Pro-Democracy Means Anti-Fascism
September 28, 2007
by Cindy Sheehan
“The world is watching the people of Burma take to the streets to demand their freedom, and the American people stand in solidarity with these brave individuals,” – George W. Bush
Watching the pro-democracy marches in Burma both inspires and sickens me. I am inspired by seeing thousands of red-robed monks leading the demonstrations and sickened by the violence they are being met with by the military.
Seeing the images of the monks and others being beaten reminds me of the Democratic Convention in 1968 where Chicago police beat the living daylights out of demonstrators who were there to try and force the party to come closer to the budding anti-war movement. It didn’t work. Instead of wonderful pro-peace candidate, Eugene McCarthy, the party nominated Johnson’s VP, Hubert Humphrey. We know what happened next: Nixon. After last night’s Democratic “debate” I am terrified and assured that the Democrats will have another pro-war nominee.
The other event in my memory that the pro-democracy movement in Burma reminds me of is Kent State, Ohio in May, 1970. Four students were killed and nine were wounded marching against escalation of the Vietnam debacle.. I have heard from many people who were of age to protest the Vietnam war at that time that the killings had the affect of frightening them into not protesting, or scaling their protests back.
Of course the present state of our nation is not as overtly oppressive as the government of Myanmar (Burma), presently where a Nobel Peace Laureate Aung Sang Suu Kyi has been under house arrest there for years, but we who have been paying attention to events can see that America is on the precipice of serious fascism and only the brave actions of Americans committed to freedom, democracy and peace will help stem the tide of this rising neo-fascism that doesn’t march through our streets in goose-step and swastikas, but is creeping into our lives like cat’s paws.
According to Chris Rowthorn, in his brilliant article, When America Went Fascist, we went fascist on December 11, 2000 when the Supreme Court appointed George as our unelected, un-democratic and illegal President. Although it is easy and tempting to blame everything on BushCo, this is about the only assertion that I disagree with in his article.
What about during the Clinton regime? Does anyone remember Elian Gonzales or The Branch Davidians in Waco? Let’s go back further. What about when Truman dropped to WMD on hundreds of thousands of innocent victims in Japan? What about Korea? Eisenhower and the Military Industrial Complex? What about the Gulf of Tonkin? What about Watergate? What about Panama? Kosovo? Nicaragua? Free trade agreements that hurt workers in all countries that are involved in them and what about the abuse of language in this country: Patriot Act; Homeland Security; Clear Water and Clean Skies—and the No Child Left Behind Act that leaves every child behind and is just a funnel to the recruiter’s office?
There are just a few measures that we can use to stop this slide and Rowthorn articulates what has become an important part of my platform. Only vote for candidates that promise the following things…for president, or any other federal elective offices:
- Repeal the Patriot Act
- Repeal No Child Left Behind
- Scale down the Department of Homeland Security and rename it so it loses its Nazi
tone and is brought under civilian control.
- Restore habeas corpus and close all torture camps by repealing the Military Commissions’ Act.
- Repeal all contracts with paid mercenary killer companies.
- Restore the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.
- Repeal all BushCo-Presidential directives (especially Directive 51) and review all laws that contain signing statements.
- Restore the 4th Amendment by enforcing warrants for spying on Americans.
- Impeach Bush and Cheney-post presidency so they can’t receive federal benefits.
- Bring all troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan and review military needs for other bases around the world.
- Repeal all free trade agreements.
- Kick AIPAC and other lobbyists out of the halls of Congress where they have no business.
One of the most profound ways we can stop this descent into fascism is by impeaching, removing from office and incarcerating George Bush and Dick Cheney, et al. I am very skeptical of a complicit Congress, Inc doing anything about them in this term. I am also very skeptical of a “professional” and fascist military leadership taking their oath of service seriously and above their corporate-military allegiance to the Executive Branch recently and so tellingly revealed by General Betray-Us, so a military coup is out of the question and has the tricky element of becoming a military dictatorship.
I was supposed to be in court today in Washington, DC for my last arrest. I didn’t go because I am not under allegiance and repudiate the fascists that run our government and the enforcers who are doing their best Nazi-job of “following orders” in oppressing our rights as Americans.
