Thursday, September 03, 2009

Our not so slow drift towards fascism?

A view from abroad

Amazing what a new perspective can do for you. I was sitting behind the Queen Victoria Building last night after a concert, waiting for a bus with a friend. She asked me, in a matter of fact way, “Aren’t people concerned about the rise of fascism in the States? That’s what we see, the tea parties, the disruptions during the town hall meetings, the virulent attacks from the Right, the blocking of any meaningful reform, the blind eye turned towards the most hideous forms of torture. Obama seems like a very principled and talented man, but the continued attacks will only increase until the fascists seize power again. They can’t believe they lost it.”

And perhaps we cannot see what we are in danger of losing.

I felt a chill run down my spine. We’re Americans. We beat Hitler. We are also the most poorly educated and misinformed democracy on the face of the globe, and we never experienced anything like the rise of Nazis.

She said that the evidence suggests that it takes at least two generations to recover from fascism. By that time the streets Manhattan and Miami may be rivers and the temperature too hot for human survival. I don’t like sounding alarmist, but I think that we may be plugging along in a very deluded state, hoping that things will turn out. I heard the Dalai Lama in the Greek Theater at UC Berkeley say, “Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.” He has some experience with calamity.

The worst may get worse. Sometimes you just can no longer avoid the evidence. Even if you chose to close your eyes, it will eventually smack you in the face.

Here's a document from Norway's 1948 war-crimes trial detailing the prosecution of Nazis convicted of "enhanced interrogation techniques" (the phrase in its original German is "verschaerfte Vernehmung)" in the Second World War. Here's a document detailing Nazi bureaucratic description of these techniques. You will note the striking similarities between its content, its legalisms, its bureaucratic tone, and the recent CIA documents pried out of the US government's hands by the ACLU:
And they were executed for war crimes.
The question Americans have to ask themselves is why they hold the former president and vice-president to lower moral and ethical standards than the United States once held the Gestapo. That's all. And that's everything, isn't it?

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