The Most Dangerous Gulf War

One "F" word that is not used nearly enough these days is fascism. It was first addressed by a psychoanalyst in 1933 at the dawn of Nazi Germany. There is no doubt in my mind that the US is heading down a road similar to that traveled by the German people and their leaders between 1933 and 1938. One pre-requisite for fascism is the dominance of mental "splitting" in the minds of the people.

Splitting is the dividing of the world into absolute polarities. All children "split" - it is an essential component of mental development. They need to organize their internal world into us/them and good/bad. They need to keep the green parsley bits from touching the mashed potatoes. Splitting eventually gives way to integration, to accepting complexity, and to taking responsibility for one's wrongdoings.

But there are those of us who stay stuck in a split state of mind. It is true that the capacity to "split" stands one well in athletic competition. The UCLA Bruins were the bad guys to the Florida Gators in the NCAA Championship game April 3. But the players of opposing teams shake hands at the end, and some of them become friends.

This is not the case in current American politics. Members of Congress seem unable to reach across the ever-widening chasm between Democrats and Republicans. That division has become a gulf and is the root of the most dangerous gulf war of all - that between large segments of our population. And it is fanned by unanswered expressions of hatred from the right wing. This is also typical in the rise of fascism. Demonizing becomes the norm and somehow is tolerated by fellow Republicans who simply, for example, turn Tom DeLay into a victim as when Rep. Reynolds (R-NY) said "you won't have Tom Delay to kick around anymore". Demonizing persists and is tolerated even by those who are its wrongful victims. And the longer Democrats continue to tolerate the intolerable; they are giving permission for the demonizers to proceed.

What happens is not only that groups get set one against the other, but also the capacity to perceive becomes compromised; people who split can only see in black and white. They are serious when they say "liberals" are evil. They are not hate-mongering alone, a slur against evil Democrats is experienced as fact by the person making it.

I saw two dramatic examples of both unchallenged and socially supported splitting this past Tuesday, April 4. MSNBC has been running ads for the Tucker Carlson show in which a man says, "Tucker, you've heard about the 'Hate America' tours of Venezuela led by Cindy Sheehan?" If that isn't deliberately fanning flames of hatred I don't know what is. As I recall, Ms. Sheehan wanted to ask President Bush about the "noble cause" for which her son sacrificed his life.

The second incident also fits the fascist profile; Tom Delay said yesterday, "Because I care so deeply about this district and the people in it, I refuse to allow liberal Democrats an opportunity to steal this seat with a negative, personal campaign." What is that statement, if not negative and personal? Another hallmark of fascist thinking is that fascists, even when in power, feel themselves to be the victims. The Republicans control all three branches of government yet act like they are an oppressed minority. And again, they believe it to be a fact.

Living in an us/them world for so long, as Tucker Carlson and Tom Delay have, promotes tunnel vision and hatred of anything outside the range of their narrow-angled eyes. The "other" is to be feared and hated; the factors that unite us get totally dismissed.