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The Nightmare Years
March 14, 2007 12:08 AM   Subscribe

Was I a good American in the time of George Bush? "Before the current administration, it had always been easy to condemn the "good Germans" who did nothing while Jews, Gypsies and others were rounded up for extermination." Uh, is this just a little over the top?
posted by KokuRyu (102 comments total)

 
Then why did you post this? This isn't the first hyperbolic piece ever written about the Bush administration, and it certainly won't be the last. You know this is just going to spark a long and pointless flamewar.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:27 AM on March 14, 2007


tag it 'godwin' and let's get on with our lives.
posted by drinkmaildave at 12:30 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like this story about Gunter Grass:
Support [for Wolfe's view that fascism wasn't coming to America] came from a quarter I hadn't counted on. It was Grass, speaking in English.

"For the past hour, I have my eyes fixed on the doors here," he said. "You talk about fascism and police repression. In Germany when I was a student, they come through those doors long ago. Here they must be very slow."

Grass was enjoying himself for the first time all evening. He was not simply saying, "You really don't have so much to worry about." He was indulging his sense of the absurd. He was saying: "You American intellectuals — you want so desperately to feel besieged and persecuted!"
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:34 AM on March 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


well, Muslims and immigrants certainly feel besieged in America. And their doors do get broken down.
posted by By The Grace of God at 12:45 AM on March 14, 2007


You know this is just going to spark a long and pointless flamewar.

OH YOU CAN PREDICT THE FUTURE NOW HEY HOTSHOT.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:50 AM on March 14, 2007


well, Muslims and immigrants certainly feel besieged in America. And their doors do get broken down.

I don't know that this happens as much as people want to believe. Not that it never happens, but not on a pervasive scale. My roommates (a Muslim and an Indian) don't seem to feel besieged.
posted by SuperNova at 12:50 AM on March 14, 2007


The article also says The Bush administration is by no means the Third Reich, but it produced an extraordinary time that made extraordinary demands on US citizens, demands that some of us rose to - and too many did not.

So there's an anti-Godwin chaser.
posted by imperium at 12:55 AM on March 14, 2007


In most authoritarian situations, it's a minority of people that get criminalised and targetted directly. The rest of people in a group will feel a chilling effect on their freedom of expression, perhaps from community leaders, family, school or workplace.

Have you ever had a discussion with your roommates about these matters? It's extremely likely they've been affected in some way, even if it's just by suspicious looks and treatment while flying. Muslims are facing new discrimination on a pervasive scale - everything from an increased level of interest and curiosity from their colleagues and friends (benign) to monitoring, targetting and criminalisation by government and by non-governmental bigots. It's not always operatic police banging down the door. The whole spectrum of discrimination makes a difference. It hampers free speech and political participation, if nothing else.

A small authoritarian move can have huge effects in a community. One example from my town (and it's in Scotland) is a special police unit that was ostensibly formed to bridge community gaps between Muslims and everybody else. The unit wound up monitoring Muslim religious activity, antiwar organising and community activists on campus and in town. The result was a major drop in participation in religious, social and political life for Muslim and Asian students.

We organised a campaign to marginalise this unit, and we did use comparisons from far worse situations. These comparisons worked - they got people moving and the response was a heated debate and a big step-down for the police unit.

Lovers of liberty, what tactical benefit do we get by splitting hairs? What political benefit towards the American polity comes from dissing this article for being too strong? America's move towards authoritarian tendencies may resemble a Latin American regime more than Nazi Germany, but the move is there nonetheless. Better to write a new article that's more accurate than to diss this one, I think.

Muslim is a religious affiliation and Indian is a nationality, by the way.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:03 AM on March 14, 2007 [5 favorites]


Support [for Wolfe's view that fascism wasn't coming to America] came from a quarter I hadn't counted on. It was Grass, speaking in English.

"For the past hour, I have my eyes fixed on the doors here," he said. "You talk about fascism and police repression. In Germany when I was a student, they come through those doors long ago. Here they must be very slow."


Perhaps our motherfuckers are more subtle than their motherfuckers were.

Or, maybe its that, from a distance, all despots and tyrants look alike, despite differences in their despotism and tyranny.

Anyway, the article: she seems to feel se hasn't done enough. Some of us have to make sure we can pay our mortgages and feed our kids, so donating money and part-time volunteering is plenty.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:04 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Rebecca Solnit is the author of Hope in the Dark: The Untold History of People Power

. . . which is a magnificent little book you can read in an afternoon, and which would provide you with a far better introduction to her writing. The linked piece, though far from her best work, does build to a description of a state of mind much more nuanced than the phrasing of the FPP would suggest.
posted by gompa at 1:15 AM on March 14, 2007


By the way, I believe none of us have done "enough." There's never enough. It will never be enough until the entire world is free and peaceful, of course. It will never be enough until we all make it to the ships, until we all upload ;)

Good grief, wouldn't it be sad if a person of conscience thought they had done enough when there is still bloody war?

I do think it's a matter of method rather than quality. Our demonstrations do work - they are ways of aggregating our collective interest and pushing it up to the elites. Here in the UK, I don't think you'd have the Trident-Themed Backbench Revolt planned for today if it weren't for our demonstrations. Of course, we need to do more than demonstrate. We need to find a new way to live our lives, a radical alliance with people who are being targetted by authoritarianism. We do need more full time activists, but we also need to be smarter in our plans.

The civil rights movement succeeded because key activists of all backgrounds were patient enough to build bridges between black community groups and white progressive groups. They broadened the accessibility of civil rights discourse until more and more people, even elites, could participate easily. They compromised, often on extremely important principles.

I believe we need more of this approach today. We need bridge builders that can create a rhetorical space where we can all gather - modestly dressed Muslims and libertine queers and everybody in between. If there is a problem with Rebecca's piece, it's that she thinks more individual and radical/extreme action are the ticket.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:17 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


The civil rights movement

...in it's heyday, lasted over a decade, and didn't accomplish all of its goals. People died for it. I'm sure not everybody did "enough", but many did as much as is humanly possible.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:23 AM on March 14, 2007


Eliminationism in America: Appendix
posted by homunculus at 1:24 AM on March 14, 2007


The Internet is going to haunt a lot of people.
posted by srboisvert at 1:49 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is the US Government still flouting its treaty obligations? Are innocent people still tortured and imprisoned without hope of a fair trial? Are US politicians still allowing officials to ignore their own laws?

Yes.

There's not one letter of hyperbole in Rebecca Solnit's piece. You! You personally have the power to change this. Until you do, people around the world will continue to blame you, personally, for the crimes committed in your name.
posted by mr. strange at 1:53 AM on March 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


what do you mean, srobisvert?
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:54 AM on March 14, 2007


I've always said, when talking of nazis, your scraping the bottom of the ethical barrel.
posted by Kudos at 2:09 AM on March 14, 2007


what do you mean, srobisvert? [sic]

What I mean is that, unlike the past, there will be a clear record of exactly where a lot of people stood during this issue. There will be no easy way for many people to whitewash their role. It will be there all preserved and archived. When history looks back at this time it will probably seen as huge debacle and its cheerleaders won't be able to pretend they played no role. Denial is impossible when search engines will make up for fading memory. They will have to answer questions from their own children. I can't imagine how many war enablers are going to have their own personal "fog of war" moments.
posted by srboisvert at 2:34 AM on March 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


Then I would consider that the best approaches were probably already being taken, by the heroic lawyers at the Centre for Constitutional Rights and other human rights organisations, and I would write another cheque and some more letters and feel a little futile and a little corrupt.

