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April 17, 2014
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Peace and Justice Files

Fascism is like herpes

Last month, we started exploring the concept of “fascism;” in fact, we barely scratched the surface. It’s a fascinating topic that one could explore for years, but my interest in the topic is more practical and immediate. Does fascism, in all its brutal and vicious glory, stand any chance of taking hold now, here, in America, and if so, is there anything we can do to prevent it?

To address such questions, I think I have found a useful metaphor.  Read more

Fascism 101

“You, you, fascist!”

There are very few words in our political vocabularies that are more emotionally loaded, while at the same time more saddled with multiple, not-quite-identical meanings. When a Google search on “Bush fascist” yields 5.2 million hits, and a search on “Obama fascist” yields 5.9 million, you have to wonder just what this word is supposed to mean, anyway.  Read more

Noblesse oblige?

It was just another sleepy spring day in sophomore English class, some 40 years ago, when I was tapped for the National Honor Society (NHS). I may still have the little pin in a box somewhere, along with a certificate bearing the NHS motto—two simple French words that at the time made no sense to me whatsoever: “Noblesse oblige.”  Read more

The cost of freedom, now in easy monthly payments

(A scene from the near future...)

“Hello?”

“Hello, is this Mrs. Joanne Commoner?”

“Yes, this is Joanne.”

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Commoner, this is Staff Sgt. Mark Striker with the U.S. Army, 14th Fundraiser Battalion. How are you this afternoon?”

“Good afternoon, Sergeant! Thank you for your service!”

“At ease, Mrs. Commoner. You may be seated. And thank you for your kind words. By the way, Mrs. Commoner, I am required to inform you this conversation may be monitored or recorded for quality control purposes.”  Read more

Come out, come out

After literally decades of struggle and suffering, folks in the LGBT (etc.) community can finally point to some strong, concrete gains in their quest for social recognition, acceptance and respect. The notion of marriage equality is gaining support across the nation, the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy is now just a vague memory, and even the Boy Scouts of America have begun reconsidering their homophobic stance. More than at any time in recent history, they can feel the freedom to be exactly who they are, and no longer worry about concealing themselves behind an artificial facade.  Read more

The reign of Wayne has driven us insane

“Aw, geez, now they’re really gonna try to take my guns...!”

As the news started to roll in from Newtown, CT, on December 14, I overheard that reaction. Maybe you overheard it, too, or maybe you said or thought it yourself. Let’s not rehash the heated discussions that followed the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary; those discussions, after all, have been repeated, practically word-for-word, so many times in recent years that we could probably repeat each side’s talking points in our sleep.  Read more

Meet Joe Schweik

Ah, Labor Day. A day for barbeques and beach trips, one last huzzah for the carefree times of summer before settling back into the dull routines of school, leaf-raking and, oh yes, work.  Read more

America held hostage

Right now, as I type this late on a Wednesday night, my Internet service is down. (Oh horrors!) So I don’t have immediate access to all the websites, quotations and statistics that I might wish to use to construct my argument. All I have in front of me is the latest issue, just arrived today, of the Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal (NPBJ).  Read more

Long division

Those tireless pollsters at the Pew Research Center’s “People and the Press” project (www.people-press.org) recently released the results of their latest study—results that really should come as a surprise to no one. The Pew researchers say that, in terms of values and basic beliefs, Americans have become increasingly polarized along partisan lines over the last couple of decades. In fact, according to the study, political divisions have become the most significant in our society—exceeding the divisions that you might expect to find along gender, age, race, or even class lines.  Read more

How many nations are we, anyway?

While Bill Clinton was in the White House, you might recall, some members of the conservative gun-enthusiast community took to sporting bumperstickers that defiantly declared “My President is Charlton Heston” (Heston, of course, being the president of the National Rifle Association at the time). During the Bush Regime, I toyed with making a similar bumper sticker myself—though mine would have said “My President is Ralph Nader.” (However, I realized that might have put me in danger of severe reprisal—not so much from gung-ho nationalists as from unforgiving Al Gore supporters.)  Read more