Why are they beating up a Reverend who served in the Air Force, and honorably left after the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq, for wanting to attend a hearing in Congress?
Why are they arresting a Gold Star Mother for exercising the very freedoms for which George Bush freakishly says her son died?
Why are my daughter and assistant under indictment for Contempt of Congress when BushCo have steadily refused to testify before committees under oath, or any other way? As a matter of fact, Betray-Us wasn’t even put under oath that day in the House.
Why are college students being tasered for asking the same questions that we all want answered from John Kerry who threw our Representative Republic in the garbage along with the 2004 election?
Why are nooses being hung in the South?
Why do any of us pay our Federal Taxes to a government that we abhor and which we adamantly disagree with? Why do we allow our hard earned money to be used for murder and oppression?
Why is Congress giving BushCo more authority to begin a New World War?
Where are religious leaders to lead us in pro-democracy demonstrations? Most of our mainstream religions suffer from the same neo-fascism that our governmental leaders suffer from.
Why do we march in DC on Saturdays and get arrested just to get arrested? It’s time to descend on DC on a weekday and make commitments to our world and our posterity to over throw this fascism right now?
When can we have a country-wide massive general strike?
Recent reports show that Saddam made overtures to America through the UAE and Spain to go into exile weeks before the March, 2003 invasion of Iraq. Of course, the overtures were rejected because George’s small mind was already made up to invade Iraq before he became president in some sick way to either show up or gain approval from a dysfunctional family. What if Spain’s former President Aznar had spoken up then? What if Colin Powell, George Tenet, or any of the criminal neocons had spoken up to prevent this horrible loss of life and pain before it even started?
I wouldn’t be under a bench warrant right now. Rev wouldn’t be recovering from a badly sprained ankle. Casey would be alive and hundreds of thousands of others would be alive.
We can’t count on anyone but ourselves. It’s now up to we the people to follow the example of our brothers and sisters in Burma to courageously confront the anti-democracy/pro-fascist elements of our society.
When America Went Fascist
Sep 25 2007
By Chris Rowthorn
“Fascism: a system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator”
— The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000
It is a truism in the blogosphere that one more terrorist attack will turn America into a fascist state. People speculate about what fascism in America will look like, or how they might fight it. Others boast that they plan to flee the country ahead of the coming fascist takeover of the United States. One cannot read these posts without a sense of bitter irony, because one thing is clear to those who are watching carefully:
The United States of America is already a fascist state.
The United States turned fascist on December 11, 2000. On that day, the Supreme Court essentially appointed George W. Bush president of the United States, stopping the recount of Florida votes, and, hence, the democratic process. The justices of the court then slipped away by night, ashamed of their role in murdering America’s great experiment in democratic rule.
The Supreme Court decision of December 11, 2000 is the modern American equivalent to German President Hindenburg’s swearing in of Hitler as chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. By swearing in Hitler as chancellor, Hindenburg set in motion a process which led to the Nazi dictatorship and World War II. In the case of the Nazis, the Reichstag fire of February 27, 1933 was the catalyst they needed to cement their grip on power. In the case of Bush and his backers, the tragedy of September 11, 2001 was the catalyst they needed to complete their full takeover of the American government.
When one looks at present-day America and reads plaintive musings about if and when America will turn fascist, it is useful to ask oneself the following question: When do you think the average German realized that he or she was living under a fascist dictatorship? How about the Japanese or Italians of the same period? Do you think that Hitler, Mussolini or Tojo made a public announcement to the effect of, “Dear Citizens: Please be advised that you no longer have any rights or political power. We have taken control of the government. Opposition and resistance are futile and will be punished.”
The fact is, most of the “good” citizens of these countries clung desperately to the notion that it was business as usual long after constitutional government was dead and buried. Sure, they knew that their governments were a little further to the right than normal, but as long as they kept earning money and eating well, they ignored the grim realities of fascism.
It’s easy to understand why: the “good” citizens weren’t members of officially scapegoated groups or political activists, and thus they never felt the iron first of fascism. It’s not like the government just suddenly started rounding up people at random and trucking them off to camps and executing them. No, it was only the “bad ones” who were carted off. It was the John Walker Lindhs, the Jose Padillas, the illegal immigrants and the Muslim Americans of their day who were carted off.
