Echoes of Fascism: Rhetoric We've
by Katherine Brengle
"My administration has focused the
nation's resources on our highest priority - protecting our citizens
and our homeland," Bush said in his budget message. "Working
with Congress, we have given our men and women on the front lines
in the war on terror the funding they need to defeat the enemy
and detect, disrupt and dismantle terrorist plots and operations."
"An evil exists that threatens every
man, woman and child of this great nation. We must take steps
to ensure our domestic security and protect our homeland."
According to Dr. Lawrence Britt's "14
Defining Characteristics of Fascism," we are in big trouble
here in the Disunited States of America. While the American right
continues to laugh at our comparisons of Bush's ongoing rhetoric
and the rhetoric of fascist dictator Adolf Hitler, it is no laughing
We do not make these comparisons lightly,
nor do they give us joy.
Dr. Britt named these as the fourteen
defining characteristics of fascism:
o Powerful and continuing nationalism
o Disdain for the recognition of human rights
o Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
o Supremacy of the military
o Rampant sexism
o Controlled mass media
o Obsession with national security
o Religion and government intertwined
o Corporate power protected
o Labor power suppressed
o Disdain for intellectuals and the arts
o Obsession with crime and punishment
o Rampant cronyism and corruption
o Fraudulent elections
The talking heads of the radical right
like to point out that Hitler belonged to his country's socialist
party, but I ask them to consider this: If you run far enough
to the left, you will eventually cross over into the right. The
political spectrum is really more of a circle, not a straight
line. In addition, using a socialist platform to win the hearts
and minds of the people does not make one a socialist. Kind of
like how using a platform of "compassionate conservatism"
doesn't automatically make one compassionate or conservative.
Our current government promotes unquestioning
patriotism, policies of torture and indefinite detainment without
access to counsel, identification of Islamic terrorists as something
all US citizens must live in fear of every day, the importance
of strengthening our military while cutting funding for other
government programs, the abolition of the legal right for a woman
to make her own health decisions, and discrimination against homosexuals.
Our mainstream mass media is controlled by the right. Our President
is obsessed with national security, maintaining the power of corporations
to drive policy, pollute the environment, and ship American jobs
overseas and south of the border. The American right shows a clear
disdain for labor unions and their objectives. Intellectuals are
not respected for their knowledge, but mocked. The very word "intellectual"
is used as an insult by the right. The conservative-heavy US government
is constantly touting its "tough on crime" image while
simultaneously languishing in more corruption than the majority
of Americans are even aware of. And our elections have become
a worldwide joke.
It's more than a little bit scary.
And what is scarier is the fanaticism
with which right-wing commentators support our descent into fascism.
In her August 17, 2005 column, conservative radical Ann Coulter
(best known of late for her suggestion that someone assassinate
Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens) had this to say, "America
has been under relentless attack from Islamic terrorists for 20
years, culminating in a devastating attack on U.S. soil on 9/11
. It's not going to stop unless we fight back, annihilate Muslim
fanatics, destroy their bases, eliminate their sponsors and end
all their hope." She is also well-known for saying, a few
years ago, that we should invade Muslim countries, kill their
leaders, and convert them to Christianity. Coulter, of course,
is widely considered a hack and a radical, so let's not stop there.
The American right shudders in disgust
when a liberal accuses the government or the right-wing media
of propagating fascist policies. However, they aren't so disgusted
that they can't use the same words to describe us:
"In Newton County, Georgia, the ACLU
threatened a school board with litigation if it didn't remove
the words 'Christmas holiday' from the school calendar. The county
caved and removed the words because it couldn't afford to defend
the lawsuit. This, ladies and gentlemen, is fascism, that is,
using the threat of terror, which a lawsuit is, to promote policy"
(Bill O'Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor, 1/2/03).
Of course, it is more than appropriate
for the President of the United States to use the constant threat
of terrorism to justify the illegal torture of detainees, the
illegal denial of counsel to detainees, the illegal wiretapping
of American citizens, the illegal No, forget it, I don't have
enough time to write this list.
The truth is, the right wing has taken
over all branches of the United States government consistently
using the threat of terrorism and the memory of September 11th.
This wreaks of fascism.
And our government will continue to travel
toward becoming a fascist regime if we do not fight for change.
Katherine Brengle is a freelance writer
and activist. She is also a member of Military Families Speak
Out, and her husband currently serves with the United States Marine
Corps in Iraq.