Thursday, August 31, 2006

Irony Impaired

arlier this week, the illustrious Rumsfield announced that anyone not supporting the president was akin to those who appeased the Nazis. First off, suggesting that there are two positions here: support Bush or support Terrorism is simplistic and stupid. I don't support Bush. I don't support terrorism. I don't know anyone who does (since I don't actually know any terrorists personally). Listen people -- questioning Bush != supporting terrorism. Not in any rational universe. This is a simple logical fallacy: false dichotomy (the black-and-white fallacy). There are far more than two options here, even if the administration is working very hard to convince everyone that there are not.

However, more disturbing to me is that this statement has re-raised the 'publican talking point that we are "fighting fascism" and that the terrorists are "islamo-fascists", a lovely term that Bush threw out into the public arena a few weeks ago.

It's quite obvious that no one in this administration knows what "fascism" is. Here's the basic definition:

Merriam-Webster defines fascism as "a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition"
It's a pretty broad brush, but since the current crop of terrorists are not part of a nation, nor do they want to make that nation supreme, nor do they have a single leader, they are not fascists. The label doesn't fit. Hell, you have to actually have a central government in order to develop into a fascist state. Here's a quick list of what characteristics make up a fascist state:
1. Exuberant Nationalism - use of patriotic images, flags everywhere, encouragement to use symbols and slogans by the group in power.

2. Enemies Identified - the national cause is identified by unity against an enemy, people are rallied against a common threat often using religious terminology or images. Dissent is seen as treasonous, or 'siding with the enemy'

3. Disdain for Human Rights - the rights of some can be ignored because of the need for security or safety. The concept of individual rights is traded for the promise of safety.

4. Obsession with Secrecy and national security - the actions of the government are hidden and questioning authority is discouraged. Things cannot be questioned because of 'national security', which is invoked whenever difficult questions are asked.

5. Glorification of the Military -- the military gets a disproportionate share of resources, to the detriment of social needs and soldiers and military culture are glorified.

6. Corporations protected - money and power in the corporate world become emneshed in politics, and the worker/labor unions are supressed.

7. Rampant cronyism and corruption in government - power is maintained through a small group who mutually support each other and deflect any scrutiny.

8. Controlled mass media - media is used as an arm of the state (either directly managed or sympathetically) and the message is repeated constantly and without change.

9. Sexism - fascist regimes are male-dominated and traditional gender-roles are demanded. Homophobia is common.

10. Disdain for Intellectuals - ideologically driven "science" is formulated, while any ideas contrary to the state-belief are ridiculed or stamped out. Academics are the brunt of critiscm.

11. Militarized Police - many in society are wiling to forgo civil liberties in the name of patriotism and the police are given free reign to support the state. National police forces are given the power to investigate anyone and surveillance of the public is often employed.

12. Eraudulent elections - fascists stay in power because they control the election of their offices.

13. Religion and Government are Intertwined - the most common religion is used as a tool to manupulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric is common.
The glorification of the state and the ultimate power of those in charge are not the goals of the terrorists in the Middle East. They are not "fascist". However, if you look with a critical eye at our own government, things are a bit too close for comfort. My comfort, at least. (BTW, if you're interested, do a google search on 'signs of fascism' to see some interesting analysis of current governments and how they fit the definition. You made need to dig out your tinfoil hat)

By pointing the finger and shouting 'fascism' at the vague and multi-dimensional group responsible for 'terror', Rumsfield and now Bush are trying to manipulate us. It's a rude, clumsy manipulation, but it plays to the fears of many Americans, and so it works. "You must support us or how else will you be safe?"

The term has come up in nearly every speech that Bush has given lately (even the "not political" (hah!) speeches he's given in the last few days) and the administration is working hard to place that meme in the public sphere. Fascism is bad, Fascism = Nazis, the people who don't worship at our feet are supporting the all starts to fall into place.

How is questioning the president supporting the terrorists? I can't quite figure out how democrats are being cast as the nazis in this scenario -- any helpful conservative out there want to explain it to me? Or not, since I can't imagine any logical support for that particular analogy that doesn't involve serious intellectual dishonesty and spittle flying. Once again, it all banks on the FEAR FEAR FEAR mantra to keep the voting public docile and agreeable. I'm getting quite sick of it. It's the "message of the day" and it's being plumped in the media every time someone in the administration has a speech.

Oh! And the classification of people who don't support the war or the president as unpatriotic, or against the troops, or 'nazi-sympathizers' is arrogant and insulting. And, I wonder, will anyone notice the irony of Bush implying that his dissenters are 'nazi-supporters' -- when his family is clearly implicated in supporting the actual Nazi party while involved in Union Banking Corporation, which is great-grandfather and grandfather ran as board-members in the years leading up to WWII? Union Banking Corporation From Wikipedia

Probably not. Or even if they did, the media isn't going to report it. See #8 or #4 above.

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