Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I Hate To Keep Bringing This Up But…

There was a lot of talk during the Clinton years about how his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky affected the rest of the country.  Those of us who thought the whole thing was ridiculous could see it was casting a shadow over much more important issues, but for those who wanted to take Clinton down, there was a lot of talk about how his lewd behavior trickled down to the rest of society.  The argument was that, when the President declared that oral sex wasn’t sex, this somehow gave kids the “all clear” to engage in oral sex and still retain their virginity.  I’d argue that kids have been playing that game forever, but I still see the point.  The President does set the tone for the nation, and our current President’s penchant for domestic spying and strong-armed tactics in dealing with dissenting opinions is also trickling down.

A woman in Georgia gets a ticket for having a bumper sticker on her car that reads, “I’m tired of all the BUSHIT.”  A San Diego woman is fired from her job for a bumper sticker on her car advertising a progressive radio station.  A couple pays off their credit card and Homeland Security is notified and puts a hold on their check until they can investigate.  Americans who stray from the “normal” way of doing business, whether getting their financial house in order, listening to progressive radio or expressing their displeasure with the current administration, are suddenly considered threats to society.  Is this really what we have come to?  Homeland Security is looking out for the bottom line of the credit card companies and employers and local police see it as their role to force compliance to social norms?  This should be disturbing to every American.

A high school kid in Denver tape-records his teacher because of his lectures pointing out the similarities between the way Bush operates and the way Hitler did.  Whether or not what this teacher said was crossing the line, it seems to me that this kid perfectly illustrated the similarity between the rise of Nazi Germany and the rise of Bush America by imitating the Hitler youth.  I’m not saying that what this teacher said is right or that the kid was wrong to have taped him, all I’m saying is that the similarities are there.  When dissent is quashed at the top, dissent is viewed much differently at the local level.  Bush isn’t mandating that local police give out tickets for political dissent, nor is he advocating that kids turn in teachers who speak ill of his policies, but it’s happening anyway.  In Bush’s America, dissent is a bad word and his propaganda machine is effectively tying dissent to terrorism.  Is it really any wonder that those of us who express displeasure with this administration are viewed as dangerous?

In our America, it is still the responsibility of citizens to speak out against the abuses of our government and conforming to social norms is not mandatory to be an American.  What happened to the respect for rugged individualism that this country took such great pride in?  Why is it all of a sudden un-American to question the role of government in our lives?  And when did we decide that Bush’s ideal of America takes precedence over our founding father’s ideal?  Bush is not Hitler and Republicans are not Nazis, but more and more Americans are starting to mimic the behavior of German citizens in the 1930s and 1940s.  We always believed that we would be better, that we would resist the urge to comply.  I guess we’ll see how far people are willing to go for a sense of security, however false it may be.  We were meant to be wary of excessive government control and instead we seem to be begging for more.  Abandoning our guiding principles in the name of security will not make us safer, it will only transfer the threat we face from outside forces to inside ones, and who wants to live in that America?  I know I don’t.

20 Comments:

Blogger enigma4ever said...

Yup...I will be in ??? by then...but what if it is too late to go???
Like the 1930's in Germany ?

4:29 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Enigma4ever--I know, it's my greatest fear and why I'm so pre-occupied with gauging everyone else's temperature on this. I don't want to overreact, but I want to make sure that we pay attention to the signs so that we don't go too far down a bad road.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Dale Hippert said...

LG:

Dial the temperature on the German 'citizens' of the 30's and 40's analogy down a click!

The main purpose we fill stadiums with Nuremberg sized crowds is to scream for our teams and against the refs!

Also, I don't recall seeing any newsclips of Hitler's 'town meetings' to answer questions about Stalingrad, the firestorm in Hamburg and the incident at Normandy! "And hey, mein Furher, how come we didn't have them V-1's, V-2's and jet planes sooner? Who ya gonna fire for that? Field Marshall Rumsfeld must go!"

We also live in Fitzgerald's America.

The tragic, for them, demise of this lawless, amoral Administration is in the pipeline no less than it was for Nixon and his attempted Watergate coverup.


http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/032806Z.shtml

"Although the situation remains fluid, it's possible, these sources said, that Fitzgerald may seek to indict both Rove and Hadley, charging them with perjury, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy related to their roles in the leak of Plame Wilson's identity and their effort to cover up their involvement following a Justice Department investigation.

The sources said late Monday that it may take more than a month before Fitzgerald presents the paperwork outlining the government's case against one or both of the officials and asks the grand jury to return an indictment, because he is currently juggling quite a few high-profile criminal cases and will need to carve out time to write up the indictment and prepare the evidence."

6:21 PM  
Blogger Yellow Dog said...

Yeah, it's easy to panic in the depths of a dark cave, but, if we're smart enough and loud enough and mad enough, we get to overthrow the government in November.

