Category Archives: Fear

Ideologues of the coup created a 7 handed monster, carrier of the deadly poison of lies

This editorial appeared on the official media site of the FSLN, El 19 Digital on Oct 19, 2018. Written by the President of the Church and Society Evangelical Coordinator (CEPRES), it again is an example of the extreme polarization in the country. Even more serious when the polarization is fueled by a religious leader using religious language and imagery, in light of the fact that even Nicaraguan history tells us that any viable post-crisis government  will have to incorporate people with very different perspectives on society.

However it does confirm what many of the opposition leaders – picked up on Sunday Oct 14th and released on Monday Oct 15th – said about the perspective of their police interrogators  while in El Chipote. They reported that their interrogators insisted that these demonstrations were being centrally controlled and financed, and found it hard to believe that people could be spontaneously gathering in demonstrations, organizing through the use of social media. This model of organization is not believable for people immersed in the  Sandinista model, where everything is centrally planned and directed. Furthermore, those leaders are promoting the idea that  the driving force behind the opposition is US imperialism.

Ideologues of the coup created a 7 handed monster, carrier of the deadly poison of lies

Editorial for Friday October 19, 2018 on El 19 Digital, Official online media of the FSLN

By Miguel Ángel Casco González

(Original Spanish at: https://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:82887-ideologos-del-golpe-crearon-un-monstruo-de-7-manos-portador-del-veneno-mortal-de-la-mentira)

The industry of falsehoods, like all industries, needs several components that ensure the success of its product. The industry of falsehoods has a framework, a design, a label, a communication platform and a marketing strategy. To achieve the desired success they place special emphasis on the product presentation, they work so that it be credible, attractive, pleasing to the eyes of the consumer, even though its content might be a farce. As part of the marketing, people and personalities are sought out so that they might be the “image” drivers and promoters of the product. It is not equally believable what a drunk says than what a priest might say, likewise what a prostitute says is not as equally credible as what a journalist might say. So the strategists of the industry of falsehoods select people and personalities so that they might be the image that seduces and convinces the consumer of that product.

In Nicaragua for several years now the strategists of the failed coup started the installation of small, allied and interconnected factories to build an industry producing lies and false scenarios which would serve as the basis and support for the overthrow of the government of the Sandinista Front. The ideologues of the failed coup established factories and laboratories to produce falsehoods in universities, communications media, Catholic parishes, civil organizations, peasant and human rights centers with a specific design that included drama courses to create scenarios, pretend false tragedies and publicize them in Nicaragua and the world as sacrosanct truths. The designers of the industry of falsehood located in Miami, Washington and other US cities, as in all their interventions, previously select, prepare and train their native representatives to carry out the strategy, they finance and sponsor the actions, they become the protectors of their agents who they present as “angels of light, defenseless children, heroes of peace” and in this way they make it seem that the only thing that they are doing is defending democracy and supporting the Nicaraguan people, attempting to hide their true role of strategists and financiers of the coup with their internal allies as promoter and implementers.

Each one of the native actors would play a specific role, following the pre-established script set by the ideologues of the northern empire, who in the end would form a heartless monster, devoid of conscience, capable of carrying out the most perverse actions that the spawners of evil could imagine. What they did not foresee is that this perverse monster would get out of their control and within the coup promoters would turn into their own destroyer.

The strategists of the coup created a 7 handed monster to carry out their macabre plan. These 7 hands were selected, trained, financed and directed from a brain that from outside the country made each hand fulfill their assigned role as faithful puppets. These are the 7 hands of the coup monster that now is on its deathbed , the victims of their own poison.

  1. The Universities

The role of the universities involved was to project the criminals as students who were fighting for the social demands of the elderly benefitted by INSS (elderly who never appeared protesting). These “students” should be astutely creating false scenarios, torture and other evil things. In pursuit of this some “students” got off script and began to fight among themselves over jealously, interests, publicity, control over the assets stolen, drugs, money and the donations received. To the extent that big fights broke out just over deciding who of the “students” were going to read a press release. This monster suckled by universities like the UPOLI in their debauchery destroyed their own nest, stealing from and destroying the installations of the formerly Baptist university which was turned into their base of operations, den of thieves in complicity with some of their authorities and functionaries.

  1. The NGOs

The NGOs involved in the failed coup, in addition to being the link for the financing of the organized groups, had the task to present the actors of the vandalic actions as peaceful, civic groups, without stones and weapons, defenseless youth, heroes of peace and democracy. They in turn must play the role of catalysts and promoters of the plan.

