Friday, March 04, 2005
DO I HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL THE REPUGS ARE DRAGGING ME OFF TO A CAMP BEFORE IT'S OKAY TO CALL THEM FASCISTS?
I read this, A Promise to my Grandfather: A Follow Up, on Daily Kos and I had to link to it and I have to say a few words.
Remember during the election, when the Republcian Party had an Internet ad on their Web site, and it compared several Democrats and liberal activists to prominent Nazis? And remember when Bill O'Reilly (bless his senile heart) stated that Hitler and Stalin would join the ACLU if they were alive today?
Do any of these people understand what Nazism was all about, and why it was wrong? The Nazis abused power, and twisted their control of government into a murdering, repressive regime. They effectively managed media to create an environment of fear and hatred and then organized the state into a monstruous crusade of lies, pre-emptive war and illegal expansion.
So how can the ACLU be fascist? Who the hell is Bill O'Reilly to misuse the word so blatantly? Who is the ACLU repressing? Who can they possibly repress? And John Kerry and Howard Dean and Michael Moore, they all got the same treatment from the Repugs. Who was being repressed? Who was being intimidated by them? What government forces could they organize to abuse their power, shape public perceptions with lies, and abuse political power to quell dissent?
The Repugs have that power, and they are using it. The right-wing propaganda machine goes out of its way to shout treason at every dissenter. Ann Coulter said that John Kerry would put Saddam back in power, numerous Fox commentators said that the terrorists supported Kerry, Jimmy Carter was called a traitor just a few weeks ago. The Bush Administration condones torture and the Attorney General's office has sweeping powers to arrest and interrogate US citizens without showing cause, without offering counsel, without even having to acknowledge that a suspect is being held.
It's not like Nazi Germany ... yet. So far the system has worked well enough that dissenters can exercise their First Amendment rights, as the right-wing is all too fond of pointing out when we criticize the erosion of civil liberties. (Apparently we should be so happy that we have First Amendment rights that we will be too polite to use them.) But these are the freedoms American soldiers are killing Iraqis over in Iraq. And if these freedoms are so great, why are we being called anti-American traitors for exercising them? It is a weak and flickering torch of liberty if it only applies to speech which is approved by the government.
We are on the road to fascism. The laws themselves are disturbing enough. But I am more frightened by the right-wing reaction to the critiques of things like the PATRIOT Act. Many self-proclaimed freedom-loving politicians and commentators have waved the bloody shirt of Sept. 11 to vilify and demonize the critics. The Attorney General himself said that critics of the PATRIOT Act were helping the terrorists. And the president, if he had any aptitude for leadership that was not scripted months in advance by Karl Rove, could have put a stop to this kind of divisive talk with a speech strongly and unequivocally making it clear that dissent is necessary in a democracy, that the strength of a democracy can be judged by its tolerance for dissent.
But he did not make such a speech. His handlers want the nation to be divided, they want the people to be scared, and they use the corporate media to promote their agenda.
When is it OK to call it fascism? When they come to haul me off to the camps? Do I have to wait until dissent is illegal, so that I can be thrown in prison and tortured? Can I start calling it fascism then? Conservatives are already searching for rationalizations for punitive actions towards dissenters. They are calling out for Ward Churchill's dismissal at the University of Denver for wrtiting an essay four years ago that nobody heard of until they started squawking about it. Is that freedom of speech? Is this their idea of freedom, knowing that you can be fired if the right-wing nutjobs can have your job if they don't like what you wrote? Will that be the new definition of protected speech? Will we bring back prior restraint and sedition laws? Will the Repugs always have the freedom to come up with lame rationalizations to justify their bile against the people who have the guts to stand up to them and confront them with their lies and their greed and their hypocrisy and their double standards?
I have no problem with staring fascists in the face and calling them fascists. Sorry if you're offended. When the FBI drags me away for saying something that the Republicans don't like, you'll have the last laugh. But you won't be laughing for long.