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Martin Maidenberg Headshot

Defying Gravitas -- Season of the Witch

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I don't care if she's a witch. After all, at the end of the day, I don't want to judge anyone for using a little sorcery or for being a little different from everyone else. The question is: What kind of witch she would be? After all, we all know how much damage a bad witch can cause (cue the twister). And we all know the positive influences of a good witch (munchkins and oversized bubble machine, please). So, my issue with the witch is not her nature but with the ideology behind what she's trying to achieve through her incantations.

But, this Halloween, why stop with the anti-masturbatory witch? There are so many more costumes and personas to choose from. The selection runs the gamut. We've got the Nazi SS officer re-enacting World War II scenarios, (after all, one really can't have a thorough understanding of the Nazis until we actually see them in action, right? It's educational!), the billionairess "whore," (who says the economy is suffering?), and the proud, not "a Homophobic," who marches for Columbus although, sadly, will not partake in any "Speedo-grinding" along the parade route.

These cartoon characters might be quite entertaining if not for the reality that each are truly frightening in their own right. They stir their cauldrons and hide behind masks of patriotism and use the tenets of The Constitution as weapons to divide and conquer, advancing personal agendas and beating down those they deem "different." As representatives of the growing trend in today's politics they have essentially become a nation of schoolyard bullies, flailing about with their fists hoping to hit someone or something in order to feel better about themselves.

While it's true that there is much to be concerned about these days, it's these individuals who scare me the most. Those that preach of tolerance for others but don't see beyond their diatribes and recognize the need to curb their self-serving speeches so as not to further fan the flames of bigotry and ignorance before the next youth suicide or gay bashing.

These are the same people who want to "take our country back," but have no idea where they actually want to go. Do they want to return to the Reagan era where the rich get richer and the poor become even more beleaguered? To the 50's when women and blacks couldn't vote? To the glorious, free-lovin' 60's that brought us to Vietnam and to the brink of our own civil war with missiles aimed at our backs? To embrace the times when Presidents were either assassinated or resigning in embarrassment? Were those really America's golden eras? I long for the "golden days" of our country as well, but my wishes harken back to times when civil rights were being granted, not questioned; when attending college was not seen as being elitist, but rather something to which one aspired; when my ideological opponents knew that I was not their enemy, but just someone striving toward the same American dream via a different path.

These ghastly candidates all profess their love for this country at all costs, maligning their way through elections, campaigning on ego, aggression and "sameness," ("I AM YOU"), rather than on ability. To these ghouls I ask: "How about offering us something more bewitching this election year?" Feel free (as you often do) to use the Constitution as your rallying cry, but do us all a favor and at least read the thing first. When you do, try to pay attention to the part about "liberty and justice for all" and how the pursuit of happiness is granted as a right, not something to be interpreted by you. (Don't worry about having to read too much -- it's right there at the very beginning).

These are the same people who will tell you that it would be much easier if we simply vent our frustrations, utilize scare tactics to create unrest, point scapegoating fingers, and then just gather our treats and go home to collect the spoils.

This year, don't accept the proselytizing of these charlatans who claim to know the answers, when it's become all too apparent that they're just in this for the sugar rush of the candy corn. Fight against these dark forces with knowledge and compassion. Aspire to be something more than just a dissenter and a bully. Recognize that there are those who may differ from you -- in appearance, in goals, in what they believe -- but that someone being "different" from you doesn't make him your enemy. He is not someone to be battled or defeated. Understand that the real danger is from those who eschew solidarity and tolerance in the name of "progress" or "freedom."

This Halloween, accept those differences you may not understand instead of denouncing others as beneath you. Know that there is a vast chasm between good-natured passion and misguided rhetoric. And, most of all, beware those witches who, from atop their broomsticks, amidst bile and ignorance claim, "I am you."