  1. Human Rights centers and commissions

On their part the centers and commissions of supposedly human rights defenders fulfilled their task in a specific way which consisted in doubling and tripling the figures of the dead and wounded, putting on the list of the dead people who died of natural causes or accidents, to victimize the coup mongers and finally present the criminals who had stolen, set fires, kidnapped, tortured and murdered as political prisoners. Those representatives were prohibited from defending tortured Sandinistas, mothers of murdered police, and all the Sandinista people, for them only the criminals and coup mongers have human rights. But that was the role that they were assigned and fully carried out.

  1. The business leaders of COSEP and AMCHAM

The business people part of COSEP and AMCHAM at first had to break all connection with the government and attack the economy of the country. Pretending that they were the ones who were financing the “civic struggle” and that they would be the guarantor for the establishment of a new government. In this desire for visibility some figures of the business sector began to be projected as future members of a government junta, which began to generate jealousy and contradictions between the “students” and the groups entrenched in the NGOs who fancied themselves to be the representatives of civil society. The business leaders of this country destroyed the spaces that the government and the workers had opened and ceded the policy of economic consensus and now have hung in their very comfortable offices a new title that reads: “Honor to coup mongers.”

  1. Peasant groups

In another of the scenarios the peasant banner is raised, where some women and men repeated the format from Managua, adapting to it the ingredient that “they are being dispossessed of the land” by the government, and presenting themselves as victims of the big canal project. They were assigned the task of raising barricades and blocking the principal access routes to goods and products from the countryside and from outside the country. As a reward or compensation for their “civic labor” they authorized them to be able to charge a toll on all the transport workers and people with vehicles, so that in order to pass through a death lock they had to pay hundreds and thousands of córdobas.

  1. Catholic bishops

All this network of lies, all this platform of hate and perversity needed robes, a packaging that would make the lies appear as truth, hate as love, perversity as a holy attribute and it is there where the Catholic hierarchy comes in with their nefarious role, taking on and fulfilling several roles like that of an accessory after the fact, and protector of criminals, defender of the infernal blockades, the tip of the spear of the coup monger strategy, inspirer, promoter, and “sanctifier” of violent actions (it was evident that the criminals felt represented and protected by several bishops of the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference). They put the priestly identity and robes at the service of hate and lies, several Catholic churches were provided to store weapons and torture Sandinistas. Every day they repeated and invented lies. One of those big lies was to say to President Daniel to his own face that “the people has already abandoned him, that they condemned him and that it would be better for him to resign.” Another bigger lie was that the cathedral was to try to protect the barricades as a civic weapon of a peaceful resistance, knowing that those barricades were places for the rape of girls, places of torture, death and burning people alive, they being the first to oppose that those barricades be removed. The Catholic hierarchy with many of their priests not only “sanctified” the lies and perversity, but they themselves became a factory of lies, which made them not only lose credibility with thousands of their Catholic faithful who will never more return to their parishes, but that knowingly became a energizing structure of the coup, and in biblical terms showed themselves as sons of darkness, sons of Satan, who if they do not repent from their wickedness, will have to appear before the judgement of God. “You are from your father the devil. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has not remained in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaks lies, he speaks out of his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies” (John8:44).

7: Journalists and the communications media

And finally in the chess game of the coup mongers the platform of communication was conceived and assessed as the essential element in the strategy of the failed coup. That is why thousands of dollars have been invested in oxygenating and sustaining journalists and activists located in magazines, newspapers, radios, television channels and virtual networks. As faithful agents of the evil empire they promoted a ferocious disinformation campaign and lies, blaming the government for everything, presenting it as a criminal dictatorship, while the criminals they promoted as democratic youth, defenseless, as little angels. Given their eagerness there was a journalist who had the audacity to compare their actions with the civic struggle of Ghandi and Martin Luther King. Creating panic, collective hysteria, insecurity, anarchy, spreading rumors and lies, making and disseminating staged images and photographs, making threats to Sandinistas and creating the sensation that the President would resign and abandon the country, was among others the focus that the journalists hired to be promoters and drivers of the coup actions were tirelessly disseminating. I believe that, in the entire history of our country, this has been the period where a group of the communications media in an orchestrated and systematic way have spread the biggest number of lies and falsehoods ever seen, that if someone took on the task of counting all the lies spread the list would be very long.

Even though each one of these 7 hands of the monster named had specific tasks and functions, through all of them there was a crosscutting common denominator: lies, confirming that wickedness is never separated from lies. Lies and wickedness form an infernal binomial.

