danger, scarcity, and death, hammering their variations on their single essential theme: “If you don’t vote Republican, you and your loved ones, sooner than you think, will be left alone to live and die, poor and horribly, because of “outsiders.’”
A host of demagogic hacks have already been at it for quite some time, arguing their “common-sense practicalities” of greed and hate, urging the xenophobic exclusion, rejection, marginalization, and dehumanization of Muslims, “illegals,” many legal immigrants, all non-English speakers, non-Christians, “strange people,” “different” people, foreigners in general, and non-traditional Americans in particular—that is, everyone they want us to fear and hate, especially those whose national resources the corporatocracy covets.
Presenting themselves as tough-guy loners and unselfish freedom-fighters, they glamorize pre-emptive, retaliatory, and vengeful violence, justify torture, cruelty, and state terrorism, and rationalize putting the constitution on hold. They talk about our ever-more sadistic, cruel, irrational new adversaries, and invent new even-badder-guys (to keep war profiteers smiling) whenever the terrifying old enemies (whether the Krauts, Japs, Reds, Gooks, Slopes, Ragheads, terrorists, etc.…) no longer terrify.
Americans are increasingly urged by such effective and costly advertising to join whatever shaky, convenient and temporary political alliances-of-the-day can be scraped up, to fight pointless no-holds-barred trillion-dollar wars against everyone-not-like-us who is trying to steal “our” (Middle-Eastern, African, South American, East Asian…) oil, gold, plutonium, copper, etc.
We’re incessantly warned of the imminent dangers of diversity—the perils that follow welcoming foreigners, the menaces lurking in helping the poor, the risks inherent in sharing our neighborhoods and lives with those of different colors, religions, political beliefs, traditions, heritages, nationalities, and ethnicities.
We’re urged to wedge ourselves, however inappropriately and temporarily, within the fat-cat Republican-insider club, in hopes of staying alive and safe for at least a little while longer within their smug, prosperous ranks. They’ll meanwhile insist that we also embrace every political decision that widens the gap between haves and have-nots, and that promotes the interests of the wealthy at the expense of “them”—that is, “us”—while urging us, one more time, to look away in fear from the real political issues that matter most to people everywhere, the issues without borders, for at least just long enough for the Republicans to be re-elected for four more catastrophic years.
Yes, Virginia, there really are some very bad terrorists out there, and not a few of them are currently holding top positions in the Republican Party.
One of the toughest sub-plots in planning an effective, pre-emptive anti-fear campaign strategy to carry us through the 2008 campaign will be making our message of unity and inclusiveness so convincing and compelling that it will win over even current Republican leaders and gather them back into our forgiving, accepting fold, along with the rest of the world’s lost lambs. Yes, that means even Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and George Bush….
Most of the complexity and confusion in politics these days arises from misunderstandings about a competitive concept of “us” and “them.”
There is no “them.” There is only “us.”
Barack Obama is right about Hillary’s foreign policy: it’s a rehash of the same-old Bush/Cheney fear-and-greed nonsense, the same tired politics of in-crowds fighting to hold back the great-unwashed.
Unfortunately, too many of us still warily regard ourselves as alone and under attack in the world, when in reality, we are all one, a big happy eternal family, inseparable parts of a spiritual whole, even though we often don't recognize this truth. The great-unwashed are not “them;” they are “us,” and cannot be held back, nor should they be. When parts of our family can’t go much longer without food, when they need energy to stay warm or cool and to move their bodies to necessary places, when we feel separated at the level of basic needs of physical organisms, then we need national political leaders like Mandela, Gandhi and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who see us all as one, who represent all of “us,” who can lead all people everywhere to deeper recognition of their wholeness.
Even the “haves” today are coming reluctantly to realize they can no longer hide behind their bodyguards, or the gates of private schools and guarded enclaves, because technology has shrunk our planet down to a marble. The world’s problems now hit home faster than ever.
The great threats mankind faces today ignore borders, arising as they do from a sense of disunity. These threats, which cannot be solved competitively, but only through global cooperation, include nuclear proliferation, organized crime, poverty, infectious diseases and unsupportive health conditions and attitudes, environmental degradation, armed conflicts of all kinds, including wars both within and among nations, terrorism, the global arms trade, mass migrations, injustice, hopelessness, hunger, greed, natural disasters, ignorance, addiction, prejudice, pornography, homelessness, hate, fear, anxiety, civic alienation, loss of conscience, excessive taxation, crumbling infrastructures, more and more “enemies,” violence itself…. The list of threats without borders is long and continues to grow rapidly.
Our catastrophic and costly bumbling-world-cop approach to stemming the inexorable insistence of the world’s irrepressible have-nots only further burdens our children and grandchildren with unpayable debts for political wars of greed and fear which have a great many losers, and no winners.
The only way to lick ‘em is to join ‘em. Instead of holding at arm’s length the world’s hungry, envious and angry, instead of arming dictators or beating enemies into submission or bombing them flat, we can change the way we feel and act toward “others.” We can learn to view all people as our brothers and sisters, and to see all hostile actions as a cry for help.
We can follow the second commandment—“Love your neighbor as your self.” The best way to get rid of an enemy has always been to turn that enemy into a friend. Following Jesus’ example, we cannot give up until we have found and taken in even that last lost lamb, knowing tihat if we lose that one, if we leave behind even one “outsider,” then all are lost.
Our only real scarcity is our temporary scarcity of trust in our own and one another’s caring. There are plenty of goods, there is plenty of love and generosity, plenty of appreciation and gratitude for kindnesses large and small, plenty of everything that is needed to go around, when we learn to pull together. As Jesus taught us when he shared the loaves and fishes, there will be enough for all of us when we all give of what we have….
Our identity as a nation cannot rest upon a dusty list of yesterday’s ideals. We create our national identity every day; it emerges moment-to-moment from our chosen relations with the earth, water, and sky, with other species, with our families and neighbors, co-workers and leaders, fellow-citizens and those in every land across the globe, including the powerful and the poor, the wealthy and the weak, the sick and the old, the fearful and the vengeful; yes, even Republicans….
How we choose to view and treat others—however well or ill—inevitably comes from how we see ourselves. And how we see ourselves determines how we will see and treat others. If we see ourselves as spiritually isolated and threatened, then that’s how we’ll see others. If we know our best selves to be caring, accepting and forgiving, we will know that people everywhere are the same, even if some of us have leaders who are temporarily insane.
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