In fact, for the average citizen of Germany, Japan or Italy, it was only when the military adventures of their fascist governments started to go seriously awry did the reality dawn on them. Until then, if anything, they merely felt the stirrings of extreme patriotism and perhaps even satisfaction as their countries expanded outward. Indeed, for many, it was only when their countries lay in ashes did they fully understand what had happened. Only then could they see that a kind of cancer had run wild in their countries and come perilously close to destroying them.
In 2007, the average American is in exactly the same position as the typical German, Japanese or Italian citizen of the early to mid-1930s. Unless you happen to be a Muslim, a left-wing political activist, or a regular reader of left-wing political websites or journals, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s business as usual in the United States of America. You rise in the morning, read the morning paper, commute to work, get a paycheck, hit the ATM and watch the usual shows on television in the evening. Sure, we’re officially “at war” but other than a few news stories and the usual yellow ribbons and bumper stickers, this doesn’t really intrude into our realities.
But while all of us go about our lives like nothing has changed, the Constitution of the United States has been suspended, and with it, the democracy that it enshrines. Sure, Bush has never announced that he has suspended the Constitution. Rather, he has subjected it to a death by a thousand cuts. For, at last count, George W. Bush has appended 139 signing statements to laws passed by Congress, containing challenges to over 750 individual laws. These signing statements amount to 139 written declarations that George W. Bush and his allies consider themselves to be unconstrained by the law of the land and the will of the people. Or, to quote Mr. Bush: “(The Constitution) is just a goddamned piece of paper!”
On top of this, the Bush administration has repeatedly ignored subpoenas asking for information and directed aides not to comply with requests for information. And, more broadly, the Bush administration has made it clear that it will respond neither to the will of the people nor the will of Congress. Thus, in word and deed, the Bush administration is a dictatorship. And a country under the rule of a dictator is, at least by the definition at the start of this article, a fascist country.
Thus, in the last seven years, the United States has gone from a weak democracy, in which the people had weak but nominal control over their government, to a system where the government is under the control of “a unitary executive.” And, of course, “unitary executive” is how you say “fuhrer” in modern American English.
Of course, this is not news to those unfortunate Americans who are presently languishing in military prisons without access to lawyers or due process. But, for most Americans, it seems absurd or even hysterical to declare that we are living in a fascist state. Arguments about signing statements, unitary executive theory or past Supreme Court decisions are mere abstractions and gain little traction.
Perhaps this is because fascism is like pornography: it’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Indeed, the best way to distinguish pornography from art is not logical but aesthetic. Similarly, I would suggest that the best way to determine if a country is fascist is not intellectual at all, but aesthetic.
Fascism has a style, a language and a mood all its own. When enough of these outward signs of fascism are present, you can reasonably conclude that the country in question is fascist. For this reason, I have put together this short guide to some of the more obvious distinguishing features of fascism.
A Brief Guide to the Aesthetics of Fascism:
Hypnotized by symbols: Whether it be the swastika of the Nazis, the rising sun of imperial Japan or the fasces of the Italian National Fascist Party, simple, visually striking and endlessly repeated symbols are the “look” of a fascist government. Check out any Bush speaking engagement, from his “mission accomplished” speech on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln to the Republican National Convention, and you will see him surrounded by the Stars and Stripes. And where Nazi leaders wore swastika armbands, American fascists wear American flag pins on their lapels. Sinclair Lewis observed that, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” The symbols may be different, but if it looks like fascism, it’s probably fascism.
Impoverished language: Umberto Eco wrote that, “All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.” George W. Bush’s tortured syntax is perfectly suited to speaking this language. In describing Newspeak, Orwell declared that words will be “not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be.” Bush’s speeches are peppered with words like freedom and democracy, when in fact, he means slavery and tyranny. Moreover, Bush is fond of accusing countries like Iran of illegally interfering in the affairs of other countries, much as Hitler accused other European countries of aggression as his armies overran the continent. The language may be different, but one fact is inescapable: if it sounds like fascism, it’s probably fascism.
