As the USA gets in ever more of a tizzy about ‘Islamofascists’ in general and Iranian ones in particular, attention starts to turn to what exactly is fascism and who, if anybody, is really the fascist now. The bombs are lobbed into both sides of the trenches as the Right point to the Left’s propensity for collectivisation, what the Right sneer at as ‘group-think’ but, quite honestly, on balance it’s not looking good for ol’ Uncle Sam.
The defenders of the status quo, the neo-con nutbags currently trying to rationalize their insanity in the Middle East by suggesting they commit more, claim that they are the true defenders of freedom and, in a text-book demonstration of Fruedian projection, accuse the left of being the heirs of Adolf and Benito.
As ‘evidence’ they squeal that liberals must be fascists because, well, they are vegetarians, they like organic food, and Hitler was a vegetarian wasn’t he? There you go then! Case closed! Indeed, the publisher’s blurb for the forthcoming and highly anticipated tome ‘Liberal Fascism’, a promisingly puzzling screed by Fox News darling and conservative ‘humorist’ Jonah Goldberg which was supposed to be published in April 2005 but whose current release date is now January 2008 and waiting, mentions liberals’ love of free health care and guaranteed jobs, supported abortion, euthanasia, public education, gun control, state-funded aged pensions and a racial quota system in their universities while hating inherited wealth, smoking and the free market as proof of lefties’ desire for totalitarian rule.
Jonah’s somewhat flimsy analogy appears to be premised on the notion that Mussolini was a former socialist and the Nazi Party’s full name is Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or, for the less Krautian among us, the National Socialist German Worker’s Party, which apparently means that anyone vaguely progressive must be a fascist! Well, if that makes Elroy a jackbooted blackshirt then show him the way to the next Beirkeller! Who would want to live in a society where people were educated, healthy and employed? Baby-eating fascists! And, of course, liberal leftie treehuggers.
Goldberg happily ignores, or WILL happily ignore, the fact that he once said ‘If someone isn't advocating the murder of millions of people in gas chambers and a global Reich for the White Man you shouldn't assume he's a Nazi and you should know it's pretty damn evil to call him one’, and will attempt to turn white into black; however, as that release date become ever more elusive, Elroy wonders whether Jonah’s little literary sleight of hand is proving just a little tad trickier to perform than originally intended when he started to spend his advance, purely because it is a load of bollocks, and as witness for the defense we present good old Benito Mussolini himself. ‘Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed’ he bloviated in 1932’s The Doctrines Of Fascism ‘to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and economic sphere’. There. And he should know.
Such are the tactics of the right, from Anne Coulter to David Horowitz and, to be fair, such are the tactics of the left; they concentrate of fascism’s more unpleasant characteristics, the extreme nationalism and all attendant myths, the belief in military aggression, secrecy and propaganda, the confluence of state and corporate power, willingness to jail dissidents, murder scapegoats, pervert elections and seduce a population into submitting to an all-powerful leader who has placed himself above the law, all in the name of God.
Now, it is true to say that doctrinaire communism as practiced by them damned Ruskies also featured some of the above, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone endorsing them at, say, Moveon.org or the Daily Kos or, for that matter Let’s Ask Elroy!™. However, there are many worthy publications bending bookshelves across the civilized world about how the deeply, deeply corrosive policies of the Bush regime are more than reminiscent of those less pleasant characteristics of fascism, and although the Right take the higher moral how-dare-you ground when faced with such accusations, titles such as Goldberg’s level it with the bulldozer of hypocrisy and leave them wide open to whatever slings and arrows outrageous fortune cares to lob their way.
At this point the gentle reader might expect Elroy to launch into a 12,846,826 word rantathon about how the only difference between Bush and Hitler is the length of their respective moustaches (Answer: More than there should be), but he is going to show some uncharacteristic restraint and leave that to Edward Jayne in his wryly amusing 31 Similarities Between Hitler And President Bush, and Naomi Klein’s Fascist America In Ten Easy Steps, two fairly succinct articles to get youse in the mood, 1995’s Eternal Fascism – 14 Ways Of Looking At A Blackshirt by Umberto Eco , a piece echoed in a 2003 article by Dr. Lawrence Britt named The 14 Characteristics Of Fascism and, for a historical perspective, Fascism Part II: The Rise of American Fascism by R.G. Price
(Elroy would also like to highly recommend Klein’s The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot and American Fascists – The Christian Right And Its War On America by Chris Hedges.
