Post Date: 
The HUB (Johns Hopkins)

After growing up under military dictatorships in South America, U.S. politics struck me as tame when I first came to live here in the early 1990s. The differences between Democrat and Republican seemed insignificant, compared to the radicalism I was used to, and I was amazed that some Americans seemed apathetic about voting.  

A lot has changed since then. Some of what I'm seeing—the rising polarization and extremism, the manipulation of the press—is reminiscent of the authoritarian regimes of my youth.

My earliest years were spent in Argentina, when a military junta ruled the government. This was the age of Los Desaparecidos, when—we now know—as many as 30,000 political dissidents were hunted down and executed out of sight. Being a child, I really had no sense of the violence and fear. My parents later shared details they remembered, like dark military cars stationed on the street as they walked my baby carriage. But they had no clue of the extent of abuses and oppression. The press obscured it.