Monday, July 16, 2007

Return of the Enabling Act

Most of the longer pieces I wrote for Raw Story never resonated in the wingnutosphere. The two exceptions were the one I wrote about Little Offend Annie (Ann Coulter), and the one I wrote comparing last year's unconscionable Military Commissions Act with the German Enabling Act of 1933. I thought that that one narrowly avoided violation of Godwin's law, but the wingnuts thought I was guilty nonetheless.

What I said:

The language of the new Enabling Act is a bit more baroque than that used seventy years ago. And, to be sure, it is not as far-reaching as that of its predecessor. But make no mistake: Just as the 1933 Enabling Act created the context for dictatorship, so does this one. The German legislature told the executive that it had the power to make law and ignore the constitution. If Congress passes this bill, the American legislature will second the motion.

The fact that I was extremely careful about the words I used meant little. I was accused of all manner of heresies. (Most of the vitriol came at a place oxymoronically called Conservative Underground, which appears to be offline. Here is the link if the outage is temporary.) It would take a brave, even foolhardy national political figure to step into that breach.

What Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison said a couple of days ago:

Keith Ellison, a convert to Islam, has developed a moderate image after being elected last November. As America's first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison has provoked outrage by apparently comparing President George W Bush's administration to that of Adolf Hitler's Nazi movement.

Ellison, a democrat, even hinted that the President of the United States might have been responsible for the September 11 attacks.

Ellison was addressing a gathering of atheists in his home state of Minnesota. Ellison compared the 9/11 atrocities to the destruction of the Reichstag, the German parliament, in 1933. Most people now believe this was planned by the Nazis to solidify their power base.

"It's almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that," Mr. Ellison said. "After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it, and it put the leader [Hitler] of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted."

I don't know enough about Ellison to say whether I am generally comfortable in his company. But dismissing his comparison as hysteria is all too convenient, and those who avoid the merits of the comparison by dismissing it out of hand are guilty of exactly what they accuse Ellison of -- trampling the bounds of reasonable debate.

The Bush Administration is not as evil as Hitler's Germany. That does not mean the Bush Administration is not evil. It is. The lawlessness of the Bush Administration is not as egregious as the excesses of the Third Reich. That does not mean that the Bush-Cheney regime is not fascist. It is. And no amount of rhetoric or obfuscatory mock-outrage will change those facts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like Keith Ellison and in that video clip, he's absolutely right about how if you dare to discuss topics like this, people write you off as "one of those nut-balls." So it is very difficult to get a discussion going about what events really led up to 9/11. The motive is certainly there. There are too many unanswered questions about the official involvement of the Saudi royal family. I doubt Bush or any of his closest advisers had any real advance notice, or anyone at the CIA, even. But Cheney has ways of getting things done. From what I've read, it seems likely that he would have had plenty of involvement in the details of what unfolded that day. The beneficiaries are obvious. And how can you watch a documentary such as 9/11 Mysteries and not be left wondering about any number of basic physical-sciences based questions that nobody could answer without getting into the inevitable debate over what really happened?

Perhaps someday we'll be able to really set the record straight because the "official" story just doesn't cut it. Only I fear we may have to go through a couple more such events before anyone "Serious" is willing to bring it up.

I wonder if, after the Reichstag Fire, anyone tried to have honest discussions of the possible motivations behind it and what happened to them for doing so.

2:49 AM  

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