MoveOn Shouldn’t Apologize for Those Ads


You can tell that the Republican Party is more worried than it lets on about the upcoming November election. Today’s shrill attack on the MoveOn.org organization, which the Republican National Committee is accusing–incorrectly and dishonestly–of endorsing two sample political ads which draw comparisons between Hitler and George Bush, demonstrates how much the Bush brain trust fears this remarkably successful populist internet-based organization.

The two ads were actually among some 1000 that were submitted as part of a contest established by MoveOn to come up with strong ads for the 2004 Democratic campaign. They, along with over 1000 others, were submitted to Move.On for consideration. The organization put them all on its website and allowed members to vote for the best. A group of 15 30-second submissions which received the most votes were then posted as finalists.

Neither of the controversial Hitler/Bush ads made that cut, but the RNC went ahead and issued press releases, as well as sending RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie rushing over to Fox TV, to denounce MoveOn for presumably insulting Bush and American Jews.

MoveOn’s Eli Pariser has responded to this GOP assault explaining that clearly the organization never endorsed those ads, and that its membership obviously rejected them. Further, he says MoveOn “regrets the appearance” of the two ads on the MoveOn website, where they were briefly available for viewing along with all the other submissions initially (they’ve been removed now). Interestingly, now that those ads have been pulled by MoveOn, the only place the scripts can be read is on the RNC website (http://www.rnc.org/moveonvideo.htm).

But Pariser shouldn’t be so quick to express his regrets. The truth is that the two ads are pretty darned good. The first shows Hitler in a parade and speaking, followed by scenes of German troops attacking, planes bombing, tanks firing, and victorious troops goose-stepping into occupied territory, as a voiceover says “A nation warped by lies–lies fuel fear–fear fuels aggression–invasion–occupation.” As the scene fades from Hitler giving a raised arm salute to Bush with his hand raised at his inauguration, the voiceover says, “What were war crimes in 1945 is foreign policy in 2003.”

And the truth: The Bush administration deliberately stoked public fears after 9/11–just as the Nazi’s used the Reichstag Fire–to win support for an illegal, unprovoked invasion of Iraq, an act of aggression which, at the Nuremberg Trials, was specifically determined to be a war crime. The ad might have added that the “shock and awe” terror campaign that was the centerpiece of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, was also by definition a war crime, since its target was the Iraqi public.

As for the second controversial ad, it features first a picture of Hitler, speaking in German, with a voiceover translating the lines as “We have taken new measures to protect our homelandSI believe I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.” Then, as Hitler continues to speak, the voiceover says, “God told me to strike Al-Qaeda, and I struck him.” As the picture morphs into George Bush, the voiceover continues, “Sand then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did.” With a picture of cheering Germans in the background, the voiceover concludes, “Sound familiar?”

And the truth here? President Bush did in fact publicly claim divine instruction to have been behind his decisions to invade Afghanistan and later Iraq–a rather scary example, if he is being sincere, of the very kind of megalomania that characterized Hitler.

Were these two ads unfair to either Bush or to the memory of the Holocaust? Hardly.

They were legitimate warnings that the American public is being manipulated by demagoguery, jingoism and the worst kind of lies.

Are they saying that Bush is Hitler? Only to the most simplistic or willfully unimaginative of viewers–that is to say the RNC poobahs. What they are saying is that the same technique used by Hitler and his National Socialist brownshirts to whip up nationalist fervor in Germany in the early and mid 1930s is being employed today by the Bush Administration and the Republican Party, and to the same end–to get the American public to acquiesce in surrendering its democratic rights, to accept one-party rule, and to agree to a national policy of permanent war in the name of American global hegemony.

Obviously the MoveOn crowd was repelled by the bluntness of the two ads, and rejected them, but Pariser needn’t apologize for inspiring their creation.

Both, in their way, are sadly prophetic.

Pariser and MoveOn should be proud that they were produced, happy that the RNC is helping to circulate them, and encouraged that the Republicans are making such a fuss about the whole thing.

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


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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).

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