Commentary, National Commentary

Editor’s Column: Where is This Hand Basket Taking Us?

CBS just reported the news from Berlin that “police have arrested at least 25 people tied to an alleged right-wing extremist plot to overthrow Germany’s government. The group targeted in about 130 raids across Germany was described by prosecutors as being influenced by QAnon conspiracy theories and espousing a doctrine similar to that of far-right groups in the U.S. and across Europe.”


According to the report, they were planning an attack on the German Parliament to overthrow the government and attacks on the country’s power grid to create chaos. The group included at least one far-right judge and former lawmaker, as well as members of the armed forces.


The report came just as Time magazine, in a remarkable counterpoint, was breaking the news of its “Person of the Year,” being “Volodymyr Zelensky and the Spirit of Ukraine.”


Such contrasts cannot be lost on us any more. On the one hand we rightly celebrate the re-election victory in Georgia of Sen. Raphael Warnock in the special election this week (giving Democrats in Congress a margin to withstand efforts like those exhibited by Sen. Joe Manchin last year to hold Congress hostage to his whim).


On the other hand, in reality the vote was still very close, and we can rightly question why anyone would soil their self-esteem and reputation with the fact they voted for a man fully unqualified by any standard of holding any public office, much less a seat for six years in the august body of the U.S. Senate.


As commentator Andy Tobias wrote this week, despite the good news of Sen. Warnock’s victory, “The fact that nearly half the voters voted for Walker is scary and disheartening.”


He noted that one African-American voter said she voted for Walker “because of inflation.” But he commented, “What on earth would a Senator Walker have been able to do to lower prices? Vote to eliminate the estate tax on billionaires? Vote to withhold aid from Ukraine? What would he have done to help average Georgians like her? Vote to trim Social Security benefits? Fight Medicaid expansion? Vote against capping the price of insulin? Fight to repeal Obamacare? Fight hikes to the minimum wage? Oppose the Violence Against Women Act? Fight for the right of 18-year-olds, too young to buy a beer, to buy assault weapons? Cop-killing bullets? Fight to force poor women to have unwanted babies (non-poor women can travel) whose cost to the taxpayers he, with his fellow Republicans, could then decry?”


And on top of all this comes the reports from Berlin of the coup plot there, of the sabotage of the power grids in North Carolina, the massacre of LGBTQ patrons and friends in Colorado Springs, Putin’s continued massive crime against humanity in Ukraine and of Trump’s ongoing treachery. True, the law is clearly closing in on Trump now, but it can’t happen fast enough to decapitate the fully-blown fascist movement that has been crawling out of his rear end. Just the jailing of Trump at this point won’t remove the growing pressure of the enemies of democracy on all of us.


Perhaps the most insidious development in the wake of all this has been the assault on the news media in the U.S., all being done under the guise of unavoidable market forces.


The same market forces haven’t shut down Fox News, but they’re wreaking havoc at CNN, the Washington Post, New York Times and other kinds of news outlets like the Gannett newspaper chain, as already denuded as it is, upon which our fragile democracy depends.


Meanwhile, humanity’s enemies are enjoying the kinds of escalating cultural decay like we’ve seldom seen before. There’s the mass expansion of gun violence, of legalized online gambling for sporting events, expanded legalized drug use (especially of deadly opioids but not limited to that) and an escalating tolerance for violence at sporting events. The use of bare fists in so-called “Mixed Martial Arts” (MMA) the way it is now was unheard of even a decade ago.


They all tear away at any positive concepts of being a human being and having a brain.
Is there no way to get a handle on countering all this?