When cold-blooded murder is committed, and even encouraged, in the name of liberalism, a serious alarm should ring throughout the country. Left unchecked, Nazism will grip the land of the free.
In December 1964, the Free Speech Movement was initiated at UC Berkeley when students carrying a “Free Speech” sign demanded the right to express their views freely. In March 2017, free speech passed away at UC Berkeley when students burned down the Free Speech sign in an attempt to muzzle supporters of President Donald Trump.
On the day of the burning, Loretta Lynch, former Attorney General in the Barack Obama administration, recommended in a video recording that “ordinary people, who see what needs to be done,” will take action. She reminded her viewers that in the past, people “have marched, have bled, and yes, some of them have died.” In conclusion, she stated, “We have done this before; we can do this again.”
Three months later, on June 14, 2017, an “ordinary” 66-year-old married man by the name of James T. Hodgkinson, who happened to share Lynch’s political views and was also a political activist for Bernie Sanders in the recent elections, did exactly what the former Attorney General had suggested. Hodgkinson armed himself with a gun and shot a senior member of the Republican Party, Congressman Stephen Joseph Scalise, while the latter was playing baseball—the game most associated with America.
Hodgkinson’s horrifying act and Lynch’s chilling call are part of a campaign that if not stopped, will end democracy in America. Comedian Kathy Griffin posted a picture of herself holding a mask of President Trump’s blood-covered severed head. Rap musician and actor Snoop Dog produced a video where he puts a fake gun to Trump’s head, fires it, and a “Bang” sign comes out the barrel. Afterwards, the president is seen tied up and humiliated. Just recently, a Central Park summer Shakespeare production of Julius Caesar appeared to portray the slain Roman dictator as President Trump.
Three days before the shooting of Congressman Scalise, the popular left wing blog Huffington Post published an essay titled “Impeachment Is No Longer Enough; Donald Trump Must Face Justice.” The subtitle read as follows: “Impeachment and removal from office are only the first steps; for America to be redeemed, Donald Trump must be prosecuted for treason and — if convicted in a court of law — executed.”
But the materialization of the threats did not deter extremists. On the contrary, it encouraged them! Republican congresswoman Claudia Tenney received an email that read, “One down, 216 to go.” Subsequently, the email continued, “Did you NOT expect this? When you take away ordinary people’s very lives in order to pay off the wealthiest among us, your own lives are forfeit.”
When Self-Righteousness and Moral Superiority Take the Helm—Beware!
Dramatic events such as the shooting of a congressman rattle us from within. For this reason, they are a great opportunity to change course. Congressman Rodney Davis (R) told CNN’s Brianna Keilar: “This hatefulness that we see in this country today over policy differences has got to stop.” In the same tone, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, stated, “It’s an injury in the family,” and soon after she added, “We will use this occasion as one that brings us together, not separates us further.”
Yet, unless the American government acts in consensus with the vast majority of members of Congress, from both sides of the political map, the initial shock will wane and hatred will fill the air again. The next incident will be worse for sure.
Since the early 1960s, America has been cultivating a culture of liberalism. Liberalism is a great idea as long as those who champion it recognize that we are nonetheless self-centered beings. If we forget this, then instead of centering on social justice and freedom for all, we center on ourselves and deem anyone who disagrees with us as ignorant, narrow-minded, and ultimately vermin that should be exterminated.
In other words, self-centeredness in politics leads to Nazism. There is no way to escape it unless we change man’s natural inclination.
Today’s America is one step away from Nazism. Therefore, the transformation by education should apply to the entire nation if it is to succeed.
To understand just how self-centeredness leads to self-righteousness, which warps people’s minds into performing the most atrocious acts, look at these posts that the shooter wrote on Facebook. According to CNN, he wrote, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.” In February, shortly before Lynch’s hate video surfaced, he wrote this: “Republicans are the Taliban of the USA.”
