Is Bush Another Hitler?

by DAVE LINDORFF

 

Is George W. Bush another Hitler?

James Taranto, writing in the Wall Street Journal, offered up an offhand dismissal of Counterpunch as “an outfit whose staple is stuff comparing Bush to Hitler,” which seems to suggest he thinks the very notion is beyond the pale of civil discourse.

But stay. As one of the first to notice some similarities between Bush II and the early Hitler, I didn’t actually say that George and Adolf were joined at the hip. Indeed, I suggested in my Counterpunch article back on Feb. 1, during the high-pressure White House drive to war in Iraq, that our unelected president was surely no Hitler, since “Bush simply is not the orator that Hitler was.” More importantly, I didn’t equate Bush with Hitler because there are some other big differences between the two.

So far, for example, while he has rounded up some Arab and Muslim men purely because of their ethnicity or religion, Bush has not started gassing them–at least not yet. What I did say, however (and I think subsequent events have proven me even more correct than did the events that had occurred prior to Feb..1), is that some of the tactics of the Bush administration resemble those of Hitler and his Brownshirts. I would go further and add that Bush’s attorney general, John Ashcroft, a man who has pointedly praised the old Confederacy, would probably feel quite comfortable in brown with a hakenkreuz tacked to his sleeve.

What are some of the Nazi-like tactics of the Bush administration?

Let’s start with war-mongering. The American Heritage Dictionary, no bastion of leftism, defines fascism as “A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”

Now we may not yet have a dictatorship, but we do have the extreme right with a solid lock on power in Washington today, and a glance at the top echelon of the Bush administration makes it clear that there is not just a merger, there’s a thorough melding of state and business leadership in this administration. As for belligerent nationalism, what else is one to call a war of aggression like the one against Iraq, especially now that it’s clear what most thinking people realized before the war even started–that Iraq had no significant offensive military capability, much less weapons of mass destruction. It was all a massive lie deliberately designed to scare the living crap out of an already nervous American public, so that they would accept the ongoing assault on the Bill of Rights being masterminded by Ashcroft. That strategy was vintage Goebbels.

Then there’s the suspension of habeas corpus, right to counsel, and a host of other civil liberties. When American citizens like Jose Padilla can be clapped into prison–a military prison at that–with no charges filed, no access to friends or relatives, and no right to talk to a lawyer, we have crossed a line into fascist territory. Maybe we haven’t reached the point of wholesale mass arrests and concentration camps (though even that, reportedly, is being contemplated by the proto-fascist Ashcroft, and we know who appointed that right-wing religious zealot and racist to his post), but once the principle of arrest without charge or trial is accepted by the courts, the move to camps is a quantitative, not a qualitative step. I would note that, Guantanamo, where hundreds of Afghan combattants have been languishing in horriffic conditions, is being turned into a concentration camp, and Bush has ordered the establishment of a kangaroo-court military tribunal assemblyline that ends with a gas chamber and execution, so maybe even that parallel will prove prescient.

What is particularly troubling about the Bush administration’s enthusiastic foray into preventative detention and arrest without charge is that it is also appointing wholesale a group of federal judges at all levels who have little or no respect for such niceties as habeas corpus or the right to face one’s accuser. Eventually, if this process continues, victims of Ashcroft’s mad vendetta against civil rights and liberties will have no one to turn to but equally rightwing and perverse jurists like Antonin Scalia and his adoring acolyte Clarence Thomas.

It’s worth pointing out too that Hitler was not the monster of 1939 when he took power in 1933. Indeed, when he first came to power, in the wake of the Reichstag fire, a traumatized nation saw him as a savior of the German government, which at the time was a parliamentary democracy. Even as he began ratcheting down the rights of the citizenry, and as his brownshirted minions and his gestapo began oppressing certain unpopular minorities and political enemies on the left, there were many, including in the United States, who saw Der Fuhrer positively (Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh come immediately to mind). So the fact that the Bush administration is not at this point a fascist government should not preclude or deter us from examining its behavior for evidence of fascist-like behavior.

The fundamental difference I see between the Germany of the middle 1930s and the America of today is that, even as many Americans sit on their sofas and absorb the propaganda that passes for news on their TV sets, there remains a vestigial notion of democracy and civil liberties, the legacy of over two centuries of American civil society. A significant percentage of Americans–certainly far greater than in Hitler’s Germany in the years before World War II–are troubled by the current trampling of democracy and the Bill of Rights, as attested by the wave of towns and cities and even state governments which have passed statutes protecting the Bill of Rights against the Aschroft-inspired onslaught of the Patriot Act.

So let’s make ourselves clear here. George Bush is not Hitler. Yet. America is not a fascist state. Yet. John Ashcroft isSwell, let’s not go there. The attorney general, a man whose claim to fame is having lost an election to a dead man, is perhaps the leading edge of a drive in that direction.

Wall Street Journal commentator Taranto may mock Counterpunch and other publications that point to fascist tendencies in the current administration, but he had his forebears aplenty in 1930s Germany, where the newspapers of the day were awash in apologists for Chancellor Hitler’s gradual assumption of dictatorial powers. These pundits, like Taranto and his ilk, failed or were unwilling to see where things were heading, and justified the obvious erosion of freedom and democracy in the name of combating the scourge of terrorism and revolution, as well as the threat of the “other” posed by such undesirables as the Jews and the Gypsies. Today’s American counterparts of these apologists, like Taranto, justify the setting aside of long-standing civil liberties in the name of combating terror and dealing with such undesirables as the Middle Eastern immigrants in our midst.

Calling attention to the parallels with the demise of Weimar Germany and the rise of Hitler is hardly out of line.

It is what we should be seeing more of in the “respectable” media.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. A collection of Lindorff’s stories can be found here: http://www.nwuphilly.org/dave.html

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 30, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Iowa Conference on Presidential Politics
July 29, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey
Joshua Frank
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon
Conn Hallinan
Ukraine: Close to the Edge
Stephen Lendman
What Happened to Ralkina Jones? Another Jail Cell Death
Rob Wallace
Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak
Dmitry Rodionov
The ‘Ichkerization’ Crime Wave in Ukraine
Joyce Nelson
Scott Walker & Stephen Harper: a New Bromance
Bill Blunden
The Red Herring of Digital Backdoors and Key Escrow Encryption
Thomas Mountain
The Sheepdog Politics of Barack Obama
Farzana Versey
A President and a Yogi: Abdul Kalam’s Symbolism
Norman Pollack
America’s Decline: Internal Structural-Cultural Subversion
Foday Darboe
How Obama Failed Africa
Cesar Chelala
Russia’s Insidious Epidemic
Tom H. Hastings
Defending Democracy
David Macaray
Why Union Contracts are Good for the Country
Virginia Arthur
The High and Dry Sierras
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, the Season Finale, Mekonception in Redhook
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder