Stanley Milgram demonstrated conclusively that you ARE capable of the most heinous of atrocities against your fellow life-travelers. (http://psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20020301-000037.html) Indeed, every human being is, and will, if the circumstances are suited to the evil, willingly, even willfully, perpetrate the atrocities.
Mob-think is only one of the conditions prerequisite of extraordinary behaviors all of us might prefer to pretend we simply would never engage. That we would is perhaps the strongest argument on behalf of extraordinary vigilance. And not only have religions been no bulwark whatsoever against the most appalling conduct, they are as they have so often through history proven: the generative advocates of the horrific profligacy. Milgram’s experiment added weight — as if any was needed — to Voltaire’s maxim that “He who can lead you to believe an absurdity can lead you to commit an atrocity.” (Whether pagan, or Roman Catholic, or Protestant, or Mormon, or Jewish, or Moslem, no matter: all are condemned by their undeniable pasts, some by their presents.)
But, why? Why beat on about this . . . now?
For one, it is a residuum of our reptilian past, lying insidiously just beneath the surface, ever prepared to betray the better angels of our nature. And its short path to the surface is fear. For seven years, American citizens have been enculturated to reflexively — Pavlovian like — respond to that fear. The evidence surrounds us, far too many have far too easily succumbed to the call.
Second, and by far the most urgent reason, is that the far-right wing of the GOP — not a small, nor quiet, nor cautious, nor ineffectual element of the Republican Party — has for some time been feverishly stoking the embers of xenophobia, and the radiating heat and hatred are palpable.
February 2, the Washington Post featured a story elaborating precisely how rabidly shrill have become those who fulminate over our illegal immigration dilemma. Not counting the native-born, fully American citizen offspring of those who have entered the country illegally, estimates put their numbers somewhere near 12 million. No one really knows. The cries, however cannot be missed that all of them and their children should be deported; if not yesterday, then at the earliest moment possible.
Either forgotten or deliberately ignored altogether are the process and direct and indirect costs that would be necessary to effect such a policy. It’s “I don’t care, just get ‘em out of here!” And the thin appending threat behind the clamor is, “If you don’t, I sure as hell will!” And we know what you mean, and we know that you can, because you have.
Every one of us knows 100% about the other times, in other places as well as right here in America; the blind hatred that crucified the early Christians was that that propelled the Crusades, and the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans by Andrew Jackson, and Wounded Knee, and by the good-Christian white-hooded men in our South, and by good Germans at Auschwitz, and by superior-raced Japanese at Nanking, and it’s all so damned easy for the blood to flow, once hatred infuses boiling hot blood!
In the cited article, a fellow named Horst Kraus, 77, said he immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1960. He now lives in Arizona, where Republicans outnumber everyone else 2 to 1. The rhetoric frightens Mr. Kraus. “Back then it was ‘Jews, raus’ — Jews out. Now it’s ‘Mexicans, out.’”
As example, the blog entries on Senator McCain are replete with the most vile vitriol. Rob Haney, the Party chair in McCain’s district, claims McCain will “lie about anything.” He’s “a traitor, not a conservative,” how Goldwater wasn’t “conservative enough.” John Acer, an attorney who attended a Republican state committee meeting, rants that McCain is “despicable. Dishonest. Duplicitous.”
As to the costs, to “get ‘em all the hell out.”
For starters, you’d have to (a.) build a force of more than 250,000 agents, or (b.) deputize the same number of “citizens” to locate the 12 million or so illegals. To that scenario two fair questions, however immediately arise: who’s going to cough up that kind of dough; a couple hundred billion, or so? Are you going to raise everyone’s, including your own, taxes, and/or what programs will you eliminate; education, emergency response, highway maintenance and repair . . . exactly which ones?
Next, you’d have to (a.) suspend via a constitutional amendment, or (b.) willy-nilly ignore the Constitution’s 4th Amendment prohibitions against unwarranted searches and seizures, in order to detain all who just don’t look and sound American enough, to demand their papers . . . just as they have done and just as they presently do in countries we all claim to despise. You want to forget about that one, which others will you dispose of, in your zeal? How about the right to free speech? Free speech can be pretty irritating. Or, maybe the right to a trial, and the right to be presented with evidence, and the right to face one’s accusers? A pain in the ass, that one is, sometimes.
I’ve heard the wailings, almost always couched in more polite argot. But it all means the same thing, and it all bubbles up from the same vat of poison.
Just do me a few favors, if those are your base sentiments. Don’t think I’m a dullard, unable to fathom where you’re coming from, or where you’re headed. I’m not a dullard. However I am an atheist, I have read the Bible through and through, and I can’t locate a single sentiment attributed to Jesus of Nazareth that on any level backs you up. So please, do not go to your church and pray to Jesus, or say a word of grace before any repast, then think you’ve got anything in common with the dear fellow. You don’t. Finally, at least not in my presence, do not put your hand over your heart or in any other fashion salute the American flag, or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. There’s nothing whatsoever that is the least ‘American’ about you. An accident of birth is precisely that, an accident. It takes genuine striving to America’s highest ideals to be an American. Sinking below them debases every precept.
And to those who would otherwise abide those who do express such profanities, in the words of Thomas Paine, in Common Sense, do not be so cowardly as to let the words pass unrebutted. These are not good people. And silence is, after all, accedence.