“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Many years ago, during the McCarthy hearings, our nation was driven by false claims, innuendos, crazy accusations and lies.
Back then, it was the so-called Communists who were infiltrating all levels of our government and society. Attacks on public liberties were driven by leaders who looked to label fellow citizens as traitors, Communists and subversives seeking to destroy our way of life.
Not far in our distant past, we saw signs throughout America stating, “No Irish, No Jews, No Coloreds Need Apply.” Is this any different from the current bashing of Muslims, immigrants and transgender individuals?
I am not so sure that current demagogues and their supporters are driven by forgetfulness. This current madness is driven by an educated and cultivated understanding of how such actions can be utilized to drive public opinion that is left vulnerable by so much uncertainty in our world.
This week, right here in Wilton Manors, we were exposed to the hatred and delusionary opinions of those seeking to spread their vision of what America should be. Andrew Brett, President of the local chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, looked to proclaim his beliefs while draping himself in the Rainbow Flag in front of City Hall on Wilton Drive.
His speech was filled with accusations of how socialists, Muslim hordes and Sharia law will destroy American society.
Those of us old enough to be aware of the Red Scare that destroyed so many honorable citizens’ lives and reputations realize the all-too-familiar falsehoods and scare tactics that these demagogues are using to bamboozle fellow Americans today.
Residents of Wilton Manors should be more afraid of the conservative Religious Right gaining a stronger hold over our national government than of any chance in hell that Sharia Law might actually be something to be concerned about.
The hatred, racism and sexism that comes from our current President and his followers poses a much more immediate threat to my way of life here in Wilton Manors.
Thankfully, we have started to see some hope from religious thinkers as in the recent editorial in Christianity Today calling for the removal of President Trump.
My upbringing in a liberal Catholic family taught me to love my neighbor, to help those in need, and to be active in my community. The demonstration this week on the steps of our City Hall, was all about hatred, divisiveness, and a total disregard of inclusiveness in our community.
The utter insanity that these Log Cabin Republicans would drape themselves in the Rainbow Flag, a flag which represents inclusiveness and uniting a greater community, is beyond insulting.
Free speech is one thing, but we do not allow people to scream “Fire” in a crowded hall. Nor should we allow such demagoguery and lies to go unopposed and unchecked.
Thankfully, a band of citizens, led by my choice for Activist of the Year, Michael Rajner, were out in front of City Hall to make sure that Andrew’s lies and incoherent ramblings did not go unchecked.
This event made it clear that we must decide which side of the fence we are on. On one side is a world gone mad, where lies, dishonesty, bigotry, hatred, corporate money, and so much evil guides a call to action. On the other side is reason, rationality, honesty and the belief in the rule of law and of the common good. I did not mention Republican or Democrat on either side of the fence, because this argument goes beyond such labels. It goes to the core of how we view ourselves, our community, our institutions and our nation.
As we celebrate the life of a great American leader, the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let us remember his words and his work towards uniting us all in a better world. Dr. King did not preach greatness at the expense of others in our society.
His work on transforming those structures in society that allow some to flourish while denying opportunities to others rings true today as we see the wealthy 1% enrich themselves at the expense of so many in our society.
I grew up believing that America was the shining light in the world, that democracy, religious freedom, and our pluralistic society were the envy of the world.
Returning to these beliefs will make America great again. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go before we can reclaim these truths; but thanks to the efforts of many in our community, we have a fighting chance to reclaim the glory that is ours, and in so doing will make life just better here in Wilton Manors and from sea to shining sea.
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