& How much effect did this have? Does the American political system work or does it have to be revised?
Without wanting to troll, I seriously could not and still can not understand how Bush's adm. could have survived the WMD lie & Guantanamo (+why is that still there?).
Is this due to the two party system? Does it take a lot more time to get half or more of the political body to stop supporting their party's representative than in a multiple party system? Where/Are the democrats so happy they were in power since long that they lower their standards to remain in power or is the (mis)information that good?

I hope that by godwin being called that early maybe these question can be answered seriously.. I withheld or deleted them in preview in many discussions .. I can take a beating: if I'm wrong please correct me
posted by borq at 2:51 AM on March 14, 2007


I have no problem comparing the Bush administration to the Nazi regime in Germany. None at all. Godwin be damned.

I have felt like a member of an underground resistance since these monsters stole their first election in 2000.

Anyone who thinks they aren't evil, and don't have it in them to kill and torture their domestic as well as foreign "enemies," or wouldn't do anything they could to hold on to power if it stood a chance of succeedding, and wouldn't use a war of aggression to drum up nationalist sentiment at home and silence critics as unpatriotic, and wouldn't run torture camps and secret prisons in Iraq and Guantanamo and Rumania . . . .

You get the point. Godwin can fuck himself. The Bush administration is quite as evil as Hitler's Nazi party. They just haven't gotten to the point of being able to intern and kill their internal enemies on a grand scale yet. Left in power and unchecked, do you really doubt they would?

A few years ago, people would scream "conspiracy theory" and "tin foil hat" when told things that we now know, unequivocally, to be true. Frogs in pots and all that.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:20 AM on March 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


See one thing that I don't get is when people think analogies need to be the same in magnitude. What America did in Iraq was much less bad than Nazi Germany. But it was pretty bad. And lots of people were very happy about it and thought it was good, hell a significant minority still thinks its good. And of those people that thought it was a bad idea did nothing. Or posted to message boards populated by people who already agreed. An analogy which seeks to hold people responsible for their ignorance and their apathy by pointing to the gravest consequences of ignorance and apathy is a valid and potentially valuable rhetorical tool.
posted by I Foody at 4:20 AM on March 14, 2007


succeedding=succeeding
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:20 AM on March 14, 2007


oh yeah, the limeys chastising the americans. that's a knee-slapper.
posted by quonsar at 4:26 AM on March 14, 2007


IFoody, exactly. Holocaust and Nazi exceptionalism has run its course. There are lots of evil regimes in the world, and each is as evil as the other if *you're* a victim of it. I realize the Nazis -- stop the presses -- committed a targeted genocide against Jews, Roma, and various other minorities. But so did the US against Native populations in the 19th century (arguably, well into the 20th century).

Genocide isn't worse if it kills Jews than Indians or Muslims. Genocide isn't worse if it kills 6 million or 600,000 or 600. Evil is evil. The Bush administration, while arguably keeping itself a few ticks of deniability away from accusations of outright genocide, has directly caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan alone, in the name of "saving" these people from an evil regime that, while truly evil, hadn't come close in 20 years to killing its own people on a similar scale. Meanwhile, we do business with many other evil and genocidal regimes that are every bit as bad as Iraq's was and wink and nod and let it go.

And meanwhile, the Bush administration has used fear, scapegoating, manipulations of the democratic process, extrajudicial rendition and torture, and worse against American citizens at home, all in an increasingly naked aggression with the goal of holding on to power despite checks and balances on that power that used to be enshrined in the constitution and have the force of law. Look at how much they have gotten away with, and how they act, today, as if they can continue to simply ignore, deny, or change the law of the land if it's inconvenient to their ambitions.

I am so tired of the "Godwin gotcha" bullcrap. The Nazis had no exclusive on evil, but they provide a blueprint for how evil takes control of the mechanisms of state in modern industrial, marginally democratic societies. Many regimes have followed in their footsteps, and there is every reason to call the Bush regime one of those that has done so. Fucking Nazis is exactly what they are.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:30 AM on March 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


fourcheesemac Nope, I'm sure that left in power they would be as you say. But that's kinda the point of all the Goodwin calling, he won't be. In 2008 he's out the door.

The Democrats are, no argument at all, being absolute wimps. They should have put out a bill to shut down Guantanamo, with an attachment re-criminalizing torture, and extrodinary rendition, and let the Republicans filibuster it if that was their inclination. Force them to be on record as being pro-torture, anti-Fourth Amendment, etc.

But it is hyperbole to say that Bush and Hitler are the same. When Bush has a genocide program in place, then the comparison is apt, until then its not.

Among other things, I object to the Bush=Hitler rhetoric because it is ineffective. I want to see the vile thugs put in prison (or at the very least kicked out of office), and we can only do that with an overwhelming majority of Americans on our side. We *won't* get an overwhelming majority on our side by going around with "BUSH=HITLER" signs; a large percentage of people simply ignore you when you start up with that, and worse, it taints the entire anti-Bush movement in their eyes.

Call him what he is, say that he's a would be despot who thinks he's above the law, tries to crush the Constitution, funnels billions of our tax dollars to his elite friends, and ignores the real terrorist threat so he can play cowboy in Iraq. Pick the argument that sounds like it'd be best for the individual you are talking to and use it.

I want to win, not feel good. It may feel good for some people on our side to shout Bush=Hitler, but it is simply not an effective argument. If you want to be a Good American, do what works, not what gives you a nice little emotional buzz.
posted by sotonohito at 4:43 AM on March 14, 2007


fourcheese you are what fox's attempt at the colbert report should be.
posted by srboisvert at 4:45 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


what a choice ... the weak high school clique "fascism" of rotarian club republicanism or the all-pervasive self-loathing of college commons liberal guilt and angst

what a fucked up choice
posted by pyramid termite at 4:46 AM on March 14, 2007


no, let me put it another way ... i REFUSE to feel guilty because this fucked up system isn't listening to people like me and doesn't want to do a goddamned thing with us ... it's bad enough we have to put up with this shit without someone blaming the victims for not being effective enough

what do they want me to do, shoot someone? ... what do you think that'll get us?
posted by pyramid termite at 4:50 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


In 2008 he's out the door.

I'm not counting on it yet. And who is to say that Bush leaving office means the neocon cabal is "out the door?" They've stolen two national elections, including outright manipulations of the electoral process (the most recent of which to come to light underlies the current US Attorney Firing scandal).

srboisvert, very clever. I suppose you mean I'm a ranting hysterical parody of a leftist the way Colbert is a ranting hysterical parody of a wingnut.

Fuck you. Now that that's out of the way, try to engage on the facts: if I had told you in 2000 that this administration would get us into an endless war of aggression, demonize its domestic enemies as unpatriotic, lock up American citizens without trial, issue executive orders and signing statements that basically say "we can ignore the law and the congress and the courts," and all the rest, you would have said the same thing: you're a parody, a joke, a tinfoil hatter.

But I would have been right.

