My father's generation sacrificed their lives to rid the world of "fascism", or as Mussolini called it "corporatism", an unholy alliance of the rich, aloof business class, a subservient military, prepared to obey even the most horrific orders—for "the homeland"—and an authoritarian government—that sought the enslavement of the "ordinary people"—all to satisfy rantings' of a megalomaniacal lunatic.
Those who saw the death camps first hand —that were euphemistically referred by cynical Nazi propagandists as "work camps"—were shocked to the core and were then outraged, by the piles of unburned corpses and the sight of walking skeletons—the victims of the same nexus of power hungry Nazi elite—the so called Übermensch. The "super race".
Those images were so shocking to me they still haunt me to this day as much as when I saw them in a LIFE magazine pictorial about WW II as a child—I can only imagine the devastating impact they had on the young soldiers who witnessed the sight first hand when accompanied by the sounds human anguish and the stench of rotting human flesh.
Many young soldiers who bore witness to such inhumanity said it was the first time they understood that, that was why they were fighting. It brought home to them in the most profound way the meaning and promise of America. It changed them forever. It changed America too.
That same vivid atrocity also struck Americans at home in their souls and played a large role in the accelerated end of segregation of the military under Truman—and a generation later, the expansion of voters rights, the end of the shameful Jim Crowe laws in the south, and the sham of "separate but equal education"—they were rightly exposed as just another form of oppression and completely intolerable to the vast majority Americans. Equality for all was the lesson of that generation! All men were created equal, reverberated in the American heart.
That sense of "equality and justice for all" sparked the Civil Rights movement and led to the Voting Rights Act—that liberalized and expanded democratic participation to every African American citizen finally keeping promise of full participation by all Americans in their own governance.
The Voting Rights Act was the fitting legacy of the aftermath of WW II—a culmination of a struggle that began with "emancipation" the slaves of the south nearly one hundred years earlier by a Republican president.
Today—because of voter suppression—that legacy is in peril.
Commentary: There are some things worth dying for—liberty is one of them. There can be no liberty without the right to vote—it is the foundation of all other rights. That is why Republican attempts to suppress that right are so utterly contemptuous in their implementation—it is so anti-American it is inconceivable to the vast majority of Americans—yet it is happening in every "republican held state" in the nation. In my view there is something fundamentally repugnant about a political party, that is so desperate to gain and maintain power they would deliberately engage in such treasonous behavior. It is a stunning repudiation of the sacrifices American veterans have made.
In a now infamous October 16th 2005 memo from Citibank* some of their the top executives, declared America, "a plutonomy" and except for **the peoples power of the vote they were advising that the rich would only get richer at the expense of the working and middle class. Their fear of a working class uprising is being realized in the current mobilization of the Occupy Movement. America wake up and rise up, now is the time to take back our country from these self-proclaimed "Masters of the Universe." These same plutocrats—who take everything and give nothing— keep us so focused on the enemies outside and pitting us against each other—that we fail to see them as the enemies of democracy in our midst.
A young Marine, Scott Olsen, who served his country for two tours in Afghanistan—who sustained head injuries that impaired his speech—not in Afghanistan—but at a Occupy Oakland protest—said with great eloquence, "I took an oath to protect the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic, that oath did not end when I took off my uniform." "I was simply exercising my first amendment rights to peacefully assemble and ask the government for a redress of my grievances."
I was moved by his courage and feel the same today as I did, when I too took that same oath as a young man. Duty bound to honor it. It occurred to me that it's time—that all Americans—whether you served in uniform or not—need to take, or reaffirm that oath—to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic. It reads:
I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
If not us—who? If not now—when?
We are the people.
We are the government we elect.
They cannot buy "our" government.
They cannot suppress our votes.