The Recorder - My Turn: Stand Up and Make Yourself Count

Published: 03/29/2022 14:10:23 Modified: 03/29/2022 14:09:27 When I was 10, I was allowed to take New York public transit to school...



Published: 03/29/2022 14:10:23

Modified: 03/29/2022 14:09:27

When I was 10, I was allowed to take New York public transit to school. On board, one of the advertisements particularly caught my attention. It proclaimed in bold block letters: “Rise up and be counted in the fight against Communism.” The slogan included a graphic of an all-American Everyman standing with his arms akimbo, gazing upward at the Lighthouse of Liberty. No doubt he would oppose communism by denouncing his liberal neighbors to the House Un-American Activities Committee (when my parents were stationed in Texas during World War II, their neighbors thought they were communists because they had spent their honeymoon in Europe!)

As the world watches in horror as Vladimir Putin’s forces in Ukraine destroy maternity hospitals, apartment buildings, women’s and children’s shelters and other civilian targets, I watch in equal horror as American conservatives in right to cheer Putin and openly support Russia. . The American right has degenerated to the point of emulating Putin’s big lies about Ukraine’s non-existent bio-labs and his “genocidal neo-Nazi” government, a bizarre accusation considering it is led by a Jew whose ancestors were murdered by the Nazis. To add to the madness, QAnon, the racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy cult, believes COVID-19 started in Ukraine, not China.

Lost in the footage of the invasion of Ukraine is a short clip of a Russian tank proudly displaying the old red flag of the Soviet Union, emblazoned with the hammer and sickle of communism.

American conservatives supporting Vladimir Putin, a former communist KGB agent? Ronald Reagan must be turning in his grave.

World experts have joined President Zelensky in portraying the war in Ukraine as a struggle between democracy and autocracy. But this fight started in the United States years ago and has only gotten worse for those of us who favor the former. This has taken the form of sleazy Republican voter suppression tactics in a myriad of states and, lately, in the assault on free speech, gender equality and the blatant censorship of thought-provoking literature. . The emblematic child of America’s authoritarian dictatorship is, of course, Donald Trump, an outspoken admirer of Putin’s “genius” who has never been shy about expressing his distaste for the democratic process and his wish to be president for life. The fact that 70% of Republicans still believe his big lie about a stolen election in 2020 is chilling evidence that our beloved institutions are in jeopardy.

Historically, in times of stress and uncertainty, people gravitate towards a strongman, especially if the previous democracy was weak and ineffective. Examples include the Weimar Republic of pre-Nazi Germany, the Russian Kerensky Provisional Government before the Bolsheviks overthrew it in 1917 and, more recently, the upheaval suffered under the inept administration of Boris Yeltsin. Adolf Hitler was elected by a popular majority and despite his seizure of absolute power, was adored by the German people.

The attack on American democracy has not gone unnoticed. Freedom House, which has tracked the rise and fall of global democracies for more than 75 years, now ranks the United States 59th, behind Argentina and Mongolia. In their report, they warned that we face “an acute crisis for democracy” due to our limitation of political and civil freedoms. A Swedish think tank specializing in the same subject has added the United States to its list of “declining democracies”.

Another aspect of autocratic dictatorship is the need for a convenient scapegoat to channel people’s anger, fear and resentment. We must never forget that Donald Trump launched his 2016 presidential campaign by targeting Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers. That’s all it took. It was like putting a match in a puddle of gasoline. The puddle being the innate racist fears of dark-skinned people who take power when in fact all they really want is to be included in the American dream. The Republican attack on critical race theory has less to do with “protecting our children” than with rewriting history from a white supremacist perspective.

Now is the time for Americans to stand up and be counted in the fight against authoritarianism. While democracy can be imperfect, Winston Churchill understood it well with his famous quote.

“Many forms of government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one claims that democracy is perfect or omniscient. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the other forms that have been tried from time to time.

Daniel A. Brown lived in Franklin County for 44 years and is a frequent contributor to The Recorder. He lives in New Mexico with his wife Lisa and his dog Cody.



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