Well, what’s fascism anyhow? Everybody’s hollering about it, and pointing accusatory fingers at everybody else, so what is it, exactly? Is fascism the tacit approval -- by some citizens --of local skinheads burning crosses and running hate-filled websites? Or is a fascist your neighbor down the street who uses racial epithets at all cultures other than his own and won’t let his kid play with your kid because you’re an immigrant?
None of the above. Matter of fact, all of the above consist of those liberties of free speech that we, as Americans, have treasured since the inception of our country. Fascism is, “A Right-Wing Dictatorship Ruling Any Country.” Simple. Easy. And happening here.
Let’s look at three different speeches given by legislative leaders to see how Fascism can be framed to be acceptable by the populace:
1. “The national government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life.”
2. “Thank God that we now have a Bible-based legislature. This will be a Christian government.”
3. “God is behind me; God speaks through me.”
Statement number one came from Adolf Hitler’s proclamation of his “New World Order” to the German nation in Berlin, on February 1, 1933.
Statement number two came from Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay during his first press conference after the national elections of November 2, 2004.
Statement number three came from President Bush more than once during the course of his campaign, and, again, after his re-election of November 2, 2004.
Please understand that this is not an anti-Christian diatribe. Far from it. It is simply a recognition that in all three instances, the government in question was/is being backed 100% by the most extreme of the neo-conservative movements in power. In Germany during the thirties, as well as currently here, the Evangelical Pentecostal Movement is calling the shots. These are the folks who back all the neo-conservatives in our legislature and their resultant ability to turn the United States of America into a fascist nation, -- turn this country into a right-wing dictatorship -- is well under way.
In Germany, there were book burnings, enthusiastically attended by a cheering populace. All books opposing the neo-conservative legislature, or those not meeting governmental censorship guidelines, were tossed into the bonfire, and no copies of these works were ever seen again.
In America, Lynne Cheney, wife of our vice-president, simply ordered libraries to stop placing such dissident material on their shelves. As a result, the Department of Education destroyed 300,000 history booklets because these books did not extol the virtues of the nations “religious heritage.” In this simple move of completely successful censorship, a stupendous amount of free expression was simply terminated. No need for bonfires, after all.
Our legislature -- completely unopposed -- then created the Patriot Act: Exactly as in Nazi Germany, there is now no longer any need to inform persons that their premises are being searched, their phones bugged, and that they can be arrested without warrant or just cause. But, our government is so much smoother and so much more sophisticated than the Nazis were: No crash-banging at 3 am doors with Storm Troopers “storming” in, weapons cocked, ready and willing to shoot the offender. Today, suspected “domestic terrorists” just get hauled off, get labeled “war-time traitors” and disappear into Guantánamo or one of the forty-three secret facilities now in operation right here on the mainland.
Want an example? Think of innocent Attorney Brian Mayhew, whose only sin was belonging to a mosque, and who was unceremoniously hauled off without recourse, because the US of A decided that his fingerprints had been on explosives used in the Madrid train sabotage of 2004. And, yes, Spain had made it pretty darn clear that Mayhew’s prints were not those in question. But, hey, we can’t have a Muslim Attorney wandering around lending succor to any fellow “rag heads,” now, can we?
Author Jonathan Wheeler made the following observations on December 9, 2004 in comments regarding the passing of legislation requiring individual States to surrender their regulatory rights over driver’s licenses and birth certificates to the Department of Homeland Security:
“Beginning in 2005, the Department of Homeland Security will issue new uniformity regulations to all States requiring that all Drivers licenses and Birth Certificates meet minimal Federal Standards with regard to US citizen information, including “biometrics security provisions” such as DNA markers. Therefore, at birth, each new citizen will be issued a social security number to be included on individual birth certificates, along with DNA biometrics markers. All birth certificates will be registered in a Federal database maintained by the Department of Homeland Security, and no child will be allowed school enrollment or be allowed either State or Federal benefits without first presenting a certified Homeland Security registered Birth Certificate.”
So, what’s this got to do with Nazi Germany? Well, the Department of Homeland Security will use the above information to establish a separate ID system for citizens to use prior to boarding airplanes. Exactly like, that dreaded “Internal Passport” of Nazi Germany: If you didn’t have that one available, you got carted off. Permanently.
So am I being a bit melodramatic here? Heck no! At age 5, we were kicked out of our home and my father’s business was taken away. By age 10, I had personally experienced a great deal of all of the above, and we barely got out of Germany alive. Traumatic memories do stay intact, and what is happening in the USA rings familiar bells. All that’s missing are the parades, the jack-boots, the concentration camps....although, those concentration camps aren’t so far off.
This month (January, 2005) saw the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general. This is the guy who called the Geneva Conventions “obsolete”, “quaint”, and, when confronted about his stance on torture, said that the administration was “concerned that the Geneva Conventions could interfere with anti-terrorism efforts.” Not only that, but torture has been officially defined by the current administration as “actions that interfere with the performance of internal organs and might lead to death.” This means that you may cut someone’s hands off, hang him upside down for three days, deprive him of food, water and sanitation, and, maybe, subject various parts of his anatomy to electric shocks.
