POINT OF VIEW

Good riddance, 2020 — A great big hello to 2021

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We know that, like us, millions more are happy to say goodbye to 2020, and welcome to 2021. We wish everyone a healthy and prosperous new year. We have certainly earned it.

To borrow the words of another momentous time in our history, 2020 will be a year “which will live infamy.”

That partial quote belongs to President Franklin D. Roosevelt following the Japanese surprise attack on the U.S. Navy port of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. That surprise attack pulled us into World War II.

In 2020, the combination of destructive events — including the spread of the coronavirus, and the incompetency and cruelty of the political administration in Washington — was every bit as much of an attack on the nation as the one against Pearl Harbor.

However, there was a difference. We saw this new attack coming, but it didn’t matter. And many of us now agree that the damage it inflicted was much worse than what happened at Pearl Harbor.

A total of 2,403 American servicemen died at Pearl Harbor, and 1,178 were wounded. In 2020, approximately 350,000 civilian men, women and children perished in America, due in large measure to the foolishness and cruelty of an aspiring dictator and his cowardly enablers.

Never would any rational, thinking person in America have imagined that, in the span of just one year, the callousness, cruelty and corruption of autocratic, regressive mentalities could so intensely concentrate evil, to perpetrate such a devastating attack against our country.

It’s a lesson like no other.

As we move forward in this new year — with new leadership and new hope — let’s make sure that the history and lessons of 2020 are not lost or forgotten. It must be shared forward, especially with our youth. We must explain to them what can happen — even in a democratic republic — when an infection of socio-political divisions is allowed to fester, and the cult of worshipping an individual suffocates the value of human empathy and reason.

It leaves the nation vulnerable to an insidious disease that no one wants to talk about.

What has been slithering around America for the last four years is a disease known as “fascism” — and it cannot be contained by wearing masks or social distancing. There is no possibility of an effective vaccine for it.

Donald J. Trump is both a symptom and a carrier of this insidious disease — and the fact that so many Americans are willing to support someone like him signals how contagious this other kind of “pandemic” can be in an environment pumped with ignorance, selfishness and hate.

Like a lethal biological virus, fascism seeks out the weakness that opens the door for it to enter and begin its destructive and deadly mission in the body politic. Only the strength of courage, dignity and truth can counter it.

This old disease has not taken hold in America, but with the emergence of “Trumpism,” it has a foot in the door, and a taste of power. We have all witnessed that, in a relatively short span of time (although it feels like centuries), it has caused significant damage on several levels.

We are convinced the nation is extremely lucky to have escaped its grip in the last election.

But fascism never goes away quietly. It will try anything to maintain its chokehold. And when pushed away, remains in the shadows and crevices of regressive, authoritarian minds, waiting for the next opportunity to strike.

It respects no law and no democracy.

The most drastic casualty of fascism is truth, which with the advent of Trumpism, has been under direct assault. It now struggles to stay ahead of the avalanche of lies — and an “alternate reality” — that intentionally confuses and misdirects our people.

Recently, this planned assault against truth was described in a reported statement by one of the assault’s lieutenants, Steve Bannon, who basically admitted that the tactic of deliberate misinformation required inundating the media with a lot of “BS,” and that this maneuver was more important than any effort to debate Democrats.

Judging by the troop of “rightist” politicians who have recently joined the Trump effort to overturn election results — using bogus claims of fraud — Steve Bannon’s sentiment seems to be more than just political posturing. It appears to be the calculations of a movement, which thrives in the calamity of confusion and chaos.

This is the classic scenario of fascism.

Most ominously, fascism is now being peddled to the American people by a growing troop of Republican scoundrels, using a variety of marketing and distribution tactics, including deceptive appeals to patriotism and faith. They actively demonstrate their willingness to play this game of deception at the peril of our democratic republic.

Because of the danger he represents, we celebrate the defeat of Donald J. Trump. But we caution that it must be followed by some serious reform to our democratic mechanisms, including campaign financing, vetting of candidates, and election processes.

We also believe that criminals — white and blue collar, or red cap and tie — must be held accountable to the rule of law.

In our humble opinion, if this disease of fascism overwhelms its GOP host, then the challenge to make reforms and progress in America compounds, and becomes just the beginning of an indefinite and divisive battle.

As we look forward to 2021 with renewed hope and a sense of grateful relief, we must also remain vigilant and prepared to protect and defend the hope that America stands for. This hope is our most precious treasure, but we are reminded that it is not guaranteed. To keep it requires sustained work and commitment to democracy.

Our current history of pandemics has warned us.

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