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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

Appeasement

George Santayana’s famous quote, “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, has even more relevance today than ever before. Lawless leaders of a country whose men and women fought against fascism, prosecuted those who were willing conspirators and which famously claimed that its citizens could never take up the cause of an amoral, sociopathic leader have allowed precisely that to occur. Today, days after the events at the Capitol, those who encouraged and abetted out of fear, greed, or self-interest call for healing. Our country cannot heal when it still harbors delusion, corruption and hypocrisy.


Years before fascist rule in Germany, Italy, Spain and the Soviet Union it was clear to those who had lived through the ghastly privations and loss of the first world war that its rise was unfolding. Yet in America, as in Great Britain and elsewhere in the western world the mood of the people and their appointed leaders was disbelief, pacifism and appeasement. In Henry IV, Shakespeare wrote “in peace there’s nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility; but when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the actions of the tiger; stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disguise fair nature with hard favored rage.” We would be guided by this injunction as a call to action in the weeks, and months to come—not as a prompt to fight violence with violence but as a caution against those who believe that appeasement can bring about meaningful change.


Even now there are a significant number of Americans who gleefully anticipate further violence accompanied by those who publicly denounce the events of January 6th, but privately believe the perpetrators to be patriots. Worse yet, there are those who offer excuses and defend political and religious leaders who sanctioned –even encouraged a mob that broke faith with the very principles for which our country once stood. And there are those who claim that healing will occur by sweeping the events of that day into a dustbin and moving on.


The lesson we must take from history is that it has never worked—but only encouraged the persistence of those who would oppose the values we claim to embrace. As long as we tolerate, give aid and cover to anyone who supports the lawless we are no better than they who have led us to the brink of violent overthrow. By denying what is plain to see, by fabricating false narratives to make traitors into victims and victims into perpetrators, we lull ourselves into the belief that the complicit can be brought into the light. If we wish to banish this disease from our country, we must not allow this to occur. We must hold accountable any and every individual, regardless of position or reputation that does not repudiate what has occurred and accept responsibility for their encouragement.


We must call them out—not just for the next few news cycles but a month, a year, ten years from now if need be. We are obligated to make clear that those who break faith with their fellow men and women, those who foment or support any violation of our Constitution and our society to even the slightest degree have no place among us. For so long as they continue to foment violence, or provide aid and comfort to those that do they should not be merely punished, but publicly shamed and deprived of the comforts we extend to our fellow citizens. Nothing less than concerted action is required. If we fail to do this those who remain unconvinced will recede into the fabric of our democracy, hide in the shadows and emerge to bring us to the brink again.


Now is the time for every man and woman to declare where they stand. We defend our country, our Constitution and our democracy or we hang our heads in shame and abandon all pretense that America represents the ideals on which it was founded. There will be a time for healing to be sure—but it is not through appeasement and it must not come until we have done what we should have years ago and taken a stand against the merest suggestion of tyranny, treason and hate.

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