David R. Hoffman for the World Crisis Web
A popular saying proclaims that there are three types of criticism. The first, and most welcome, is positive criticism, because it means that one’s work has been praised and/or there is agreement with one’s viewpoints. The second, and equally welcomed, is negative criticism, since it confirms that one’s work has been noticed. The third, and worst, is no criticism at all, because it signifies that one’s work is irrelevant or unworthy of being critiqued.
"In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases,
but woe to him if he goes beyond them.”
Alexis de Tocqueville
But before an individual becomes too elated by positive criticisms, or too deflated by negative ones, it must first be determined whether such criticisms are legitimate or illegitimate. The essential question to be asked is, “Are the critics acting with sincerity and integrity, or are they motivated by agendas that make their words biased at best and hypocritical at worst?” Positive critics, after all, might be making sycophantic observations simply to curry favor from the person or entity they are critiquing. By contrast, negative criticism might be spawned not by reasoned analysis, but by (to quote a line from the comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus) “the automatic gainsaying of anything the other party has to say.”
Therefore it is no surprise when dealing with criticisms that the greatest hypocrisies emanate from the world of politics and from those with political agendas. In fact the only consistency in this inane realm appears to be the motto, “It is wrong for them, but it is not wrong for us.”
Perhaps there is no politician today who personifies this motto more than Tom Delay, a Republican Congressperson from Texas and Leader of the House of Representatives. In 1999, when former President Bill Clinton (a Democratic) endeavored to militarily intervene in Bosnia to quell the tide of ethnic cleansing, Delay sanctimoniously declared, “Bombing a sovereign nation for ill-defined reasons with vague objectives undermines the American stature in the world. The international respect and trust for America has diminished every time we casually let the bombs fly. We must stop giving the appearance that our foreign policy is formulated by the Unabomber.”
Yet, after the corruptly appointed Bush dictatorship “casually bombed the sovereign nation” of Iraq, Delay suddenly proclaimed, “Well, I think it’s not the time to be questioning this president on how he is carrying out the war.” Apparently in Delay’s warped sense of logic, ethnic cleansing was an ill-defined reason for military intervention, but outright lies about “weapons of mass destruction”, Iraqi “connections” to Al-Qaeda, and/or Saddam Hussein’s “involvement” in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, were sufficient grounds to wage an unjust war costing billions of tax dollars and destroying thousands of lives.
Perhaps Delay takes succor in the fact that the Bush dictatorship’s “objectives” were not vague. In fact, as former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill recently revealed in a television interview, they were quite clear.
O’Neill stated that “From the very beginning [of the Bush dictatorship and well in advance of the 9/11 attacks] there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go.” A short time after this pronouncement a document circulated amongst Bush cronies entitled “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” So is it any wonder that while oil fields were hastily secured by “coalition” forces, Iraqi museums were left relatively unguarded and subsequently looted? Apparently “foreign suitors” have no financial stake in priceless, historical antiquities.
Of course liars, and the lies they tell, resent being exposed to the light of day, and news reports now indicate that O’Neill is being investigated to determine how he acquired some of the documents relied upon during his interview. Of course the “investigation” of O’Neill is simply one example of the extremes the Bush dictatorship will go to (and has gone to) to cover up its lies.
Given this reality, it would be relatively easy for me to dismiss the negative comments made by Bush supporters about my recent article, Bush vs. Hitler. But after seeing how those of Delay’s ilk were willing, for the sake of politics, to minimize or ignore human suffering in Bosnia, while exploiting the human suffering caused by Hitler’s Holocaust, I realized that their unconscionable hypocrisy had to be answered. Their myopic view of history, and their sense of “selective” outrage at human suffering, are an affront to those in the United States who seek to restore basic rights and freedoms stolen by the Bush dictatorship, and the corrupt legal system that supports him, as well as a threat to peace throughout the world.
The basic stratagem of these so-called “critics” is to compartmentalize Hitler’s legacy into a simplistic formula: Hitler created the horrors of the Holocaust and since Bush (the argument goes) has not created a Holocaust, Bush is not comparable to Hitler. What this formula fails to acknowledge, however, is that Hitler was not created in a vacuum, and he did not ignite the horrors of the Holocaust until he had corruptly obtained the political power to do so. It was the manner in which he attained this power that is analogous to the political machinations of the Bush dictatorship.
