In all my life I have never seen such intense emotion surrounding a leader as that evoked by Barack Obama. Even Ronald Reagan, the Gipper himself, didn't enjoy the kind of prostration of the will offered to the president-elect by hordes of followers. Yet, while people the world over are imbued with "hope" and chant Obama's slogan "Yes, we can!" -- for instance, the French are using their translation of it, "Oui, nous pouvons!" -- some of the intense emotion is of a very different species.
It is fear.
In all my life I have never seen an American politician who could make so many Americans' blood run cold. Some may mention the left's feelings regarding Reagan or President Bush, but there is no equivalency. For all of leftists' bluster and melodrama, they weren't afraid of those men as much as they, well, just hated them. Sure, leftist ideologues said those two Republicans were scary, but the same people also said that each one was both dumb and Machiavellian. Hatred is an emotion, and emotion isn't logical; it just conjures up whatever feels right at the moment.
In Obama's case, however, I sense a real, palpable, go-white-in-the-face fear akin to what might be evident in someone who has a gun put to his head or believes he has seen a demon. I know for instance, a stout-hearted man of rough-hewn breeding and my political persuasion who has said about the impending changing of the guard, "I'm afraid."
However, he is a right-winger like me, and just as with the leftist ideologues who "feared" Reagan and Bush, we aren't exactly a representative sample of America.
But this is what is truly, well, scary. I have seen this fear not just in rightist politics wonks but also in people who are not in the habit of troubling much over politics at all. For example, I was surprised recently when a woman I know - someone who could easily abide by the injunction, "Never discuss religion or politics" - said in a most sober fashion that she was thinking of leaving the country. Then there is an elderly Jewish gentleman of my acquaintance who lived through WWII; this man could be described as almost apolitical, was probably more apt to vote Democrat than Republican and isn't given to issuing political opinion, let alone hyperbole. Yet when someone else broached the subject of Obama's legions of fawning admirers, he broke his pattern and interjected, "This is like what happened with Hitler. . . ."
Then consider this statement printed a couple of months ago:
"Big Brother had nothing on the Obamas. They plan to herd American youth into government-funded reeducation camps where they'll be brainwashed into thinking America is a racist, oppressive place in need of ‘social change.'"
Is this the rambling of some right-wing site occupying the dark recesses of the Web or a radical on a soapbox? I mean, after all, it's not the kind of thing you read in the New York Times. Actually, it's excerpted from a September 4 piece in Investor's Business Daily (IBD), a mainstream paper of great repute.
Are all these people delusional? Are they simply stuck in time and afraid of change?
Maybe it's that they have some idea what that change will be.
Fear can certainly be and often is irrational. Yet, generally speaking, the most real fear comes from real threats. A ghost story may scare a child, but not nearly as much as if he actually sees a ghost. Imagining what it's like to have a gun to your head may be scary, but not as much so as if you feel cold, blued steel pressed against your temple. And I sense real fear.
What is there to be afraid of? A good place to start is with the content of the IBD story cited earlier.
Most of us have heard Obama state that "We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded" as the military. This alone is enough to send shivers up an informed spine, but it gets even worse when you hear the specifics. Obama intends to use a radical activist group he helped found called "Public Allies" as the model for, as IBD puts it, ". . . his Orwellian program, ‘Universal Voluntary Public Service.'"
IBD reports on the inducements used to entice young people into this national service corps and its true aim:
. . . they'll get a monthly stipend of up to $1,800, plus paid health and child care. They also get a post-service education award of $4,725 that can be used to pay off past student loans or fund future education.
But its real mission is to radicalize American youth and use them to bring about ‘social change' through threats, pressure, tension and confrontation -- the tactics used by the father of community organizing, Saul "The Red" Alinsky.
As bad as this sounds, I believe the reality will be far worse. I'll explain where I think this will lead, but first we must understand a collective psychological phenomenon that is now apparent.
When Abraham in the Bible was prepared to obey God's command and sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah, it was, and this may shock some, understandable. God is perfect and the author of morality, and while we may not always understand His ways, the Divine Mind always knows what is best. So the story is a lesson of faith and trust in God. God cannot be wrong. You don't question God.
Whether you have faith or not, it's easy enough to grasp that such deference is understandable when talking about a perfect, divine being. But it's downright dangerous when applied to a human being. Any human being.
Unfortunately, while the deific monikers applied to Obama such as "The One" or "The Messiah" have become grist for comedians, humorists and just plain old wise-guys, they're no laughing matter. They reflect a real spirit that has imbued millions, and this is why far scarier than Obama are his followers. They have deified the man, and you don't question your god. I truly believe that just as many Germans followed Hitler over the precipice during WWII, there are many Americans today who would follow Obama unquestioningly, unthinkingly, unknowingly -- into the fires of Hell.