6:45 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Dale--Sorry for bringing this up again but it's all I can think of when I read these stories. I know there are forces working on the other side to try and right the course, but it scares me how little critical thinking there is among the citizenry of this country and how little attention is paid to history. There is nothing about this group of thugs currently in power that gives me any comfort that they are better human beings than the ones who ruled Germany once. The only thing we have going for us is our founding documents that are being ignored when they become inconvenient and that too few of our fellow Americans have read or understand.

I know we are not like Nazi Germany now, but it can happen here, we are naïve to think differently. And while I believe it is not likely, that doesn't mean we aren't flirting dangerously with the idea of going down that road. That’s all I’m saying. I’ll try to stop now, I promise.

Yellow Dog--Here, here! On to November.

7:01 PM  
Anonymous dave said...

This is just a few more reasons Bush should be for the legalization of marijuana. Since pot is bad for memory (or so they say), he should encourage people to smoke up as much as possible so they can forget how much of an embarrassment he and his administration are. God knows I'd like to forget the last 6 years.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Yellow Dog said...

Marijuana isn't legal?

8:45 PM  
Anonymous geocrackr said...

Dale-

You obviously didn't attend any of Shrub's "Nuremberg sized" rallies during the '04 campaign -- you remember, the ones where only ticket-holders were allowed in; where you couldn't get in even if you had a ticket if someone saw you had a "liberal" bumper sticker or otherwise marked you as an undesirable; the ones that were fully-staged light and sound shows in packed stadiums; the ones where der fuhrer arrived in the midst of the screaming throngs by military helicopter. I'm not making any of this up or even exaggerating just a little bit, it's well-documented.

The point is, how do we recognize when we've crossed the line where we no longer live in Fitzgerald's America, where his America is the facade and a government ruled through propoganda and rigged elections is the reality?

9:24 PM  
Blogger GraemeAnfinson said...

and it is republicans who keep saying they want the government small and they are for individual freedom. hogwash.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous dan robinson said...

Hey Liberal Girl,

It was good to meet you tonight at Drinking Liberally. Keep up the good writing.

Dan

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Dale Hippert said...

Geocracker:

No, but I've seen Leni Riefenstahl's 'work' on TV!
Superficial stagecraft, no matter how reminiscent, does not a 'final solution' make. here are my points RE
all Hitler references by either Party and most specifically Dems and Independents:

1) We're not rebounding from a disastrous defeat in a world war followed by a ruinously vindictive and resentment fueling treaty,
followed by a worldwide depression. Tends to make a nation a little 'edgy!

2) I believe the American individualistic, don't tread on me, fool me once, or even twice, 'you can't get fooled again' mentality
will assert itself no later than this Nov. At the rate of this Administration's screw-ups, we haven't seen the bottom of Bush's approval ratings yet.

3) Where was Germany's internet? Info is too free flowing, opposition
is to widespread and the 'cultural memory' of the true horrors of WWII, while dormant among many, is alive among those
most able to communicate it. Think the media, Hollywood, the Universities
AND the professionals in the military and the State Dept and the intelligence agencies aren't concerned about what's happening to the country they remember? Think some of them aren't a little sick of being blamed for these neo-thugs' miss-steps?

I think they are. I think there's a 'silent coup' underway from many if not all of the above institutions.

Also, don't forget that a plurality voted for Gore and that it took a war to scare enough voters to vote Bush back in. It's not like there's only a few of us!

Chins up.....arms down!

10:01 AM  
Blogger Yellow Dog said...

Dale:

Very nice. You, sir, are diplomat.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous geocrackr said...

Dale-

I get that you think you're trying to be reasonable, but I would just like to point out that neither I nor LGND are the ones who went from 'Americans are starting to mimic the behavior of German citizens in the 1930s and 1940s' to 'final solution'. Using the time-worn 'hyperbolic straw-man' technique in an attempt to dismiss real and valid concerns as some sort of extremist fringe paranoia only serves to shut down discussion -- and is favorite method of the radical right, I might add.

Regarding your points, I have two observations:

1. You didn't answer my question;

2. It isn't necessary to duplicate the exact social and economic conditions of post-Weimar Germany for 'Americans (to start mimicing) the behavior of German citizens in the 1930s and 1940s'. People who seriously study the roots and manifestations of fascism recognize that it has common characteristics even as the particulars change -- Nazism was only Germany's particular strain, just as Mussolini and Franco established their particular brands according to their situation. I refer you to David Neiwert's seminal and instructive analysis of the Conservative Movement's devolution into pseudo-fascism (pdf) for a taste of what the American flavor of fascism will taste like.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Dale Hippert said...

Geocraker:

To paraphrase a Supreme Court Justice's view of poronography, 'we'll know American Facism when we see it".

I agree that we do not need to see a duplication of Weimar Germany's circumstances to engender an American Facism.
A case can be made that Huey Long, Father Coughlin, the Ku Kux Klan, Joe McCarthy and Rush Limbaugh have all embodied key element of (pseudo) facism.


