One of the reasons author Margaret Donnelly has devoted her time and energy to writing is she desires to effect change in a world that is often touched by the hand of evil. Truth shines a light in the corners where shadows hide, and Donnelly’s writing is a lamp illuminating the darkness. When the shadows are no longer hidden, we can see – and avoid – the forces that threaten us through trickery and ignorance. In her four books, Donnelly has enlightened readers regarding a number of issues plaguing humanity, including racism, sexism and religious authoritarianism.
In “Song of the Goldencocks” and “Path of Lord Jaguar”, Donnelly highlights the most vicious, deadly manifestation of racism we have seen in recent history with plotlines that entangle us with Nazi heirs in both North and South America. In her characters, Ricardo Ariosto and Heinrich Vahl, we see soulless greed and the cold view that some people are only valuable based on what they are equipped to provide the Nazi class. For example, Holocaust victims were not valued as human beings; they were valued for the art, money and gold teeth they could provide to Nazi harvesters.
Unfortunately, today we are seeing similar problems echoed across the U.S. We are seeing the kind of nationalism that Hitler employed as he rose to power. By tapping into the desires of young Germans to make their country great again, Hitler sold a brand of nationalism that convinced followers to overlook the humanity of anyone who didn’t fit his ideal.
Is there anything inherently wrong with wanting your country to be great? No, not unless that nationalism is based on racist and xenophobic views of the country, characteristics that current movements hold in common with Hitler’s political brand. Nationalism turns sour when left to marinate too long in hate. When we want our country to be great at the expense of certain groups or individuals, we are Nazi harvesters, consuming or excluding people based on cold data rather than compassion.
Some of our modern politicians have risen to prominence by tapping into deeply buried racist fears that others have worked for decades to eradicate. For example, in this election cycle we have heard hateful statements that pit “us” (American natives, often white) versus “them” (immigrants or those who want to immigrate). We have heard people call for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. We have heard Mexicans called “thugs.” We have heard people call for the ban of all Muslims – 1.6 billion members of an entire religion – from entering the U.S. Not only would such an idea be impossible to enforce, but it also must anger the very people that many Americans fear, radical terrorist groups. Plus, it’s contrary to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which guarantees freedom of religion. Are we really willing to make America great again by making it wholly un-American?
Today, we are continuously bombarded with news stories that incite fear. It’s understandable that some might turn to a hyper-nationalist point-of-view in order to protect their home country. It can feel safer to block all who are different because the unknown can feel uncomfortable. However, we must also recognize the idea that we cannot divide humanity into categories or teams based on unfair generalizations. When we do so, we are no longer humanity; we are enemies.
Hitler rose to power by preying on the insecurities of a nation that had just been defeated at war. Terrorist groups recruit new members by calling on fear of those who are different. As a nation, it’s time for us to question our strength and courage in the face of fear. It’s time for us to ask whether we are willing to bend our American values of inclusion and compassion because we are scared of the stories the TV is telling us. It’s time for us to stand up and reclaim our identity as a courageous, generous nation. Let’s become great again by acting with honor rather than cowardice. Let’s unite as a nation who cares about the plight of all humans, not as a nation who retains power by persecuting outsiders.