IN THE TONGUE LIVES A DEADLY POISON, IT POSSESSES THE POWER OF DEATH AND LIFE.

The Bible warns us that the tongue of the impious is full of deadly venom (James 3:8) and that in it is found the power of death and life (Proverbs 18:21). The creative power of the word rests on the tongue. The tongue is a very powerful instrument, but unfortunately on many occasions we are not aware of the power that we possess. It is dangerous to handle dynamite when one does not know what one has in their hands – it can kill you. Many people have died through their own tongues, we almost never measure the consequences of our words. The apostle James points out that the tongue is an evil that cannot be stopped, full of deadly venom. Because in the same way that a serpent bites you and poisons all your body and you can die, so the tongue of the liar poisons an entire family or an entire people, and they can die, if there is not a quick intervention of the truth as the only antidote to counteract the deadly venom of the lie. That is why that, if someone wants to live from lies, love them and even believe in them and spread them, that person needs to understand that they have given a place in their heart to Satan who is the prince of darkness and lies come from darkness.

According to the Bible no one can master their tongue on their own, to achieve it they need the help of the Holy Spirit.

The lying tongue that exudes venom produces damaging effects. One of those effects is that it cauterizes the conscience of the liar. These people with their consciences cauterized are capable of committing any crime and perversity. A person without a conscience is like a city without police, there is nothing nor anyone who can make one stop, pull over, they run like unbridled beasts. Seducing “with the hypocrisy of liars, who having their conscience cauterized, commit abominable acts.” (1 Timothy 4:2).

Another of the pernicious effects of lies is that they harden the hearts of the liar. From the stage of self deceit, the liars move to the deadly condition known as “bearers of hardened hearts” (James 1:22). “The weapons of the cheat are evil; they hatch wicked plots to confuse the simple with lying words” (Isaiah 32:7). Therefore the lie is an instrument that the devil uses to do evil. Wickedness does not operate alone, it counts on three powerful allies, hate, lies and deceit. That is why there are six things that Jehovah abhors, within them is the lying tongue. “The abominable and homicidal, the sorcerers and all liars will have their place in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur” (Apocalypses 21:8).

The coup monster referred to here is a child of Satan, because it makes lying its principal weapon, many were turned into multiplying agents of the lies and deceit, allies of evil to kill, steal, burn and destroy. We have waged a spiritual battle taking up the weapon of the truth, applying the truth as the only antidote that can counteract and conquer the venom of lies. And this should be an every day task, applying love and truth in an ongoing campaign of spiritual healing to rescue thousands from death. So far already an important number of Nicaraguans who were victims of lies, and who on learning the truth of the facts have been withdrawing from the lies, and if they look for God sincerely, he will have mercy on them and will heal their souls, because lying is a cancer that corrodes the soul and corrupts society, while the truth heals us and sets us free. But there are others whose every day food and oxygen is lying, they cannot live in the light, only in the darkness, they have made lying their permanent ally and their weapon to damage and destroy others; because the liar does not only lie to others, but also lies to himself. “They in the end, like all liars, will be the victims of their own lies. Because the payment for lies is death—“ (Romans 6:23)

Therefore no more lies and wickedness. “Leaving aside all lies and falsehoods, speak the truth each person with their neighbor” (Ephesians 4:25). Being sure and convinced that, just as light conquers the darkness, just as love conquers hate, just as life conquers death, also the TRUTH conquers and triumphs over lies.

Rev. Miguel Ángel Casco González

Words of Eloquence and Meaning

For the past several weeks I have struggled to come up with the right means of expression to describe how I feel about circumstances in Nicaragua.  In the shadow of killings and abductions and fear, Nicaragua would seem to be quite unlike the country in which Winds of Peace has worked over the past 35 years.  Pictures of massive protests in the places I know, photos of masked shooters in the neighborhoods where I’ve been, blood in the streets where I’ve walked: these are surreal images that choke the words I should say.  I have not traveled to Nicaragua since February, and I feel as though I’ve been away even longer.

The development continues, nonetheless.  Loans are being made:  last week, two women’s cooperatives received small, initial funding for local agriculture.  Grants are being given: despite the vastly reduced attendance in schools over recent months, elementary-age reading initiatives are being redirected through community sites and churches  Repayments are being made: even where full repayment might be delayed, partners are reworking payment plans to honor their obligations as best they can.  There may be few causes of great joy within the current turmoil of Nicaragua, but there are hopeful moments.

