Gladiators not needed
By Jim Poling Sr.
Molto bene, Italia! Perfettamente!
Indeed Italy has done a wonderful thing in disrupting a Steve Bannon extreme right project aimed at converting the world to his white power conservatism.
Bannon and a British Conservative acolyte named Benjamin Harnwell had leased an 800-year-old monastery in Collepardo 70 kilometres east of Rome. They planned to use it as an Academy of the Judeo-Christian West, “a modern gladiator school” that strengthens the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian western world.
Translation: gladiators who will join the war against Muslim advancement.
Really cool. A return to the Crusades to save the holy West from the Muslims. Exactly what the world wants and needs – more hatred, more violence and less diversity.
The Italian culture ministry, listening to protest groups, has cancelled the lease, citing irregularities. The protest groups noted that the monastery had a history of improving humanity: During the Middle Ages, monks conducted scientific research there and cultivated 2,500 types of plants for medicinal purposes.
In case you might have forgotten the name, Bannon is Donald Trump’s former chief election and White House strategist and promoter of Breitbart News, an alt-right news and opinion distributor. Some critics call him a crypto-fascist.
Harnwell, 43, isn’t known for much except being a helper to conservative thinkers and leaders.
Steve Bannon is not stupid as a stone, like some of the folks he hangs out with. Actually, he is considered brilliant, able to turn mind and hand to any number of intelligent undertakings. His gladiator school definitely is not one of them.
The last thing our world needs now is more extreme right-wing politics. In fact, the last thing we need is any extremism, right or left. We are stuffed with that junk, especially in our political systems.
Hyper-partisan politics, saturated with mad dog conservatism and mad cat liberalism, are damaging the ability to govern in places that have been models of democracy. In Canadian federal, provincial, and municipal politics, we are just not getting done the things that need doing.
Listening, considering other views and compromising for the common good are missing too often in today’s politics.
In the U.S. the situation is out of control. That country has entered a stage of devolution that could turn to outright civil war. It is no longer the “United” States.
Canada is rolling along a similar road. Party leadership controls everything, from what its members say in Parliament to vetoing a local riding’s selection of a candidate. For instance, Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould, once among Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s best cabinet ministers, have been barred from running for the Liberals in this fall’s election because they did not accept the party line on the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
Instead of tossing out anyone who disagrees with them, political leaders should be inviting challenging opinions. They need to take a lesson from Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln, facing the greatest crisis in U.S. history, did not surround himself with yes people – friends and allies who would support blindly any policy that he proposed. He gathered ambitious people with conflicting personalities who would question and challenge and in the end do things that benefitted the people, not just the party.
Lincoln’s approach is documented in the 2005 book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Our political leaders should read it.
We, the citizens, need to reconsider our political party system. It is rotting at its core. It puts party before principle and party before the people.
What’s needed is for us all to move to the calmer centre where we can sit and discuss, thoughtfully and without yelling at each other, solutions to our problems.
Certainly what we do not need are gladiator schools to harden our political beliefs. We need more intelligent political discussions and debate that explore options. We need ideas – whether they come from thinkers on the left or right of the political spectrum.
Politicians need to listen to and respect the thoughts of all parties. They need to find common ground in that thinking and be willing to compromise to achieve solutions that will be good for the people, not the political party.
A country in which politicians cannot work together for its people is a country doomed to fall apart.