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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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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What Is One Of Your Favorite Movies?

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I have posted before about favorite books.  I will come back to that idea again in the not too distant future, but I was thinking about movies, because I am going to teach a hybrid online/traditional in-class course on Literature and Film at Muhlenberg College for The Wescoe School (the adult program) this summer. This will be an early question I will ask my students, so it is only fair that I think about it.

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My answer would be the same as if this question were for books: The Lord of the Rings by director Peter Jackson (all 3 movies considered to be one–the same as with the books.) I think this adaptation is one of the best adaptations of a book to movie that has ever been accomplished. I love the depth of the story, the issues raised of political power and corruption, war and peace, good and evil, life and death, love and hatred, industrialization and the decimation of the natural world, heroes, both large and small, and the connection of all people. I recommend this filmic adaptation to all.   Please also read the books!

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So, I ask everyone: what is one of your favorite films?

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.

 

 

 

Importance of Freedom of the Press

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In our current political climate, in which the Press has been attacked as somehow against the people, it is important to remember that a free Press was seen by the founders of the United States of America as a crucial element to keeping the nation free. Other thinkers have argued for the maintenance of the free Press as a necessary aspect of battling tyranny and supporting freedom. The Press is one of the institutions that must be preserved if the nation is to remain a free democracy.

One of the writers whose work most clearly illustrated the abuse of power and the effects of the suppression of the Press was George Orwell.

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“Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all,
means the freedom to criticize and oppose.”

                                                                            George Orwell

 

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In an example of the use of the free press itself, Teddy Roosevelt said, in an editorial in The Kansas City Star, 1918:

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

 

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Perhaps the most important words about the Press come from the paramount document for the country: The Constitution of the United States of America, The First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 

 

 

Needed Books For Our Time

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Some books speak to a specific time, and some reach across eras with their messages. Some include a message for a definite audience, while others span a more general readership.  And some times call out for certain books to be read.

Books are one form of the Media, which must remain free if freedom itself is to survive. Given the turmoil of our present time, I am suggesting these books as crucial reading for today’s world:

1984

 George Orwell

1984

(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

Night

Elie Wiesel

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(http://night2011.wikispaces.com)

It Can’t Happen Here

 Sinclair Lewis

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

 

Quotations on Integrity

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“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

                                                                      Martin Luther King Jr.

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“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters”

                                                                           Albert Einstein

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“A quiet conscience makes one strong!”

                                                                          Anne Frank

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)