Of course, what matters in this crisis time is not the impact upon a small U.S. foundation; Winds of Peace is just fine.  Of importance is the real-life upheaval being lived out daily by Nicaraguans who struggled for daily survival long before the first protests were launched, and who now find themselves threatened with even greater hardships than before.  Most North Americans would have a difficult time fully comprehending Nicaraguan poverty prior to April 18 of this year.  We have even less likelihood of  understanding their realities given the way things are today.  And my words are simply insufficient to the cause.

So I invite readers to shift their attentions to the “Nica Update” entries at this site.  They are frequent updates on the status of the confrontation and the contain the observations and experiences of men and women caught up in current struggle.  They are words of passion.  They are expressions of the most deeply-held beliefs of Nicaraguan people yearning once again for peace and equity.  They are the fluent articulations of a people’s soul, in a time of deep distress.

Over the din of bullets and bulldozers, emerge words of eloquence and meaning….

 

Deja Vu

Conditions in the country we serve, Nicaragua, continue to hearken back to a generation ago, when the administration in power faced enormous protests and demands for a new government.  The confrontations continue today, just as they did all those years ago,  leading to violence and deaths, denials, accusations, reprisals and lots of pain.  It’s tough to watch in a country of such charm and character.

Two recent documents, written by The University of Central America and the Episcopal Church, provide both a news update as well as perspectives about how at least part of the population places its support.  The following is a statement provided by the UCA following a Wednesday night demonstration:

The University of Central America (UCA) reports that this Wednesday, May 30, at around 4:30 PM, there was an attack by the “shock troops” against the defenseless population participating in a civic march that had the UCA as its final destination.

The attacks took place in the vicinity of the gate closest to the National University of Engineering (UNI). In support of the people, the UCA security guards opened the gates so that the protesters could take refuge in the campus. Fleeing the attacks, more than 5,000 people managed to enter, while many fled in other directions. Countless injured people were treated by volunteers immediately on campus and ambulances took all of the injured to medical centers.

After 8:30 PM, volunteers and drivers from the UCA had managed to evacuate the majority of the refugees to different parts of the capital and, at the time of publication of this message, continue in this process. Despite the shooting, the refugees did not want to stay on campus because of threats received about attacks on the university.

The UCA, which stands on the side of the people in their struggle for justice, denounces this new criminal attack and demands from the authorities the immediate cessation of the repression that uses shock troops to assassinate with impunity, protected by the current misrule.

We urge human rights organizations, national and foreign, to take note of this situation that seriously affects the lives of citizens and to use mechanisms for the protection of human rights such as the Inter-American Human Rights System and the United Nations.

We urge the international community to stand in solidarity with the people of Nicaragua and to apply mechanisms which can help resolve this crisis, which has reached the level of a massacre against a defenseless population.”

The document quoted below was generated by the Bishops Conference of the Episcopal Church in Nicaragua:

PRESS RELEASE

To the People of God and men and women of good will:

  1. We the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua have experienced with profound pain the violent events carried out last night by armed groups allied with the government against the civilian population. We energetically condemn all these violent acts against the exercise of peaceful free demonstrations and we absolutely reject this organized and systemic aggression against the people, which has left dozens of wounded and some people dead.
  2. We cannot continue allowig this inhumane violence “that destroys the lives of the innocent, that teaches to kill and equally disrupts the lives of those who kill, that leaves behind a trail of resentment and hate, and makes more difficult the just solution of the very problems that caused it” (Centesimus Annus, 52).
  3. We the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference condemn these acts of repression on the part of groups close to the government, and we want to leave clear that the National Dialogue cannot be renewed as long as the people of Nicaragua continue being denied the right to freely demonstrate and continue being repressed and murdered.
  4. At this moment in which the history of our country continues being stained with blood, we cry out to Jesus Crucified, who on resurrecting from the dead conquered evil and death with the strength of his infinite love. “Oh, Cross of Christ, we teach that the dawn of the sun is stronger than the darkness of night. Oh Cross of Christ, we teach that the apparent victory of evil fades in the face of the empty tomb and in the face of the certainty of the Resurrection and the love of God, which nothing can defeat or darken or weaken” (Pope Francis, Holy Friday 2016). That Mary, the grieving Virgin, whose heart was pierced by a sword in the face of the pain of her Son on the Cross (Lk 2:35), consoles so many Nicaraguan mothers who suffer over the murder of their sons and watch over all our people with maternal love.

Issued in the city of Managua on the thirty first day of the month of May of the the two thousand eighteenth year of the Lord.

 Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua

This communique was signed by the ten bishops of the conference.

