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This week in my political science course, I am charged with the responsibility of covering the topic of fascism.  In my studies and research to prepare for class, I cannot help but notice the connections between organized religion and fascist governments, literally and metaphorically.  Anyone with a solid understanding of world history cannot deny the blood and tyranny that accompany a theocracy.  Human experience is peppered, no smothered, with examples of religious justification for attrocities of all varieties. 

But the the similarities are striking, even when the two institutions are theoretically separated.  Both indoctrinate people with an ideology that requires a surrender of rational/logical/critical thought in exchange for blind faith in authority (divine or human).  Propaganda and symbolism are pervasive.  Both rely heavily on a culture of fear to motivate the behavior of people.  This also requires an intentional eroding of personal power of the individual in order to foster a dependency on the authority and guidance from above.  It is made clear that people cannot be trusted to think for themselves. Rather, because of our sinful, weak disposition, we are encouraged to suspend personal will or reason and adhere to a dogma or doctrine that is provided for us.  Both are arrogant and self-righteous in their absolute nature, attacking anyone who questions their validity.  Great effort is taken to avoid a thorough investigation into historical context, because connecting the dots would threaten the necessary myth that keeps people in conformity.  Truth is whatever the religious or government leaders tell you, even if it conflicts with science, logic, or your own conscience. 

 This is all particularly relavent in the US right now, because our current administration has made it clear that religion and politics BELONG together and neither should be questioned.  In fact, traditional conservatism, as theorized by Edmund Burke in the 1700s, proposes that human reason cannot be trusted and therefore the government must provide a framework of moral values based on long-standing traditions.  Burke actually advocates that the older the moral teachings, the more trustworthy they are likely to be.  Todays conservatives make no effort to conceal the fact that they believe the Bible is the ultimate source for determining moral tradition, and they rely on those teachings to oppose civil rights and encourage submission to authority. 

How can a free society function when critical thought and reason are discouraged (and often punished) and the ethical foundations of policy are rooted in a mythical theology designed to control and convert?  This is where we are going, folks.  Our system of checks and balances and rational interpretation of law has been overthrown by a cult of wealthy elites and brainwashed sheep who believe the moral authority of a supreme diety (as exercised through Christian leaders and our God-fearing administration) trumps personal liberties!  I am not just talking about the fundamentalists!  This ideology is now mainstream in the ranks of conservative politics. 

The scariest part of all of this is the involvement of Americas financial elite.  The marriage of religion and government is far more dangerous when it expands to a love triangle with greed.  There is a documentary that addresses much of this topic in detail.  Watch it.  Think about it.  Do your own research to investigate the claims that are made.  This will NOT be an easy assignment.  You will probably find many reasons why you do not have the time or you simply do not want to be bothered with so much brain-spinning information.  But information is power, and ignorance results in death of conscience and control when you abdicate the thinking to others without informed oversight. Who will look out for you if you are too busy or too overwhelmed to look out for yourself? 

In the words of a Great man, MLK, : ” Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.  Never forget that everything that Hitler did in Germany was legal.  A nation or a civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.” 

http://zeitgeistmovie.com/main.htm

(Kudos to my new friend TwoBlueDay for inspiring me to rant in this delightfully fun display of sarcasm.)

1. I worked hard to become a wasteful, elitist glutton so please stop telling me I’m destroying the world with my lifestyle.

2. Of course I deserve it all.

3. Unlimited economic growth is the only way to go (even if it resembles a cancer).

4. If you disagree with me, you’re an asshole. If you disagree with our government, you’re a terrorist.

5. If you can’t stop bitching about your civil liberties, you need to move to Canada.

6. You’re either with us or against us.

7. Why should I care that half the world lives in absolute poverty, dying of starvation and hidden landmines, when our own higher cost of living forced me to downgrade to standard cable and an economy car?

8. Blame the French!

9. Literal and strict interpretation of the Constitution (much like the Holy Bible) is the only way to ensure we maintain the Manifest Destiny status quo of our sexist, slave-owning, native-murdering forefathers. 

10. Free trade is fair trade, because survival of the fittest always creates an equal playing field for rural African farmers against corporate US agriculture backed by billions in government subsidies.

11. When in doubt, bomb the shit out of anything that moves.

12. When will these people learn that they are sitting on top of OUR oil?

13. Innocent until falsely accused.

14.  4,000 US soldiers dead? God bless them for liberating those poor Iraqi people.  Please pass the mashed potatoes.

15. Why can’t those fucking Africans stop killing each other? The Europeans could learn a thing or two from us about how to control their niggers when they give them their independence.

16. God made me do it.

17. When you live in this country, you must speak English, and when I visit your country, you must speak English.

18. They only attack us because they hate our freedom.

19. It’s not my fault that being born white gives me a 300 year family advantage of access to owning property, accumulating wealth, and acquiring college education. 

20.  Being gay is completely unnatural.  They should just devote their lives to celibacy. 

21. People who commit crimes are animals who deserve no mercy, unless they do it wearing an Armani suit. 

22. What’s good for me is definitely not good for you.

 23. Killing innocent people is murder, unless you do it in the name of freedom.

24. Torture is inhumane, unless you use it to interrogate people who don’t speak your language or practice your religion. 

