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Tuesday, May 15, 2007
(10:16 AM) | Stephen:
Threat To Our Nation

Here's a fairly typical rightwing political cartoon which appeared recently in the Investor's Business Daily:

As I said, quite typical. I've long become accustomed to being called a traitor, an America-hater, accused of giving aid and comfort to the enemy and dishonoring our troops. All this for the high crimes of disagreeing with Dear Leader - and yes, there are many similarities between the cults of personality surrounding George Bush and Kim Jong Il of North Korea - and seeking to end the huge mess in Iraq.

But this cartoon, and the others like it, are quite disturbing on a completely different level. Here is another cartoon, this one from the mid-20th century:

Yes, I know, Godwin's Law and all that. Can't bring up the Nazis, makes you lose the argument. Only I didn't bring up the Nazis. I didn't start using their iconography, I didn't start bringing their attitudes into the debate.

I'm quite sure that the American cartoonist isn't a Nazi and rightly considers the Third Reich to have been a monstrous horror. But we need to remember that murderous anti-Semitism was not the engine that really fueled their rise and grip on power in Germany. Despite the presence of many True Believers in Hitler's machine, most Germans were swayed to the Nazi cause by nothing more complex or rare than nationalistic fascism. Nothing more innocuous than a belief in German exceptionalism and a commitment to patriotism and support of the German government.

The German government, by the way, that was symbolized by the German soldier. To disagree with the policies of the Nazi regime was to dishonor the German soldier. To give aid and comfort to the enemies of Germany.

Again, don't get caught up in the Holocaust. I'm not accusing the conservative movement of wanting to slaughter Jews or any other ethnicity. I don't believe that the modern American conservative movement is full of people who think that Aryans are a master race, who will force people to breed together to make a super race, or any of that. Or at least almost all of the conservative movement is free of that idea.

But fascism? Fascism is extremely easy to fall into, both for leftists and rightists. Nationalistic fascism has fueled revolutions and oppressive governments all over the world, in Cambodia, China, even Russia, because all that is required is a belief that national interests - and therefore the national government - supersede individual rights and interests.

Terrorism is far from the greatest danger that faces our nation, except insofar as it is used by power hungry interests as a tool to keep American citizens in line as their rights and freedoms are taken away, one by one. And when the American soldier so idolized in the political cartoon above is being used against American citizens, the cartoonist will be among the first against the wall.

Frankly, that's one expression of poetic justice I am perfectly happy to do without.

h/t Atrios, Matt, Mark, and Oliver

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