from a public HS teacher (Gov't, Religion, Soc. Issues), who is eclectic (Dem-leaning) politically and Quaker (& open) on everything else. Hope you enjoy what you find here.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Fascism? Another post 

There is much in the news today that again forces me to consider how far down the road to Fascism this country has already gone. Today there are detailed reports in the Washington Post, including about how Rumsfeld has set up a group to do field ops a la CIA, but without the oversight that Agency must undergo at least from the Intelligence Committees in the Congress. There is an additional news story today about how Special Ops personnel are being used within domestic borders, ostensibly to support local and state law enforcement in the war against terror. So why do these raise my concerns about Fascism?

One of the key steps in the development of the total fascism of the Nazi Germany is when Hitler made the Gestapo not subject to the law. This allowed the existence of a group which could simply take any action it wanted against any domestic opponent, and made it far more difficult for there to be any resistance or opposition, something that was already problematic given Hitler's dictatorial powers as Fuhrer. If one examines the two news stories,and combines awareness of what there represent with knowledge of previous actions by this administration to avoid oversight and to place its actions outside restriction by law, international agreement, legislative oversight, or press examination, the overall picture is frightening to contemplate.

The Secretray of Defense has gone from his own private intelligence analysis shop -- the office of Special Plans, under Doug Feith, cooking the analyses for political purposes -- to his own operations division. This is precisely what the recent piece by Sy Hersh was addressing, for which he was accused of treason by Tony Blankley, who advocated his prosecution and possible execution. There is no oversight for the actions of these personnel, except from Rumsfeld and his minions like Steve Cambone and Gen William "my God is bigger than his god" Boykin, even though their actions could embroil this country in yet another war. The use of Special Ops military personnel is in theory restricted by the Posse Comitatus statute, but given how Gonzales and others have argued that the president is not restricted by Constitution, Treaty, or statute if it interferes with his prerogatives as Commander in Chief, and given that the "war on terror" is and will be ongoing, there is clearly little restriction on how these personnel can be used against domestic opponents. And given that the administration believes, even without Patriot Act II, that it can arrest and imprison without trial even American citizens it views as terrorists, that it has held at least one of these in a military prison [brig] and argued against judicial oversight of its actions, we are moving dangerously down a path where the millitary is used as the intrument of a Fascist dictatorship.

It is not a military dictatorship that I am describing, since those at the top have almost no military experience themselves. It is a clear perversion of what we still call the "Defense" forces ofr political, economic, and personal reasons of those at the top of the current power structure. We must note that as the administration controls who will be in key military positions, it can and probably is moving to ensure total personal loyalty among those commanders, thus removing any possible center of authority and respect around which opposition in the military could coalesce.

We are still not yet in Fascism, if for no other reason than reports such as these, and those by Sy Hersh, can be published. Mere schoolteacher that I am, I nevertheless have not been 'disappeared" for posts like this -- YET. But one must realize that each new disclosure adds more details to what is becoming an increasingly frightening prospect.

The President claims a mandate for his policies and actions. Let us consider an historical perspective. Hitler assumed office as Chencellor, appointed by Hindenburg, on January 30, 1933, shortly after his party won the most votes, but still substantially less than 40%. After the Reichstag fire, Hitler asked for and received extensive powers that moved him in the direction of dictatorship. He moved to outlaw all parties except his own, assumed dictatorial powers, then held a referendum on his new and absolute powers for which he received 90% approval. This did not happen all at once, but like his actions towards the Holocaust, which begin with the opening of Dachau within months of his taking office, Hitler indicated to the world the direction he was going, and yet world remained silent.

This president has admitted that a dicatorship would be nice if he were the dictator. At the time some people interpreted that as a bad joke. I do not think it was. It is interesting that he will not let anyone give him bad news about Iraq. This is far too reminiscent of the fear that people had of telling the Fuhrer that his plans were not working, that they would not interrupt a nap to tell him that reserves at Normandy needed to be moved to counter the invasion ... oh there are so many examples.

Will there be a clear demarcation when we will have passed into fascism? I don't know. When teaching about the Holocaust, I pointed out to my students the many incremental steps that Hitler took with little effective opposition. I used the metaphor of the frog, who if placed in boiling water would surely jump out, even as he was scalded, but if put into cold water for which the temperature was gradually but continually increased would not realize that he was being cooked. I keep returning to this illustration because I believe we are all being cooked by this administration. I could be clever, and note that they "cooked" the intelligence, but most readers already know that. We could say "our goose is being cooked" and that familiar line would also have resonance -- Americans dying needlessly in Iraq, our killing so many Iraqis that we are poisoning a large portion of the world against us, making us all less secure, which therefore becomes a justification for removing even more of our civil liberties.

We have no chance to speak in the electoral process for most of us until 2006. We cannot wait until then. Clearly in those high profile elections that will occur this year, in Virginia and New Jersey and New York City, we must organize to turn them into referenda on what this administration is doing, to defeat badly anyone who is unwilling to denounce the destruction of American democracy and the loss of respect and honor this nation used to have. We need to place maximum pressure on all members of Congress and as many media figures as possible to prevent further descent down the slippery slope.

Otherwise the question will not be, at one point will we be fascist? We already will be, and we no longer will be allowed to ask such questions.

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.
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