“First We Take,” the Lessons of 1933 Germany

As may be apparent from the title, I am going to
make comparisons to the early years of Hitler Germany, when he demanded and took
various powers by entirely legal and democratic methods. Hitler ended up a
dictator, but he was enabled to that ultimate goal by a population
terrified by an economic maelstrom and the ever growing lawlessness across Germany.

Conservative, disheartened and increasingly desperate Germans repeatedly went
to the polls and elected National Socialist (Nazi) candidates.

The Holocaust has taken Nazi Germany as ‘off the
table’ of political discussion as Nancy Pelosi’s unilateral removal of
impeachment and perhaps for similar reasons; sensitivity. It’s just too
, says Nancy, as though we were frightened children needing to hide our
faces in her skirt.

Never again, say the Israelis, as 800,000 Rwandans are
massacred and Stalin kills (by some estimates) 25 million of his own people,
Mao another 35 million and the carnage goes on, uncompared.

Forbidding the discussion of parallels is to make
them invisible
. Invisibility is the workplace of those who would do us wrong, not in the light of discussion and criticism, but behind closed doors, in secret session.
Every attack against our constitutionally guaranteed rights, since 9-11, has
been whisked behind the opaque door of ‘top secret’ and ‘national interest,’ thereby
kept from the public view.

Comparison? We are denied comparison as well. Nazi,
has been made yet another N-word; unspeakable in polite society and therefore far more dangerous
to our civil rights and the lessons history has to teach. Author Aldous Huxley cautioned
us that “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored

Unable to debate the similarity between America today
and Hitler’s 1933 Germany, those who oppose authoritarian presidencies in place
of constitutional balance are disarmed. Relegated to the pillow-fights of
uncritical media, we stand impotent while our country is slid out from under us.
If you value Nancy Pelosi’s sensitivity
above and beyond the lessons of history, go turn on MTV and leave this column
to the less frightened.

Post, August 16th, U.S. May
Ease Police Spy Rules
, by Spencer Hsu and Carrie Johnson)

Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make
it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans,
share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10

proposed changes would revise the federal government’s rules for police
intelligence-gathering for the first time since 1993 and would apply to any of
the nation’s 18,000 state and local police agencies that receive roughly $1.6
billion each year in federal grants.

Forget 9-11 and put aside the past eight years of
the Bush-Cheney administration, clear your head of various blue-ribbon panel
recommendations and recognize that this
ruling is made at the exit-gate, by an organization on its way out the door.
publicly announced by the Justice Department on a Saturday in mid-August.

With Germanic precision, Bush’s Department of
Homeland Security has put the nation’s police departments on the
intravenous-drip of federal money. Did you ever suspect that one day America
would be called a Homeland. Did you ever in your most Orwellian dream believe
that Americans would stand for that? Not only stand for it, but wave the flag?

guys need night-vision, armored personnel carriers, automatic weaponry,
training, anti-terror camps?
Line right up at the
fed spigot and drink deeply. It’s the nationalist thing to do, patriotic to the
core, swinging into step for God and country. Nice new toys, huh? Shiny and cool, you bet. Manly and
preparedness-friendly, yessir

For the Phoenix police? For Detroit? We need armored
personnel-carriers and machine-guns
for Phoenix and Detroit? This, for a
response to a terrorist act? Crowd control against American crowds? Gimme a

Now, says the Fed, we don’t want to see you lose all that great stuff and we don’t
want to intimidate—not us. But,
remember where those toys came from. Quicker’n a sub-prime loan, they can be
taken back. 18,000 police departments that grab a part of that $1.6 billion
(and more to come), lose most of their autonomy (noun: Immunity from arbitrary exercise of authority: political

unveiled late last month, the proposal is part of a flurry of domestic
intelligence changes issued and planned by the Bush administration in its
waning months. They include a recent executive order that guides the
reorganization of federal spy agencies and a pending Justice Department
overhaul of FBI procedures for gathering intelligence and investigating
terrorism cases within U.S. borders.

together, critics in Congress and elsewhere say, the moves are intended to lock
in policies for Bush’s successor and to enshrine controversial post-Sept. 11
approaches that some say have fed the greatest expansion of executive authority
since the Watergate era.

They are also, without
a shred of doubt
, setting groundwork and legal precedent to protect Bush
administration abuses from actually sending officials to prison. Prior to
January 20th, look for Bush to provide blanket immunity for all acts
against terrorism—however that term may be defined. The Reagan administration,
choir-boys by comparison, suffered 61 indictments.