But it's all true. It's not crazy to call a conspiracy a conspiracy.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:53 AM on March 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Actually, srboisvert, it took me about 15 minutes of googling to find out whether Bill Richardson supported the Iraq war in 2002. (He did.)
posted by Saucy Intruder at 4:54 AM on March 14, 2007


aah, sotonohito, but Rebecca didn't say BUSH=HITLER. She was comparing us to the good Germans, because the story of the Germans acceeding to a dictator is the story best known to Americans. It's unfortunate that we're not allowed to use comparisons to the Nazis and the Holocaust. That's exceptionalism gone too far.

I, too, want to win. Godwinning our allies does not bring victory any closer. Nor does world-weary head shaking. All that stridentness, earnestness and Pollyanna-like optimism over here on the radical left is just a result of wanting to win. It's the same upbeat attitude of a team of marathon runners. You don't go into a marathon wearily shaking your head.

If you don't like Rebecca's ideas, come up with some on your own. The good guy team desperately needs the creativity of the smart people who spend so much time well-meaningly critiquing the ideas of others.
posted by By The Grace of God at 4:54 AM on March 14, 2007


Fuck you. Now that that's out of the way, try to engage on the facts: if I had told you in 2000 that this administration would get us into an endless war of aggression, demonize its domestic enemies as unpatriotic, lock up American citizens without trial, issue executive orders and signing statements that basically say "we can ignore the law and the congress and the courts," and all the rest, you would have said the same thing: you're a parody, a joke, a tinfoil hatter.

But I would have been right.


Try to engage on the facts? And then you whip out a hypothetical. Which of course isn't a fact. Just like you want to call the current admin Nazis as a fact when you even acknowledge they haven't acted like Nazis yet. So you want to say they are pre-Nazis and equate that with them being nazis. You're a hysterically funny question begging ranter and your rage is pushing out your ability to think clearly. So yes I think are an unintentional parody of the left wing position. You say those Nazis are demonizing the left and I just have to giggle. If you can't see the humour in that then you're lost to the dark side.
posted by srboisvert at 5:08 AM on March 14, 2007



The comparison of the Bush the junior administration and the National Socialsts in Germany is not an empty or pointless one but because of the inevitable emotional heat brought about just by mentioning nazis= anything, it rarely gets a proper hearing.

The most salient point in a comparison of these two political entities (IMVHO) is the control of the media. Leave the US and the world sounds like a very different place. Specifically, there are no countervailing viewpoints in American media anymore (maybe it's time to think about bringing back equal time statutes). Whether this is a product of the marketplace or malicious intent (what did Senator Clinton call it? "A vast, right-wing conspiracy.") is, to my mind, one of the things at the crux of any sound comparison between these two.

And I don't think the comparison betwee Bush Jr. and Nat.Soc. is always an abject ratification of Godwin's Law. For myself, when making the comparison I use "Fascist" instead of "Nazi" - it might not be 100% accurate, but it is accurate enough for the discussion, and avoids the standard pitfalls. ("Does this dress make me look fat?" "No, but the color doesn't suit you.")

And I think it's clear what I think. I don't know who the Goebbels of America is, but I would be happy to see him hang.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:40 AM on March 14, 2007


who needs godwin:

there are those of us who say that the most horrific institution of the modern age was not the Third Reich but the British Empire.

During the 1954-60 Mau-Mau uprising in Kenya, camps were established to hold suspected rebels. It is unclear how many were held but estimates range up to 1.5 million - or practically the entire Kikuyu population. Between 130,000 and 300,000 are thought to have died as a result. Maltreatment is said to have included torture and summary executions.
posted by geos at 5:47 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


there are those of us who say that the most horrific institution of the modern age was not the Third Reich but the British Empire.

There are crackpots everywhere.
posted by languagehat at 5:53 AM on March 14, 2007


Well - no. The point of the comparison between Nat.Soc. and Bush Jr. is that both governments were antagonistic towards their own citizens while maintaining the veneer that they were not. More radical versions of this would be PolPot and Stalin. To go outside your country and fuck people up, well, that's pretty old hat. No less despicable, but not the point.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:54 AM on March 14, 2007


Remember the "You forgot Poland" joke from the presidential debates ? The main thing I remember about Poland was that in 1939 Nazi Germany and their ally the Soviet Union lied about Poland being a threat to them so they could invade - very similar to what happened to Iraq in 2003.

I would pick Roger Ailes of Fox News as the Goebbels of America.
posted by rfs at 6:02 AM on March 14, 2007


It's not crazy to call a conspiracy a conspiracy.

OTOH, it's a little crazy to say "these unlikely predictions would have been true if I had made them, so this other set of unlikely predictions that I am making will also come true."
posted by smackfu at 6:04 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have two real problems with this sort of rhetoric. First, I'm not sure what exactly people think they should be "doing." You can call politicians and write letters even protest, but if you think we're dealing with a Nazi-like regime, that seems both ineffective and insufficient. If you think this administration is evil, and will not surrender power, don't you have a moral obligation to pick up a rifle? I'm not seeing anyone doing that(and that's good), but if you're not willing to admit that that's what should be "done," you really need to back off the rhetoric.

Secondly, I think the "Nazi" rhetoric is part of a need to feel important. If you're living under a grandly evil regime, posting on Metafilter becomes part of a deeply important struggle against evil. Complaining about an administration that's bad, but not pure evil just doesn't have the same compelling storyline. Calling bad evil enables you to cast yourself in your own personal real life movie. It's the same thing that causes religious people to believe the end of the world is coming, we have trouble imagining that the events of our life are just not that important, long term.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:45 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


fourcheese you are what fox's attempt at the colbert report should be.

All that needs to be said.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:15 AM on March 14, 2007


oh yeah, the limeys chastising the americans. that's a knee-slapper.
posted by quonsar at 12:26 PM GMT on March 14

I know this is feeding the troll but, honestly, what is that supposed to mean?
posted by slimepuppy at 7:15 AM on March 14, 2007


Leave the US and the world sounds like a very different place. Specifically, there are no countervailing viewpoints in American media anymore

I agree completely. I think we should establish a network of news-oriented radio stations with a mild leftish perspective. They could have news and commentary shows in the morning and afternoons while people are commuting... I bet lots of people would listen to that. We could call it "public radio."

I bet we could do something similar for tv, too. People seem to think of this sort of thing as combative... maybe we should call one of the shows Battle Front or Front Line or something like that.

In fact, the whole experience of life under Bush has become almost comical. If only someone would make a satirical news-oriented show in which the "anchor" made snarky comments about current goings-on. I bet something would be real popular. You could even have somebody pretending to be one of those right-wing blowhards!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:23 AM on March 14, 2007


I bet something would be real popular.

That's me going out on a limb.

s/something/that
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:24 AM on March 14, 2007


Bush != Hitler.
Bush == Franco, but without the menu del dia.
posted by stet at 7:24 AM on March 14, 2007


Uh, how about this: Comparing Bush and his crew to the Nazis is fair game because Bush also just happens to be the heir to a political family that was one of the Nazi party's major financiers.

I don't really care whether Hitler=Bush is a fair comparison or not. When your political adversaries conduct sustained PR campaigns calling into question the patriotism and toughness of decorated combat-wounded war heroes (a la the Swift Boat campaign), fair-play has already become a casualty, and wasting more time talking about it is just counter-productive.