(For those interested in tracking developments in Nicaragua, one source is La Prensa.  The daily newspaper provides very current coverage of events in Nicaragua, as well as perspective on events elsewhere in the world.)

For those who know and love Nicaragua and the people there, this is a painful and sad time.  It’s made even more so by how little the U.S. news media writes about it.  Their lack of attention does not diminish the anguish and tragedy of what is occurring in the land of our neighbor to the south….

                                                   

 

 

 

Redistribution

First, a couple of caveats.  (Though this is never a wise practice in one’s writing.)  I normally try to steer clear of political party or opinion in these posts, because that’s not what Winds of Peace is about and political opinion is like pollution of all sorts: it’s everywhere.  Second, my intention is not to sway anyone’s beliefs when it comes to politics.  If something that I write makes a reader reconsider an opinion that he/she holds, that’s entirely up to them.  But every once in a while, someone from the political ranks says or does something that, in my view, merits response.  That’s what this posting is about.

I read that former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, has called for the deportation of all people of the Muslim faith who profess belief in Sharia law– not engaged in illegal activities, but merely believing in a certain religious philosophy.  It’s the latest in a series of xenophobic ideas to emerge from so-called political “leaders” in this country, but an idea which is both unconstitutional and logistically impossible.  Gingrich, who has often promoted unconventional ideas, has clearly exceeded even the boundaries of his own narrow perspectives.  But his concept of extreme prejudice got me to thinking, “what if?”

Gingrich seems to desire a return of Muslim immigrants to their  countries of origin due to the fear that, based upon their beliefs and the violent actions of some constituents of the faith, they will undermine the security and safety of U.S. society.  For the sake of argument, let’s go along with Mr. Gingrich’s postulate and see where it leads.

First, it might be helpful to know where Mr. Gingrich stands with regard to his own religious faith.  He was raised in a Lutheran home environment, though the denomination never seemed to resonate with him.  Later, in graduate school, he became a Southern Baptist convert and most recently he converted to Roman Catholicism.

In any case, it seems as though he may have unwittingly and retrospectively condemned himself and his entire family to deportation from the U.S.   For the annals of criminal justice are brimming over with convicted murderers of all three of the faiths followed by Newt Gingrich.  In his proposal for Muslim deportation, he has condemned all Muslims based upon the actions of some who have killed or vowed to kill U.S. citizens.  If that suggestion has rationale, then we certainly must be prepared to deport Lutherans, Southern Baptists as Roman Catholics, since like some Muslims, their followers have presented threats to the peace and security of this country.

Perhaps it should also be pointed out that during World War II, the Nazi regime was led by a number of “staunch Christians,” including their maddened leader, Adolph Hitler.  There is no argument about the threat which Adolph Hitler posed to the U.S. during his reign of terror, but I doubt that Mr. Gingrich would opine retrospectively about the propriety of expelling Christians from the U.S.

If we go back in history far enough, he might even consider the external threat posed to the original inhabitants of this land and the deadly, culture-destroying invasion of Europeans here.  They, too, were driven by a divine faith which clashed with established religious practice of our earliest ancestors.  They, too, (or their descendants) perhaps warrant deportation.

Taken to its logical conclusion, Mr. Gingrich seems to have set the table for all people to be sent back to the land of their earliest discernible ancestry.   For many Nicaraguans, that might be Spain.  For many inhabitants of the Americas, it’s Europe.  We all might find ourselves asking one another, “where did your people come from?”  Because under Mr. Gingrich’s logic, we should be sent back.

The constitutional tenets of this country provide for each of us to read and believe whatever we may choose, as long as we do not violate laws or the rights of others.  Mr. Gingrich has put forward an idea that utterly rejects that freedom and thus, the U.S. Constitution itself.

The analogies here might seem stretched.  But no more so than the panicky abdication of legal and moral rights expressed by a man who, until this week, was apparently under consideration for the vice-presidency of the United States.  We are always but one voice removed from another human tragedy….

 

The “Poverty” Here at Home

 Most folks with whom I talk about Nicaragua know very little about it, neither its history with the U.S. nor its current status.  The country is seemingly just too small and insignificant to bother about. But every once in a while, I encounter someone who has read about it or traveled there, or perhaps completed some sort of service work among the poor.

When acknowledging my own work with Winds of Peace Foundation, it’s among that latter group that I might detect a certain condescension about the plight of Nicaraguans, and especially their government.  The general impression of many is that the poverty in Nicaragua is the by-product of a corrupt and self-serving government, and that if more democratic principles were followed, Nicaraguans could be better off than they are today.  To that view, I most often respond with, “It’s complicated.”

