In the aftermath of the news about the fundamentalist Christian militia leaders who were arrested this week in Michigan, it is especially fitting that tomorrow I will be discussing with my students the lessons of the Spanish Civil War.
Spanish religious fanatics were profoundly racist, xenophobic, sexist, and homophobic. They could not accept the democratically elected Republican government of their country and organized a military uprising to remove the legitimately elected leaders from power. This deep ideological division had been growing in Spain for a very long time, until the breach became irreparable and erupted in a bloody Civil War.
Doesn't all of this sound eerily familiar to you? It does to me. Unless we want to see a fascist dictatorship firmly established in this country, we need to look closely and attentively at the lessons of the Spanish Civil War. This dangerous trend of not taking the growing numbers of American fascists seriously can lead us all to a very dark place. We keep fearing fundamentalist terrorists from overseas and often forget about our homegrown variety of religious extremism that is just as dangerous.