Mood of pervasive fear: In Bush’s America, people rightly believe that you may be subject to violence, harassment, arbitrary arrest or even torture if you challenge authority figures or speak out against the government. Since I started writing articles on political topics I have heard the comment repeated time and again: “You’re going to be put on a list.” Americans of all stripes live in fear of their government and few, if any, would dare question any authority figure, even if faced with the most blatant and unwarranted abuse of power. It is a sad fact that Americans are the only people in the developed world where citizens actively fear their own government. The tools of torture may have changed, but the essential fact remains: if it feels like fascism, it’s probably fascism.
The nation as homeland: The exaltation of the nation state as a promised land is perhaps the most basic sign of a fascist state. Twenty years ago, it would have been unimaginable to refer to the United States as a “homeland.” The word would have stuck people as both antiquated and overtly totalitarian. Now, it is bandied about freely and we actually have a Department of Homeland Security. The strikingly fascist overtones of the word itself are troubling enough, but more troubling still is the thinking behind the word: America is an island in a hostile sea, surrounded by enemies who we must either vanquish or be vanquished by. Once again, if it sounds like fascism, it’s probably fascism.
At this point, it is clear that America is in the early stages of fascism; it hasn’t yet metastasized into the outright jackbooted fascism of Nazi Germany. But the country is poised like a boulder at the top of a slope, ready to roll into the abyss. In fact, it will take a miracle to keep this from happening. Consider the factors that could easily unleash outright fascism in the United States: the accelerating collapse of the US dollar; the follow-on effects from the subprime loan debacle; soaring energy prices (peak oil); catastrophic weather events caused by global warming; and, of course, the one thing that Bush’s entire foreign policy seems almost guaranteed to bring about: another large-scale terrorist attack on American soil. Any one of these by itself could trigger outright fascism. Combine two or more, and American fascism is 100% certain.
We must realize that the full machinery of outright fascism is already in place. Private security firms like Blackwater are ready and willing to serve as the new Blackshirts. Patriot Act II has been written and provides the full “legal” framework for completely revoking the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and establishing martial law. The Pentagon has established Northcom to organize military operations in the United States and Canada. The Posse Comitatus Act has been gutted to allow the National Guard to serve in police actions all across the country. And detention centers have been built across the land and plans have been laid to intern millions of Americans.
History teaches that there is a point of no return in the evolution of a fascist state. Once that line is crossed, there is no turning back until the country lies in ashes and millions lie dead both inside and outside the country. If you don’t think it could happen in the United States of America, then you don’t remember how easily Americans let themselves be robbed of their precious civil liberties in the aftermath of 9-11.
Thus, a presidential candidate who does not make restoration of constitutional government the centerpiece of his or her campaign should not even be considered. The first and most pressing order of business must be to repeal the Patriot Act in its entirety. Provisions that Democratic lawmakers deem essential to national security can be restored on a piece-by-piece basis as parts of other legislation. The Military Commissions Act of 2006, which suspended habeas corpus, must be repealed. The Department of Homeland Security must be downsized and brought under full and transparent civilian control.
In the longer term, meaningful campaign finance reform and public funding for elections must be enacted in order to put political power back into the hands of the people and to take it out of the hands of the Pentagon and allied industries. Because ultimately, it is the military-industrial complex, working with the electoral support of right-wing religious fundamentalists, that is behind American fascism.
A final note:
The least discussed news story of recent history appeared in the New York Times on February 4, 2006:
“The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract worth up to $385 million for building temporary immigration detention centers to Kellogg Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary…KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space.”
Since it seems unlikely that cruise ships loaded with illegal immigrants are likely to wash up on American shores any time soon, one has to wonder what they mean by “new programs that require additional detention space”.
For the love of God, IS THIS AMERICA?
Bush asks for $46 billion more for wars
By ANDREW TAYLOR
President Bush asked Congress on Monday for another $46 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and finance other national security needs. “We must provide our troops with the help and support they need to get the job done,” Bush said.
The figure brings to $196.4 billion the total requested by the administration for operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere for the budget year that started Oct. 1. It includes $189.3 billion for the Defense Department, $6.9 billion for the State Department and $200 million for other agencies.
