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Look to Heaven, Lány

by on July 31, 2018

Look to Heaven, Lány

by Marco M. Pardi

Note: In the Hungarian language lány is the affectionate term for daughter.

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Teilhard de Chardin

All comments are welcome and will receive a response.

I was a couple of months short of 28 years old when my first and only child, a daughter, was born. By that time I had been some places, and seen some things. As I’ve written previously, around the time she was going on 3 years old I spent a few months taking her through eleven countries, most prominently the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, and Italy. In those areas she met some relatives for the first time. I have also written about our stop in Vienna where I forgot her doll on the Budapest bound train.

Before and during WWII my paternal uncle was Mussolini’s Cultural Ambassador to Hungary, living with his wife in the Italian Embassy in Budapest. My eldest cousin was born there when Soviet troops overran the Embassy, taking my uncle captive and beating him almost to death. My nine months pregnant aunt escaped out a window, fracturing her pelvis, and delivering on the floor of an Embassy car as they sped away. As the years passed I spent many hours with my uncle and his family in Roma or Positano but never asked him how he personally felt about Fascism, whether he was a believer or simply a covert survivor.

In the late 1940’s, after my little family unit and I escaped the ongoing internal conflict in Italy and got to the U.S. and my grandparents’ home I was left to peruse my grandfather’s large library for anything to help me learn English. As the time passed before going to boarding school (Fall 1948) I found books on the war. Most had pictures, with fairly simple captions beneath. The pictures, though, were not simple.

The armaments were very interesting, and forgettable. The reprinted captured German photographs of people were unforgettable. In their pride, they documented even their war crimes. There was one picture most Americans are familiar with: A German soldier, apparently too young to have a wife and child himself, was a few feet behind a young Jewish woman clutching her child to her breast and trying to escape. His rifle, a 7mm Mauser, was a couple of feet from her back. Having used that rifle myself, I expect the bullet passed through the mother and likely through the child. I wonder now if the Germans had a phrase for “Two-Fer”. Another picture was, to a parent, even more heart breaking. In a large pit outside Budapest a mass of Jewish women and children, all naked, stood surrounded by soldiers atop the edges of the pit. As some soldiers raised and aimed their rifles a woman in the front center of the picture held her young daughter in one arm and with the other pointed to the sky. The caption, though unverifiable, read: Arrow Cross (the predominant Hungarian Fascist party) soldiers jeer as a Jewish mother points the way to heaven.

Madeleine Albright has written a book I feel all Americans should read: Fascism: a warning. In it she describes the socio-economic conditions which gave rise to Mussolini, and eventually to Hitler. I’ve studied Mussolini for years, especially due to the effect he had on my family and my own life. Albright does a masterful job of accurately describing the conditions, Mussolini’s characteristics, and his actions. Though she does not initially hammer the point, she could as easily have been describing Trump, a fact I noticed from the onset of his campaign to win a select portion of American voters. In fact, I find myself wondering if I’ve been wrong about reincarnation all these years. Trump’s mannerisms and behaviors are Mussolini personified – except that Mussolini actually did some good things for Italy (He didn’t make the trains run on time, despite the myth). My acquaintances who are true believers in reincarnation might note: Mussolini was executed on April 28, 1945; Trump was born on June 14, 1946. Time enough to regroup and seize power in the most powerful nation on Earth? I’ll leave that to my true believer friends. But I will not leave other questions unanswered. In particular, Could it happen here? A couple of years ago the question would have been deemed absurd. But since then we have seen the markedly Fascist tactics of demonizing an entire religion (Islam); demonizing an entire ethnic group (Hispanics); rejecting science in all its forms; restructuring taxes to benefit the sycophantic Over Class; destroying public education in favor of thinly disguised Party Line training; and, declaring the Free Press to be the “enemies of the people”. Just yesterday the President forcefully told us to not believe what we see, referring to the mainstream media. Instead, we should get our information from FOX News, which I call the Voice of the Fourth Reich.

Still think it can’t happen here? Lots of other people thought that, too. Of course, they’re dead now.

