Let’s learn from the recent past to secure our future – The Daily Gazette
By Dr. Roger H. Hull
For The Daily Gazette
George Santayana said, “Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”
The events of the past few months are irrefutable proof of the validity of his words.
From Washington to Moscow, from Buffalo and Uvalde to Kyiv, this year has given us repeated examples of history repeating itself.
Each example is, of course, separable, but the examples are obviously not separate.
Accusations have emerged that a sitting member of Congress conducted tours of the Capitol for insurgents to conduct reconnaissance the day before the Jan. 6 assault on Congress.
If accurate (accuracy to date unconfirmed), this would constitute a seditious plot to nullify the results of an election.
Of course, the danger is less what happened on January 6, horrible as the events of that day were.
The real danger is how the assault provides a blueprint for future insurrection attempts.
Democracy is under attack and, again this fall, at the ballot box.
If our democracy is to continue, the Democrats must learn to fight, not among themselves (which they do very well), but with those who, while accepting the election results for themselves, claim that the races in which others were on the same ballot were somehow “stolen.”
So much for the logic.
Logic was also dropped in Moscow.
Vladimir Putin, emboldened by the West’s inability to confront him for his invasion of Chechnya, Georgia, Syria or, in 2014, Ukraine, attacked Ukraine again.
To justify his actions, Putin casually claimed that Ukrainians were Nazis, and he had to confront them.
Instead, it was Putin’s actions that were Hitlerian.
From the cocoon Putin wrapped himself in for the past two years (as Hitler did during the final years of World War II) to his sending captured Ukrainians to camps in Russia to his leveling of cities in Ukraine, Putin turned out to be Hitler redux and, once again, an international terrorist.
However, we do not need to look abroad to find terrorists.
In Buffalo and Uvalde (among dozens of other cities), we have them.
Although the FBI says domestic terrorists are this country’s greatest threat, Republicans, long united against terrorists internationally, have, paradoxically, been equally opposed to labeling domestic terrorists for what they actually are.
Republicans, too, have united against legislation that could address domestic terror attacks.
While arguments can be made against some gun proposals from Newtown and Parkland, how can any reasonable person find background checks, red flag laws, and assault weapon bans objectionable?
No other nation in the world has experienced even a tiny fraction of our mass murder, and as a result of terrorist attacks, those nations have changed their laws.
Why not the United States?
Yet it is in Ukraine, a country raped by Nazi Germany and attacked by Putin in his best Hitler impersonation, that Santayana’s words resonate most clearly.
After seeing what the Russian Nazis did in 2014, and after being initially skeptical of US intelligence reports warning of a Russian invasion, Ukraine finally woke up and, to this day, blunted the invasion.
Led by a young president who rose to the challenge of leadership, Ukraine, with enormous financial, humanitarian and military support from the United States, Europe and most democratic countries, showed the world how to fight to preserve its democracy. .
Are we in the United States going to call upon the strength of the gut to defend our democracy?
And will Democrats conclude, despite incredibly important issues they could focus on in 2022 and 2024 (gun safety, voting rights, and women’s rights, among others), nothing is more crucial than protecting of our democracy?
After all, if democracy fails, these questions will never see the light of day.
The jury is clearly still out.
Dr. Roger H. Hull of Schenectady is President Emeritus of Union College and President of the Help Yourself Win Foundation.
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