“People look at all this and think of Hitler-and they are right to do so. The Bush regime is setting out to radically remake society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come. We must act now; the future is in the balance.”
Comparing Bush to Hitler? Just hyperbole or exaggeration? Some people think that the “pendulum” will “swing,” and after the next election some politician will “rescue” us. I think they are hiding their heads in the sand.
Hitler and Nazi Germany are not just words in history books to me, they are within the living memory of my family. I had one parent who lived in Nazi Germany, and another who lived in Poland during the time of the Nazi occupation. I had four grandparents, one great-grandparent, numerous aunts and uncles, many cousins, and one older sibling (9 years old) who, merely because they were Jewish, were executed in concentration camps. My parent in Germany went through Kristallnacht, when Nazi stormtroopers came, armed with axes, and smashed the windows of businesses owned by Jews, and, as they relate, threatened to come back later to chop up the people. Having escaped to England, some members of my family experienced the bombing of London by Nazi rockets, which landed on civilian homes or military targets indifferently. Learning all this, I became a serious student of the history of Hitler and Nazi Germany.
What the Bush regime has done, which even Hitler, in his early years, did not dare to try, is to openly justify the worst of its actions.
The Bush regime, before the Iraq war, announced a doctrine of “pre-emptive” war, arrogating to the U.S. the right to begin wars with first strikes against other nations whenever the U.S. leadership cannot bend them to its will.
Hitler waged war against many countries-but began with the pretense that every action was either simply the recovery of territory that the other nations had won from Germany in World War I, was necessary to “protect” German national minorities against persecution, or was justified by actions constituting an attack of on Germany. (Even the march into Poland required, for Hitler, a justification of a supposed attack on a German radio station near the Polish border. This “attack” was actually staged by the Germans, using prisoners dressed in Polish uniforms, and shot dead. The German people were told that the invasion of Poland, long planned, was actually “self defense.”) Hitler launched a war of aggression against the world, but did not openly proclaim, at the beginning, his right to do so, or the theory of pre-emptive war.
Hitler did not openly advocate that torture was justified, or that secret prisons, secret evidence, endless detention without charges, secret courts, etc. were just fine. Instead, he and his regime denied that they were going on. They were actually occurring, but from my many conversations with people who lived in Germany during those times, many people may actually not have understood the depth and scope of what was occurring.
That cannot be said of people in the U.S. today-or of people in the world today-concerning the open justification for torture, secret prisons, secret courts, secret evidence, endless detention without justification, evidence or charges, prisoners being held without the ability to communicate with the world, sent to other countries to be tortured by other governments on the vague possibility that they will “confess” to something that will “help” in the theoretically endless “war on terrorism.” The Bush regime openly espouses, unashamedly, that this is not only justifiable, but necessary and laudatory.
The Bush regime, in a rupture with the history of the last several centuries, is codifying into law torture practices as legitimate. The just passed pro-torture bill essentially allows the President to simply designate a person an “enemy combatant,” a “terrorist,” etc. and that person can be detained endlessly, without access to challenge their detention in court, and be subjected to torture interrogation.
For the open, legal sanctioning of torture, you have to look back to either the Spanish Inquisition or the days when kings and queens stated, “I am the law.” The just passed torture bill, besides denying access to the court for “terrorists” to challenge their detentions, states that when applying the federal War Crimes Act, “No foreign or international sources of law shall supply a basis for a rule of decision in the courts of the United States in interpreting the prohibitions enumerated”” This throws out the international law of war from U.S. courts. The principles that the U.S. helped to establish after World War 2, under which some of the Nazi leaders were punished, are openly declared not to apply to the U.S.!
The Nazis maintained a pretense, almost to the end, of having a formal legal process. At the beginning, when the Nazi regime carried out its “Reichstag Fire,” which was the excuse for its “Enabling Act,” the equivalent of the Patriot Act, it followed up with a trial in which one leading Communist figure accused of being involved had to be released because of public opinion and the insufficiency of evidence.
The Bush regime has announced the doctrine of the “unitary president,” in which the individual holding executive office as President has seemingly unlimited power to do just about anything in the name of “national security,” or, as their new favorite phrase would have it, “Homeland (read: Fatherland) Security.”
In hundreds of cases, Congress passed laws which Bush, rather than vetoing if he disagreed with them, has “signed” into “law,” while attaching interpretative statements that say that he retains the right to ignore them based on his supposed powers.
Racial profiling is rampant. Thousands of Arab, Muslim, Palestinian, Southeast Asian, and other minorities have been detained, questioned, and held without access to lawyers, family, or friends on the basis of racial and religious background. Arab and Muslim scholars are denied entry into the country to attend conferences or make speeches, or are prevented from coming to teach at universities. To be a tourist from another country taking a photo of a bridge, dam, national monument, or subway station is to risk detention.
Another reason that the Bush regime is frightening and evokes a comparison with the Nazis is the type of weaponry they have access to-at least 10,000 to 12,000 nuclear weapons, enough to blow up the entire world. The V1 and V2 rockets fired at London by the Nazis, while they were terrible weapons, on average killed approximately one person each. They were, truly, weapons of “terror,” but the weapons used by the U.S. against the people of Iraq, and even more so, the threatened use of nuclear weapons against the people of Iran, makes the V1 and V2 rockets of the Nazis pale by comparison.
Muslim charities are summarily shut down, on mere “suspicion” that they “could” be involved in “supporting terrorism.” Attorneys are spied on when they go to prison to try to communicate with their clients, and are prosecuted for allowing their clients to communicate with the world.
The USA-Patriot Act, and other legislation that followed, allows the outlawing of organizations, individuals, and dissent not even vaguely connected with international events as “domestic terrorists.” To shut down protest organizations; to seize bank accounts, businesses, homes, assets; to make it a crime to give “material assistance” to such accused people. And the initial denial of all permits for the October 5th demonstration in San Francisco was announced as based on undefined “Homeland Security” reasons.
Cities have video cameras on street corners, and one city recently discussed requiring such cameras in businesses. For “security” and “crime prevention” purposes, of course. But it also means that people putting a political sticker on a lamp post may find themselves detained by the police, or that the private conversation in a small restaurant between “suspect” individuals is videotaped.
Is this paranoia? No, it is happening. The “anti-terrorist” hysteria that the Bush regime finds helpful to whip up increasingly relies on the use of technology that was considered outlandish science fiction when George Orwell wrote 1984.
There are “no-fly” lists-lists of people that are simply not allowed to travel. People in N.Y. subways can be subjected to random searches, including of their backpacks. During the 2005 World Series, those going to the Chicago neighborhood where some games were played found that all cars entering the area were subject to search, and that you could not drive there unless you had a ticket, or you lived there. Going to visit Grandma did not entitle you to go there!
Wireless interception of phone calls. Tracing of emails. Attorney General Gonzales wants Internet providers to keep and store for years records of everything you do on the Internet, so that it can be examined later if you become “suspect.”
This will end with all dissent being outlawed. “You are either with us or against us.” Go along, or be destroyed, Bush says.
Don’t minimize the brutality and horror of the world events Hitler and the Nazis unleashed, but let us learn the lessons of that history so that it does not happen again.
Because this time, if it does, if we do not succeed in building a truly massive movement to bring this to a HALT, and to drive out the Bush regime, the prospect of a fascist superpower armed with nuclear weapons and advanced technology will make your worst nightmares seem mild.