Whatever label we put to political ideology, I cannot imagine a parent watching the past few months of coverage of the border crossing “Zero Tolerance” policy playing out daily. In all the crossings I did with my daughter I like to think that any border guard would have had to know how to split an atom because if anyone attempted to take my daughter from me I would have fought down to the last atom in my body. But the guards at our southern border used a tactic which should sound familiar: They told the parents their children were being taken “for a bath”. Sound familiar? Need I prompt with the word shower? No, they were not taken and gassed. And instead of cattle cars and trucks they were apparently loaded on airplanes for distribution throughout the United States, with absolutely NO tracking method to connect which child with which detained family member. How many infants and toddlers even know their familial last names? Recently a 1 year old was presented in an immigration hearing and expected to represent himself.

As of this writing 711 children are still separated from their families, many of which have already been deported back to their home countries without their children. There is no method for reuniting these children, now orphaned in a strange and hostile land. Is the confiscation of one’s children not cruel and unusual punishment for crossing a border, or do these concepts no longer apply to a population that has been demonized as “murderers, rapists, and drug dealers.” Of course, the Boogie Man du jour is MS-13, the violent gang. But no mention is made of the fact that MS-13 originated in the United States and, under the Reagan/Bush administrations fed members into the Death Squads of El Salvador where they are now out of work and roaming the streets.

Ah, but we are now being told many parents willingly surrendered their children before being deported, supposedly for a “better life”. As counter to this, I worked for two years on an IRB ensuring that Informed Consent forms were culturally and educationally appropriate to the people signing onto medical trials. I would dearly love to see/hear what these families were told as they were loaded onto transports without their children.

I’m not out, as some, to paint the entire Border Patrol and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) as Fascist villains. Some years ago these agencies had need of some of my talents and flew me to locations on the border to put them to use. I met many fine individuals. But, don’t we all? How many times have we heard someone say, This isn’t my choice, I’m just doing my job? I wonder if the workers at the American slave ports said or felt the same as they split families and auctioned them as parcels of freight to the highest bidders. Just doing my job, just following orders didn’t exonerate people at Nuremberg. It shouldn’t do so at Laredo.

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28 Comments
  1. I’m posting this for Ellie, a brilliant young woman and frequent commenter. I suggest you follow the link she provided. Just today Trump announced he plans to give the richest Americans another 100 billion dollar tax break, on top of his threat to shut down the entire government if he doesn’t get wall funding (a monument to his ego) while the Western States burn, the Eastern States flood and he demands a 30 million dollar military parade in his honor. Marco

    Hi,

    I read your post and I agree with what you wrote. But what can I do about it? It seems like a cop-out as I know there are many remarkable individuals that have done significant things; Trump is also just an individual. I think just stating that I agree with what you’ve written is a wasted effort – it is not going to enact change.

    I want something like this: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/takeaction/

    Something palatable to the 21st century generation of lazy people.
    I’m registered to vote for the mid-terms (which I have not been dedicated to in past years).

    I feel overwhelmed; how am I supposed to change the nation when I have a hard time speaking out against the room for improvement I see in my workplace status-quo?

  2. Gary permalink

    The stuff you wrote about the fate of the children is shocking. I hope there is a silver lining somewhere.

    One thing I have noticed in the past while regarding public commentary about politicians. They seem no longer to be compared to Hitler. Now they are all compared to Trump. He has replaced Adolph as the new touchstone of everything bad.

    In my opinion, one of the worst things he is doing is continuing to attempt to destroy the independent media through his vicious attacks.

    • Thank you, Gary. As of today there is no plan for reuniting the children with their families. We have no idea what’s to become of them.

      Yes, over the past several months he has been exploring ways to cancel FCC certification for CNN, NPR, and MSNBC. And, as you know, he attacks all print media as well. The distressing part is the support he still has among the large, uneducated portions of America.

  3. Excellent! Despite being a student of history, I was never taught much about Mussolini, or about Fascism. We were, of course, taught about Hitler and his many atrocities. Only someone who chooses social blindness could fail to see the similarities between then and now. Maybe Trump is not Mussolini reincarnate, but perhaps it is not so very far fetched to imagine that our current despot learned from history, and has decided to repeat it. As has been pointed out, Trump is the new definition of evil, the Antichrist incarnate. Let’s hope this is not the end of the civilized world.

    • Thank you, Rose. The parallels between Mussolini and Trump are nothing short of eerie. More distressing are the parallels between the social conditions which brought each dictator to power. This broader base will ensure the continuation of the Reich even if the dictator himself is deposed.

