Commentary: Beware of politicians expressing hate

Young citizens, please register and vote, but, before you do, be certain to read “The Rise and Fall of Adolph Hitler” by William L. Shirer and “Narcissists Among Us” by Joe Navarro, both available in e-book format.

The extremes on the right of our political scene, especially represented by Donald Trump, are expressing the same hate-filled, divisive, deceitful ideas employed by Hitler in his rise to power in the 1930s. Your grandparents and great-grandparents may remember personally the horrific events of World War II that ruined nations all over the world and killed many millions of innocent people. It will, of course, be said “that can’t possibly happen in our country,” but Germans, many Europeans and most Americans thought the same at that time.

We must step back and look deeply into the basic character of those clamoring for power through the use of insults, lies, half truths, posturing and fear-mongering. Trump’s behavior is that of a rude bully, a pathological narcissist, a megalomaniac, always proclaiming his greatness and saying nothing of any reason or substance that could possibly solve the problems that face our nation and our world today. In fact, he has little understanding of what the fundamental problems are, only that he wants to have power at any cost.

His claim to “make America great again” actually is a blatant denial of how great our nation really is today, compared to those days just a generation or two ago when no Catholic, no African-American, no Latin-American, no woman, no Jewish person etc., could possibly dream of becoming president.

Even divorce was considered questionable for anyone considering a serious political career (Trump has been divorced several times). Or does he mean those “good old days” when there was no Social Security to help people have a reasonable chance at income in retirement? Or does he mean those “good old days” when Italians, eastern Europeans, “Negroes,” Jews, Catholics, Asians, etc., could legally be prevented from purchasing property in restricted areas; my parents had to sign a deed including a covenant restricting even their right to sell to those “others,” a covenant I’m proud to say they ultimately ignored in order to purchase the little farm where I grew up in western Pennsylvania.

Is this the “great” America we want to bring back? Of course there is serious work to do and there always will be; life itself is “a work in progress” for each of us, and so it is for the nation. We are facing many problems and fears, but we must work together responsibly, respectfully, in a spirit of true cooperation (tempered with kindness and self-discipline) within our entire human family, without the name-calling, fear-mongering, divisive, irresponsible rhetoric that so many of the rightwing conservatives (especially Trump) are putting forth.

Building walls (literally or figuratively) will solve nothing – many despots and demagogues have tried and failed with that strategy, e.g., the Roman Empire in its fading years. In fact, walls, purges, concentration camps, etc., are symptomatic of nations that are losing their way and typical of leaders who are interested only in their vicious, maniacal hold on power.

Our nation is great because of our rich diversity, including indigenous peoples, the original inhabitants of this magnificent land, who have so much to teach about wise stewardship of the Earth’s beauty and resources, and to whom this nation owes an enormous debt. (Explore the works of Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, biologist, author, university professor and indigenous American).

Rather than expelling those who look or sound a bit different and creating “scapegoats” for our various problems, our acceptance and respect for diversity will continue to build for our nation true strength and world-wide esteem.

Young people – please read, study, think and listen carefully. Charm, charisma, bluster can be seductive and exciting, but beware.  And please teach your parents and grandparents what you learn.

E. A. Temple is a resident of Frederick County.

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