Clearly, this man, who was an activist for self-proclaimed liberal Bernie Sanders during the last campaign, did not see that he had become what he saw in Trump: a fascist terrorist, a Nazi. Worse yet, he believed in his moral superiority simply because he was campaigning for someone who claims to be a socialist, a liberal, a man of “progressive” views.
It is terrible when people become murderers. But when they become self-entitled, self-righteous murderers, who feel that they have moral superiority that justifies their slayings, this is a recipe for a nationwide bloodbath.
The Merits of Diversity
In recent months, I have written several times about the need for a coast-to-coast program to help people connect and solidify their communities. I wrote about it especially in the context of the growing urgency of finding a solution to permanent mass joblessness.
Yet, joblessness is an evolving process and there is enough time to prepare for it. This is not the case with the accelerating polarization in society, demonization of people and parties for their political perspectives, and legitimization of the use of firearms to achieve political goals.
If Congress and the Trump administration want to seize the moment, they must speak with one voice about the merits of diversity. Representatives of the public should embrace all views with only one condition: Demonizing another person’s view is strictly prohibited. In other words, we may hold different or even opposite views, but we must all recognize that society is a whole that consists of the sum of its parts, and diversity is what keeps it strong and healthy.
Think of society as an organism where each person is a cell and each party, an organ. Imagine that the Democratic Party is the brain and the Republican Party is the heart, or the other way around (it makes no difference for the sake of argument). Could the organism survive without one of them?
Just so, true pluralism means that we not only allow our disagreements to remain, but that we cherish them, for together they allow us to create a whole that consists of all of our viewpoints. These differing outlooks are vital to the strength and health of society. When only one stance rules, you end up with Nazism.
In the early 1950s, Rav Yehuda Ashlag, author of the most extensive and profound commentary on The Book of Zohar to date, wrote a very special composition. He titled it The Writings of the Last Generation. In this composition, he analyzed what led to the rise of Nazi Germany and what he foresaw for the future of humanity. In the section “Nazism Is Not an Offshoot of Germany,” he wrote, “The world erroneously considers Nazism a particular offshoot of Germany. In truth, it is the offshoot of democracy and socialism that were left without manners and justice [referring to the untamed egoism]. Thus, all the nations are equal in that; there is no hope at all that Nazism will perish with the victory of the allies, for tomorrow the Anglo-Saxons will adopt Nazism, since they, too, live in a world of democracy and Nazism.”
In The Book of Zohar, our sages offered the precise remedy that has been the source of Jewish strength and solidarity throughout the ages: When hatred erupts, do not fight it, but rather foster love until you love your neighbor as yourself. In the portion Aharei Mot, The Zohar writes, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is when brothers sit together. These are the friends as they sit together, at first, they seem like people at war, wishing to kill one another. Then, they return to being in brotherly love. Henceforth, you will also not part … and by your merit there will be peace in the world.”
Therefore, to tackle the crisis currently unfolding in America, I propose that incitement be outlawed immediately, and that both parties will support this injunction. I propose also that organized workshops will be conducted nationwide, led by online instructors with interactive communication with facilitators at every location. In the workshops, participants will deliberate the most pressing issues of the day in America, but will do so under three simple bylaws that if followed, will engender connection among the participants rather than the current atmosphere of alienation and enmity. The bylaws are 1) Participants contribute their views, but do not override or invalidate other views (even if they disagree); 2) every person speaks in turn; and 3) speaking time is limited to one minute.
These workshops are no ordinary workshops. They do not suppress the ego or muffle our individuality. On the contrary, they nurture both in order to create a fuller, stronger, and more versatile whole made up of the contributions of all the participants in the workshop. In this way, all participants feel that they are heard, respected, and accepted.
The ego must not be subdued, but only used in favor of society rather than against it. The ego of each and every one of us must be taught to work toward unity. We must learn to use our individuality in pro-social manners rather than in anti-social ones. Only when we make social unity our prime value will we be able to achieve peace in our society.
In today’s political climate, this shift is more than necessary; it is the only way to avoid a total meltdown.
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