  4. Ray, in Canada, has had difficulties entering a comment. By email he said: “Speechless. Simply speechless”.

    Thank you, Ray. I find that reaction is common among good people confronted by evil. A good person’s mind is temporarily confounded by confrontation with thoughts and actions which would never have occurred to it. Yet, here we are. I’m glad we have this venue, for now, to exchange thoughts.

  5. Marco, I never tire of reading your posts. I have been quite sketchy in reading them, but that is slowly becoming a thing of my past. We have written about these things of which you write in this post. Our minds are in sync on multiple subjects of this storyline. I listened to Madaline Albright’s interview last week on PBS. She strongly agrees with the parallels you write about. In fact, her book is on my wishlist for reading as soon as my library notifies me. To discuss this angle of Fascism with many people today their reactions are always mixed. Most think I’m an aging white male with too much time on my hands. Not to worry their reactions are of little value to me at this moment. If it mattered to what most expect from me my self-worth would be destroyed. As the risk of sounding syncopathic I agree with your thoughts about what is going on today in politics. I find it to a degree frightening and worse yet helpless. But not to go down in total dismay, I feel it is important to be in awareness, as an attempt to keep others informed as I see them; along with following people like you whose experience builds confidence. The conditions that have burned an indelible image in my mind are of the children fleeing from other countries seeking political asylum. My battle is to now live long enough to see this to fruition watching their demise. Not only our leaders but the staff whose hearts are hardened to doing what is right…if they even have hearts knowing what is right!

    • Thank you, Jerry. I very much appreciate not only your thoughts, but your courage in conveying those thoughts to others. We do live in an increasingly polarized society, and it is becoming increasingly dangerous.

      I propose something which may strike some as “middle ground”. Trump wants a wall along the southern border. Ignorant of the efficacy of Hadrian’s wall and the Great Wall of China, it is only a monument to himself. I say we give him a wall. Let’s contract a company to make the largest, longest CRIME SCENE yellow tape banner ever made and erect it along the southern border for that, surely, is a crime scene. I’m betting Mexico would at least chip in.

  6. Mark Dohle permalink

    Well, I know a little more about you Marco. Interesting connection with Mussolini.

    Demonizing is happening way too often in our society. It is easier that way, box a man or woman in, or a race, religion, or political party, and it relieves one of actually thinking about who these people really are. I do believe what gives people dignity is because they are made in the image an likeness of God. What does that mean? I points to divinity.

    Well, one problem today I believe is that people put to the sidelines what is most important, their relationship with their own souls, the souls of others and with God. When that is missing, then ‘others’ can easily be reduced to something less than ‘we are’. The whole point of the ‘Golden Rule’ is not to ‘use’, ‘abuse’, or harm others in any way, for they are connected so deeply that whatever we do to others, we do to ourselves, or as Christ said, to Him.

    I do believe it is a flight from suffering that comes from compassionate love, and I believe that the whole life of Christ was one of that kind of suffering. He saw deeply, no one else did. Parents have it for their children, as well as good fathers like you. If each man and woman is an actual child of God, then I believe that God suffers as well, with each of us.

    Governments are amoral, they can’t help but be otherwise. Which brings about many problems in the world. People in power want more power, or money etc. The rest of us are just means to an end. However, I believe that power would easily corrupt me.

    We are moving towards a ‘hard civil war’ I believe, as opposed to the ‘soft’ one we are going through now unless we can find a better way……I doubt we will. We are asleep, dreaming, reacting, acting out our violence verbally and I believe it will escalate soon.

    I can’t imagine how there can be laws in this country that separate children from their parents. Having children represent themselves (a one-year-old!!!) is way beyond stupid I believe. I do believe there are good people on the border and that they perhaps keep things from getting worse, they will never be known.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Peace
    Mark

    • Thank you, Mark. While you and I differ in our perceptions of divinity, I do think we share a sense of the numinous, the larger-than-self. And so I completely agree that the inability to see the self in others, and them in us, is a fundamental cause of our inter and intra-societal strife.

      I also agree that things will likely get far worse before they get better, if they ever do. I often wonder about cultures like Thailand, where young boys are enrolled temporarily in monkhood. Are there ways to measure the beneficial effects of such a practice? I would like to explore that.

      • Mark Dohle permalink

        The world around us is constantly shifting and changing, yet it gives the illusion of being permanent, stable, and long-lasting. Because of that, we put our faith I believe in the wrong things. If it was understood that we have an eternal inner ‘light’, and experienced it, I do believe that our cultures would be different.

