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Thursday, December 21

History Repeating Itself Again

I'd like to show you an excerpt (so that you'll read the whole article) from Madison’s Ghost on The Intoxicated Presidency – and its Corporate Support Group by Thom Hartmann, published on October 25th, 2002 in Common Dreams. (At this point in time, we aren't absolutely sure that Bush will invade Iraq)
"Hitler used the 1933 burning of the Reichstag (Parliament) building by a deranged Dutchman to declare a “war on terrorism,” establish his legitimacy as a leader (even though he hadn’t won a majority in the previous election).

“You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history,” he proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out building, surrounded by national media. “This fire,” he said, his voice trembling with emotion, “is the beginning.” He used the occasion – “a sign from God,” he called it – to declare an all-out war on terrorism and its ideological sponsors, a people, he said, who traced their origins to the Middle East and found motivation for their “evil” deeds in their religion.

Two weeks later, the first prison for terrorists was built in Oranianberg, holding the first suspected allies of the infamous terrorist. In a national outburst of patriotism, the nation’s flag was everywhere, even printed in newspapers suitable for display.

Within four weeks of the terrorist attack, the nation’s now-popular leader had pushed through legislation, in the name of combating terrorism and fighting the philosophy he said spawned it, that suspended constitutional guarantees of free speech, privacy, and habeas corpus. Police could now intercept mail and wiretap phones; suspected terrorists could be imprisoned without specific charges and without access to their lawyers; police could sneak into people’s homes without warrants if the cases involved terrorism.

To get his patriotic “Decree on the Protection of People and State” passed over the objections of concerned legislators and civil libertarians, he agreed to put a 4-year sunset provision on it: if the national emergency provoked by the terrorist attack on the Reichstag building was over by then, the freedoms and rights would be returned to the people, and the police agencies would be re-restrained.

Within the first months after that terrorist attack, at the suggestion of a political advisor, he brought a formerly obscure word into common usage. Instead of referring to the nation by its name, he began to refer to it as The Fatherland. As hoped, people’s hearts swelled with pride, and the beginning of an us-versus-them mentality was sewn. Our land was “the” homeland, citizens thought: all others were simply foreign lands.

Within a year of the terrorist attack, Hitler’s advisors determined that the various local police and federal agencies around the nation were lacking the clear communication and overall coordinated administration necessary to deal with the terrorist threat facing the nation, including those citizens who were of Middle Eastern ancestry and thus probably terrorist sympathizers. He proposed a single new national agency to protect the security of the Fatherland, consolidating the actions of dozens of previously independent police, border, and investigative agencies under a single powerful leader.

Most Americans remember his Office of Fatherland Security, known as the Reichssicherheitshauptamt and Schutzstaffel, simply by its most famous agency’s initials: the SS.

And, perhaps most important, he invited his supporters in industry into the halls of government to help build his new detention camps, his new military, and his new empire which was to herald a thousand years of peace. Industry and government worked hand-in-glove, in a new type of pseudo-democracy first proposed by Mussolini and sustained by war.

This wasn’t a new lesson, however, and neither Orwell nor Hitler were the first to note that a democracy at war was weakened and at risk.
Chillingly familiar isn't it? (I heard Thom Hartmann on Air America yesterday reading something like this and I really thought he was talking about the US.)

Eisenhower then warned of the military industrial complex.
"As Eisenhower said in an April, 1953 speech: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

It was a brilliant articulation of human needs in a world increasingly dominated by the non-breathing entities called corporations whose values are profit and growth but not the human values of fresh air, clean water, pure food, freedom, and happiness. But it was a call unheeded and, today, it is nearly totally forgotten.

Reflecting on Eisenhower’s time, The American Heritage Dictionary (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1983) left us this definition of the form of government the Germany democracy had become through Hitler’s close alliance with the German military and industrial complex: “fas-cism (fâsh'iz'em) n. A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”

A related article by Thom Hartmann, you will like is The Myth of National Victimhood - All Wrapped and Delivered for Christmas.
How the neo-cons use Hitler's trick of pointing to a "them" (Jews) out there who are destroying the nation's moral fiber:
This is an old trick, and one the cons know is very difficult to counter. Consider what happened when German militarism in WWI led, through the punishing Treaty of Versailles and then later the Great Depression, to the collapse of the German economy in the 1920s and early 1930s. Hitler couldn't blame the militarists and corporatist conservatives who had led his nation into WWI and mismanaged the economy afterwards, so he pointed to the Jews as the "them" responsible for the problems in German society.
Just substitute "liberal" for "Jew" and there is a clear picture of America today. (I noticed that Bill O'Lielly does it all the time.) There are lots of good related articles by Hartmann here.

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