“The question, ‘Why?’ forms at the moment you see your first death. It never goes away. It’s never answered.”—Helen Noakes
By Helen Noakes
“Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.”—Primo Levi, Holocaust Survivor
SAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris)—October 2016—It rumbled, the airplane that dropped the bomb. It rumbled and spat death with as much regard for the unarmed people going about their business on a bright day as an exterminator killing off ants. It tore apart their bodies, terrorized their city, and all at the whim of a power-hungry, narcissistic psychopath called Mao Zedong.
It’s the sounds that haunt me now, the rumble, the screaming sirens, the explosions. The acrid scent of death and fear are a close second to the sight of people torn to pieces, body parts transformed from human forms to bloody masses of flesh.
I was not quite four when confronted with those sights, those sounds, those scents of human suffering. But they’ve stayed with me; fuel my drive to engage in human rights issues, my fury at bombastic idiots who bellow, “Bomb the hell out of them!”
We in the United States can longer smugly point towards the mindless rhetoric of murderous dictators around the world. Those of us with consciences and an understanding of history recognize the symptoms of just such a maniac in the current Republican candidate. We see precisely the same dynamic unfolding in our country which unfolded to bring Stalin, Hitler, and Mao to power: a disenfranchised segment of the public who are being soundly bamboozled, an opportunistic political party desperate to maintain power, a complicit media, and the support of emboldened, perniciously bigoted organizations.
If you doubt what I’m saying, simply look at who this candidate chose to run his campaign—a white supremacist. Never mind the media’s choosing to refer to white supremacism as “the alt right.” It’s the white nationalist movement, plain and simple.
Of all the atrocities of violence, those perpetrated against children are arguably the most heinous. If they survive, children must live with the horrors they’ve experienced for the rest of their lives. I know whereof I speak.
What war does to children is indescribable. The wounds to the psyche never heal completely; they keep fear alive.
Years ago, I met again a Russian woman with whom I grew up. She and I were catching up on our lives, talking about people we knew. She found a photograph taken at a church social when we were 13, and proceeded to point out the people who had committed suicide rather than live with their memories. Twenty people out of 50 smiling kids in that photo could not bear to continue: there’s a high price to being a survivor.
This fear affected each of us quite differently. Some chose to end it all, others to live with an all-consuming fury which sometimes led to violence, still others to speak up, fight for people’s rights, and a few, to hide and deny all connection to reality.
My choice is clear.
Those of you who have read my columns know precisely where I stand. That’s why, when we were asked to write about fear, I chose to speak up against the decision some of us have made not to vote in this election.
Today, I heard a newsman say that the refrain delivered by many individuals regarding this election being the most important we’ve ever had was just the usual political rhetoric. Not so!
If Trump is not soundly beaten at the polls, he will propel this country into the darkest period of its history. His real beliefs about African Americans, Native Americans, Mexicans, Muslims, the rank and file workers of this country, the veterans, women, and children are manifest in everything he has done and continues to do. His current rehearsed little speeches are a ruse—and note, they are little. They are short because he’s being kept on a leash and his handlers are afraid that he’ll revert to his usual savagery unless they keep that leash very short.
If for no other reason than fear, vote against this dangerous bigot in November.
Because, my friends, after his pogroms against the South Americans and Muslims, he’ll attack anyone he perceives as an enemy, or simply to pander to the racist groups which he clearly values. Make no mistake: he’s ready to add his name to the triumvirate of Stalin, Hitler, and Mao. Ready, willing and able! Haven’t you heard him extol the virtues of our current-day dictators? He means it.
So be afraid. Be very afraid!