        Our cultures simply mirror what is going inside of each of us. The constant fighting, the problems with world leaders at this time, simply points to our becoming more and more childish instead of childlike. It would be funny if it was in a movie, but in real life, we could be seeing the self-destruction of our world as we know it.

        We are at war with ourselves, with nature, one another and with God. It would be interesting if everyone, our leaders, our economy, our families, well everyone, lived out the ten commandments for just a month, I think there would be some changes. When we make each person his own arbiter we have chaos, fighting, hatred, and in the end destruction.

        The more I see the world, and by that, I am including my own inner struggles, the more the fall of mankind makes sense. We want justice, peace, love, yet are either unwilling, or incapable of doing anything about it. We drifted unthinking, reacting, into the world we have today.

        Love God, help others, do good things……..what happens is often the opposite. The ripple effect of our ‘sinful’ actions are becoming tidal waves, taking on a life of their own.

        Yet, I am hopeful, because I believe in ‘grace’. Perhaps we will end up in ruins or in some sort of totalitarian government, Yet we will continue and hopefully learn. At least today we have the concept of human rights, though we do not yet really live it out.

        The answer is simple, but very hard to do, it takes death to an old way of life. One death is to stop blaming everyone else, and each of us takes responsibility for the state the world is in today. Guilt can be good if it is based on truth, it gives energy for change.

        What I have is written is not an answer to the problems of the world, just my thoughts as a Christian.

        Also, I am a minority here, and don’t mind it at all…..peace my dear friend.

        Mark

  7. Marco I am regularly reading comment about the Fascist appearance of the Trump presidency. One writer expressed some consolation that Trump seems a lot less intelligent hence less able to do deep mayhem.
    That doesn’t preclude superficial, but still serious damage.
    Maybe we are fortunate to get a warning with somebody who is not particularly competent and is unlikely to be able to hold on.
    So a chance may be coming. Nevertheless inspired competent leadership is needed. At first blush I would say Elizabeth Warren, but it would take an unprecedentedly strong youth turnout.
    The U.S. has not been in such a critical stage since the great depression.
    I wonder if the border guards you speak of are private sector or whether still direct government employees. alex

    • Thank you, Alex. Knowing your voluminous reading, I’m heartened to read you are regularly coming across analyses of the growing Fascist movement in the U.S. Unfortunately, competent or not, it seems to be providing legitimacy for similar movements in Europe. I absolutely agree on Elizabeth Warren but it would take a far more educated electorate to bring her to power.

      I think there is no single precedent for our current situation. Even the Civil War was based on only a couple of readily identifiable points of conflict. Until Americans grow to understand the many headed Hydra of Fascism in their midst we will continue to stand by asking, What can we do?

      I don’t know of any private contractors along the border. But, given our history with mercenaries such as BlackWater, I would not be surprised.

  8. Michael E. Stamm permalink

    I would like to be able to think that the Trumpkins’ vile behavior and relentlessly destructive and inhumane actions would destroy the myth of American exceptionalism for all time…but I don’t believe it will. Because the people who foster that myth either ignore everything that contradicts it, or actively work in favor of it, And they will not ever understand why the rest of the world won’t go along, or why life will not–cannot–work out for them the way they dream it will. The notion that Drumpf is not smart enough to do real damage is false; he has surrounded himself by rabid vampire monkeys, many of whom are significantly smarter than he is, who are more than willing to help. But he and his minions and their toxic works cannot, must not go unchallenged, or else we are headed into a dark age that makes the one that bears that label now look like high noon in Death Valley by comparison. It must seem like an endless war, but thank you for continuing to keep up the good fight on behalf of those who do nothing because they have no idea what they have to lose.

    • Thank you very much, Mike. I share your dark vision. I’ve often said Hitler did not walk out of a Munich beer hall and take over Germany. He, like Mussolini and Trump, had capable enablers around him.

      I’m sensitive to the charge of being elitist, but I cannot escape the conclusion that “the man on the street” is just incapable of understanding the system he, in his ignorance, has brought down on himself.

      • Michael E. Stamm permalink

        For many people these days–including many who should know better–“elitist” seems to be a four-letter word. Which is, of course, nonsense; we really need elitists–in terms of intelligence and knowledge, not, god save us, wealth or “breeding.” Because while the man in the street may not actually be incapable of understanding what’s going on–what he himself has created–he is completely uninterested in doing so. And he probably thinks the existing circumstances are so complex, if not outright lies, that he refuses to try to do so. He much prefers bread and circuses and Republican pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by to expending any actual effort at really improving his own circumstances. It’s a circular process; he doesn’t know enough to help himself, he’s angry because he doesn’t understand why things don’t get better when those who say they will help him never do so , he gets angrier but won’t help himself, and so ad infinitum.

