Returning the past to the present

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Two days before we celebrated Remembrance Day, Germany celebrated the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Berlin Wall was the everpresent reminder to Western Berliners that when the West and Russia divided the spoils after World War II, their city and their families were torn apart.

Thirty years after the Germans were defeated in World War I, Adolf Hitler seized the moment and promoted anger and resentment to take a democracy and turn it into an autocratic state with designs to rule the world.

We remember and honour our fallen, wounded and living soldiers on Remembrance Day, yet the rest of the year we show little regard as we allow successive governments to nickel and dime Veteran support programs.

True respect for our military would be to provide timely and adequate mental and physical care, and stable monthly income support for the wounded 365 days a year.

The true measure of how much we respect our soldiers is not token recognition at CFL or hockey games, it’s when we have zero soldiers and former soldiers taking their own lives, zero veterans living in poverty and zero veterans living on the street.

The end of World War II saw the greatest rise of middle-class wealth and equality in liberal democracies.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 seemed to solidify the place of liberal democracies as the winner over autocratic and communist regimes, but the tide today has changed.

Strong men throughout the world have been elected to govern liberal democracies, often supported by religious majorities. Through constitutional changes, supreme court interference, military tactics, heighted racism towards minority groups, election fraud/interference, crackdown or elimination of the free press and a weakening of government institutions that once provided checks and balances on their leaders, liberal democracies are quickly becoming a diminished governance model.

Countries falling into this trap are new and old democracies, rich and poor, some with an educated population, others not.

The most notable include Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, the United States, Israel, Russia, Egypt, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Great Britain, Albania, Moldova, Nigeria, Ethiopia, India, Myanmar and the Philippines.

All voted for leaders with autocratic tendencies who once empowered, have systematically and effectively undermined the pillars of democracy and human rights in their respective countries.

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, during her sober speech at the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, warned, “The values of which Europe is founded—freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law and human rights—they are anything but self-evident and they have to be revitalized and defended time and time again.”

In October, the council of Dresden, Germany declared a Nazi Emergency citing in its resolution concerns that “anti-democratic, anti-pluralist, misanthropic and right-wing extremist attitudes and actions, including violence, are occurring with increasing frequency.”

If Germans are forgetting the lessons learned from World War II how much easier is it for Canadians who have never had to go through the ravages of war at home?

Angela Merkel was born and raised on the East side of the wall. She knows first hand what it is to not have freedoms, human rights, rule of law and democracy.

Her voice should be the voice Canadians and the free world listens to rather than a bombastic, silver-spooned, American narcissist with military-avoidance heel spurs.

True respect for our fallen soldiers would be for we, the living, to remember the lessons learned from the democratic election of Adolf Hitler and the consequences of World War II.

Playing with far-right, illiberal, autocratic leaders, as so many democracies are doing today, is allowing a very scary past to potentially return to the present.


B. Schimke

ECA Review

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