Bush != Fascist

Although we protested inevitable war on Iraq a month ago, went again today, this time with a group of other new parents. Had a strange feeling this time that I didn’t have last time — questioning the clarity of mind of some protesters and beginning to realize that my opposition to war is not 100%. More like 90%.

The left is often criticized for knee-jerk politics and irrational, emotional responses. I often resist that description, but today I saw it clearly. So much of the group-think at a protest is expressed in signage, and so much of that signage is really clever / creative / cogent / potent. But there’s also an aspect of it that is so extreme and so clouded. Example: At the last protest I saw one sign that compared the Bush Administration to the Third Reich. Today it seemed that meme was all over the place. I saw dozens of signs accusing the present administration of fascism, attaching swastikas to the foreheads of Bush and henchmen/women.

Listen up: No matter how you feel about the idiocy and dangerousness of the present administration, we are NOT living in a fascist state, and our leaders are NOT engaged in ethnic cleansing. Meanwhile, Hussein IS a fascist and IS (or has been) engaged in ethnic cleansing.

Somehow it just felt harder to connect with the fervor of the protesters today. In part because so many of them damage their own credibility with poor rhetoric and divisive symbolism, and in part because I no longer think this situation is completely cut-and-dried. Some wars are just. Some fascists are evil and must be removed from power. I question how, by what means, at what cost, and under what hidden agenda. What criteria make a war a just war? Just how much more evil would Hussein have to become for most people to say, “OK, take him out. Do what you can to minimize the damage to innocents … just take him out.”

And then a splinter group put a stain on the march.

Didn’t shoot much today, but here a couple that turned my crank.

guernica_tb.jpg (Click)

mullets_tb.jpg (Click)

To clarify: I still feel that, as weblogsky puts it, “American power [has been] hijacked by a minority of individuals with potentially disastrous results from which it may take decades to recover.”

Music: Can :: Flow Motion

20 Replies to “Bush != Fascist”

  1. Interesting you should feel like that – I got almost the opposite feeling from the London protest. For a while now I’ve been less inclined to go to demonstrations, as I’ve seen more and more of them hijacked by the kind of nutters you mention. However, for the first time in years (possibly in my entire life) this was really an across-the-spectrum protest, everyone was there from the usual suspects to quiet little grandmothers to usually rabid right-wingers, Palestinian militants to Israeli peaceniks. It was wonderful.

  2. hi scot!

    this is what i think. posted it on nemo too ;)

    In 1930 someone burnt down the german parliament, the Reichstag.
    Though no one was never brought to justice for the deed
    Hitler cleverly used the situation to accuse and blame communists, jews,
    homosexuals and unionists. With broad public consent he suspended
    civil rights and liberties and beefed up his war machine enormously.
    He then went into war aggressions and the rest is history.

    I think this is the parallell many many ppl feel is adequate to argue
    against the Bush administration. I havn’t seen anyone making a case
    against Bush re ethnic cleansing.

  3. some might find this site interesting: http://www.truthlaidbear.com/

    It’s a “Cross-blog Iraq Debate” that gives room for both pro-war and anti-war arguments, instead of providing yet another like-minded blog for group A or group B to visit and regurgitate the same information.

  4. re your posting a pic of the guernica banner – you know the back story right? i’m vague on it, but the other day at the UN or at a bush press conference or something they COVERED an existing repro mural of guernica.

    i still don’t see *any* worthwhile reason (hey – my scoot gets good mileage. i’ll pay 4 bucks a gallon) why we should be contemplating this war.

    but will check out the site above.

    i don’t mind people calling bush a fascist. close enough. certainly closer to the mark than HIS rhetoric.

  5. I don’t think you can call America a fascist state yet, nor Bush’s administration. The thing to remember tho – and I get this line of thought mostly from Hannah Arendt’s _Origins of Totalitarianism_ – is that the totalitarian state works by (a) gradually ratcheting up the restrictions on freedom and (b) maintaining concentric circles of party allegiance. The center is maximum commitment (the Fuehrer) and proceeds through loyal party members (the SS) through non-party members (outside the circle). Everyone in the circle has someone further in to look up to and aspire to, and someone further out to consider as enemies, or scorn for not belonging. (FWIW cults work this exact same way.)