        Mike

      • Thanks, Mike. Your explanation belongs in a political science textbook. Clear, accurate, concise.

  9. Lisa permalink

    My heart simply hurts for all of those parents and separated children. Today I read that at least one child has died in the structure it was forcefully contained in.
    I can’t imagine going through such a trauma. What is so frightening is the power Trump and his government is allowed to have. What CAN be done? Thank you for sharing more of your history Marco, and enlightening us to these atrocities.

    • Thank you, Lisa. Those children, the ones who survive, will be psychologically damaged for life. Given the numbers and the utterly carefree and cruel methods, how is this not a Crime Against Humanity? How can we not prosecute those who directed this? A committee worked on designing these measures for approximately one year before Jeff Sessions ordered this assault.

  10. Thank you, Mark. Actually, I don’t think you are a minority here; you are an expression of consciousness. Some have reached that; others are trying, and some never will.

  11. KATHY ODOM permalink

    Your recollection of your grandfather”s library brings Louis Raemaeker’s illustrations to mind. Not as graphic, perhaps, but he often used children in his WWI anti-German drawings. Powerful.

    The disconnection between the news media and the people it serves, has been long in coming. It is a hydra issue, without a Hercules. Maybe, therein lies a fraction of the problem/solution. Mr. Stamm’s comments are particularly interesting applied here.

    Journalism, an inseparable part of politics, has certainly been hijacked. As many prefer being entertained, over informed, it was fairly simple to do.

    • Thank you, Kathy. Yes, I’ve noticed for quite a while the ratings wars in journalism, especially television. I think this supports your observation, which I take to mean media has begun skipping from story to story rather than pursue and examine meaningful stories in depth. The programs devoted to such depth (on CNN, MSNBC, and National Public Broadcasting) are being targeted by the Reich through explorations of ways to withdraw their FCC licenses. And, since most people don’t bother to watch those programs, they may well be in jeopardy.

      Thanks again, Marco

      • Kathy O. permalink

        It’s another example of the effect corporate greed has on democracy.

  12. Doug Harper permalink

    An exceptional piece Marco, thank you. From the outside I believe much of the problem rests with Congress, in particular the GOP. It’s my understanding that the American Constitution was written with a series of checks and balances that were supposed to prevent the abuses we’re seeing. It’s time the cowards in Congress stood up to Trump, and the fate of every one who doesn’t, and who are up for re-election this fall, should be defeat. Every American who values Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness should work toward their defeat. I find it telling as well that the few who have stood up to him are mainly those not running again; e.g. Flake and McCain.

    • Thank you, Doug. I quite agree, but I see Trump, as I did Reagan and GWB, as a rabble rousing crowd getter intentionally fronted by the Republican party to gather a swarm of votes to their cause. For this reason I have no faith that Republicans will attempt to curb, or even reject him. He is simply speaking, albeit crudely, the agenda they have long held. I’ve written earlier of being at a social function soon after Trump’s election at which very highly placed Republican Senatorial staff crowed, “Now we can do whatever we want!” We have been taken over by a Party, a cabal, more than by a single man.

  13. Thanks, Kathy. I agree.

  14. jkent33 permalink

    Marco, you have once again mirrored my thoughts and sentiments regarding the current administration. My everyday goals are to continue diligently following the current events. My wishes surround believing my friends, comrades and general population will wake up taking action against the acts driving us apart destroying the dignity my country build on solid ideals such as truth and honor for those who stand up for our rights no matter from where they hail. I remain steadfast we will join hands to vote these politicians out ASAP. Starting with this important election less than 60 days away our voices must be heard loud and clear we will no longer stand in silence. It is apparent many remain ignorant to what is happening daily. Therefore, we must rely on the strongest to step up to the plate declaring enough already. I believe in women and millennials filled with courage will take up the banner! Thanks again Marco for your courage to speak for all of us…KUDOS

    • Jerry. Thank you for your articulate and insightful comment. You bring us all hope, with the reminder that we must act in order to realize the result. The regime has seized the entire government, but not all the people.

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