Deep Underground with Raul Groom

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A while back, Jon Last wrote a piece in the Weekly Standard online defending the Galactic Empire from the Star Wars movies. A lot of people found it funny and emailed it to me. I did not find it particularly funny, except in a very bitter sort of way, since Jon Last actually makes his living defending the Galactic Empire in real life. In the defense of the people who emailed me the link, most of them did not know who Jon Last is, and I admit, had the piece been written by someone else, it probably would have given me a chuckle.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is this crazy-ass thing from Safire, which, well, I can't really describe it. Just read it. If you don't have a username and password on NYTimes, use BugMeNot.

Even though the article is really stupid, you have to read through it, because the really mind-bending part isn't until the very end. See it? Yeah, where he brings up the fact that the title of his article was actually the title of an article defending fascism written in the 1930's, when Hitler was announcing his intention to rid the world of badness through a policy of preventive war and conversion of an alien race of malcontents through mass arrests and large-scale killing?


Beyond just being fucking creepy, what is really weird about this article is the absolute lack of any kind of perspective. Safire appears to have no idea how propaganda really works, despite having been a propagandist himself for oh, about 40 years. Normally I think of folks like him as having at least some grasp of the fact that propaganda is propaganda, with a childish overlay of "we're right so it's OK when we do it" to help them sleep at night.

But here Safire seems to imply that Hitler and his apologists were basically like COBRA, putting out these treatises extolling the virtues of grinding people under their boots, just because they could. OF COURSE fascist apologists did not do that - they couched their calls for repressive domestic measures and aggressive war in the language of freedom, democracy, and human rights. As I mentioned long ago in this space, the rationale Safire uses in this very article to retroactively sell the Iraq war is in fact the exact same rationale Hitler used to sell his invasion of Poland - that the Polish leader at the time was a dangerous nut (he was.)

In fact, more and more the biggest difference between Hitler and Bush/Cheney appears to be one of competency and thoroughness. Hitler spent several years fattening up his infantry in preparation for his massive campaign of aggressive war; Bush and company decided they would just go to war with the army they had. Hitler spent years playing up Jewish and Roma stereotypes in preparation for his campaign of domestic repression via ethnic scapegoating; Bush and company figured they could just rely on anti-Arab/Muslim sentiment left over from the Reagan years.

And we're still not supposed to remember the Reichstag fire, even on the far left. We'll save that parallel for Christmas 2005, maybe.

Guh. What a country.


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