But, according to the official definition, above, that would not be torture, thus making “guard duty” almost as much fun at Abu Ghraib as it was at Buchenwald.
In Germany, the concentration camp guards lived on the periphery of the camps in little cottages with their families. And, if Pappi had the 3:00-11:00 shift, he would kiss Mutti good-bye, tell Hans to be sure to feed the dog, and admonish Lise not to fight with her brother.
Then, off to work he’d go, perhaps tying the legs of a woman in labor together and then standing around with his buddies, smoking a cigarette and betting on how long it would take her to die.
Or, he’d find some youngster to rape and sodomize, and then just send him/her off to the ovens. Maybe, even, there’d be someone to send off to Dr. Mengele for use as a lab rat. Like, when they froze 12-year-old boys exactly to the point of death, at which moment such a boy was placed on a bed between two naked women. Of course, these women cuddled him to warm him, to save him. And that process was scientifically monitored, with very careful time kept to measure exactly how long it took these boys from point-of-death to orgasm.
Since, you see, no internal organs were affected, how could this have been defined as torture? Yes, indeed, the German guards and their Abu Ghraib counterparts had so much in common, that, could they be united, maybe Ilse Koch would teach Lynndie England how to make lampshades from tattooed skin peeled from “detainees”; an art form Ms. Koch perfected at Buchenwald.
The Geneva Conventions were instituted in 1949 exactly and specifically because of those tortures, horrendous beyond definition, beyond human understanding inflicted by Nazi Germany upon its victims. Is this why Alberto Gonzales and President Bush want to get rid of this potent international law?
And, are all our current neo-conservative Evangelical Pentecostals any different from those who brought Hitler to power in 1933?
Where individual freedoms are taken away (Patriot Act) where citizens are turned into numbers rather than respected as individuals (Compulsory numerical registration at birth, with DNA attached), where citizens are subject to arbitrary search, seizure and arrest for no particular reason (Patriot Act) and where citizens can easily be subjected to horrendous physical pain under prescribed “torture guidelines,” what’s the difference?
When I was a kid in Nazi Germany, everyone had to stand and listen to propaganda blaring from loudspeakers at all the bus stops. If you were caught walking away, you got “disappeared” and being “a kid” was no excuse.
Here, in the USA, we do not need any of that. We do not need Storm Troopers, we do not need parades, we do not need the smashed glass of minority-owned businesses littering the streets. All we have to do is turn on the TV, shake our heads sadly, say, “Tsk Tsk,” and switch channels to a reality show, leaving reality behind. And away we all go. It’s the same story, only with modern technology instead of loudspeakers at bus stops.
Back in Nazi Germany, all boys, at age eight, became members of the Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth), a kind of boy scout organization, designed to teach kids the true value of physically destroying all sub-humans such as Jews, Gypsies, dissenters, homosexuals and retarded persons. Physical violence against such persons was seen as true heroism, and the indoctrination process included actual physical training. Kids grew up believing in the correctness of this training, which made them become excellent Gestapo or SS troopers.
But the USA propaganda machine is so truly sophisticated, that none of the above is even necessary. We have something just as effective, called “Video Games.” We teach brutality via such games as “Grand Theft Auto” where evisceration, stabbing and even beheading are approved as ways to get away with stealing a car. Copious amounts are depicted, along with detailed views -- and sounds -- of bodies writhing in obvious terminal agony. And, these grizzly murders are actually rewarded with sex... the player gets to hear the moans of sexual intercourse and watch the stolen car shake in appropriate rhythm. And “Grand Theft Auto” isn’t unique. There are dozens more just as gruesome. What makes this interesting is that the government refuses to intervene by equating these games with pornography, which is targeted as “obscene” and not allowed to be purchased by children. But, hey, “Grand Theft Auto” is currently seen as quite appropriate for any age whatsoever.
Is this effective? You decide: In an interview with a soldier in Fallujah, the trooper stated, “Driving down the streets, watching the flames, watching the killing, was kinda just like playing a video game, only real.”
Benjamin Franklin once said, “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.”
Or, in today’s lingo, “You can Rage Against the Machine or Let It Run Over You.”
Doris Colmes is author of The Iron Butterfly (PublishAmerica, 2002). She holds a Masters Degree in Social Work and, “has lived a life of complete adventure, either inadvertently or by choice, involved in most of the social phenomena of the 20th century. Started out as a 10 year old Holocaust refugee, Stepford Wife (with a few secrets), neglectful Mom, Viet Nam/Civil Rights Protestor and world's oldest hippie, living communally in the home of a shaman. Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll all the way. Now, a hospice worker, volunteering for Legacy Visiting Nurses Association and also at an AIDS hospice. Am an activist, involved with School of the Americas Watch and also politically active, writing various anti-Bush articles.” She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website: www.doriscolmes.com.