Why don't liberals spend this much time analyzing and picking apart their opponents' positions?
posted by saulgoodman at 7:30 AM on March 14, 2007


leftish perspective

See, the problem with this whole NPR and PBS are already "leftist vehicles" angle is that the Leftist perspective is by definition INCLUSIVE of other perspectives. Hell, one of the literal meanings of the world "Liberal" is open to other points of view. So by definition, any open-minded news show can be accused of having a liberal slant. If you're willing to take all sides of an issue seriously, that makes you liberal. Look the word up in a dictionary. That's the problem with this whole Liberal Bias nonsense: It's a self-refuting proposition.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:34 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


By the way, I believe none of us have done "enough." There's never enough. It will never be enough until the entire world is free and peaceful, of course. It will never be enough until we all make it to the ships, until we all upload ;)

We can't all be Jesus Christ, normal folk need to feed their kids and pay the bills. If there's no Nirvana for anyone until the cycle of Samsara is broken for all, nobody will ever be released.

"If you save the life of one person, it is as if you saved the world entire."

Compare and contrast.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:42 AM on March 14, 2007


All the talk about fascism is non-productive, because it doesn't actually look at why the means and ends of the Bush Administration are what they are. There are certainly unpleasant echoes, from the restriction of civil liberties to the scapegoating of minority religions; and the ultimate aim of both the Bush admin. and the fascists – saving capitalism – is the same. But there aren't armed gangs of Republicans who go about beating the shit out of Muslims or anti-war protesters. (There are some armed gangs, most notably the Minutemen, who target immigrants. It's worth remembering that fascist thugs were key in both Germany and Italy.)

I'd suggest that people who really want to understand what's going on think about the concept of "hegemony," which was developed by Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci during his imprisonment by the Fascist government of Italy. Gramsci had a very clear, modern understanding of how a narrow layer of individuals (in the case of Italy, it was priests, lawyers and journalists) disseminated the ideas of the ruling class into society as a whole. At this point, most of politics is a question of breaking this hegemony and creating space where it is valid to talk about things like ending the war with full reparations to Iraq, ending the attacks on Muslims and immigrants, ending the long war on unions, etc, etc, etc. In reality, it's the Democrats who have hegemony among people who would normally form a left in this country, and their role is to pull the discourse back into "acceptable" channels that don't threaten the ruling class. The US can't have an effective left as long as they remain chained to the Democrats.
posted by graymouser at 7:43 AM on March 14, 2007 [6 favorites]


oh yeah, the limeys chastising the americans. that's a knee-slapper.
posted by quonsar at 12:26 PM GMT on March 14

I know this is feeding the troll but, honestly, what is that supposed to mean?


I believe quonsar's point is that the British public is as open to charges of being good Germans as the American public. He's right too. It's a semi-relevant point as this piece was published in a British newspaper, though I don't think Solnit is British herslef.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:55 AM on March 14, 2007


I hired Muslims from GITMO to work in my clothes factory. I don't know if I was a good American in the time of Bush; I should have hired more.
posted by dios at 8:04 AM on March 14, 2007


I think it's healthy that you USians are beginning to seriously address the issues that are facing you. A few years ago, that wasn't happening.

Debating the issue on Metafilter is good practice, but the really important step is to take the debate out into the rest of the population. Debate the issues with your friends, family and co-workers. Write to your representative. Try starting a boycott of companies that sponsor the regime - make sure you write to their marketing departments and let them know what you're up to.
posted by mr. strange at 8:26 AM on March 14, 2007


Any “argumentum ad Hitler” is a millstone around the neck of whatever augment or discussion it appears in. The ‘ad Hitler’ argument takes over and the whole discussion then centers on whether or not the comparison made was apt. The result is as predictable as it is ineffectual.

There is no real left n the US. There is a conglomeration of interest groups, most of them practicing self interest, poorly understood. There is no plan on the left, there is no leadership on the left.

Most leftist ideas require a unified people. The “American People” are a myth. There is no homogenous set of values that one can accurately apply to any significant number of Americans unless you count consumerism. We are not each other neighbors.

The US has at best a Right wing and Centrists. The US Gov’t represents corporate interests above all else because we are capitalists, and corporations are how bread gets on the table. No one is going to stand up and say “charge me more in taxes so I can help strengthen American society and infrastructure.” Everyone wants everything and they want someone else to pay for it. Americans oppose blowing up people half way across the globe? Nonsense. Americans can’t be bothered to help their own. Watch New Orleans die. Watch the major cities rot. Watch the teachers at schools with fallen in roofs and no funding get blamed for poor performance. We don’t fix our problems, we just bomb other people. And the beat goes on.
posted by BeerGrin at 8:39 AM on March 14, 2007


Most leftist ideas require a unified people.

WTF? I don't know what you mean by "leftist," but historically it tends to involve class analysis, which pretty much rules out the idea of "a unified people" (an idea invoked, in my mind, by right-wingers everywhere). Leftists tend to privilege the working class in opposition to the capitalist class. I have no interest in debating the merits of that view at this time, but your statement strikes me as deeply strange.
posted by languagehat at 9:01 AM on March 14, 2007


Wow graymouser, that was well-put. Thanks for reminding me about Gramsci.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:05 AM on March 14, 2007


Hey thanks, mr. strange. I hadn't thought of discussing the politics with anyone other than on the internet. Golly, I sure hope having this debate doesn't prove to be divisive!

Many of us have stopped talking to family members, ended friendships, changed jobs, moved, etc. After 7 years of calling into question each other's patriotism, the two sides *will not* listen to each other any longer. That's the sad legacy of the Bush administration. America may be permanently divided.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:33 AM on March 14, 2007


The US Gov’t represents corporate interests above all else because we are capitalists, and corporations are how bread gets on the table

That's not good political theory, either. The world is full of capitalist nations that still manage to operate as social democracies. Capitalism is not the cause of American apathy, nor the cause of the shift of political power into fewer hands.
posted by Miko at 9:56 AM on March 14, 2007


The Nazis were real people who existed in the real world. People to day act like they were some mythical ideal of pure evil, when in fact they came to power in a pretty normal, western country (which was nevertheless going through a very difficult time economically).

And, in truth, "the Nazis" behavior degenerated over a the decade or so they were in power. It became worse and worse, culminating in the Final Solution. Yet, many people would not want to live under then vintage 1935 Nazis any more then they would the 1943 Nazis.

To suggest that any comparison between real people and the Nazis is wrong or unethical is absurd. It really happened, and there is no reason that it might not happen again if people are not vigilant. Yet, some people demand not vigilance, but blindness to any seed of creeping authoritarianism.
posted by delmoi at 10:01 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Languagehat; I'd like to clarify if I may. I do not feel a need to debate or argue. In fact, allow me to wish you good health.

I’m not a student of Poli-sci, so I may not be as clear as I would like. I do not think that among Americans a "class" of people will unify solely on class lines. Americans are very Nationalist, but where the interest of Americans as a nation are not aligned, our allegiance is to particular social group we belong to. Those sub groups are typically influenced by religious affiliation and cultural ancestry. Aside from Americans embattled organized labor movement, I am hard pressed to think of a social movement that is not based on affiliation with a social, ethnic or religious sub-category.

