Puttin’ up with Putin

There is an ominous resonance between the conduct of Russia’s czar Putin and the rhetoric of certain conservatives, particularly Senator John McCain.  Like Putin, McCain seems to think that the solution to pretty much everything is violence.  Like Putin, McCain openly scoffs at attempts at peaceful resolution or sanctions.  Finally, like Putin, McCain takes every opportunity and uses every movement in the world as grounds for condemning those whom he sees as enemies, i.e., everybody who does not agree with him.

     What is most particularly foreboding about this resonance is that Czar Putin has developed support for his usurpations by drumming up nationalistic fervor among his people, and then he has used that support to justify all kinds of oppression, even oppression of those very supporters.  So, for instance, he has instituted censorship of the press.  He has blocked access to the appearance of opposition thought on the internet.  He has persecuted opposition politicians.  In Ukraine, he has only thinly veiled his seizure of the lands of his neighboring sovereign nation by sending thugs to do violence even to his own people and then sending Russian military forces to “protect” them. 

     That is the way of dictatorship —  ridicule and demonize your opposition, suppress dissent and centralize power.  Oh, and all along the way, deny that you are doing it.  Now, look at conservative attacks on the President of the United States, and look at what those conservatives are doing wherever they are in power.  Ridicule and demonize everything and anything the President does, regardless of the ill effects of your conduct on the national and international consciousness.  Limit the right to vote, and limit access to basic needs, education and health care.  Finally, limit the powers of local governments (and, where possible, federal government) and put as many decisions as you can in the hands of the central government.

     This is what Nero did.  This is what Caligula did.  This is what Peter the Great did.  This is what Henry VIII did.  This is what Hitler did.  This is what Stalin did.  To put it succinctly, this way lies dictatorship, whose ruling principle is power.  And, in the end, this way lies revolution, violence, mass destruction. 

     Lest we forget.  Lest we ever, ever, for one moment, forget.

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