    You can have an authoritarian state that is not totalitarian (ie. tactic A without tactic B). From what I can see now we are at this stage — administration becoming more authoritarian, but no tendency to the kind of inner-circle self-definition tack that is so dangerous. That’s the actual government. I think some right-wing pundits (Sean Hannity, probably Ann Coulter) are thinking in terms of the concentric circles though, and that scares me plenty.

    Also, don’t forget Goodwin’s Law.. it applies in real life too, not just on Usenet!

  6. chris – we may not be there yet, but the smell is in the air enough to float yogi bear to the picnic basket.

    **************************

    speaking of bears…just went to truth laid bear. what did i see on the prowar side? a bunch of people who seemed to be saying that this is a preemptive war , not an aggressive war, all the while their definitions of such totally contradicting themselves. i can’t believe that people suck up bush’s rhetoric the way they do. folks, this isn’t about anything more than the economy — keeping our minds off it (and maybe securing extra petroleum while we can conveniently justify the aggression).

    does anyone really think that hussein will use WMD while inspectors are there? and that he WON’T use them if we start invading? oh – and i’m getting much more scared by north korea, and bush’s rhetoric is just as *helpful* in that situation.

  7. Followup… Scot wrote in his orig post: “The left is often criticized for knee-jerk politics and irrational, emotional responses.”

    Often criticized by whom?
    Conservatives?
    Of *course* they’d paint the left as emotional knee-jerkers.

    From my perspective on the left, it’s those on the right who look irrational and emotional.

    So the characterization doesn’t hold water, as it applies equally to both sides of the debate.

    Just trying to take back some basic assumptions that have been hijacked by the right (see the phrase “liberal media” f’rinstance)..

  8. Anyone tempted to call the U.S. a fascist state, I invite you to spend some time talking to someone who has actually lived under Pol Pot, or Hussein, or hell, even Castro (though I don’t think he’s in the same league as the world’s most infamous freedom squashers. Look : We got to march in the streets against our own government without freedom of reprisal. This is NOT a fascist state. It just isn’t.

    baald, I hadn’t heard about Guernica being covered up, but I see it here:

    http://victoria.indymedia.org/news/2003/02/11748.php

    Frightening.

    Not sure what you mean when you say this war isn’t about anything but the economy : Wall St. is scared shitless – this war is going to be terrible for the economy. As for securing extra petroleum, that’s a post for another day – I’d like to see whether people really think we intend to hijack entire oil fields. Seems implausible to me.

    Chris: Yes, that’s how the right paints the left. All I was saying was that at the protest, that characterization seemed accurate, and I *don’t want to give them that satisfaction*.

  9. I thought it was a little eerie that Bush said this yesterday:

    As for the protests around the world by millions of people opposed to war with Iraq, Bush said they were irrelevant to his duty to protect America.

    “Size of protest, it’s like deciding, ‘Well I’m going to decide policy based up on a focus group.’ The role of a leader is to decide policy based upon the security _ in this case _ security of the people,” he said.

    and then today Salon ran a piece quoting an Iraqi:

    A local political analyst who is normally much more cautious says angrily, “What kind of government is this? It drags its people into all kinds of dangerous adventures without even consulting us.”

  10. i mean that our economy sucks and if americans are preoccupied with war, they don’t have mental resources to bitch about the economy. damn right wall street is concerned about it. most americans have been concerned about for a while too. and aren’t most polls showing americans more concerned about the economy thatn about getting rid of hussein? (that might be a few weeks old….)

    i find it hard to believe that an administration that is almost completely staffed by (ex) oil magnates (and other friends of big business who are in bed w/ petroleum companies) isn’t concerned about oil. will they ‘hijack’ the oil fields? well, that depends on whether or not you consider installing a puppet government (and that *will* happen, won’t it? i maen doesn’t it always? actually….wasn’t hussein one of our former puppets? or am i confusing things…?) that is friendly to the US and liberal with its trade policies ‘hijacking’.

    no one here said the US *is* a fascist state. just that we worry that the tendencies are there. the precursors. the enzymes waiting for a few cofactors to come along…

  11. Noam Chomsky says it really, really well in this article, which everyone should read.

    http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=11&ItemID=2938

    some apropos snips:

    “Right now, Washington is teaching the world a very ugly and dangerous lesson: if you want to defend yourself from us, you had better mimic North Korea and pose a credible military threat, including WMD.”

