The Truest Democracy

Ever since the Bush administration first proposed the USA Patriot Act in 2001, commentators have been making scurrilous comparisons between President Bush and Adolf Hitler. Outraged Republicans have moaned and hooted about these comparisons as being unfair, since Hitler was not at war with terrorists after being elected (the burning of the Reichstag was blamed on communists, not Islamic radicals). Moreover, they say, invading foreign armies later found that Hitler had authorized terrible atrocities in the name of the Fatherland, whereas the United States has never been invaded by foreign armies, Bush has never referred to the US as “the Fatherland,” and no one above the rank of sergeant has been accused of authorizing atrocities. QED.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration brought this on themselves by introducing the terms of debate. The reason the terrorists hate us, they say, is because of our “freedoms.” That’s why we need to protect our freedoms by freeing law enforcement from silly legal restraints. Federal agents don’t hate our freedoms. They only hate the terrorists’ freedoms. Now then, the authorities don’t know if you’re a terrorist until they interrogate you. That’s why they need the freedom to detain you without evidence. If you aren’t a terrorist, you won’t mind being interrogated and detained, because you know it is being done to protect your freedoms. On the other hand, the terrorists won’t mind innocent civilians being interrogated and detained, because, of course, they hate your freedoms. See? Everybody wins! Federal agents get more freedoms, your freedoms are protected, and terrorists are happy.

The cure for terrorism is supposed to be “democracy.” Terrorists are supposed to hate democracy, because they only like dictators. Except for dictators who hate terrorists, like the Shah of Iran, the president of Pakistan, the king of Saudi Arabia, and so on. Likewise, democratically elected leaders who love terrorists, like the presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia, hate democracy. Dictators who hate terrorists, in a weird way, are kind of like people with freedoms who love democracy, since the terrorists hate freedom and democracy, just like the democratically elected leaders who love terrorists. Got it?

Peter Viereck put it this way, in The Unadjusted Man (1956), p. 136:

Hitler and Peron were the products of the very democracy they destroyed. Both were elected to power legally by majority votes. The true opposite of despotism is not democracy (which often elects fascists) but restraint on power. No fascist or communist ever defined his ism as “restraint on power”; many defined it as “democratic.” The communists call their dictatorships “people’s democracies.” Hitler called himself an “arch-democrat” (Völkischer Beobachter, November 10, 1938), defined National Socialism as the “truest democracy” (Ibid., January 31, 1937), and in Mein Kampf praised “the truly Germanic democracy with the free election of the Leader.” Mussolini: “Fascism may write itself down as ‘an organized, centralized, and authoritative democracy’.”

Phony conservatism. Love it or leave it, folks.

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