Conversation this morning:
(Leaving the house)
Me: Do you have your pencils?
M: Here is your admission ticket and your passport. Do you need your calculator?
B: Maybe. No.
(pulling out of driveway)
M: Are you sure? Do you know where it is?
B: It’s in the basement
M: Do you want to run in and get it?
B: (thinking about the last time she took the SAT in 8th grade at —boro HS) No, I don’t need it.
(driving to test site)
B: Where are we going?
M: to —ville High School
B: (alarmed!) You didn’t tell me that!
M: It’s on your admission ticket. —boro High School was at capacity. It’s no big deal, is it?
B: (hesitantly) I guess not. I just wish you’d told me.
M: (concerned) Did you even read your ticket?
B: (off on daydream) No.
(pulling up to test site, watching students queue up to get into building)
M: Do you want me to walk in with you since you don’t know where you’re going?
B: Yes, (looking nervous) please walk in with me.
M: Ok, you know, you will be done sooner this time. It will be much easier than it was two years ago.
B: Yeah, I know.
(walking up To queue)
M: Um, everyone here is carrying a calculator
B: (panicking) Why didn’t you tell me? It’s written on the ticket, “please bring a calculator”. They gave us calculators at —boro HS.
M: (exasperated and imagining having to do this again in June) I told you to read the ticket. Tell them you forgot. Maybe they will have extras.
B: (looking around at all the unaccompanied minors, turns to me with chill expression on face) You can leave now.
M: (taking my cue) See ya’ at 12.
(calculating whether I had time to get a calculator somewhere quickly. Figuring I didn’t. Leaving her to figure it out.)
Terry Gross interviewed Eric Larson, author of In The Garden of Beasts last year. The book is about Ambassador Dodd’s mission in Nazi Germany in the mid 1930’s. Larson explores the rapid acceleration of extremism through Dodd’s letters and official documents. Dodd’s primary goal in Germany was to make sure the country paid its debts left over from WWI. But he and his family became eyewitnesses to the turn of the German people to a form of cultural psychopathy. At first, he thought it couldn’t last because it was just too abnormal and that the German people would self correct. But as time went on, the extremism got worse and took on ever more deadly forms.
I don’t think there is any mystery why Gross replayed this interview this year. We have a party whose followers are completely unhitched from reality and whose displays of viciousness and callousness during the Republican debates were shocking and ugly to watch. That ugliness is reflected in the politicians they have elected to Congress who think nothing of threatening to bring down the global economy if they don’t get what they want. And the Democrats have been too passive, too corrupt, too slow and too morally bankrupt to challenge them. What has happened to the Occupy movement should be a wake up call to all Americans. Are we entering our own garden of beasts? And how do you know when to take extremism seriously and not just as some phase some people are going through?
As Sophie Scholl says in the clip below, Laws can change, your conscience doesn’t.
I would say, your conscience *shouldn’t* change. Some people in our own country do not let their conscience be their guides and can no longer tell right from wrong when they are under pressure to conform.
It has also occurred to me that illegal immigrants have become our Jews and that INS crackdowns and legislation in states like Arizona and Alabama have become our Nuremberg laws.
Listen to the interview here.