    “the current political leaders… are replaying a familiar script: drive the country into deficit so as to be able to undermine social programs, declare a “war on terror” (as they did in 1981) and conjure up one devil after another to frighten the population into obedience.”

    “The timing of the Washington-London propaganda campaign was so transparent that it too has been a topic of discussion, and sometimes ridicule, right in the mainstream. The campaign began in September of last year. Before that, Saddam was a terrible guy, but not an imminent threat to the survival of the US. The “mushroom cloud” was announced in early September. Since then, fear that Saddam will attack the US has been running at about 60-70% of the population. “The desperate urgency about moving rapidly against Iraq that Bush expressed in October was not evident from anything he said two months before,” the chief political analyst of United Press International observed, drawing the obvious conclusion: September marked the opening of the political campaign for the mid-term congressional elections.”

  12. baald, no, Saddam’s not one of our ex-puppets, he’s homegrown from the Ba’ath regime that overthrew the post-Brit monarchy (in fits and starts) in the ’60s. We did supply him with his chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war in the 80s, but that’s about it. For what it’s worth, Osama got about as much help from Uncle Sam as Saddam did.

  13. re: the emotional lefties… I heard about some parents carrying signs saying “Think of the children” or somesuch. When I hear that, I reach for my gun. Please promise me you and Amy won’t ever make a social or political argument based on “think of the children!”

    (Spouting off at the mouth today! Are you sick of me yet?)

  14. ok thanks for clarifying chris. but isn’t he like the only bad guy in the world that we didn’t install ? ;)

    (oh ok. i know. we can’t be EVERYWHERE at once… just central and south america and here and there in asia, right?)

    in seriousness, puppet is too strong a word for what i meant. ie, there must have been some quid that wouldn’t have happened were it not for the quo we threw him. would he be in the same place had the US not helped arm him against iran? and didn’t US policy re the shah help lead to the revolution and and didn’t the revolution have something to do w/ the iran-iraq war? my knowledge of the history is fuzzy (and what i do know is usually gleaned from paranoid hacks) , but it seems to me that somewhere the good ol US definitely had a hand in the course of things. maybe not as pupetteer. maybe not even as bedfellow. but there’s a gloryhole somewhere in the mix that’s seen some use.

    re chomsky: yeah, what he said.

  15. Chris, it’s interesting that I heard people before this latest protest talk about it being pointless to attend because Bush had already said in so many words that he didn’t care what the public thought. Jolly olde philosopher king, him.

    baald, sure we intend to occupy after the invasion, and sure it’s possible that we could end up closer to the oil source, but to milk that would be such a bald-faced game that we’d never get away with it in the international court. Invasion and slaughter is okay maybe, but stealing… ?!?! ;)

    Chris, you have my word about “Think of the children” posters. There’s a similar billboard on Telegraph right now… a young girl whose dad is in jail for smoking medicinal pot, playing the “Think of the children” card. Agree with the principle but don’t dig the Hallmark card.

  16. bush has clearly stated his administration’s intetions (if one cares to look away from the propaganda machine then one can get a better pictue)- before he became elected.

    Part of it’s laid out in the National Security Strategy, a
    document in which each administration outlines its approach to
    defending the country. The Bush administration plan, released Sept.
    20, marks a significant departure from previous approaches, a change
    that it attributes largely to the attacks of Sept. 11.
    To address the terrorism threat, the president’s report lays out
    a newly aggressive military and foreign policy, embracing
    pre-emptive attack against perceived enemies. It speaks in blunt
    terms of what it calls “American internationalism,” of ignoring
    international opinion if that suits U.S. interests. “The best
    defense is a good offense,” the document asserts.
    It dismisses deterrence as a Cold War relic and instead talks of
    “convincing or compelling states to accept their sovereign
    responsibilities.”
    In essence, it lays out a plan for permanent U.S. military and
    economic domination of every region on the globe, unfettered by
    international treaty or concern. And to make that plan a reality, it
    envisions a stark expansion of our global military presence.
    “The United States will require bases and stations within and
    beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia,” the document warns, “as
    well as temporary access arrangements for the long-distance
    deployment of U.S. troops.”
    The report’s repeated references to terrorism are misleading,
    however, because the approach of the new National Security Strategy
    was clearly NOT inspired by the events of Sept. 11. They can be
    found in much the same language in a report issued in September 2000
    by the Project for the New American Century, a group of conservative
    interventionists outraged by the thought that the United States
    might be forfeiting its chance at a global empire.
    “At no time in history has the international security order been
    as conducive to American interests and ideals,” the report said.
    stated two years ago. “The challenge of this coming century is to
    preserve and enhance this ‘American peace.’ ”