25. I’m sorry.  Do I look like I care?

I apologize for my long absence from the blogging world.  Apparently, as powerful creators, we must be careful what we wish for, because it often shows up in our reality.  I love teaching college and I was disappointed with the three-course maximum that an adjunct instructor is permitted at any single institution.  After a few weeks of distributing my standard employment package to various schools in the area, I ended up teaching six college classes (4 different subjects) at three different schools in two New England states.  This was a serious logistical/time-management challenge, particularly since each school runs on a unique academic calendar.  Of course, I have also been busy with the task of hiring a property attorney to address the three lawsuits surrounding my family’s two-lot subdivision and tending to the details that accompany such experiences. 

Fortunately, my original three-course load has ended, and I am in the middle of a two-week break where I only teach my new three courses.  But starting on April 7, I’ll add two new courses to redeem my insane schedule. The subjects I presently teach have morphed to include sociology, social anthropolgy, political science and psychology.  How am I qualified to teach such a variety of material?  This remains unlcear to me, but I love a challenge.

 What has prompted me to return to the virtual page (aside from a friendly nudge from TwoBlueDay) is another forwarded email I received from right-wing think-tanks. I won’t include the contents here (http://thevoice.name/?p=4426), but they essentially contained a scathing denouncement of our US senators who voted against an official national language bill in 2006. Basically, it encourages the citizens to impeach these senators as traitors for failing to uphold the Pledge of Allegiance. 

 My reaction to this message encompasses a broad response to the general culture of fear in this country that distracts citizens from critical issues surrounding this administration and the welfare of our nation.  While illegal immigration and national security are certainly legitimate concerns for all Americans, there is a fundamentalist faction within our borders that would like to highlight issues that divide us and distract us from what is truly important. 

Beyond the political ball and cup game, I am most disturbed by the recent trend to label dissenters, protesters or nonconformists as “traitors” or “enemies of the state.”  If conservative pundits have their way, anyone who disagrees with the present adminstration or, more accurately, conservative politics must be deemed unpatriotic and a threat to America. 

The extreme version of this movement toward polarized nationalism is evidenced by the direction of anti-Arab and anti-illegal alien sentiment toward senators who refused to legislate English as the official language for the United States.  Fear and hatred unite to demonize the unknown or the unexpected as a traitorous action. 

The entire issue is ridiculous.  We’ve managed to survive for over 200 years since we ratified our Constitution WITHOUT an official language as per capita immigration has actually decreased.  Why are we (the strongest military powerhouse on the planet) so threatened by those who speak other languages on our soil when the vast majority of countries in the world have NO official language and commonly speak multiple languages within their borders?  I smell  neo-fascism. 
  
People really should find more important issues to whine about that legitimately pose a threat to civil liberties in this country… like warrantless searches, government surveillance of civilians, labeling dissenters as “enemies of the state”, government sanctioned torture in military prisons, privatized military units like Blackwater operating nationally and internationally without accountability to the American people, the growing movement toward a Christian theocracy, serious proposals to amend the Constitution to deny gay marriage, and a news media that panders to profit and the politics of corporate elite.
 
Americans wouldn’t be so bent out of shape about an official language if they weren’t too lazy or stupid to become bilingual.  We have the largest population of monolingual people on the planet.  Globalization is here, folks, and we’re so distracted with scratching our asses, watching our reality television, and buying shit we don’t need on credit to notice that we’re behind the curve.  Hell, India just became the largest English-speaking country in the world.  If we weren’t so damn ethnocentric and self-righteous we might actually take a minute to LEARN something about the world instead of forwarding propaganda from right-wing think tanks to make us feel better about our simple-minded, self-centered existence.
 
Really… traitorous?  Pathetic. 

Ice shelves are breaking up, the US has a $9.4 Trillion debt, we’re spending billions each month on the war in Iraq, our economy is in recession with the value of the dollar dropping everyday, we’re the most obese nation in the world (ranked 46th in the world in life expectancy), 180,000 Floridians were disenfranchised during the 2000 presidential election and nobody seems to mind (http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/vote2000/report/ch9.htm), heathcare is a mess, our government is stripping civil liberties, our education system and technology is lagging behind the rest of the high-income nations…
and somebody seriously wants me to give a shit about the a legal formality that would essentially confirm what we’ve known for our entire national history: 
Americans speak English!  Holy shit!  Alert the press! 
No, let me get this straight… I’m supposed to condemn our elected leaders, NAY impeach them, for failing to support the ideology of a national official language because it violates the Pledge of Allegiance?  Now which version of the  Pledge exactly… the first one that lasted for 31 years:
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
or the second one that lasted for another 31 years:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
or the third version that’s been around since 1954:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Should I be offended that our Great Seal of the United States and our currency all contain our motto in Latin?!?  Or should I live as if that motto, which honors the strength of our diversity, is the foundation of a liberty-loving society?
E pluribus Unum
“Out of many, One.”