So when I read the following article, I immediately thought about those who would over-simplify political realities anywhere, and maybe especially is a land called the United States of America.

Recently, I’ve been rereading “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.” In this political season, William L. Shirer’s mammoth history of Hitler’s Germany seems a useful guide to how a skilled demagogue can seize and destroy a great nation.

Hitler’s rise, as narrated by Shirer, was the triumph of an unlikely messiah — “the man with the Charlie Chaplin mustache, who had been a down-and-out tramp in Vienna in his youth, an unknown soldier, the somewhat comical leader of the Beer Hall Putsch, this spellbinder.” How did this preposterous upstart bend one of the most cultured of nations to his will?

He did it partly through the ballot box. In the early 1930s, Hitler’s National Socialist Party, the Nazis, rose through a series of free elections. It never won a majority in any of them, but emerged as the strongest of several parties in the Reichstag, or parliament. Hitler then connived his way to the office of chancellor, or prime minister, playing on the vanity, foolishness, ambition and greed of non-Nazis to outmaneuver them all.

“No class or group or party in Germany could escape its share of responsibility for the abandonment of the democratic Republic and the advent of Adolf Hitler,” Shirer wrote. “The cardinal error of the Germans who opposed Nazism was their failure to unite against it.”

Hitler never got more than 37 percent of the vote. “But the 63 percent of the German people who expressed their opposition to Hitler were much too divided and shortsighted to combine against a common danger which they must have known would overwhelm them unless they united, however temporarily, to stamp it out.”

 Hitler’s rise owed everything to the 1929 stock market crash and the global Depression that followed it. Under the Republic, Germany had begun to recover from its defeat in World War I. Then, suddenly, “millions were thrown out of work. Thousands of small business enterprises went under.”

According to Shirer, Hitler “was both ignorant of and uninterested in economics. But he was not uninterested in or ignorant of the opportunities which the Depression suddenly gave him. The suffering of his fellow Germans was not something to waste time sympathizing with, but rather to transform, cold-bloodedly and immediately, into political support for his own ambition.”

Hitler played on this in the 1930 election, when the Nazis became the second biggest party. “To all the millions of discontented, Hitler in a whirlwind campaign offered what seemed to them, in their misery, some measure of hope. He would make Germany strong again … stamp out corruption, bring the money barons to heel (especially if they were Jews), and see to it that every German had a job and bread. To hopeless, hungry men seeking not only relief but new faith and new gods, the appeal was not without effect.”

Hitler needed money and he turned his charm on the “politically childish men of the business world.” Communists and socialists were strong and feared by business leaders. “They may not like the party’s demagoguery and its vulgarity, but on the other hand it was arousing the old feelings of German patriotism and nationalism. It promised to lead the German people away from communism, socialism, trade-unionism and the futilities of democracy.”

One of these “futilities,” Shirer wrote, was a polarized and paralyzed parliament, “breaking down at a moment when the economic crisis made strong government imperative.” Even the democratic government had begun ruling by decree.

 Actually, the Republic had pampered the businessmen, bankers and landowners. Despite this, “with a narrowness, a prejudice, a blindness which seems inconceivable, they hammered away at the foundations of the Republic until, in alliance with Hitler, they brought it down.”

Hitler also courted the army, still stung by its defeat in the war, and promised it new power in exchange for its support.

In this way, Shirer wrote, Hitler, “a leader of the lower-middle-class masses, rallied, in addition to his own followers, the support of the upper-class Protestants of the north, the conservative Junker agrarians and a number of monarchists.”

In 1932, Hitler ran for president against the octogenarian Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg. “He flew from one end of Germany to the other. In the first campaign, he had harped on the misery of the people, the impotence of the Republic. Now he depicted a happy future for all Germans if he were elected: jobs for the workers, higher prices for the farmers, more business for the businessmen.”

“In the Third Reich,” he promised, “every German girl will find a husband.”

 He finished a strong second in a three-man race. Then, in a parliamentary election, the Nazis became the largest party, with 230 out of 608 seats. From this base, he played his enemies against each other and then persuaded the weary Hindenburg to make him chancellor.

Shirer wrote: “In this way, by way of the back door, by means of a shabby political deal with the old-school reactionaries he privately detested, the former tramp … became chancellor of a great nation.”

Shirer, who published his book in 1960, was a Chicagoan and former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. He was writing about Germany, not his own country. Because, as we all know, it can’t happen here.