But enough of theory. ‘It’s all very well blathering on’ I hear you sigh, ‘but is there any solid proof?’ ‘Well’ I retort, ‘what sort of proof would you like? How about legislation passed within the last six months?’
The more observant among you (Yes, I’m looking at you) would have noticed in Elroy’s landmark Webessay Ejected, Neglected And Unelected – Blair, Howard, Bush And What Awaits Us the discussion of George W. Bush signing the National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive, a piece of legislation which ‘granted him virtual dictatorial powers in the event of a declared Catastrophic National Emergency, such an emergency being defined as ‘any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.’
‘In short’ Elroy’s masterwork continues, ‘this Executive Order allows Bush to assume power to direct any and all government and business activities without congressional approval or oversight. He has now put in place power to arbitrarily and unilaterally impose martial law, suspend the Constitution, assume virtual dictatorial power, deploy under his command military forces into U.S. cities to round up citizens declared by his regime to be enemy combatants or security threats, and retain control of all federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments, military personnel, law enforcement agencies and private sector organizations until the CNE is declared over. And who declares the CNE over? That’s right…
So why is Elroy hauling over old ground like this? Because the situation has gotten decidedly worse. I draw your attention to the phrase ‘round up citizens declared by his regime to be enemy combatants or security threats’ – who are they? What citizens are to be deemed a security threat?
Enter stage right – H.R. 1955: The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007! This charming spot of legislation is the missing piece in the totalitarian puzzle that helps define just who those unfortunate citizens declared to be enemy combatants or security threats might be and what they will have to do to be one. C’mon, kids – let’s parse a-while!
(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- The term `violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.
But what, pray, is an ‘extremist' belief system’? And who decides? Well, funnily enough it is to be a commission appointed by our friends over at the White House and the White House itself that get to say what an extremist belief system happens to be, and Elroy is happy to punt on the chances that it would not include anything concerning James Dobson, Pat Buchanan, Tim LaHaye or R. J. Rushdoony, all of which represent forms of Christianity which make the Taliban look decidedly comfortable and relaxed – No, Elroy is willing to bet the farm that it will be those with a more leftie orientated state of mind who suddenly find themselves to enemies of the state.
But surely this can only refer to any bomb-throwing nutbags caught in the act of fomenting violent revolution? Um…proceed, O gentle reader…
(3) The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.
Uh huh. So merely discussing violence on the internets is enough to secure a free trip to Cuba. But what, according to the act, is ‘violence?’
(4) IDEOLOGICALLY BASED VIOLENCE- The term `ideologically-based violence' means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs.
Suddenly then, the Act becomes The FORCEFUL Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, but force isn’t violence – force could be a strenuous argument, or having to make an unpleasant choice (‘I didn’t want to vote for Kevin Rudd but I was forced to because of Workchoices) but the act is dangerously vague on what both ‘force’ and ‘violence‘ are.
Will it see the jailing of protesters? After all, 100,000 people marching with placards, bullhorns and a worthy cause could be considered pretty forceful, but far be it from Elroy to suggest that the Bush regime distorts and twists language and definitions to suit its agenda.
So, add The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 to The National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive and The Military Commissions Act of 2006, another piece of freedom-lovin’™ law that allows ‘unlawful enemy combatants’ to be detained indefinitely, Habeas Corpus be damned, at anyone of over 500 Halliburton detention centers dotted around mainland USA to be subjected to ‘intensive interrogation techniques’, and you create the necessary conditions for a US president to declare martial law just about anytime and imprison just about anybody anywhere and torture them for any amount of time.
Scary, huh? Good job the House Committee on Homeland Security is on the case! Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore), a member of said committee, applied for access to the post-terrorist attack plan for the continuity of government as many of his constituents had complained of a ‘conspiracy’ buried in the fine print, but guess what? Access denied!
‘I just can't believe they're going to deny a member of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government of the United States after a significant terrorist attack’ DeFazio said, ‘I would think that would be relevant to any member of Congress, let alone a member of the Homeland Security Committee…maybe the people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right’.
How very reassuring! Thank god, then, that the Democratic Party have the majority in both houses! They should be able to scupper The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 before it makes it to the floor, right? Right?
Um, The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 was passed on Tuesday 404 – 6. Oh dear.
So the fascism watch just moved one more minute to midnight. All the articles of law are now in place, and as there is little point in putting new laws on the books in you don’t intend to use them, Americans should be afraid, very afraid, and heed the words of former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer when he said ‘Americans need to watch what they do, and watch what they say’.
Ah, what a good job the USA is the Home of the Free™!
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