The old saying that one should never discuss politics or religion may have made sense 50 years ago, but in the year 2010 politics and religion are in the forefront of every conversation.
The 24/7 news channels and blogs are filled with stories highlighting the religious differences of Muslims and Christians and the two political parties in Washington, D. C. have become so partisan that a Democrat or a Republican would be humiliated to even be seen having lunch together. Muslims are killing Americans and vice versa.
The venomous hatred of politicians and religious zealots has become so acrid that it will certainly lead to violence and even death. Stop for a minute and ask yourself this question: What will happen in America if some fanatic embraces the hysterical rants of far left or far right groups and assassinates President Barack Obama?
How many of us recall the riots that rocked America after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.? If President Obama is killed because of the fanaticism that seems to be embracing the radical movement, I dread the consequences.
In order to stop a political movement assassination is the tool of record. Where would America be today if assassination had not claimed John and Robert Kennedy, or of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.? We'll never know the answer to that question and the big losers are Americans from all walks of life. Generations of Americans have been deprived of their leadership and their visions of a better America.
More than 3,000 Americans died on September 11, 2001 because of the religious fanaticism of Jihadists who fervently believe that America is on a mission to destroy Muslims. Each month a near disaster is uncovered or prevented involving the religious zealot's intent on punishing America. And so far America has been lucky, but how long will that luck hold?
There are ears and minds picking up on all of the racist and political jargon of hatred clogging our news networks and blogs and one day a misguided individual will act in a bad way to fulfill his or her fantasies. The hatred wasn't nearly as acrid as it is today when John Hinckley. Jr., nearly assassinated President Ronald Reagan. You can bet your bottom dollar that somewhere in the land of the free and the home of the brave, a dark and sick mind is plotting to assassinate our president even now.
The assassination of political or tribal leaders goes back even beyond Julius Caesar. In America the assassination of American Indian leaders has a long history and sadly their deaths, in most cases, were brought upon them by their own people and happened because of jealousy or of fear that this leader would take the people in a direction other than the one envisioned by the assassin.
The fearful and legendary Sitting Bull, a Hunkpapa Lakota, was assassinated by tribal police when he resisted arrest on trumped up charges. The great warrior and leader Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota, was assassinated after surrendering and bringing his followers to Fort Robinson in Nebraska Territory.
Sitting Bull was living peacefully on his own land when he was shot to death. His words still had the power to motivate his people and with the Ghost Dance, a religious movement raging across the Plains, there was great fear that Sitting Bull would choose the side of the Dancers.
Crazy Horse brought his followers to Fort Robinson because he had been promised he would be given a reservation for his people. The buffalo herds had been demolished and his people were starving and saving them was the reason he surrendered only to be bayoneted to death because he did not want to be pushed into a jail cell.
And so through the centuries, even in a new and growing America, religion and politics have played an important factor in creating laws and of bringing change. The perceived loss of religious freedom or the fear of political change can be powerful motivators for determined and fanatical zealots.
The assassinations of Benazir Bhutto, Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, and Anwar El Sadat happened because of political and religious fervor gone mad. Every American should understand that this Nation is beginning to reek of political and religious fanaticism that can surely lead to an attempt upon the life of President Obama and it has got to stop.
I stand in fear of watching this great Nation ripped apart should such a heinous act take place. And I repeat, this madness needs to come to an end.
(Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is the publisher of Native Sun News. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard with the Class of 1990. His weekly column won the H. L. Mencken Award in 1985. His book Children Left Behind was awarded the Bronze Medal by Independent Book Publishers. Giago was inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2007. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)