(Richard C. Longworth, a former chief European correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, is a fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He wrote this article for the Chicago Tribune.)

It’s an article worthy of our undivided attention, a perspective reflective of the truth that there is more than just material poverty that can infect the human condition….

 

For Whom Do You Speak?

Whether consciously or not, we all speak for someone.  Of course, we speak for ourselves.  But even what we speak in our own self-interest most often represents others; we live in a pluralistic place which guarantees that what we say likely echoes someone else’s views.  Over the past months I have listened- sometimes intentionally, other times involuntarily- to a host of political voices seeking to speak on my behalf.  Despite the fact that I would be quite uncomfortable having any of them speak for me, each seems to lay claim to the privilege of speaking for a majority of the electorate, including me.  And as I have wrestled with the reality of someone purporting to represent my thoughts and feelings, it got me to thinking about the rest of us.  Who do we speak for?

I thought about the people I know best.  One of my close friends, passionate about the outdoors his entire life, has come to teach environmentalism to college students at a time when most of his peers have retired.  Another has devoted his energies to the cultivation of the arts, and on a broad scale, in a manner that embraces not only accomplished artists but also the most fledgling efforts of the virtually unknown.  A third has ended a career of pastoring his congregations with a voice for social justice,  even when doing so might have generated unrest and personal discomfort.  Each has chosen a cause, a purpose for his voice, a deliberate act of representation.

A lot of people attempt to speak for others but miss the mark. Government officials are notorious for speaking what the constituents want to hear, or what the officials want them to hear.  Religious leaders for centuries have tried to tell their followers how they should behave, only to be challenged by shifting societal norms.  CEOs everywhere adopt the role of corporate spokespersons, but the perspectives of employees are often far different from the company line: ask a CEO about his/her company’s culture and then interview an employee or two.

Others of us are much less overt-  quieter types for whom introversion is a safer form of existence and who are far less likely to mount a figurative soapbox of any kind.  Who or what do we represent in our relative silence?  For assuredly, not to speak is still a statement of one kind or another.

One of the lessons I learned long ago during my earliest years in business was that “silence is acceptance.”  If I was not willing to challenge an idea, then the fair presumption was that the concept was acceptable to me and that I would support it.  While the wisdom served as a potentially liberating management tool, more broadly the notion described the societal reality in which we live.  Just as in the truth of “not to decide is to decide,” there is truth in “not to speak is to speak.”  And there is potential danger in words that are never spoken.

For instance, an article in The Minneapolis StarTribune describes the growing number of “speakers” fomenting anti-Muslim sentiment in rural towns of the Upper Midwest.  The self-appointed proselytizers, whose expertise ranges from used car sales to conspiracy theory, possess an understanding about how to use their words to stoke the fears of the unknown in the minds of their audiences.  Of course, there are many unbiased residents in small-town America.  But the silence of their voices provides amplification to those who portray all Muslims as like-minded, radical jihadists.  The “preachers” speak only for themselves, I hope.

Then there is the case of words spoken out of the side of the mouth. The same political candidates referenced above, with choruses from their legislative colleagues, have all decried the disappearance of the middle-class in the U.S. in the most recent case of a near-extinction.  But while each has accentuated the importance of the species and pledged to save it, their words belie their true loyalties.  While the middle-class faces utter disappearance, the top 1% of the population continues to amass unprecedented wealth. The reality begs the question about who truly speaks for the vanishing strength of America, its middle class.

For whom do we speak?  Whether we dedicate our words and actions to the natural world, the creativity of the arts, the circumstances of marginalized people, a political ideology or something else, our words leave a legacy.  That legacy will be a fingerprint of our lifetimes, a precise identification of who we were in our time, a picture of what was important to us, an identification of our stewardship, the depth of our love, and whether we left the world in any better shape than we found it….

 

 

 

 

To Not Speak

For the most part, I like to reserve comments here for topics which are specific to Nicaragua and the people and organizations with whom we work.  But occasionally, I come across something written by someone else, something which has profound meaning for any of us, whether in Nicaragua, the U.S. or another place.  One of those important stories appeared in the Opinion Pages of The Minneapolis StarTribune newspaper.  I invite you to read this important recounting of one man’s encounter with ignorance and bigotry, in an unlikely venue.

It was my first Minnesota Vikings game and my first NFL game. I am not new to football, though. As an undergrad at Boston College, I went to many Eagles games, and I played junior varsity football. I knew what to expect on the field. I was excited, and, as I found my seat, I thought about bringing my family to a game in the new stadium.