If this sounds as laughable as deific labels, know that it isn't radical to claim that a continually-recycling historical pattern will manifest itself again and can do so here; radical is to imply that within American borders the laws of man's nature are somehow suspended. In nature (not culture), Americans are no different from the people who followed Hitler, Mussolini, Ayatollah Khomeini, Pol Pot or Lenin. The tendency to deify leaders is universal.
With this understanding, I'll now give you my prediction as to how Obama's Universal Voluntary Public Service program will evolve.
With his oratorical skills and a complicit media, the president-elect will be able to sell this scheme with talk about security, equality and liberating the downtrodden. "It's the best way to combat crime, hopelessness and a lack of opportunity in the inner city," he will say. "And I know this well from my days as a community organizer on Chicago's mean streets." He will tout how it provides health care, education and skills to the have-nots, and his media-oiled silver tongue's salesmanship will prevail. It will be sold with a low-end price tag, and the Democrat-controlled Houses of Congress will echo the message and deliver the votes. Of course, just like Social Security and a trove of other government programs, its cost will make a mockery of predictions. But Uncle Sam's budget projections aren't designed for budgets, but for marketing.
As always happens with such groups, program members will eventually be identified with some colloquial and catchy label. I can't tell you what it will be, only that it won't be Brownshirts or Blackshirts. And the official name of the program itself may even be changed a few years hence.
As with the Public Allies program, members will have to attend seminars and "retreats" where they will be indoctrinated with leftist ideology. Aside from learning how America is a "racist and "sexist" country, they will be taught that she is also ridden with "heterosexism," which, IBD writes, ". . . a Public Allies training seminar in Chicago describes as a negative byproduct of ‘capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and male-dominated privilege.'" They will be taught that these evils can never be vanquished until every last vestige of traditional America is utterly destroyed.
The pressure to conform will be immense, as it always is in politically-correct entities. The corps will have a huge core of true believers, who will act as ideological hammers. They will preach diversity but practice conformity.
Just like Public Allies, this program may be birthed primarily in the inner cities. That is where Obama's main support is, and, as stated before, he will claim this is where the corps' help is needed most. It will then be empowered to do "social good," which could mean anything from helping at soup kitchens to recruiting those ripe for indoctrination to forming some kind of neighborhood crime watch. As for the last task, though, given the corps' ideology and the fact that it will be drawing members from high-crime areas initially, I expect it to contain a not insignificant criminal element. It will be corrupt from the get-go and may even assume the character of an organized crime syndicate.
But its "security" mandate will be chilling. In the name of combating garden-variety crime and, more specifically, terrorism, who knows what powers the corps will be granted? Will they one day help enforce an order to seize firearms, if not via direct action than through information gathering? I can't know exactly, but I do know the powers will be misused.
Over time, the program may be expanded to include a corps for even younger adolescents, perhaps starting at age 13 or 14. As before, I can't tell you exactly what it will be called, but it won't be "The Obama Youth" -- not officially, anyway. And, certainly by this time, joining it will be the thing the "cool" kids do, sort of like the Boy Scouts' evil twin.
Then, the result may be that we will have, to use John Edwards' terminology, "two Americas": Those who belong to the corps and those who don't. But I think I know which of the two will be more formidable. Remember when the student thugs at Columbia University stormed a stage to stop Minutemen representatives from speaking? Similar things have happened at colleges throughout the country, and they may give us a glimpse into the character of the corps. Just picture the same fascist-minded bullies, only more organized, more numerous, even more ideological and far, far bolder. And many authorities in the nation may tolerate their intimidation with a wink and a nod.
We should also take note of the program's name, Universal Voluntary Public Service. One of the definitions of "universal" is, "affecting, concerning, or involving all [emphasis mine]." And I suspect the word most likely to be dropped from the name eventually is not "universal" but "voluntary."
Of course, they don't call me the Amazing Kreskin. I'm no soothsayer and I could be wrong about many of the details I provided. But the fear is real and the historical allusions are valid.
Speaking of which, Georgia Congressman Paul Broun recently addressed the program and exhibited both fear and a grasp of history, saying:
"That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."
Of course, many will nevertheless say that such concerns are but the musings of the tin-foil hat crowd. But such scoffing is par for the course. As Professor Manfred Weidhorn of Yeshiva University wrote:
". . . even if you are prescient enough to observe oncoming evils, you are prevented from acting precisely because other people, being normal, lack your prescience. They therefore see you, rather than the evil person, as the deluded or warmongering malevolent soul. When Churchill warned about Hitler in the 1930s, many people became more upset with Churchill than with Hitler. The anomaly is that the prophet has therefore to wait for the evil to manifest itself and thereby to make everyone else see things the prophet's way. But by then the chance to do anything may be gone."
So there is an answer for those who would say "You've thoroughly Godwinned yourself, Duke." If you bristle at the comparison and don't want to wear the shoe, then the onus is on you to be vigilant, to make sure it never, ever fits.