Monday, June 16, 2008

The End of America

Bridget is right. Every American should read The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. I think all high school students should read and discuss it as should those of us who’ve graduated long ago and are about to vote in November. Wolf thoroughly and methodically organizes the 10 Steps she sees as leading to a "facist shift" or the erosion of civil rights that lead to dictatorship or tyranny.

She carefully, with lots of footnotes, provides evidence of the erosion of civil liberties in America and provides examples of similar erosions in other societies like Italy and Germany. Many people, she believes, think that fascism or a dictatorship are radical changes that are obvious, something we’ll see and know react to because they’re such gross attacks on the constitution. That isn’t the case. In other societies citizens lost their rights slowly and didn’t realize the small changes in political rhetoric and laws were shifts that would result in a dictatorship and loss of freedom for all.

Wolf writes in such a way that she takes into account the shortcomings of the average reader’s history and civics courses while respecting one’s intelligence. While I don’t think she’ll convince the far right wing conservatives, I think she will persuade many.

She’s actually not the only writer to warn citizens of democracies of the fragility of this system of government. The founding fathers, Socrates, Lewis Lapham in Gag Rule: On the Suppression of Dissent and Stifling of Democracy, all knew that democracies are in peril. They can easily mutate into tyrany. Citizens must be vigilant.

I did find that conditions are so bad and we have lost a lot of ground, that I could not read more than a couple chapters at a time. Not because of the writing, but because of the content. Things are bad. She does end with suggestions on what patriots can and should do to keep America democratic. Yet the end is scary. She urges patriots to first check all their records to see what dirt adversaries might use against them. Yikes.

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