What I didn’t expect was for a man to push aside other people and point his finger in my face, demanding to know if I was a refugee. He needed to make sure I wasn’t a refugee, he said. There was anger in his face and vehemence in his accusation.

I was stunned. He didn’t know anything about me. We were complete strangers. But somewhere in his mind, all he saw was a terrorist, based on nothing more than the color of my skin. He was white, and I wasn’t. He didn’t see anything else.

He didn’t know that I have lived in Minnesota for the past four years, that I was born and raised in New York and that the words “Never Forget” may mean more to me than to him. He didn’t know that when I went home and my children jumped on top of me and asked “How was the game?” that I’d be holding back tears as I told them about racism instead of touchdowns. He didn’t know that I am an attorney and the director of the Refugee and Immigrant Program at the Advocates for Human Rights.

It was also abundantly clear that he didn’t know about refugees, dignity or freedom. He didn’t know that if he were speaking to a refugee, he’d be speaking to someone who feared persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or social group. He didn’t know that many refugees are victims of some of the worst human-rights abuses occurring on the planet, ranging from being sold into sexual slavery to being killed in mass executions. He didn’t know that being a refugee is a badge of resilience and honor, not danger.

In that moment, I was terrified. But what scared me the most was the silence surrounding me. As I looked around, I didn’t know who was an ally or an enemy. In those hushed whispers, I felt like I was alone, unsafe and surrounded. It was the type of silence that emboldens a man to play inquisitor. I thought about our national climate, in which some presidential candidates spew demagoguery and lies while others play politics and offer soft rebukes. It is the same species of silence that emboldened white supremacists to shoot five unarmed protesters recently in Minneapolis.

The man eventually moved on. I found security staff, and with a guard and friend at my side, I confronted the man on the concessions level. I told him that what he said was racist and that what he did scared me. I told him that I was afraid to return to my seat and that I was afraid that people were going to hurt me. I told him that what he did makes me afraid for my children.

Somewhere during that second confrontation there was a change. Maybe some humanity crept inside him. Maybe he felt the presence of the security guard. While he said he was sorry, his apology was uttered in an adolescent way that demonstrated that he felt entitled to reconciliation as much as he felt entitled to hurl hatred. He wanted to move on and enjoy the game. I told him that I didn’t want his apology. Rather, I wanted him ejected from the stadium because he made me feel unsafe.

The security staff talked with him privately. I don’t know what was said. He was not removed. Apparently, the Vikings do not think that hate speech and racism are removable offenses. My gameday experience was ruined. I tried to focus on the players, but I continued to take glances at the man who sat just a few yards away. I couldn’t help looking over my shoulder, wondering if he had inspired someone else. It was clear that I would not be bringing my family to a Vikings game.

I am deeply troubled by what happened to me. Hate speech is a warning for us all. It is like smoke. Imagine your office, church or stadium filling with smoke, while everyone acted like nothing was wrong. That smoke eventually becomes an unstoppable fire, the type of fire that has consumed people around the world to commit horrendous crimes, the type of fire that can bring down the entire building. As President Obama stated in his address from the Oval Office on Sunday evening: “[I]t is the responsibility of all Americans — of every faith — to reject discrimination.” It is up to us all, from individual bystanders to institutions as big as the Vikings, to respond to and to stop the spread of racism and hate.

(Deepinder Mayell is an attorney and director of the Advocates for Human Rights’ Refugee and Immigrant Program.)

This tale caused me to shiver, literally.  I shook from both anger and fear.  I was angry at the baseless, insulting assault on a man attending an afternoon football game.  The assailant might have just as well pummeled Mr. Mayell with a club.  I was angry at the recognition that, even in the presumably well-mannered Midwest, episodes of irrational prejudice can be manifest anywhere.    I was angry at the stadium security people for tolerating such behavior.  (I have seen them less tolerant on far lesser behaviors.)

But mostly, I shivered at the silence exhibited by those seated amidst the confrontation.  Their silence permitted and even sanctioned the assault.  Their failure to defend an innocent spectator might even be seen as a more egregious disregard than the actions of the attacker; he acted on the basis of blind hatred, while the others displayed a silent and collective cowardice which tacitly condoned the bullying abuse.

We often wonder to ourselves how we might respond to emergencies such as at an accident scene or a fire.  Would we have the courage to act?  In the case of the silent seat mates at the Vikings football game, I’m afraid the answer to that introspection would be a resounding “no.”  I pray that I might never be guilty of such indifference….