I remember the 50s. I remember the 60s much more clearly. In school we ducked under desks in case of nuclear attack and lined up against the wall outside the classroom where no glass could splash on us. This was the Shelter Drill. We were told then there were lines everywhere there and there was nothing in the grocery stores, that you had to wait on line for food. This was life in the Soviet Union. Worse, you couldn’t be what you wanted to be; you had to be what they told you to be. You couldn’t practice your religion if you were Jewish or if you were anything but their religion, you couldn’t go to college unless they chose you to go, and you couldn’t speak out in any way against the government. Any infraction and you were sent to Siberia for life, where you froze to death, or you simply disappeared in the middle of the night never to be heard from again.
My aunt and uncle had their own business, a flower shop. The store did very well. They had a nice, private house and they drove Cadillacs. My cousin, their son, was so cool! He drove a Thunderbird convertible. My next-door neighbors had their own business too, Ace Lacquer. They drove Cadillacs as well and changed cars at least every three years but mostly sooner.
My family was working-class. My father was a WWII veteran, a POW in Nazi Germany for more than three years. He dropped out of high school during the depression so he could help support his family. I never heard him complain about these parts of his life and on the plus side, his boss before the war gave him back his job and with hard work and perseverance, despite my mother dying and leaving him with a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old, we did okay. We had a semi-attached house and he drove Chevrolets and finally Buicks. We didn’t have the luxuries of the business owners, but we were pretty well-off, considering everything. We went where we wanted, practiced our religion unfettered, said what was on our minds and never had to look over our shoulders to see if anyone from the government was coming after us.
The freedom I enjoyed: I thought that was what my father had fought for and suffered for.
Shoot forward to 2015, 70 years after World War II. Many of the kids in school couldn’t figure that out (If World War II ended in 1945 and now it’s 2015, how many years have passed?) without a calculator. These same kids don’t know anything about Hitler, totalitarianism, fighting for our survival. They don’t have any context for the Civil Rights movement, for segregation, racism, or even real oppression. In the midst of the Kool-Aid they’ve been served up by the likes of the Jane Fondas and Sean Penns and Al Sharptons, they celebrate dictators like Mao and the Castros and mock true statesman like Benjamin Netanyahu.
Okay! 2015. Been to the post office? Seen the lines? David Axelrod recently said that he was proud of the Obama administration for having gone six years without a major scandal. Benghazi, the IRS, Fast and Furious, Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, need I list more? How can he make such a statement with a straight face?
But this is not really meant to be political. Honest. 2015. 70% of the American people want the Keystone pipeline. 86% don’t want the immigration action the president took when looked at in the context of the American people’s polling on whether or not immigration should increase, decrease or stay the same as it is/was before his action. And worse! You can’t say “Merry Christmas,” have a nativity scene, wear pro-American T-shirts to school on certain days, etc. etc. etc.
When did America become like what we were taught the totalitarians did? When have the voices of Americans ever been so suppressed and their rights so limited? When have we as a nation become so “Kool-Aided” that we allow our leaders to completely ignore what we want and do what we know is not good for us–like spend us into oblivion, into debt so huge we can never recover from it while telling us they are reducing the deficit? (And by the way, unbridled debt has been the downfall of most republics.)
The Supreme Court is hearing a case about Obama Care. It was argued yesterday and one of the justices said you can’t take the certain words in question as they are but you have to look at them in the context of everything else to make it all harmonious. So, in harmonious context, the Castros aren’t bad because they didn’t kill as many as Mao and Mao wasn’t so bad compared to Hitler and given the overpopulation of the earth genocide is really okay because we are more harmonious when the Earth’s population is controlled. In harmonious context, eating babies is really quite okay, and all of this is quite okay, even if Iran eventually nukes some countries, Israel first, of course, because it is all in the context of keeping the ebb and flow of the earth’s population in harmony. Sing We are the World.
Who knows anymore what means what? Does anything mean anything? Aren’t specific words specifically clear?
Not too long ago I moved from one state to another. When I got my new drivers license, I declined to register my political affiliation because I was afraid I might get audited by the IRS. For the first time in my life I’m afraid of what feels like totalitarian and dictatorial forces in America, the country my father fought for and suffered three years in a Nazi POW camp for. He fought, as did so many, to keep us free. Just look at us now!
But… as one of the ones up for the Democratic nomination in 2016 says, you know that one who epitomizes the essence of what we were taught when they taught us that they have rules for the people and then special rules for the leaders, “what difference–at this point what difference does it make?” [if we become Soviet America here and now]. In fact, given the way Putin is acting, it would be really harmonious.