Like most sane people around the world, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the events in Paris last Friday. Shocked and saddened but not surprised. Having lived in Manhattan during the September 11th attack and its long aftermath, almost nothing seems to surprise me any more. Let me please tell you, though, that I am far less fearful of foreign terrorists than I am of our own homegrown variety. And by that, I’m not referring to those disaffected young men, usually white, who shoot up movie theaters and classrooms (thinking of them as “troubled mentally”and not as “terrorists.”). Nor am I even referring to the Christian zealot abortion clinic bombers or a whole host of malcontents that peppers the American landscape.
No, those I fear most are the politicians and a sycophantic press who indulge in an orgy of fear mongering. They twist reality to fit their own self interests. And these days the odor of fear and the chickenhawks’ drumbeat for more war fills the air, or, rather, the airwaves.
– Haven’t we been here before? “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” Wasn’t that Dick Cheney’s mantra (while he simultaneously made millions for Halliburton as hundreds of thousands died)?
-Now we have the likes of tough talking human embarrassment Chris Christie, who wants us to be fearful of three year old Syrian orphans. I’m sure he sees that as a winning position to garner the attention of the troglodyte base of his party to boost his standing in the polls.
-Now we have the leading Republican presidential candidate, the carnival barker Donald Trump, stating most eloquently and “presidentially”, that “I’ll bomb the shit out of all of them.” And the “Take Back Our Country” crowd growls with delight.
-Now we have the supposed “smart” Bush brother, Jeb!, along with the idiot incarnate, Ted Cruz, say Christian refugees would be welcome, but not the others. “Others” in this case refer to non christians, I suppose. So, to my Jewish friends, atheist friends and non-believers of all stripes, you have no place in the America of the 21st Century.
– Then, of course, we have the NRA, Faustian owners of the souls of much of Congress, who insist that people on the Terrorist Watch List are entitled to buy and own automatic weapons because they have constitutional rights too.
Etc., etc., etc.
Just remember the words of Sinclair Lewis who said, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Fascism lingers on our doorstep, waiting for that door to fly open. That’s what we should be worried about.
When you sit down to dinner next Thursday, give thanks for all that you have and all that you are fortunate enough to share with family and loved ones. Think for a moment of the luck of your birth, in this great and fine country of ours. Then think of the sixty million human beings on our planet who are currently displaced. They only want the same that we do, what any human being wants. And then think of the proverb “There but for the grace of God go I.” You could just as easily have been one of them.
Three years ago, this past week, Cindy and I were in Paris for a show I was in during Paris Photo Week. The image above was a quirky favorite of mine taken in Paris’s Pantheon. It shows the shadow of Voltaire quietly watching over his tomb. I think often of his exhortation to “tend one’s own garden.” Mine, fortunately, is filled with evidence of the history of life on this planet, of which we are a small part.
Since I usually post on Thursdays I’ll be taking a break next week. So let me offer my best wishes to you and yours for a safe and happy Thanksgiving.