Hitler disseminated “great lies” to obtain his political objectives. As O’Neill confirms above, so did Bush. Hitler fallaciously blamed scapegoats, primarily people of Jewish descent, for his nation’s social ills. Bush blamed Saddam Hussein. Hitler destroyed civil liberties after the Reichstag fire through the “Enabling Act.” Bush destroyed civil liberties after the 9/11 terrorist attacks through the “Patriot Act.” Hitler used the Spanish Civil war as a testing ground for his military weaponry. Bush used Iraq. Hitler used complacency about or ignorance of history to launch the Holocaust, allegedly remarking in 1939 that nobody remembered the “annihilation of the Armenians,” over a million of whom, during the First World War, were killed outright or died of starvation and disease during forced deportations. Bush used complacency about or ignorance of history - the media hyperboles that provoked the Spanish-American war, Lyndon Johnson’s exaggeration of the Gulf of Tonkin incident to escalate American involvement in Vietnam, and the way Bush’s father used the invasion of Panama to divert focus from domestic issues - to launch the war against Iraq.
Hitler was adept at hiding his self-serving motives for war beneath a veneer of magnanimity. So was Bush. Hitler also scapegoated the disabled and homosexuals. Supporters of the Bush dictatorship, like Republican Senator Rick Santorum and Vice President Dick Cheney, also scapegoat homosexuals, while the United States Supreme Court has all but abolished the anti-discrimination protections of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Hitler preyed upon racial hatreds. So does Bush, despite the contrary illusion he has tried to create by having sell-outs like Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice obsequiously shuffling behind him.
Powell and Rice are merely counterpoints to the determined racial profiling that occurs in George Bush’s ‘New American Century’.
In fact, as I was completing this article, news reports revealed that, on the day after the birthday of famed civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and two days before the holiday that celebrates his legacy, Bush manipulatively took advantage of a Congressional recess to nominate Charles W. Pickering, a judge who has been accused of racial insensitivity, to a powerful position on a federal appeals court. Apparently the Bush dictatorship’s “concern” about “protecting” the rights of ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq does not translate into a commensurate concern for minorities in the United States.
Finally, those who doubt that Bush is any different from Hitler in his callous willingness to sacrifice the lives of innocents need only be reminded of the case of Jerry Lee Hogue. Bush has repeatedly asserted that while serving as governor of Texas no innocent person had been executed “under his watch.” Yet, during this tenure, Bush repeatedly denied thirty-day reprieves to death-row inmates, like Hogue, so that DNA testing, which could definitively confirm their guilt or innocence, could be performed.
The investigative news program ‘Sixty Minutes’ sought to challenge Bush’s boast by conducting posthumous DNA testing on the evidence in Hogue’s case, only to be informed that, in accordance with Texas legal procedure, this evidence had been “destroyed” shortly after Hogue’s state-sponsored murder. It is not hard to gauge the depravity of an individual who brags about the “infallibility” of the machinery of death while knowing that no evidence will ever exist to contradict him.
Fortunately the Jewish people have possessed both the diligence and the courage to make sure that their suffering at the hands of Hitler will never be forgotten. Unfortunately, their plight did not end the horrors sired by “man’s inhumanity to man.” The post-Holocaust world saw the systematic and sadistic destruction of one-third of Cambodia’s population by the Khmer Rouge, genocide campaigns were conducted in the African nations of Burundi and Rwanda, ethnic cleansings occurred in the Balkans, students were massacred in China’s Tiananmen Square, thousands of persons “disappeared” during Argentina’s dirty war, and, as Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research recently wrote, Donald Rumsfeld, now Secretary of Defense in the Bush dictatorship, had endeavored, during the Reagan administration of the 1980s, to “improve bilateral relations with Iraq” despite the fact that Saddam Hussein was using chemical weapons against Iranians and Kurds “almost daily.”
But what makes it particularly ludicrous, and perhaps even dangerous, to ignore the analogies between Bush and Hitler is that Hitler’s horrific legacy can be examined with the benefit of hindsight, while Bush’s is still unfolding. Who can say, given Bush’s contempt for civil liberties and international law, his exploitation of war for self-serving purposes and his willingness to use lies to wage it, how many deaths may yet occur.
