An ABC television docu-drama called, “The Wave,” was about a true-life event that happened in a Palo Alto, California high school. The show was first aired in 1981. A high school history teacher was asked how so many Germans could be fooled into accepting the demented Nazi creed. In the days that followed, without announcing to the class exactly what he was doing, the teacher challenged his students to become part of a movement (that did not actually exist) to see if it would improve their outlook on life.
He introduced a disciplined approach to everything and got them all performing like trained monkeys in a circus act, each student filled a role and each student found satisfaction and meaning in feeling like they were contributing to something greater than themselves.
Does that sound good to you? It sounds appealing to me. The problem with it was that they had stopped thinking for themselves and mindlessly followed the orders of the teacher. Some had become so dedicated to the purity of their cause that students who expressed doubt or disbelief about the cause were threatened and physically attacked.
Then the teacher revealed how he had intentionally misled them. He had manipulated their thoughts and emotions by thinking for them. They had liked him all the more for his strongly disciplinary approach. They were completely caught up in the energy of their single-minded movement. Then he told them that they would have all made good Nazis. He told them that they must question what they do rather than to blindly follow a leader.
I watch events unfold in my old country, the USA, which I still love. I hope for that country’s success as a pluralistic democracy that values the strength of its diversity. I can only hope that Donald Trump is acting like the teacher who was teaching that lesson about the need for constant vigilance about truth and reason. I hope that Trump is not preparing to take on the mantle of yet another authoritarian Reich-Meister.
Many of Trump’s supporters do believe in him so whole-heartedly that they would do anything for him and they would excuse any behaviour by him. He is seen as a “Superman.” Not the comic book, cartoon Superman, rather the Nietzche-inspired Superman who answers to no one. The concept of “right” is determined by what the Superman chooses to do. In Nietzche’s view, “Master morality” is the morality of the strong willed. He is a hero whose judgement must not be questioned.
Yet, it is known that Trump was once a Democrat who gave monetary support to Hillary Clinton. He is reputed to have said that he, himself could easily takeover the Republican Party because, as a group, they were so remarkably stupid. Is he repeating the teacher’s lesson on a national scale? Will we all watch one day as he reveals how he hoodwinked close to half a nation into believing that he, and he alone, was capable of solving problems that would always elude others?
My highest hope is that he will be defeated in the most lopsided contest in U.S. political history. A U.S., whose people are capable of thoughtful compassion and are able to embrace diversity whole-heartedly, would surely reject the mindless bluster being barked out by John Barron, aka, Donald Trump. I am convinced that there are still great numbers of Americans capable of rational thought, who can see the mean poverty of spirit within Trump’s rants. I hope that the voters will make history once again in electing the first female president and that she will receive support from a fully Democratic Congress, rather than be bogged down in stalemates with the obstructionist Republicans who refused to participate in democratic government because things did not go completely their way.
It is time now to be good Americans, to be accepting of other Americans, even though they are ‘other.’ It is time now to understand that love of country can be held by people of all beliefs, orientations, and appearances. The task is to provide support for all who wish to realize the “American Dream” and to live peacefully in a richly pluralistic society. It is time now for the U.S. to place itself on the right side of history.