Having watched the films "Spotlight," "Trumbo," and "Selma" on my trans-Atlantic flight this past Monday, I think it’s fair to say that I’m rather short on patience when it comes to the subject of ruthless dark souls willing to destroy the lives of innocents as a means for advancing their insidious political agendas. Which I think is an appropriate way for one to feel over this 4th of July weekend celebrating the birth of our nation of immigrants and refugees.
The subject of intolerance is not new to me, for I’ve spoken out several times before against Greece’s neo-Nazi political party, Chrysi Avgi aka Golden Dawn and its use of violence against those it considers less than Greek. (“Greece Cannot Allow That to Happen,” August 11, 2012, and “I Will Not be Silent,” June 30, 2012).
Nor is immigrant-directed violence elsewhere in Europe a surprise. It’s been on the uptick for years, fueled by the intolerant preaching of agenda-laden demagogues warning communities to band together to protect themselves from the invading foreign hordes. Undoubtedly, the recent flood of immigrants into Europe has made those communities far more susceptible to such messages of intolerance, giving false credence to the demagogues’ claims that people cannot trust their governments to be there for them.
They offer catchy buzzwords and blame, subtly directed at those of a different color, religion, national origin or sexual orientation. It is a longstanding favorite ruse, one used to generate that feeding frenzy of emotion demagogues rely upon to drive wedges between their proffered solutions and a principled civilized society.
Too often the technique works, especially when those who truly disagree with the message still find excuses for doing nothing to oppose it, or, worse still, see its success as a sort of retributive gesture to those in power. All one need do to see that awesome angry force in action is watch its march west from the Philippines elections, through the Brexit vote, and on into the US Presidential campaign.
That's Ali, second from left.
There is a hideous poisonous growth out there, spreading, taking root, and flourishing. Nothing we can do will ever stamp it out. Nothing. But we can cut it way back through vigilance and hard work. It will not be easy, for it grows tendrils far too easily, but fight it we must. If not, we have no one to blame but ourselves for the horrific consequences.
Yes, do not think you can blame the demagogues, for they are doing only what comes naturally to them.
Blame yourselves, because those who find convenient excuses for doing nothing in the face of obvious impending horror have only themselves to blame for the consequences.
These are truly times that try one’s soul, and we must stand up and be counted for the sake of those like Ali, for the sake of our nations, our world, ourselves.
––This is Saturday, my name is Jeffrey Siger, and I approved this message.