A former CIA official on ABC’s ‘Nightline’ almost gleefully stated prior to the start of the Iraqi war that other nations were also targeted for invasion. And the bombs had barely stopped falling in Baghdad before the ratings hungry, corporate-controlled media were alleging that Syria possessed “weapons of mass destruction.” So even though Bush may never be directly responsible for human rights atrocities, he could by proxy create such atrocities through his willingness to destabilize entire regions of the world, to inflame ethnic hatreds, to spawn divisiveness, and to arbitrarily decide who is worthy of human rights and who is not.
As I explained in previous articles, all this is being accomplished thanks to the destruction of the “check-and-balance” system in the United States, and leading the charge is an increasingly neo-fascist United States Supreme Court, which facilitated the Bush coup of 2000 and is now in the process of providing him with dictatorial powers. Through these powers, the cornerstone of American freedom - the Bill of Rights - now exists more in myth than reality.
But steps are also being taken by the Supreme Court to ensure that future generations will never seek to restore the freedoms and civil liberties lost during the Bush dictatorship. One major step occurred in June 2002 when this court decreed that it was constitutionally permissible for public schools to “randomly drug test” students. Such testing often begins when students are just twelve years old, and can continue until they graduate. And while this testing is lauded as a means to keep children from abusing drugs, its real objectives are far more sinister.
One such objective disturbingly echoes the callous sentiments expressed in the Supreme Court’s now infamous ‘Dred Scott’ decision of 1857- that students have no rights the government has to respect. Another objective is the permanent eradication of two principles once fundamental to America’s legal system.
The first of these is the doctrine that a person is “innocent until proven guilty.” Now children are presumed to be guilty of abusing drugs, and must prove their innocence through random testing. The second concept being destroyed is the tenet that persons who are not engaged in wrongdoing, nor suspected of engaging in wrongdoing, are entitled to a right that the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall called the “most valued by civilized men - the right to be left alone.”
But it is the ultimate objective of these policies that is most disturbing. By indoctrinating children with the belief that they are guilty until proven innocent, that they have no right to privacy, no right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and no “right to be left alone,” the supporters of the Bush dictatorship have ensured that when these children reach adulthood they will be more amenable, and less inclined to question, future erosions of or intrusions upon their civil liberties.
"Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks.
Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools.
And their grand-children are once more slaves.”
D. H. Lawrence.
I have already seen this strategy taking effect. More and more students entering college are not only unaware of the freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights, but have no idea that such a document even exists. After all, how can teachers pontificate about a document that espouses freedom and individual rights while students are being forcibly removed from their classrooms for “random drug testing.” In addition, the excesses that inevitably come with the destruction of civil liberties have already manifested themselves. In November of 2003, police officers, some with guns drawn, raided a high school in South Carolina, forcing students to lie on the ground in the hallways, while they indiscriminately searched bookbags in a “drug raid” that netted no drugs.
So some may ask, what do Bush, Hitler, the Iraqi war, and random drug testing have in common? The answer is simple. They establish that many of America’s political “leaders” and “legal minds” are just as base, just as bloodthirsty, just as contemptuous of civil liberties and human rights as the dictators they claim to abhor.
A recent episode of ‘The Practice’, a television drama about America’s legal system, had attorneys watching in futility as law enforcement officials brutally tortured a suspect. Although the program ended on a positive note - expressing the belief that most Americans still possess the capacity to be outraged by the denial of civil liberties and the abuse of human rights - I am not so optimistic. The sad reality is that most people are repulsed only if THEIR civil liberties are being denied or THEIR human rights are being violated. Far too often this alleged support for civil liberties or human rights does not extend to “undesirable” or “unpopular” people or groups.
There has been little ire expressed over the fact that anti-war groups across the nation are now being spied upon by thought police masquerading as “law enforcement” agencies. And headlines across America recently announced that the neo-fascist Supreme Court has once again extended Bush’s dictatorial powers, permitting the use of “secret detentions” in the so-called “war on terror.” It is bitterly ironic and sadly symbolic of how far America has deteriorated to watch a policy that was once more at home in apartheid South Africa now become the law of the United States.
With Adolph Hitler the warnings were clear. The world simply chose to ignore them. With George W. Bush the warnings are equally clear. Can we afford to ignore them as well? Perhaps the answer resides in how easily the words of Holocaust survivor Martin Niemoller can be adapted to present day America:
David R. Hoffman is Legal Editor for Pravda Online.
This article was kindly submitted to the World Crisis Web by the author. Originally published by Pravda Online