Professor Timothy Snyder wrote a brilliant article titled “The War on History is a War on Democracy” for the New York Times (June 29,2021). He did the public service of defining Critical Race Theory – a set of decades-old arguments about how racism works in law and society that has recently become a fixation of Republican politicians. Associated with the U.C.L.A. and Columbia Law School professor Kimberlé Crenshaw and other African American scholars, Critical Race Theory asks why discrimination did not end with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and recommends critical scrutiny of laws focusing on their consequences rather than upon the avowed intentions of their authors.
Professor Snyder also wrote how authoritarian regimes (and now Republicans in several states) try to control what people know and think about so that they can maintain power or control society. Here is an example from the article of how Florida is making the teaching of facts illegal while attempting to confuse the issue with Holocaust denial:
the Florida Department of Education’s new policy states, “include the denial or minimization of the Holocaust, and the teaching of Critical Race Theory, meaning the theory that racism is not merely the product of prejudice, but that racism is embedded in American society and its legal systems in order to uphold the supremacy of white persons.” Professor Snyder reminds us all that truth and liberty are under attack. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance and the will to act on the truth.
If you want to read a scholarly analysis of what has taken place at the Capitol and in our country The American Abyss by Timothy Snyder is at the top of the list. Timothy Snyder is a Yale professor of history and expert on fascism. Professor Snyder wrote Bloodlands an intense history of Stalin and Hitler’s mass murders in Eastern Europe which I previously reviewed. The American Abyss gets to the heart of long term issues that led us to the assault on the Capitol and the divisions in our society, but Snyder also identifies what we must look out for going forward. A key finding in the article is the complicity of the Republican Party in using racism to get votes while channeling power and resources to the wealthy. Snyder identifies two types of current Republican politicians; gamers who use Trump and racism for election and power, breakers who like having a white authoritarian in power and could care less about democracy. Armed with the insight and information of this article citizens can both understand the history that led us to near disaster, and correctly analyze what needs to happen in the coming years. Snyder identifies truth as a necessity for democracy and all parties having agreement on basic facts. I strongly recommend that every literate concerned citizen read or listen to The American Abyss by Timothy Snyder at the New York Times website.
In an excellent New York Times opinion piece titled The Resentment That Never Sleeps, Thomas B. Edsall boiled down the facts of our current politics. Voters support Trump against our constitution because they are afraid of losing status and need their fellow citizens diminished to feel good about themselves. It is appalling that people are so empty inside that they want a dictator to attack women and minorities to feel good. Our current situation is that dark and we must face this darkness directly to defeat it. A quote from the article: Building on psychological research on status-seeking, we argue that at the core of extreme political discontent are motivations to achieve status via dominance, i.e., through the use of fear and intimidation. Essentially, extreme political behavior reflects discontent with one’s own personal standing and a desire to actively rectify this through aggression. – source “Beyond Populism” research paper. Lyndon B. Johnson said it more simply: “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he wont notice your picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” It is time for Americans to embrace our constitution and the truth to defend the dignity of all people, and hope.
As our political system seems stuck in a spiral of self-destruction America leads the world in failed response to the COVID19 pandemic. We have allowed the most important job to be failed while focusing on selfishness and hatred of fellow Americans. The article titled “The Unraveling of America” is a lengthy but riveting expose on where the United States is historically and in the current day. America is in trouble and the sooner we realize our jeopardy the more likely we are to emerge stronger. I am hopeful that the Biden-Harris administration is aware of the danger, but they cannot solve the problem alone. Research and vote for candidates who are ready to deal with the issues that threaten the survival of America, and the world!