Wednesday, June 6, 2007

American Fascism?

Shortly after W took office, discussion began among my friends about the resemblance his administration’s approach to governance to the rise of Fascism in Germany in the 30s. I have seen nothing in the years that have passed since then to convince me that this was not a fair characterization.

Yesterday a friend sent me a story that really hits home on the subject. Give it a read and see if you don’t agree. I have written many times on the political chicanery BushCo has employed in its manipulation of public opinion and policy over the years, but have only occasionally brushed up against the role of the press.

In case you didn’t follow the link above, here is an excerpted reference to Nazi Germany: “. . . the news refused to question the government, and the ones who did were not in the newspaper business much longer.”

BushCo is a little more subtle these days, but not all that much. Ask the wrong question at a Bush press conference and a reporter will be relegated to the back row and ignored. Ask too many questions and she will no longer be invited to attend. Hitler’s Brownshirts used to just bomb the offices of newspapers that printed criticism of government policy. BushCo buddies just use ridicule and twisted reporting. FOX “accidentally” reports on television that John Conyers is being tried for fraud and other ethics violations. No one outside of Keith Olberman and Bill Moyers are reporting strong truths about the administration on widely viewed media. Oh, I forgot that Bill Moyers no longer has his Frontline show on PBS, does he? Wonder why that is. You can frequently see him on Democracy Now! on Link TV, but how many people even know that Link exists? Why is Olberman allowed to rant? Well, he isn’t on the network news and allowing one tiny voice accomplishes a couple of things – he can be pointed to as evidence that the press is free to speak its mind and at the same time he can be pointed to as the shrill voice of irrational dissent with the footnote that his irrationality is obvious because his is the only voice saying these things.

Moyers, by the way, is coming back as the PBS token dissenter. Since his suspension from Frontline he has been particularly vocal in his condemnation of the press for its failure to investigate and report on BushCo’s many, many transgressions of law and ethics. He is the strongest and best voice currently speaking to the death of the free press in this country.

A good part of the problem, of course, is the loss of the multiple owners of independent newspapers that used to dot the country. Our press is basically owned by about a half dozen conglomerates these days, and their voice is stringently muted in favor of profits heightened not by critical analysis of administrative policy but by “human interest” stories. After all, it’s so much more fun to follow the twists and turns of Brittany Spears’ pathetic little life than trying to follow the machinations of political manipulations.

Top all this off with the replacement of printed news with TV sound-bites, and there is precious little in-depth information available to people unwilling to do their own research. In this kind of an atmosphere, it is almost embarrassingly simple to wave the flag and sell a few million “support the troops” bumper stickers and have folks feel like that’s all the justification needed to keep a good war going.

In the meantime though, back in the shadows behind the scenes where, thanks to the silent press, domestic freedoms are eroded by all kinds of legislative sleight-of-hand, and the construction of the neo-cons’ vision of American hegemony stalks its malevolent way onward and downward.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

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