The lack of homogeneity is not to be decried, but it should be understood as an obstacle to more Socialist political efforts. Our differences do make Americans easier to divide politically. The left, here in the states, comes across, and often acts as a loosely affiliated group of issue-publics pushing very narrow agendas.

At least now that I’ve replied, if my comment still seems strange, then it is probably because my thoughts on the issue seem strange to you
posted by BeerGrin at 10:05 AM on March 14, 2007


delmoi:

I don't think that comparisons to Nazis are wrong ethically. I think that in terms of political clarity, there are valid comparisons to the Nazis, but a blanket equivocation is off the mark. Some of these misperceptions I find to actually pull people back into Democratic hegemony – such as the idea that, unless they build as massive a movement as possible for whatever candidate the Democrats settle on, the Republicans will not relinquish power in 2009. This is fantasy, and harmful. Pointing out that the government is increasingly corrupt, intrusive, pushing back on civil liberties, the rise of a far right in groups like the Minutemen, etc. – the valid comparisons – should not be the victims of the hyperbolic comparisons.
posted by graymouser at 10:10 AM on March 14, 2007


Miko I can agree that "Capitalism is not the cause of American apathy, nor the cause of the shift of political power into fewer hands." The cause of the shift is American apathy and acquiescence. I’m studying American Corporate law now, and it is quite frightening how our state level judiciary has engaged in a ‘race to the bottom’ to provide the most protection for corporate wrong doing.

However these legislative and judicial decisions do not happen in a vacuum. Americans have allowed this very specific American brand of Capitalism to flourish. There is more then just tacit support for these policies, there is an actual bias to allow the “invisible hand of the market” be the regulator of corporate activity. This bias and antipathy is not the sole fault of an educated “class.’
posted by BeerGrin at 10:15 AM on March 14, 2007


"there are those of us who say that the most horrific institution of the modern age was not the Third Reich but the British Empire."

There are crackpots everywhere.


In defense of those crackpots, Hitler himself repeatedly expressed his admiration for the British Empire, and his desire to emulate it.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:22 AM on March 14, 2007


Re the Hitler comparison:

I must say I cringed when I saw an antiwar protester with a Bush=Hitler sign. Not because I didn't think there were parallels, but because that kind of rhetoric is an obstacle to empathy and understanding because it makes the messenger and therefore the message easy to dismiss.

Are these people as bad as fascists? Probably. However what they remind me more of is the American communists of yore who were so blinded by ideology that they continued to insist that the Soviet Union was a "workers paradise" and that everything was hunky dory under Stalin despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Here, we are faced with a leadership and its followers who are similarly ideologically blinded to believe that they are doing the right thing and making progress, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Call it cognitive dissonance, call it doublethink, these people are masters of it.
posted by lordrunningclam at 10:26 AM on March 14, 2007


Hitler himself repeatedly expressed his admiration for the British Empire, and his desire to emulate it.

Hitler himself repeatedly expressed his admiration for vegetarianism, and his desire to practise it.

Should that affect anyone's opinion of vegetarianism? I think not.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 10:31 AM on March 14, 2007


Or, maybe its that, from a distance, all despots and tyrants look alike, despite differences in their despotism and tyranny.

Just regimes are all alike; every unjust regime is unjust in its own way.
posted by tkchrist at 10:39 AM on March 14, 2007


Bush is not Evil.

He is grossly incompetent. And frankly that is almost WORSE.

Hitler, had he been slightly more competent and listened to his Generals, could have won WWII.

Bush was destined to fail from December 2000 on. Anybody remember the pre-9/11 Bush? He's still the same moron.

Bush's plan was idiotic from the start. That his administration claims these failed policies as mere "mistakes" in otherwise correct strategy is also symptomatic of severe incompetence. Mistakes? Typo on a memo to Tony Blair is a mistake. INVADING A SOVREIGN NATION THAT POSES NO THREAT AND LOSING A WAR TO IT'S TEENAGERS IS SHEER STUPIDITY.

A mistake is the occurrence of an an unknown. A mistake is a surprise. None of the problems that have happened in Iraq or with this administrations policies concerning Terrorism and the Mid-east were surprises. It's like Bush has been following a script on How-To-Fuck-Things-Up for Christ sake. Everything was predicted. In great detail. They were warned by experts from every previous Administration that could still breath. And they did it ANYWAY.

Evil tends to be smarter than this.
posted by tkchrist at 11:00 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


...Bush has been following a script on How-To-Fuck-Things-Up for Christ sake.

Now we know why he did it. I hope Christ is duly appreciative.


How bad does it have to get before people stop with the "Bush hasn't killed six million Jews, so he isn't like Hitler" drone? I remember the U.S. as it was forty years ago, and look at what the Republican Party has managed to do to it, and I am terribly sad.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:27 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hitler himself repeatedly expressed his admiration for vegetarianism, and his desire to practise it.

Should that affect anyone's opinion of vegetarianism? I think not.


If he'd admired vegetarianism for its ruthless efficiency and its subjugation of "inferior" races and cultures, I might reconsider my own vegetarianism.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:37 AM on March 14, 2007


Americans have allowed this very specific American brand of Capitalism to flourish. There is more then just tacit support for these policies, there is an actual bias to allow the “invisible hand of the market” be the regulator of corporate activity.

With that clarified statement I would agree, and to it would add that the shift results not just from a 'bias,' but a matter of active, considered policymaking.
posted by Miko at 11:47 AM on March 14, 2007


i REFUSE to feel guilty because this fucked up system isn't listening to people like me and doesn't want to do a goddamned thing with us ... it's bad enough we have to put up with this shit without someone blaming the victims for not being effective enough

amen.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:15 PM on March 14, 2007


Hitler himself repeatedly expressed his admiration for the British Empire, and his desire to emulate it.

Hitler himself repeatedly expressed his admiration for vegetarianism, and his desire to practise it.

Should that affect anyone's opinion of vegetarianism? I think not.


Indeed, comparisons along these lines are nearly always misleading. In Mein Kampf, Hitler expresses his admiration for the British House of Commons, and suggests that it is a good example of how a legislature should disport itself. Needless to say, the Nazi "legislature", such as it was, bore little resemblance to the British House of Commons.

Hitler said, and wrote, a vast amount during his life. Much of it has been recorded for posterity. He opines on every subject under the sun, and is consistently inconsistent in his views. He comes across like someone who says whatever comes into his head at any given moment. It's possible to find a Hitler quote for nearly anything. I think that's the point of Godwin's Law - not that it's poor taste to compare something to the Nazis or someone to Hitler, but that nearly everything and everyone can be comared, on one or another level, to the Nazis or Hitler.

But I groan when I read columns like this. German opponents of the Nazis didn't get to write hand-wringing columns in foreign newspapers about how they worried if they did enough to oppose them. If they had somehow managed the trick, they wouldn't have been walking around that evening. Solnit has not been arrested and shot, or at least savagely beaten, for this column, I'll wager.

That's a basic concern and broadly as pointless a comparison to make as the Bush=Hitler one. What really concerns me is that the Germans didn't get rid of Hitler. And one of the reasons that Germans didn't get rid of Hitler is because the left in Germany was hopelessly divided both before and after 1933. The German far Left was more interested in condemning everyone and everything around it as being "basically Nazis" to actually oppose the real Nazis. Even after the real Nazis took power, and drove the left underground, the far left hardly cooperated with the Social Democratic resistance, the moderate left, because it considered them to be basically as bad as the Nazis.

The people who make these comparisons between Bush and Hitler always remind me of the German far left, and I always remember that the German far left were precisely the ones who "could have done more" when it came down to it, not the moderate left.
posted by WPW at 12:25 PM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: It's possible to find a Hitler quote for nearly anything.

Please forgive me.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:14 PM on March 14, 2007


“..In reality, it's the Democrats who have hegemony among people who would normally form a left in this country, and their role is to pull the discourse back into "acceptable" channels that don't threaten the ruling class...”
- posted by graymouser

Well said. I’d argue that the GOP does the same to erstwhile conservatives.
Red & blue has long since stopped having any meaning for me. There’s ‘ultra-rich’ and everyone else.

And I don’t like having ultimatums put to me. Makes me question why the choices are so narrow. Makes me think I don’t have freedom to find my own path. GWB said you’re either with us or with the terrorists.
Ok then - I’m with the terrorists.

That choice alone removes me - and everyone else in opposition - from consenting to crimes against humanity. So long as it’s married to action GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY.

Some muslims knock on my door, say they’re being persecuted, and I’ve heard the Fed is going to send them to Gitmo the SS is going to have to step over my dead body (and many of their own, and hundreds of thousands of shell casings, bullet fragments and shrapnel) to get them. But that’s if they knock. We’re none of us superheros.
And some of us who are, have no right to be. I’ve got kids - I do think about what I’m going to tell them what I’ve been up to during this period, but I’d rather it be me saying I didn’t do much than them asking me why I abandoned them.

Hell, a guy out here (Chicago) set himself on fire in protest of the war and this administration...what more does a person have to do? Yet nothing happened. Didn’t even get that much coverage.

On the other hand Ghandi stops eating for a few days and millions of people mobilize.

Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, but it should make some appreciable impact. Extreme acts should be taken only when their going to have a commensurate practical result.
I respect the dedication of someone who gives their life, but if the result is negligable, it’s hard not to call it a waste. It most certainly is a shame.

Here’s the point: whatever other flaws or merits of this peice she makes the fatal motivational error parents have been making for many years. If a kid isn’t doing his homework you tell him something like “Mozart was writing symphonies at 4 years old. Ben Franklin discovered electricity. Einstein was a patent clerk - they thought he wasn’t good at math. They all worked hard and became great.”

The thing of it is, we’re not Franklin or Mozart or Einstein. We’re not incandescent geniuses or hypermotivated insomniacs or magnificent orators with tremendous compassion and will to move mountains.
And neither we, nor they need this kind of rhetoric to motivate us.
The people who can achieve at that level, are doing things. Many things, and big things.
The people that aren’t - some of them - do extreme things and?
Nada.
Me, I’m just a handy guy to have around in a scrap. Until it comes time for someone like me to step up, giving money to people who have the time and focus to work on this and more importantly the expertise - is not a bad thing. And is a valid form of opposition to this administration. In order to support a cure for cancer I don’t have to be a doctor myself, or even a lab tech. I can be involved and give money to research organizations and such - I don’t have to pretend I’m a superhero to myself to know I’m doing something. If it’s my focus - sure, I should do more.
Were I versed in international law or military law, I should probably be devoting some time to the situation at Gitmo. I’m not. And I’m not going to argue I’m just as much a part of the opposition as the guys who are directly working on it are. But I can still back those guys up without being party to crimes against humanity because I didn’t do “enough” myself.
Hey, I’m covering the guy who’s doing it. Meanwhile someone still has to grow the food, truck goods, build roads, all the million things that need to be done to keep society going.
Great men often talk about standing on the shoulders of giants. We hear that and often forget the giants are standing on the masses.
Someone made Franklin’s kite. Somebody installed Einstein’s chalkboard. Someone tuned Mozart’s piano - hell, someone invented all those things too. That the piano tuner isn’t Mozart doesn’t mean he hates music. He’s just doing what he can in his way.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:09 PM on March 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


By The Grace of God wrote "It's unfortunate that we're not allowed to use comparisons to the Nazis and the Holocaust. That's exceptionalism gone too far."

I don't say that you aren't allowed to use such comparisons, I say that they don't work. As other people have noticed the more thoughtful types tend to get sidetracked into discussions of whether the comparison is apt or not, and the vast majority of people simply brush you off at best and at worst decide that the entire cause they think you represent is wrong.

I support doing what works. Compairing this administration to Hitler, or the US at the moment to "Good Germans", or any other Nazi inspired comparison *does*not*work*.

It may make the person making the comparison feel good, but BFD. Just because you feel good making the comparison doesn't mean you've accomplished anything.

saulgoodman wrote "I don't really care whether Hitler=Bush is a fair comparison or not. When your political adversaries conduct sustained PR campaigns calling into question the patriotism and toughness of decorated combat-wounded war heroes (a la the Swift Boat campaign), fair-play has already become a casualty, and wasting more time talking about it is just counter-productive."

I agree completely, we shouldn't be pulling any punches, and we should be doing everything we can to take down the vile thugs. But just because it would be ok to use an argument from a fairness standpoint doesn't make that argument effective. Nazi based arguments simply and plainly don't work with Joe Average, so regardless of whether it would be ok for us to use them on the basis of what the Bushies have done to us we shouldn't be using them because they don't work.

We should be using whatever nasty, low, below the belt, type of argument does work. Now that the Democrats control Congress they should be trying to pass gotchya type legislation to force the remaining Republicans in Congress to stand against principles that most Americans support ("Senator X helped his Republican allies in the Senate fillibuster the Fourth Ammendment Restoration Act, ask your Senator why he hates the Constitution and America").

We should be emphising the Chickenhawk aspect because that argument, while inherently unfair, works fantastically. It deflates the entire "Republican == Macho, Manly, and Tough" image. We should be asking where Osama is on a daily basis; no elected Democrat should ever appear on TV without asking why Bush hasn't caught him yet, and why Bush thinks its more important to spend billions in Iraq than it is to find the man responsible for 9/11. We should be trumpeting the Halliburton scandals, the countless mismanagements of Iraq, etc by emphisizing that *your* tax dollars are lining the pockets of the Halliburton fat cats instead of finding Osama. We should emphisize that Bush's tax cuts for his economic elite friends are coming at our expense, that if you are middle class you're seeing your total tax burden increasing.

But we shouldn't be using a tired, ineffective, and generally useless Nazi comparison, because when the vast majority of Americans hear that they think "hmmph, stupid twit" and ignore us.

I want to be effective. I think some people don't care about effective, they just want to do what feels emotionally good. That's an urge that we must resist. Sometimes what feels emotionally good and what's effective politically are the same thing, but not often.
posted by sotonohito at 2:50 PM on March 14, 2007


the vast majority of Americans hear that they think "hmmph, stupid twit"

I'm very sorry to be the one to tell you this, but your telepathy is completely broken. There is no way in Hell that the majority of Americans are going to be thinking the word "twit."
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:58 PM on March 14, 2007


Picky, picky. You know what I mean, and regardles of the specific word, you know durn well that the Hitler comparisons just don't work.
posted by sotonohito at 7:17 PM on March 14, 2007


Maybe the Hitler comparisons "just don't work" because WAY too many people believe the dangerous myth that the Nazis were exceptionally EVIL and the Americans are exceptionally GOOD.

Zimbardo/Milgram, anyone?

Perhaps rather than sacrificing the single most powerful modern example of most people's tendency to aid evil deeds by passively accepting them (with reactions ranging from "Uch, it's terrible, but what can we do?" to "Things could not possibly be that bad."), we can reclaim the ability to draw parallels between the German people's frightened/selfish acceptance of the evil deeds of their leaders and the behavior of the majority of people in the modern Western world today.

Also, the whole "Are people being shot in the street? Then it's not fascism and shut up." crowd just slay me.

Why do these people think the methods of fascism HAVE NOT CHANGED over the last 70 years?
Who says that taking dissidents out and shooting them in the street is the kind of tactic the smart fascist will ever use again?
I'm pretty sure the would-be fascists among us have learned that it is better to respond to the many small flames of dangerous speech with a firestorm of babble (who can pick out a match in a forest fire?) than with bullets.
posted by mer2113 at 10:28 PM on March 14, 2007


Well, anyone with a wit of sense could see the folly of the Bush Doctrine from the get go. Those who couldn't were 'not sees'.
posted by mazola at 11:42 PM on March 14, 2007


er... whit.
posted by mazola at 11:44 PM on March 14, 2007


mer2113 Tell you what, after we've used the effective means of argument to reclaim the US government from the deranged faction of the Republican party you can try to rehabilitate the Nazi comparisons. Until we've achieved that goal, I'd seriously suggest that you give up the feel good "Raarrrgh, Bush is HITLER" stuff and do what works instead of what makes you feel good but harms our cause.

I'm certainly not going to claim that fascism has to look like Nazi Germany, or that unless people are being shot in the street it isn't fascism. On the other hand, I'm also not going to agree that what we see in America today is fascism, because it isn't.

I'll agree that some things we are seeing are looking like a possible beginning to fascism (the eliminationist rhetoric that is becoming ever more popular on the Right, for example) but the nation has not really reached the point where it can even be called proto-fascist yet. The political process is still largely uncontrolled (see: Democratic victory in 2006), the government has not made any real attempt to control the mass media (yes, FOX is essentially a government controlled channel, but while the other big players are relatively cowed they still retain a large element of independence and no effort has been made to control the net at all), despite the growing eliminationist rhetoric the only laws to restrict their opponents that have been passed are gay marriage bans (which, while utterly vile and contemptable are not really politically controlling laws), etc, etc, etc.

If you want to argue that Limbaugh, Coulter, et al are doing their best to bring the nation to the point where fascism can enter, I'll agree wholeheartedly. But to argue that we are already at that point, or even that we have begun down that path, is simply false.

Honestly, I doubt the US will take the fascist path of failure, if things really go poorly we'll screw up in an equally horrible, but different way.

But let me re-emphisize, none of this changes the simple fact that we don't win voters for our side by compairing Bush to Hitler, this administration to Nazis, or America to Germany. I'm vastly more concerned with winning the next election than I am with how fair, or unfair, it is that making Nazi comparisons doesn't work.

Obviously I can't make you do anything, but I'd like to ask you to think it over. Would you rather have the emotional buzz that comes from being self-righteous, or would you rather do what works even if it isn't quite as fun?
posted by sotonohito at 3:46 AM on March 15, 2007


Picky, picky. You know what I mean, and regardles of the specific word, you know durn well that the Hitler comparisons just don't work.

And you apparently don't know what I mean. The majority of Americans don't think the way you say they do. I think you're either projecting your own reactions onto them, or you're accepting as fact an assertion that hasn't been tested. Can you show any evidence beyond repeated claims by political partisans to support that assertion?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:53 AM on March 15, 2007


Maybe the Hitler comparisons "just don't work" because

bush hasn't killed millions of people, laid a continent in ruins and interred millions in concentration camps?

I'm pretty sure the would-be fascists among us have learned that it is better to respond to the many small flames of dangerous speech with a firestorm of babble

well, at least you're as well armed as they are

just remember, if you're entitled to call bush a fascist, it's only fair to allow wingnuts to call the democrats commies and totalitarians

Why do these people think the methods of communism and totalitarianism HAVE NOT CHANGED over the last 70 years?
posted by pyramid termite at 4:41 AM on March 15, 2007


if you're entitled to call bush a fascist, it's only fair to allow wingnuts to call the democrats commies and totalitarians

Which they do anyway. The difference is in the accuracy of the characterizations.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:56 AM on March 15, 2007


it's just rhetoric, kirth ... tired and shopworn rhetoric

no one's going to change the world with that
posted by pyramid termite at 5:30 AM on March 15, 2007


Why do all you folks seem to incist that nazis/facism == Holocaust? This is the falshood which blinds the eyes of so many people watching and trying to think. If you wait for a holocaust, it will be too late. Duh!

Corporations write laws for their benefit. Law! When the government is acting for the benefit of business over that of the people, you have fascism. The rest is window dressing and evil running away with itself.

"Vast right-wing conspiracy." Okay. Now, please explain what part of the word "VAST" you fail to understand? Quit allowing YOUR politicians shuck and jive when it comes to the bald faced reality of what is happening. At _best_ they are wimps. It is perhaps more likely they are simply part of the conspiracy, possibly even without knowning.

The United States of America is under attack. Sure, mostly the tree looks just fine! They're attacking the fucking roots! The sun is shining, the leaves are green, but the tree is dying, none the less.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. Politicians think it's just fine to play politics with your rights, with the very Constitution. WTF!? Ever last one of those Congress Critters who voted to renew the 'Patriot Act' needs to be replaced. ASAP.

Every day things are allowed to continue as they are the debt from this crap grows and grows. I know you know that debt is a weakness.
posted by Goofyy at 5:37 AM on March 15, 2007


Why do all you folks seem to incist that nazis/facism == Holocaust?

well, mr straw man, as you've so thoughtfully and tactfully pointed out, it's because we're all stupid and can't think

now keep typing ... any moment now YOU could write the words here on metafilter that will cause a 2nd american revolution!
posted by pyramid termite at 5:55 AM on March 15, 2007


Goofyy It doesn't matter if the comparison is apt or not. I happen to disagree that its apt, but that's beside the point. The *only* question I have is: will it sell? Will it get the bad guys out of office or not? If the answer to that question is "no", then I really don't care if the comparison is perfectly legit, fair in comparison to them calling us Commies, or anything else.

Republicans call Democrats Communists, not because it is an accurate description, but because it sells. Bubba buys it. Bubba hears it and votes Republican.

Calling Republicans Chickenhawks seems as if it is effective, it seems to sell, it seems as if Bubba buys it. I say this because every time its done the entire VRWC goes up in flames, obviously we're hitting a nerve with that one. Thus I say run with it regardless of whether its true or not. I have personally wittnessed a neutral being swayed by the Chickenhawk argument.

But the Bush=Hitler stuff does not sell. I don't have any polls for that Kirth Gerson, and unfortunately I don't think any have ever been conducted (I've searched and not found any, if you can find one please point me to it). My evidence is purely anecodital. I see people react, I talk to my friends (most of whom are at least semi-conservative, its a consiquence of living in Amarillo, TX), I listen on campus, etc. In my experience the instant someone on our side starts tossing around Nazi comparisons many people who agree with him cringe, and everyone who disagrees with him suddenly starts not listening.

I have not yet encountered a single neutral who was convinced by the Nazi comparisons, and I have seen a minimum of three actively embrace Republicans following a Nazi comparison.

So, how many Republicans or neutrals have you convinced to vote Democrat by using Nazi comparisons? Any?
posted by sotonohito at 5:56 AM on March 15, 2007


Of course I don't have any polls, or surveys, or psychological studies to support your assertion that "most Americans" react badly when someone's compared to Hitler (or when a bunch of Corporatists are compared to Nazis). I doubt there are any such supports, but I'm not the one claiming to know what "most Americans think."

See, Texas is as little like "most" of America as California is. The people I talk to mostly acknowledge that the Cheynoids are fascist bastards, but I'm not going to claim my friends are typical, or a majority. Any generalization about how most Americans think should damn well be backed up with some kind of evidence. If it can't be backed up, it's probably BS.

Godwin's "Law" is just a clever way some guy came up with to assign winners and losers in political debate. That so many people have latched on to it is a reflection of how clever it was, not of how valid it is.

As for how many Republicans or neutrals have I convinced - how am I supposed to gauge that? You're telling me not to speak what I see as the truth because your circle of Texans "cringe" when they hear it. Too bad for them.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:01 AM on March 15, 2007


Yes, I am exactly telling you not to speak the truth as you see it. I am telling you to SAY WHAT SELLS. The truth is nice, the truth is great, and the truth is utterly worthless if it doesn't get Democrats elected. Why is this a hard thing to understand?

As an almost irrelivant side issue, I will argue that the Bush administration can't be honestly called even proto-fascist. But I really don't care one way or another. I just want them, and their enablers, out of office.

It isn't, as you say, "too bad for them", its too bad for us if your Nazi-spweing turns them into Republican voters. We cannot afford to lose any more damn electeions to the Republicans, and I don't care if you and your ilk want to feel good by telling it like it is, or whatever else you believe. I want to win. That's all. After we win, after we've put the criminals behind bars, then if you want to start with the Nazi stuff I won't say a word. But for now, I want to win. I don't want moral victories, I don't want to do the right thing and lose, I don't want to feel good because I took ineffective but emotionally satisfying action, I want to win. I want to do what works.

If you don't want to do what works, if you want to shout "NAZI" because it makes you feel good, obviously I can't stop you. But don't tell yourself "too bad for them", don't fool yourself into thinking that you are being effective, or standing up for what's right. All you are doing is making it harder for those of us who care about winning to do our jobs.
posted by sotonohito at 7:57 AM on March 15, 2007


And now I know what Jack Nicholson meant when he said "You can't handle the truth!"

Anyone who thinks "the truth is utterly worthless if it doesn't get Democrats elected" really is missing the point. The big point. The one that makes having political discussions worth having in the first place. If the Democrats can only get elected by being afraid to tell the truth, then it's they who are utterly worthless. If all you have to bring is marketing tactics, you're part of the problem.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:45 AM on March 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


can't be honestly called even proto-fascist

Whaaa--? Let me run-down the checklist real quick:

1) Instituting a network of secret prisons with no due process: Check.
2) Actively denying employment and other opportunities to non-party members, other political opponents: Check.
3) Spying on ordinary citizens: Check.
4) Seizing business assets of other nations and competitors: Check.
5) Deflecting criticism by emotional appeals to Nationalist sentiments and questioning the loyalty of critics: Check.
6) Censoring the press: Check.
7) Engaging in sustained propaganda campaigns and instituting an official party media apparatus: Check.

And I'm only barely hitting the surface here. So please explain why in your view the Bush administration can't be characterized as proto-fascist?
posted by saulgoodman at 9:05 AM on March 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Whaaa--? Let me run-down the checklist real quick:

with the exception of 1) governments of both parties have been doing those things for decades, so i guess we've been in a proto-fascist state all along
posted by pyramid termite at 9:15 AM on March 15, 2007


with the exception of 1) governments of both parties have been doing those things for decades, so i guess we've been in a proto-fascist state all along

Nope. Just since the 50s, when the many wealthy Nazi sympathizers in the US went underground and started quietly taking control of the power industries and other key pieces of the national infrastructure.

And no, those things haven't always been done to the extreme they were done under Bush admin before.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:26 AM on March 15, 2007


The K-Street Project took political loyalty tests in hiring to unprecedented new levels, literally discouraging the hiring of anyone who wasn't a registered card-carrying republican. How is that any different than the Nazi party, the Ba'ath party, or any of the other fascist and proto-fascist parties that have existed throughout history?

And no, such loyalty tests were not a routine part of hiring practices under Clinton or previous administrations--not to the extent it has been under the Republicans--especially not down to the level of administrative personnel, technical specialists and contracted service providers.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:32 AM on March 15, 2007


Nope. Just since the 50s, when the many wealthy Nazi sympathizers in the US went underground

because before that, many of them were overground, weren't they?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:36 AM on March 15, 2007


The K-Street Project took political loyalty tests in hiring to unprecedented new levels

two words - tammany hall ... in fact, in the 19th century, it was pretty much business as usual that the people in power hired their party cronies and no one else
posted by pyramid termite at 9:40 AM on March 15, 2007


many of them were overground, weren't they?

Yeah. Henry Ford, other proponents of the American Eugenics movement, the guys who did this were all pretty overground at the time. It was only with America's belated entry into the war and the humiliating defeat of Germany that American Nazi's suddenly got all coy about their allegiances.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:44 AM on March 15, 2007


Well, sure, in the 1900s, when the KKK's political machines dominated. Until recently we had made some genuine progress since those uglier times.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:47 AM on March 15, 2007


Prescott Bush was pretty open about dealing with the Nazis.

Tammany Hall won the Presidency? Or was it the U.S. Congress?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:48 AM on March 15, 2007


I know I'm gonna get trounced for that: Don't take the "KKK's political machines" remark too literally; I can't really substantiate the linking, but it's poetically true enough for my taste.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:49 AM on March 15, 2007


the whole thing is, i don't think the bush=nazi thing is effective or true

try bush=incompetent ... claim that he doesn't know what the hell he's doing or how to bring his goals about and MAKE the bushites PROVE he's succeeded

they won't be able to do it, because it can't be done

then follow up with bush=loser ... he lost new orleans, he lost iraq, he lost the budget, he lost congress, he lost, he lost, he lost

if it's kept up, it can stick ... americans dislike nazis ... but they HATE losers
posted by pyramid termite at 10:02 AM on March 15, 2007


OMG, pt, are you secretly George C. Scott's "Patton"?
posted by saulgoodman at 10:19 AM on March 15, 2007


sotonohito has a point about what "sells" vs. what doesn't. However, it may be confusion about what exactly I'm selling.

I don't write what I do in hopes of converting Republicans away from the Bush pack. I write in hopes of a couple things: 1) Maybe some leftie will discover a hotter fire under their ass, and get motivated. and 2) Maybe someone will read my words, and they'll come to mind at the right moment when talking to someone they're trying to convince.

I live abroad, and will continue to do so for the forseeable future. Other than an occasional donation, the bit of writing I post that gets read is about the only thing I can do to help with the situation. And this is very frustrating, as, unfortunately, I really give a damn.
posted by Goofyy at 4:56 AM on March 16, 2007


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