Wieners at the Pier
May 3, 2003
By Joe Vecchio
May of last year, before the 2002 elections and before we
began talking about bombing Iraq, I wrote an article called
For The River To Catch Fire where I talked about how Americans
tended to wait until the last minute to fix things if they
got out of hand. At the time, I would have thought the events
of the 2000 elections would have been enough to get people
motivated, and I was hoping that the 2002 midterm elections
would go against the Bush regime, giving them some serious
opposition and forcing them to be less arrogant and more responsible.
When that failed to materialize, I hoped that the huge protests
against the invasion of Iraq would begin to motivate a sleeping
public to change things or to demand greater accountability
from our government. Again, I was wrong. The "war" has since
come and gone quickly, and the ones that perpetrated it are
basking in the glow of victory, as a bunch of drunken, low-class
thugs might celebrate kicking a homeless man to death. The
river has long since caught fire, but instead of racing to
put it out and trying to fix the problem so that it doesn't
happen again, we seem to be enjoying it. In fact, we're sitting
on the pier roasting weiners and singing songs. Do we worry
that the fire is going to burn our own houses down sooner
ot later? Nah, that'd never happen to us.
Analogies aside, what's sad about what's going on in this
country is that not only are most people ignorant of the fact
that the Bush regime has lied about its intentions from the
beginning (and I don't mean just the invasion of Iraq), they
don't seem to care when they do find out. You'd think that,
once thngs reached a certain point, enough people would get
motivated enough to say "OK that's it, everybody out of the
pool!" but instead we're being faced with a chorus of "We
rock, you suck, dude!" and "Yeah, whatever." Given those amounts
of arrogant support and almost criminal apathy, it's no wonder
the powers that be can feel free to assume they're invincible,
and we who remain steadfastly opposed seem powerless in the
face of the enormous forces working against us. "If only the
people would wake up," we keep saying, "then we can put an
end to all of this." But we may have to face up to the fact
that the people aren't going to wake up any time soon, or
even worse, that they have no intention of doing so. Maybe
this is the America they want, after all.
Whenever you watch history films of Nazi Germany, you never
get a real sense of time. While certainly big events came
and went quickly, there were years of buildup before they
got to those points. And you could imagine that during all
that time, many Germans were not entirely aware of the scope
of what was happening. They may or may not have been supporters
of Adolph Hitler or the Nazi Party, but for the most part
they remained unaffected by a lot of it until the war started
to go against them, and the Allies came. I think you can say
the same for a lot of Americans now: most people in this country
aren't supporting George W. Bush, but they may support some
of the things going on because they think they're being done
for their own safety. Remember, more than half of the country
didn't even vote in 2000 or 2002, they're not hardcore supporters
of either party, and they think what we on the left do is
no different from what those on the right do. And they're
not very likely to get overly concerned about it because for
the most part they haven't really been affected by it, yet.
John Ashcroft? Who's he? PATRIOT Act? What's that? Who cares?
He won't be coming after me. Iraqi children? Sorry, stuff
happens in a war. Oh well.
Unfortunately, since the left has used the fascist card once
too often, no one will believe us now that it may have actually
arrived. For example, a friend of mine delved into a message
forum I frequent, with the topic being the upcoming war with
Syria. I won't go into the details, but basically when he
brought up similarities between what we're doing and Nazi
Germany any further arguments were immediately dismissed,
because the idea of that sort of thing happening here in the
United States of America is unthinkable. I used to think that,
too, but lately there have been too many trends and eerie
similarities between the US and the European fascist states
of the twenties and thirties.
Free Inquiry magazine recently printed an article by political
scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt, who studied the fascist regimes
of Germany, Italy, Spain, Indonesia and Chile. In this article
he points out fourteen "identifying characteristics" of fascism.
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos,
slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are
seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the
people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights
can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people
tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary
executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners,
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over
the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial
, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists,
4. Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military
is given a disproportionate amount of government funding,
and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military
service are glamorized.
5. Rampant Sexism
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively
male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender
roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high,
as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
6. Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government,
but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by
government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and
executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common
religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion.
Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government
leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically
opposed to the government's policies or actions.
9. Corporate Power is Protected
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation
often are the ones who put the government leaders into power,
creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship
and power elite.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat
to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated
entirely, or are severely suppressed .
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility
to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for
professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested.
Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments
often refuse to fund the arts.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless
power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook
police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name
of patriotism. There is often a national police force with
virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends
and associates who appoint each other to government positions
and use governmental power and authority to protect their
friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist
regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated
or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham.
Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against
or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation
to control voting numbers or political district boundaries,
and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically
use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
Looking carefully at that list, you can see at least one
example of each item occurring on a pretty regular basis.
Flags on car antennae. Reporters being fired for speaking
out. Dissenting voices being ridiculed. Bechtel and Halliburton.
Questionable election results and new technology that makes
it easier fo fix elections. All of these things are happening
right now, but you couldn't get most Americans to believe
it. For us, the river caught fire a long time ago, and it
represents a threat to our very lives. We see it as a destructive
fire, our opponents see it as the fire that lights the way
to victory, and the masses either don't see it or don't understand
what it means, or don't even care. If we fail to motivate
them to care, does that reflect on our beliefs or on our abilities?
Rome stopped being a Republic and became an Empire in part
because the people of Rome no longer wished the burden of
self-government, and the same thing is happening here. People
are too busy with their own lives to worry about what the
government is doing, and so by default they cede power to
people who have a vision of their own, and these people have
both the skill and the power to make that vision a reality.
Many of us, including myself, would have preferred not to
have gotten involved, but having seen what we have seen, we
just cannot ignore what's happening. There is still a flickering
hope that we can take back what is ours, but that window of
opportunity is closing fast. We must unite, and we must act.
And we must remember what Lincoln said:
"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate for the stormy
present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we
must rise to the occasion. As our case is new, so we must
think anew, and act anew. We must disentrall ourselves, and
then we shall save our country.We can not escape history.
We will be remembered, in spite of ourselves. The fiery trial
through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor,
to the last generation. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose
our last best hope of Earth."