To date, Congress has already provided more than $455 billion for the Iraq war, with stepped-up military operations running about $10 billion a month. The war has claimed the lives of more than 3,830 members of the U.S. military and more than 73,000 Iraqi civilians.
Bush made his request in the Roosevelt Room after meeting in the Oval Office with leaders of veterans service organizations, a fallen Marine’s family and military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The White House originally asked for $141.7 billion for the Pentagon to prosecute the Iraq and Afghanistan missions and asked for $5.3 billion more in July. The latest request includes $42.3 billion more for the Pentagon — already revealed in summary last month — and is accompanied by a modified State Department request bringing that agency’s total for the 2008 budget year to almost $7 billion.
Bush said any member of Congress who wants to see success in Iraq, and see U.S. troops return home, should strongly support the request.
“I know some in Congress are against the war and are seeking ways to demonstrate that opposition,” Bush said. “I recognize their position and they should make their views heard. But they ought to make sure our troops have what it takes to succeed. Our men and women on the front lines should not be caught the middle of partisan disagreements in Washington, D.C.”
Democrats were not swayed.
“We’ve been fighting for America’s priorities while the president continues investing only in his failed war strategy — and wants us to come up with another $200 billion and just sign off on it?” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. “President Bush should not expect Congress to rubber stamp his latest supplemental request. We’re not going to do that.”
The State Department is requesting $550 million to combat drug trafficking in Mexico and Central America, $375 million for the West Bank and Gaza and $239 million for diplomatic costs in Iraq.
Top House lawmakers have already announced that they do not plan to act on Bush’s request until next year, though they anticipate providing interim funds when completing a separate defense funding bill this fall. Bush asked lawmakers to approve the request before the holidays.
“We must provide our troops with the help and support they need to get the job done,” Bush said. “Parts of this war are complicated, but one part is not, and that is America should do what it takes to support our troops and protect our people.”
Congress already has approved more than $5 billion for new vehicles whose V-shaped undercarriages provide much better protection against mines and roadside bombs. It’s likely that Congress will quickly grant $11 billion more to deliver more than 7,000 of the vehicles.
The delays in submitting the remaining war funding request were in part due to unease among congressional Republicans about receiving it during the veto override battle involving a popular bill reauthorizing a children’s health insurance program.
The request also includes $724 million for U.N. peacekeeping efforts in the war-torn Darfur region in Sudan, $106 million in fuel oil or comparable assistance to North Korea as a reward for the rogue nation’s promises to cease its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Another $350 million would go to fight famine in Africa.
For the Pentagon, the latest request includes:
_$1 billion for military construction projects, including improvements at airfields and other U.S. bases in Iraq.
_$1 billion to expand the Iraqi security forces.
_$1 billion to train National Guard units.
All told, the $189.3 billion Pentagon request for 2008 includes:
_$77 billion for military operations and maintenance.
_$30.5 billion for to protect U.S. forces from roadside bombs, snipers, and other threats.
_$46.5 billion to repair and replace equipment that has been damaged or destroyed in combat or worn out in harsh conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Women send panties to Myanmar in protest
Oct 19, 2007
Women in several countries have begun sending their panties to Myanmar embassies in a culturally insulting gesture of protest against the recent brutal crackdown there, a campaign supporter said Friday.
“It’s an extremely strong message in Burmese and in all Southeast Asian culture,” said Liz Hilton, who supports an activist group that launched the “Panties for Peace” drive earlier this week.
The group, Lanna Action for Burma, says the country’s superstitious generals, especially junta leader Gen. Than Shwe, also believe that contact with women’s underwear saps them of power.
To widespread international condemnation, the military in Myanmar, also known as Burma, crushed mass anti-regime demonstrations recently and continues to hunt down and imprison those who took part.
Hilton said women in Thailand, Australia, Singapore, England and other European countries have started sending or delivering their underwear to Myanmar missions following informal coordination among activist organizations and individuals.
“You can post, deliver or fling your panties at the closest Burmese Embassy any day from today. Send early, send often!” the Lanna Action for Burma Web site urges.
“So far we have had no response from Burmese officials,” Hilton said.