To solve problems, one must first seek to find the root cause and then deal
with it openly, firmly, and with resolve. The primary reason conflict lingers
for years is because established leaders refuse — or are incapacitated due to
ideology or lobbyist-induced incentive — to recognize sources of contention.
Politicians know where their bread is buttered – corporate interests – and thus
obey their masters.
However, the primary reason the source remains unrecognized is due to extremist views held by those in charge — stemming from mind-sets of religion, race, politics, or economic philosophy. For example, when a diplomat approaches the negotiating table with a mind-set of ethnic, economic, social or religious superiority, it is unlikely anything of principled substance will be accomplished. Add to the mix a so-called “honest broker,” such as an ideological world leader, who intentionally favors one side over the other — what results? Gridlock or worse: parties abandoning the peace process.
Extremism’s number one symptom is distorted vision bordering on total blindness. Vision is obstructed by distortion of truth — a blockage set in place by rigid religion or philosophy premised on a core myth orbited by satellite fables.
Blinded by the right; blinded by the left; blinded by mass-hypnotic religion; blinded by prejudice; blinded by arrogance and greed; blinded by sanctimoniousness; blinded by politics — they’re all much the same and result in similar damage upon both carrier and colleague.
How can 914 people, in unison, willingly gulp down a lethal dose of Kool-Aid? How can they surrender to the will of a fanatic leader claiming to be the spokesman for God? Ask the survivors of Jonestown 1978. They were blinded — not so much by a particular leader — but by a false faith, a false sense of security based on that mythical dogma, and a strong belief system that eventually led to their untimely deaths. Extremism is not victimless.
(Some contend the Jonestown 914 were forced into mass suicide by Rev. Jim Jones. But how can 914 fail to resist but one or a few?)
The question leads to other mass movements. How can hundreds of Muslim extremists surrender their lives on suicide missions to defeat what they mistaken as infidels? The three-thousand lives lost September 11 are a testament to extremism, not only indicting Muslim varieties of fanaticism, but radical Christians, Jews, and other religious/idealogical sects manufactured by man.
James Watt, Interior Secretary under Reagan, was a religious fanatic (extremist) whose views were [and are] passed down to succeeding Republican regimes. Asked why he was so determined to destroy environmental protections, Watt famously explained to Congress in 1981 “There is little point in protecting the environment, since the Second Coming could be just around the corner.”
Of the same religious sect as James Watt and Sarah Palin (Assemblies of God, Springfield, MO), John Ashcroft, George W. Bush’s Attorney General along with his consultant, Karl Rove, brought to the fore the extremist positions of Watt — though in a different venue and decade.
Fast forward to 2010.... How can over 120 million Americans surrender to extremism? How can they yield to the will of a fanatic leader claiming to be the voice of God, the embodiment of courage, and the divinely appointed – as Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck so skillfully claim? How can they believe a leader appointed (not elected) President of the United States for eight years (George W. Bush) – was positioned into power selectively by divine intervention? Ask survivors two decades from now how they escaped this strange period of American history – as ocean waves lap over Manhattan, the Gulf of Mexico dies, and climate kills billions.
When a US President claims God told him to declare wars, beware. Recall what Bush told the Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas, "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."
Throughout history, millions have marched to their deaths because of misguided beliefs — blind trust in either a political leader or religious. The head may be an atheist, a communist or fascist, a pope or evangelist, a king or prime minister, from far left or right.
People are gullible when they cease to question – when they fail to think critically. That is why cult leaders and tyrants, alike, attempt to cut off the flow of information. Their primary objective after seizing power – CENSORSHIP. The “messenger” is more a threat to the Hitlers of this world than political foes. Tyrants want unquestionable loyalty in order to gain incontestable control; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Secret sessions and closed-door hearings, clandestine meetings and information denied by reason of “executive privilege,” “state’s secrets” or under the guise of “national security.” The Freedom of Information Act was null and void under the weight of the most recent autocratic ruler, G.W. Bush. Secrecy is the roadmarker to tyranny.
If not for Dick Cheney’s 100-day secret energy meeting with invited participants ENRON, BP, EXXON, HALLIBURTON, and all principal oil conglomerates in early 2001 (pre-911), the Great Gulf Spill of 2010 would probably have never materialized. To add injury to insult, the Republicans on the Supreme Court blocked public access to minutes of the clandestine meeting that negatively affected the entire world.
False faith has its price. Intangible beliefs bring tangible costs. American Christian Zionist extremists soon to be possibly swept back into power this coming November strongly believe Israel is destined by God to retake all the real estate between the Mediterranean and Jordan. Therefore, whoever presently inhabits disputed lands must be evicted. Ethnic cleansing ensues and is sanctioned by the mean-spirited American rightwing – as the toxic movement will have recaptured power.
Extremist ideologues are blind to their fallacy and absurdities. They would rather advocate a lie than confess heresy. Being proven wrong is the most devastating punishment for an extremist, especially one possessed of pride and predictable accompanying ignorant pompousness.
Jesus said: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' ” (Isaiah 6:9,10) (Matthew 13:13-15)
Christ was referring to the deeply indoctrinated Pharisees, right-wing zealots which dominated Roman-occupied Israel two millennia ago. Self-righteousness is not a Pharisee exclusive; it belongs to all who fall for fanaticism – coagulating into a cult-like movement which, in turn, succumbs to fanaticism’s chief byproduct: blindness.
The resurgence of Tea Party extremism which America is experiencing at this hour will unquestionably lead to accelerated decline. The certain nostalgic yearning conservatives cleave to for the Bush years will further drive the nation radically off course.
The only effective antidote for the current brand of rightwing extremism is courage of conviction. Either Democratic leaders grow some spine or the nation tumbles into another political nightmare coupled with economic disaster. Attempting to appease fanatics is insanity.