I'll stand by my statements that the American Character and institutional 'pushback' have always prevailed, and that they will do so again.

I'll further state that the number of 'Americans who are actually 'mimicing' Germans from the '30's and 40's' is another superficial suppositon.

My main point is that the references to Nazism are too emotionaly charged as well as overdrawn and hyperbolic to be helpful in any reasonable discussion of the Facistic manifestations of this Administration. In Many respect they're anlagous to the wild charges of socialsim and treason directed against Dems.

You call my statement a 'straw man'. I say that references to Nazi Germany and American Facisim are equivalent to Dubya conflating 911 with Saddam Hussein. They conjur images of relationships and end results that don't exist.

You presume a 'taste' for
a meal that I just don't think is going to be served up with anything close to
the ingredients in the 'Nazi Stew'.

"Nazis murdered millions of unarmed people. They put them in ovens. They made soap out of them. They carted off children in boxcars to die and used some of the kids for medical experiments, including injecting dyes into their eyes to see if they could improve their looks. Lower on the list of charges, the Nazis enslaved millions and launched wars for territorial and egotistical gain (and sent many of the conquered populations to death camps as well). Lower still, they banned books and burned them too. They expropriated homes and businesses, banned religions, etc.


Show me the camps. Show me the millions of people being gassed. Show me the tattoos on people's arms. Show me elderly Muslim men being beaten in the streets, their stores smashed, and books burned. Show me huge piles of emaciated bodies stocked high like cords of wood".

http://www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg090403.asp

5:12 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Dale--I think the whole point of this discussion, at least in my mind and why I write about it, is that we don't want to be able to show you those things. Like I said explicitly in my post I DON'T think that Bush is like Hitler and Republicans AREN'T like the Nazis, but they didn't rise to power overnight and it's worthwhile to pay attention to the signs that we are STARTING down a bad road.

I'm not paranoid that we are going to end up like Nazi Germany, I just think that it can serve a purpose to recognize that, as a nation, we are not behaving very well and are guilty of letting "small" transgressions slide by, much like they did in Germany. Our forefathers recognized how easily democracy can be lost which is why they warned us how important it is to adhere to the rule of law and to challenge infringements on our freedoms. The transgressions start out small, but they grow in severity every day because there is little or no pushback.

I hope that November brings with it the pushback we need. But we should pay close attention to what happens after the election if it doesn't. No, they are not going to round us up and put us in camps right away, but there is a new villain, and its name is “liberal”.

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Dale Hippert said...

LG:

"it seems to me that this kid perfectly illustrated the similarity between the rise of Nazi Germany and the rise of Bush America by imitating the Hitler youth".

Seems to me to be a similarity without a distinction. Now if we start seeing a lot of these wingnutopians with tape recorders and a fondness for browns shirts then we may have some Hitler Utes!

I know you're trying to sound the alarm. I just see more and more opposition and push-back from you and a growing numer of others every day.

Remember Limbaugh and his 'Feminazis'? Wasn't very well received on our side of the political fence...with good reason!

We're witnessing the all too slow demise of Wingnutistan. Count on it!

6:45 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Dale--I get your point, I was wary of using that language myself, but in the end, it was what I was trying to say so I stuck with it.

About the pushback, I will try to start believing that you are right, that's the best I can do. I certainly want you to be.

7:03 PM  
Blogger Rory Shock said...

nice job ... I think you made it clear you are not equating bush with hitler ... but your point about not being in denial that "it" could happen here is well taken ... but you also make the point that is so true about the leader having an influence on behavior even if he's not micromanaging the incidents he sets the tone for ... it results in bad shit like arrests for speech and torture ... anyhow ... nice writing

7:26 PM  
Anonymous RichardSepcic said...

For what it's worth, while I think that we should be concerned about the rising tide of intolerance that these (and many other) examples illustrate very clearly, using Nazism as a comparison is as vitriolic as my previous comparison of Bush domestic policy to acts of domestic terrorism. Maybe a better point of comparison, and one that is homegrown, is with McCarthyism from the 1950's. Substitute our present-day Bush-Administration fomented fears of 'atheists', 'secular humanists', 'liberals', or 'Iraq invasion opponents' for 'Communists', and we find ourselves living in a updated version of the intolerant, distrustful pogroms engendered by the Red Scare.

6:53 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Rory--Thanks for seeing my point and reassuring me that I’m not crazy (as best you can).

Richard--I think you're right and I do see how that's a more fair comparison. I don't have fear (well, not a rational one anyway) of concentration camps and exterminations, but I do see we've made a wrong turn and the ugliness is filtering down. McCarthy is a better example, and also one that turns out better. The tide did turn, as did the place in history he was carving out for himself. I would love for our current President to join him there in the hall of American shame.

7:05 PM  

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