    overall, that 2000 report reads like a blueprint for current Bush
    defense policy. Most of what it advocates, the Bush administration
    has tried to accomplish. For example, the project report urged the
    repudiation of the anti-ballistic missile treaty and a commitment to
    a global missile defense system. The administration has taken that
    course.
    It recommended that to project sufficient power worldwide to
    enforce Pax Americana, the United States would have to increase
    defense spending from 3 percent of gross domestic product to as much
    as 3.8 percent. For next year, the Bush administration has requested
    a defense budget of $379 billion, almost exactly 3.8 percent of GDP.

    It advocates the “transformation” of the U.S. military to meet
    its expanded obligations, including the cancellation of such
    outmoded defense programs as the Crusader artillery system. That’s
    exactly the message being preached by Rumsfeld and others.
    It urges the development of small nuclear warheads “required in
    targeting the very deep, underground hardened bunkers that are being
    built by many of our potential adversaries.” This year the GOP-led
    U.S. House gave the Pentagon the green light to develop such a
    weapon, called the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, while the Senate
    has so far balked.
    That close tracking of recommendation with current policy is
    hardly surprising, given the current positions of the people who
    contributed to the 2000 report.
    Paul Wolfowitz is now deputy defense secretary. John Bolton is
    undersecretary of state. Stephen Cambone is head of the Pentagon’s
    Office of Program, Analysis and Evaluation. Eliot Cohen and Devon
    Cross are members of the Defense Policy Board, which advises
    Rumsfeld. I. Lewis Libby is chief of staff to Vice President Dick
    Cheney. Dov Zakheim is comptroller for the Defense Department.
    ‘Constabulary duties’
    Because they were still just private citizens in 2000, the
    authors of the project report could be more frank and less
    diplomatic than they were in drafting the National Security
    Strategy. Back in 2000, they clearly identified Iran, Iraq and North
    Korea as primary short-term targets, well before President Bush
    tagged them as the Axis of Evil. In their report, they criticize the
    fact that in war planning against North Korea and Iraq, “past
    Pentagon wargames have given little or no consideration to the force
    requirements necessary not only to defeat an attack but to remove
    these regimes from power.”

    let us not forget that the bush administration represents the extreme right of american politics . his domestic social policy is ferocious and violent – pro death penalty, pro censorship, anti abortion and women’s rights, anti welfare, pro big buisness and pro military; in short; he represents the begining of fascism in the usa.
    this is a war against the un. most arab states are offended not by american freedoms but by the us backing of ruthless dictatorships and us sponsored terror. bush is from the same mold as mcarthy and nixon. he is no dove.

    To preserve the Pax Americana, the report says U.S. forces will
    be required to “demand American political leadership rather than that of the United
    Nations.” To meet those responsibilities, and to ensure that no country
    dares to challenge the United States, the report advocates a much
    larger military presence spread over more of the globe, in addition
    to the roughly 130 nations in which U.S. troops are already
    deployed.
    More specifically, they argue that the us needs permanent military
    bases in the Middle East, in Southeast Europe, in Latin America and
    in Southeast Asia, where no such bases now exist. That helps to
    explain another of the mysteries of our post-Sept. 11 reaction, in
    which the Bush administration rushed to install U.S. troops in
    Georgia and the Philippines, as well as our eagerness to send
    military advisers to assist in the civil war in Colombia.
    The 2000 report directly acknowledges its debt to a still earlier
    document, drafted in 1992 by the Defense Department. That document
    had also envisioned the United States as a colossus astride the
    world, imposing its will and keeping world peace through military
    and economic power.
    Candidate Bush certainly did not campaign on such a change. It is
    not something that he or others have dared to discuss honestly with
    the American people. To the contrary, in his foreign policy debate
    with Al Gore, Bush pointedly advocated a more humble foreign policy,
    a position calculated to appeal to voters leery of military
    intervention.
    now bush is lying to the world. wake up!

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