I think it was Mark Twain who suggested that while history may not repeat itself, it seems to rhyme.
Today, an administration is sowing handfuls of seeds of doubt about the legitimacy of our election. It seems not to matter whether these seeds are fertile. They may be cracked, outdated or in some other way had their germ rendered ineffective. Their fertility though, their effectiveness in growing into real proof of election fraud, has not been their purpose.
The purpose of President Trump and his lawyers has really been to stir up and reinforce his base of support. Otherwise why would they be talking about campaign-like rallies to muster large crowds. Their hope is to enrage Americans into believing that core values and institutions are corrupted. Truth is not the goal, propaganda is.
A rhyme? On this day in 1938, a ‘spontaneous, popular riot’ was fomented in protest of the killing of a German diplomat by a Polish Jew. The Nazi Government did not officially endorse the popular response of smashing windows of Jewish businesses and the burning of premises. But police and firemen were restrained from responding. This Night of Breaking Glass, Kristallnacht, is considered to have initiated the massive persecution of Jews. Propaganda Minister Goebbels had launched the Holocaust.
Have we forgotten, probably we did not even know, that Nazi is an abbreviation for the German word Nationalsozialist and is short for Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, NSDAP, National Socialist German Worker’s Party. Here the word ‘socialist’ is proudly proclaimed as a Fascist identity, meaning ‘popular.’ There is no corresponding alliteration or rhythm in this rhyme, but an analogy is hard to miss.
When our across-the-street neighbors filled their front yard with ‘Blue Lives Matter’ flags and one-sided Trump banners aimed across the street, we decided we wouldn’t ask their adolescent boys to tend our plants in our absence. These neighbors, I’ll call them Kim and Mark, have been our friends for a decade. That relationship has survived by an absence of any political conversation since we all knew we stood on opposite sides of the street.
Kim and Morgan apparently took offense at our asking another neighbor to water the flowers instead of their sons. They have signaled their sentiment by ceasing even a semblance of communication. Not so much as a wave or a grin has floated across the street since September.
This section of West State Street is polarized. It might as well be the DMZ at Korea’s 38th parallel; no loud speakers though, it is a wall of silence, an impenetrable barrier from both sides. Since neither Jane nor I can imagine how anyone with even a modicum of intelligence or a smattering of morality can be supportive of a Trump second term, we do not intend to attempt to re-establish any fellowship.
Ours is a microcosm of the alienation that plagues our country. Combine this political chasm with a COVID-19 pandemic and isolation is as confining and claustrophobic as I can imagine contemporary life can be. I would guess that, except perhaps in border States, our Civil War did not cause such a reign of rancor between neighbors.
Has the social fabric of our nation been so ripped apart that it cannot likely be mended soon? Having been born under FDR in 1940, I do not have all that long to ponder that question. I fear though, that it shall take a newer deal than any proposed to patch the fabric. Have you even a thimble full of hope?