Friday, December 16, 2011
The other day, our President, Barack Obama, the first African-American elected to the nation’s highest office and a man who should by virtue of his skin-color if nothing else know a thing or two about a thing or two about the concept of the word, ‘freedom’, stated that he would not veto the National Defense Authorization Act.
The NDAA is a catch-all bill, made necessary because we decided after WWII that, as a nation, we were better off with than without a standing army. Because the Constitution calls for re-funding of any military appropriations beyond those to fund the Navy, Congress has to resort to a large, unwieldy piece of legislation to fund everything from the Iraq War to those $800 coffee pots about which you’ve all read.
It’s a huge document – and one in which all kinds of appropriations can (and are) hidden in the political weeds. This year is different, though, because the NDAA now contains verbiage which states that the military can declare anyone a ‘terrorist’ – then detain them without trial.
Let me make this clear: The government can swear someone is a ‘terrorist’ – then the military can detain them in one of their ‘camps’ without trial, for the length of their War on Terror – a conflict which, because it was never officially ‘declared’, can never really end. No trial, no hearing. You do not get to pass ‘go’, or collect two hundred damned dollars, either. You’re done. Forever, if they feel like it.
Theoretically, I could be declared a terrorist for writing this piece, then slammed into a cell next to a guy named Ahmed or Mohammed or Joseph or Luis or – well, you get the point – and have the key thrown away. For good. Period.
There’s a name for this sort of behavior. It’s called Fascism.
There’s also a name for what America has become. It’s called a Police State.
David Neiwert, author of “The Eliminationists” (one of the best books on the subject of the far Right and its media efforts to demonize, objectify, and eliminate its opponents) makes a case for five stages of Fascism – (1) a rural movement toward national ‘renewal’; (2) coalition of or transformation of the movement into a political party, either by the creation of a new party or the hijacking of an existing one; (3) the legitimization of the movement – a nation’s real leadership-elite throws-in with the thugs; (4) assumption of control via established electoral process; (5) radicalization through the achievement of political or military victory.
It’s easy to dismiss the evangelical-freakshow on the Republican debate-circuit; Gingrich looks for all the world like 300 pounds of mashed-potatoes stuffed into a suit – but he’d also cut off all forms of public welfare if he were elected. Romney can’t seem to figure out what to say next – but he’s taken a page from Obama’s book, and he’s pandering to any group which will get him elected. Rick Perry’s extended urka-durka-thon continues apace, even though over the past few encounters with his worthy-opponents he’s all but taken out a bazooka and blown up the metaphorical campaign-bus. It’s great theater.
So was Hitler, with his Charlie Chaplain mustache and his funny salute – he walked around playing soldier in his homemade uniform; he and his brownshirts – until they won an election.
Last November, the entire country lost its sense of self and voted in the Teabaggers (the inheritors of Bush's philosophy that the Constitution is 'just a goddamned piece of paper') – and believe me, they’ve wasted no time in making their agenda felt. They’re the brownshirts of the new era, and having hijacked the Republican party, they’re going to make their mark in history – and they’re taking down the Constitution to do it.
These people are serious as a heart-attack, and they’ve brought Fascism to America. It’s wrapped in a flag, carrying a cross, just as Sinclair Lewis warned us it would be. The powers that be at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup are using these people in a last-ditch effort to save their power; on the opposite side are a handful of unemployed students, homeless veterans, and people like me. And, hopefully, you.
We’re there. Every one of our best thinkers – from eloquent writers like Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky to hard-nosed researchers and political scientists like Robert Paxton - have made this abundantly clear, and have stated in no uncertain terms that once we cross the line from legitimacy to control, no nation has ever returned.
America will now become whatever the powers that be want it to – unless those of us who believe in what used to be are willing to stand in front of the tanks.
It’s come to that.