As a Jewish writer who has recently had a novel about a boy from the Hitler Youth published, I wondered as I researched my book how the people of Germany could have let the National Socialism come to power.  I wondered it as I wandered through the Rhine Valley and as I interacted with the delightful people and enjoyed the often pristine, gemutlich villages and marveled at the music of Beethoven.

As a Jewish candidate for Congress, who has seen his face plastered on the bodies of Nazi war criminals by the Young Republicans of a local college because of the maliciousness of my opponent, I wondered how my America could have allowed that to happen.  That my wonderment eventually grew into a law suit against my opponent is less the question  than that it had to happen at all.

As an American citizen, regardless of my religion or creed or race or gender or any other arbitrary standard by which mankind seems to delight in pitting one against another, I wondered how an Anne Coulter could say of a Max Cleland that the three limbs he left in Vietnam during his military service to his country were not as meaningful because they were lost trying to save his buddies from an American grenade and not an enemy grenade, what kind of child-rearing could have produced a morality such as hers.

I wondered today as I read about a Republican National Congressional Committee TV ad against a New York State candidate which depicted him dialing a phone-sex talk line what Mr. Rove and his minions have led us to.  I wondered how lethal the confluence of the dumbing down of our education and the consolidation of media power into a few corporate hands has really been.  I wondered if Lincoln's admonition that we can't fool all of the people all of the time is still valid in the America of today.  I wondered if what happened to the hero of my novel in Nazi Germany is happening now in my own country.

That we are what we are, that we have become what we have become is a source of sorrow, of fear, and of anger for me--and I guess for many.  We can all wonder about the causes.  We can research them, and discuss them, and pontificate about them.  But in the end, I believe we need to turn to Shakespeare for the final comment.  "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."