Bush, while still president
(and, in his own mind, still able to preside by decree) will absolutely protect
Cheney, Addington, Rumsfeld, Rice and whatever smaller fish threaten to fall into the nets of American

1933 Germany was a parliamentary republic and thus
the Chancellor was subject only to votes of confidence. Wobbly in his hold on
office, Hitler chose to burn down the Reichstag (parliament), blame it on his
nearest political enemy and take immediate dictatorial control in the heat of public panic. The Bolsheviks were at the gates.

We elect our presidents
for a maximum of eight years, but there are those who fear an attack on Iran
and a ‘temporary’ suspension of habeus corpus and a ‘necessary’ period of martial
law ‘until the terrorist threat subsides.’ Terrorists rather than Bolsheviks at the gates. Easier perhaps, than a bogus fire within
the Congress of the United States.

America has already been scared half to
death in preparation, but Blackwater stands ready to ‘assist’ local police,
should there be any ‘outbreaks of terrorist activity.’ New Orleans was the prep event.

As in 1933 Germany, first we take the public
confidence. Then we replace the democracy blamed for losing the public
confidence by trains that run on time, a hustling off of dissenters, polishing
the apple of modern media and possibly an additional sop such as a holiday on
mortgage foreclosures. The banks will be massively subsidized for their

When first we have taken, then all else falls into place.
Writers of columns such as this will be gone.

House spokesman Tony Fratto said the administration agrees that it needs to do
everything possible to prevent unwarranted encroachments on civil liberties,
adding that it succeeds the overwhelming majority of the time.

homeland security adviser Kenneth L. Wainstein said, “This is a continuum
that started back on 9/11 to reform law enforcement and the intelligence
community to focus on the terrorism threat.”

Those statements, in and of themselves, ought to
chill the most conservative blood.

the Justice Department proposal for state and local police, published for
public comment July 31, law enforcement agencies would be allowed to target
groups as well as individuals, and to launch a criminal intelligence
investigation based on the suspicion that a target is engaged in terrorism or
providing material support to terrorists. They also could share results with a
constellation of federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and others
in many cases.

to target
, with no more than a suspicion of providing support to terrorists. We have by that,
just given over innocent until proven
to its direct opposite. Would
be allowed
to smash down your door at 2AM and hustle you (or me) off to
Guantanamo and no one the wiser.

last week, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said that the Justice Department
will release new guidelines within weeks to streamline and unify FBI
investigations of criminal law enforcement matters and national security
threats. The changes will clarify what tools agents can employ and whose
approval they must obtain.

Clarify. Ja, ve vill clarify, but first ve vill streamline.

say preemptive law enforcement in the absence of a crime can violate the
Constitution and due process. They cite the administration’s long-running
warrantless-surveillance program, which was set up outside the courts, and the
FBI’s acknowledgment that it abused its intelligence-gathering privileges in
hundreds of cases by using inadequately documented administrative orders to
obtain telephone, e-mail, financial and other personal records of U.S. citizens
without warrants.

Constitution, poof! Ve haff already crossed that
bridge and who obcheckted? No von, not von obchecktion from the Reichstag, uh,
Congress. Vat critics remain, ve haff means to silence critics.

Gorelick cited the recent disclosure that undercover Maryland State Police
agents spied on death penalty opponents and antiwar groups in 2005 and 2006 to
emphasize that the policies would require close oversight.

Ofersight, ja. Ve haff no problems with oversight.

an FBI agent for 16 years, said easing established limits on
intelligence-gathering would lead to abuses against peaceful political
dissenters. In addition to the Maryland case, he pointed to reports in the past
six years that undercover New York police officers infiltrated protest groups
before the 2004 Republican National Convention; that California state agents
eavesdropped on peace, animal rights and labor activists; and that Denver
police spied on Amnesty International and others before being discovered.

police officers no longer see themselves as engaged in protecting their
communities from criminals and instead as domestic intelligence agents working
on behalf of the CIA, they will be encouraged to collect more
information,” German said. “It turns police officers into spies on
behalf of the federal government.”

Ja (chuckle), I qvote the vice-prezident; “So vat!” First ve take,
then vill be plenty time to give.

Conspiracy theorist? Me? Please, that charge is so 1933.


Media comment:

1 thought on ““First We Take,” the Lessons of 1933 Germany

  1. Thank you for publishing this well reasoned opinion piece. One of the Bush Administrations attacks on free speech is codified in the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. This federal law criminalizes speech. Any speech or activity that negatively impacts (reduces profits) of an animal enterprise (puppy mills, research institutions, factory farms, fur farms etc) is now a federal felony. It is called terrorism to call for a boycott of Tyson because it tortures chickens and pollutes the earth. It is called terrorism to protest in front of a veal farm holding signs explaining the complicity of the dairy industry in the cruelty of the veal industry and the devastating impact both have on the environment.
    There is no doubt that if transported to 2008 Benjamin Franklin would be ashamed of what our country has become. I know I am.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *