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Robert Slayton Headshot

Fear

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Today we had a tragedy at the Holocaust Museum in Washington: a neo-Nazi showed up with a gun, and killed a guard before he was subdued. With great sadness, I predict that we may see more of this kind of behavior in the next few years.

Why such a dismal forecast? There are people in this country who cannot deal with change, despite the fact that it is a part of everyday life, especially in such a dynamic country as this one. For the last eight years, accurately or not, they felt that a party, a president, who understood and embodied their views, was in charge of the nation, that the White House and Congress sympathized with their viewpoint.

Now, this is all gone, in an incredibly powerful manner. Instead of a Texan with an Anglo-Saxon name, the president is a black man with the moniker Barack Hussein Obama. A woman with the vowel-laden name "Pelosi" is now Speaker of the House, third in line for the presidency. And there may well be a Latina on the Supreme Court.

It is not just in politics, either. The country is in the midst of a major wave of immigration, with few of the newcomers coming from Europe, even the southern and eastern nations, this time around. In economic terms, the landscape is even more of a disaster for traditionalists. Fifty years ago, when a lot of the people who are now so scared were growing up, General Motors claimed that it was America. Now it is facing bankruptcy. On a symbolic level, few events can match the recent loss of the Winchester company. When I was growing up--when 50% of Americans drove GM cars--every cowboy carried a Colt revolver and a Winchester rifle. Like Coca-Cola, these were products that were quintessentially American. Now the great maker of saddle rifles is gone.

For some people, this is just too much change. The world that they knew is disappearing too fast. Most of these folks will just crumble and make visits from the grandkid's hell.

But a few of them will act. These folks feel desperate, feel they are being marginalized, feel they need to defend something. Their back, at least to their way of thinking, is against the wall. This is their America's last stand. It is no coincidence that today's slaying came only days after a radical anti-abortionist killed a doctor in Kansas.

What can progressives do? I would never suggest knuckling under to these desperate terrorists, not one iota. Rather, to borrow from Barry Goldwater, "eternal vigilance is the price of freedom". We must use legitimate, democratic police powers at every level, every jurisdiction. Citizens must request adequate protection from this newly invigorated threat, over and over, till it deals with this violence. It is going to be here for a while, after all, as the vast majority of us march into the twenty first century.

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