“Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax — the only way you can save money nowadays.”
—Harry Lime The Third Man
It’s pretty freakin’ clear what the Right is about these days.
Those cross-brandishing, flag-waving folks who purport to love life and democracy prove with every utterance that they love neither.
The pact the Republican Party and those that still refer to themselves as “conservative” is not with the American people or with an philosophy which has anything to do with the healthful governing of a free society. It is a pact, rather, with a sociopathic god who bears a sneering disdain for all those who would not bow to it, and otherwise embrace the point of view succinctly expressed by the fictional but all too prescient Harry Lime. Seen from a distance, from the comfortable buffer of ignorance, who could possibly care if a “dot” just stopped moving? That seems to be what the Right is saying with every slithery move it makes.
Up close on the ground though, those “dots” take on more disturbing characteristics: they are women, still denied their rights to equal pay and equal opportunity, still denied the essential right to govern their own bodies by self-righteous fanatics;
They are working people conned into mortgages and credit deals that they can no longer afford, conned into fear and loathing of the very diversity which gives this country its soul and its strength, conned into believing that the very social legislation that strengthened the middle class of America is in fact a “socialist” lie;
They are the soldiers who fight with genuine patriotism, only to have that patriotism revealed to be the propaganda churned out by corporate oil cartels bent on preserving their wealth and power;
They are children, whose prospects of a decent education are diminished with each cynical ploy to privatize schools, to rewrite history, to demean science;
They are the sick and the old, the poor and the disenfranchised, they are our grandparents who now face the real threat of a cold and heartless end to lives of struggle, their funds and aid assaulted by shortsighted demagogues and greedy drug manufacturers.
There are many more aspects conveniently ignored by those who would gleefully make those “dots” stop moving in order to fill their coffers. The “dots” in Wisconsin are, upon closer inspection real, living, breathing, working human beings who are outraged at the rape of American values at the hands of the Republican thugs and bullies who themselves, true to their corporate Harry Lime masters, have little choice but to do all they can to make those “dots” stop moving. And without the tried and true techniques of violent, divisive rhetoric to distort and distract people into compliance, their ideology if truthfully articulated would have zero traction.
In the end of The Third Man, Harry Lime is dead — for real, this time. But there is a sense that the world has changed forever and not necessarily happily. For it is a world where evil is clearly hovering at any time ready to seep into men’s souls. It is a world where the price of freedom is not shopping but vigilance.
It is a world where the fruits of liberty cannot be savored because the forces which would crush that liberty thrive when comfortable distance makes people into soulless, faceless “dots”.
Time to connect those dots.
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