It Can Happen Here: A Lesson from Charlottesville, Virginia

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This will not be a post about my normal subjects.

In 1935 Sinclair Lewis’ book It Can’t Happen Here spoke to the issue that many Americans held that fascism could not occur in the United States of America. His book is satirical, frightening, and, unfortunately, still applicable.

Erik Larson’s nonfiction history book In The Garden of Beasts, 2011, detailed the experience of Ambassador Dodd in Berlin in the 1930s, during the rise and solidification of Hitler’s power, and it is a terrifying read.

We must always remember that it can happen here, that bigotry and hatred can lead to terrible results. That white nationalists and neo-nazis brought their horror and bigotry to Charlottesville, VA yesterday, resulting in violence and death should make all Americans, regardless of political party, Democrat, Republican, or Independent, aware of what can happen.

We should all be frightened of the possibilities of such hatred. We should also speak to the singular lack of condemnation by President Trump of the neo-nazis and white power groups. As President, he should not have said “on many sides.” This is an issue of hatred, brought by those who worship hatred and the defeated, in World War II, obscenities of Hitler. The President should have, without equivocation, stated his condemnation of their actions and beliefs.

We must always remember that fascism, bigotry, hatred, and dictatorship can occur here as it can anywhere. As Americans, whose freedom was paid for in blood, by those who fought in World War Two, we must speak out against such injustice and horror.

There should be no place for neo-nazis, white nationialists, and bigotry in the United States of America.

 

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Quotations on Bigotry

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I have tried to keep political discussion and commentary out of my blogposts, but there are times that demand commentary. Since World War Two, the U.S. Military has lead the way in integration, and today was a step backwards. Bigotry is justified by a fear of change, and such thinking must be challenged.

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“What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.”

                                                               Albert Einstein

 

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“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”

                                                   Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

 

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“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.”

                                                  John E. Lewis

 

Quotations on Reading

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“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

                                                                           Ray Bradbury

 

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“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.”

                                                                          Joyce Carol Oates

 

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“One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.”

                                                                          Carl Sagan

Favorite Science-Fiction Films of the 1920s: Metropolis

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Metropolis is a brilliant science-fiction film (1927) directed by Fritz Lang. This movie, recently restored to its entirety, is a disturbing look at the world of the future through  the eyes of visionaries in the 1920s. It is based on the novel of the same name by Thea von Harbou (1925). The book deals with a city created on the backs of exploited workers and run by the capitalist upper-class. It is also a love story, and it is set in the year 2026.

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Metropolis offers a powerful and damning social commentary on the effects of the ruling class, the capitalist industrialists who rule the world by using and crushing the ordinary people who build and fuel their wonderland. While the workers live underground in squalor and destitution, the upper-class live literally in palaces high above the ground. There they explore and indulge in numerous amusements including those sexual and athletic. This film is not a simple polemic but drives its message through a compelling story that shows the love between the Master of Metropolis’ son Freder and Maria, who lives in the underworld and serves as a kind of saint to the oppressed.

Frankenstein, 1931, owes a cinematic debt to the mad scientist in Metropolis, Rotwang, and his equipment. There he creates a robot woman, using the life force of Maria. Clearly the novelist, Mary Shelley and her book, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, first influenced this movie.

Lang’s cinematic vision is exquisite and deeply influential to filmmakers who followed him in exploring the idea of future cites. His soaring towers and buildings, high bridges with fast cars, and aircraft flying near the buildings are based on the designs of the modernists and futurists, and this concept is a clear model for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Certainly an argument can be made that Metropolis is a foundation for many other science-fiction movies.

This film is extraordinary, and the full version is now available on DVD. It is an important piece of cinematic history, and I give it my highest recommendation.

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Quotations on Justice

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“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

                                                                      Elie Wiesel

 

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“No man is justified in doing evil on the ground of expediency.”

                                                                      Theodore Roosevelt

 

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“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?”

                                                                       Eleanor Roosevelt

I Stand With the People of Manchester, England

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Once again, the people of the world have witnessed another horrific attack, this time on a group of concert-goers, many of them children, in Manchester, England. This terrifying attack and its  consequences are beyond horror. With great sorrow, I offer my prayers and thoughts to the people of Manchester.

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Trump’s Plan to Cut Funding From Meals on Wheels=Scrooge

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I do not usually deal with anything political on this site, but our times have become so extreme that I cannot pretend that writing and politics are disconnected in any way. Writers must speak our conscience.

Regarding President Trumps’s budget plan to make drastic cuts to Meals on Wheels, I remind everyone of that great writing, which was a morality tale and one of social critique: A Christmas Carol.

The ghost of his dead business partner, Jacob Marley, pays a visit to Ebenezer Scrooge to offer him a chance at redemption:

“But you were always such a good man of business, Jacob,” faultered Scrooge,

who now began to apply this to himself.

“Business!” cried the ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my

business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forebearance,

and benevolence, were, all, my business.” (Dickens 21)

The soul of a society, the spirit of a people, and the decency of a nation are largely determined by the treatment of the less fortunate. Cutting funding in any way for Meals on Wheels, which delivers food to those who might not otherwise eat, including many veterans, is an act of evil. We would do well to heed Dickens’ admonition.

Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. New York. Bantam. 1997.