American History X
“Someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad,” he said after accepting a presidential nomination from New York’s Liberal Party in 1960. “If that is what they mean by a ‘Liberal,’ then I'm proud to say I’m a Liberal.”
Kennedy’s ascension to the presidency gave wind to the sails of American Liberalism, which carried it through a decade of political and cultural change that literally revolutionized life in United States. This change was strongly rebuked in the decades that followed, largely by proponents of Nixonian conservatism, a quasi-fascist ideology promulgating a strengthened federal government led by an elite group of free market cheerleaders.
By the dawning of the new century, American Liberals found themselves a dying breed; largely shunned by the Democrats and treated like a pack of rabid lepers by the Nixonians, a scurrilous group cultivated under the laissez-fair leadership of the Regan Administration into today’s neoconservatives. For nearly a decade now, this ideology has tried to exact the final solution that was narrowly thwarted by the Watergate scandal: the full excoriation of American Liberalism from the halls of government.
Foisted into government by many of the Nixon minions, these buggers consolidated their power from the bottom up. After dominating the AM airwaves throughout the 1990s, they managed to take unprecedented control of all three branches of government with the rise of the Bush Administration. And when liberals watched the twin towers crumble in 2001, they finally took a gander at the writing on the wall. Facing merciless extermination at the hands of an authoritarian political movement, they decided something would need to change dramatically.
This lit the fire underneath today’s Neoliberalism, a riddle-like movement wrapped in a conundrum, much like its new-right doppelganger. Born in liberal bastions such as Vermont and Northern California, the take-no-shit new left preaches many of the same principles as its predecessor, just in a far more militant way. In other words, believe what we’re shoveling or you’re one of them. And if you’re one of them, you’re just another cog in the problem machine.
Such is the case at Skidmore College, as an apparent proponent of this new left thought ludicrously etched a swastika on a jumbo-sized poster advertising former Attorney General and noted Neocon John Ashcroft’s speech on campus this evening. Clearly, the individual drawing this hate symbol figured it might give viewers pause to think about Ashcroft and how his short term in office could be equated to the brutal Nazi regime that laid waste to most of Europe with their hatred.
The gesture was just what Tom Qualtere –co-president of Skidmore’s Young Republicans –needed to prove the hackneyed theory that liberals won’t be happy until they’ve changed the country into a Soviet-era gulag.
“It’s so frustrating,” he told the Times Union Monday. “You want to act like you’re running Stalinist Russia, go ahead. But don’t call yourselves liberals while you're doing it.”
What is unfortunate is that neither the swastika-artist nor Qualtere seem to have even an inkling of the historical markers they reference or the completely asinine implications of their respective statements. Comparing Ashcroft or his movement to Nazi Germany is quite ludicrous, in that the neoconservatives generally shriek every time even a cursory mention of socialism is brought up. Likewise, anyone associating the militant new left with the former Soviet Union obviously hasn’t read much about Russia under Stalin’s rule or bothered to compare it to some of the areas of the U.S. where this ideology was hatched.
The whole affair is disturbing in that it shows the unbelievable political and historical ignorance being bred in today’s colleges. In as much, the future for dialog and progress seems remarkably grim. But the most frightening thought born from this rather minuscule event is the thought proffered by Edmund Burke, an 18th century British philosopher and one-time champion of the very American Independence neoconservatives and liberals both enjoy today: Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.