Wolf: The End of America
"All dictators", Wolf asserts, "invoke an external and internal threat; develop a paramilitary force; create a secret prison system; surveil ordinary citizens; arbitrarily detain and release them; harass citizens' groups; target writers, entertainers, and other key individuals for dissenting; intimidate the press; recast dissent as "treason" and criticism as "espionage.""
The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (2007)
Naomi Wolf tries to break through the fog of denial to help us see the challenge that we face: We can either continue our downward slide into the abyss of tyranny or fight to restore our fragile democracy. If we do not change direction, our liberty and our protections from a despotic ruler will be gone. Democracy—the idea of self-government by the people—will have perished.
At some level, we know something is wrong and many of us will not find new information in Wolf's book. Not being a history person, I did find her analysis of despots of the past interesting and useful.
Wolf looks to the past to identify patterns of behaviors that accompanied the shift to tyranny. Of particular interest is Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy. They both came to power legally in democratic governments where they were elected. Both aggressively used the law to subvert the law, forcing the Parliament to change laws, granting ever more power to the executive until such time where "they had legally aggregated state power in his own person." They used the media and the culture to create support the changes. Big lies and the language all served to create the illusion of safety. All actions to protect the "Homeland" from evil terrorists were justified by intellectuals and political theorists who argued that democracy and individual rights were luxuries in a time of war.
The steps toward tyranny were small and change happened slowly but the pattern is the same. "All dictators", Wolf asserts, "invoke an external and internal threat; develop a paramilitary force; create a secret prison system; surveil ordinary citizens; arbitrarily detain and release them; harass citizens' groups; target writers, entertainers, and other key individuals for dissenting; intimidate the press; recast dissent as "treason" and criticism as "espionage.""
We know that the President has already taken these steps. He now has the authority to designate any citizen as an enemy combatant, the power to arrest anyone, the power to send them to prison without due process, the ability to use torture and to use any statements obtained through torture as evidence. The President can spy on citizens without a warrant. The President has asserted his right to decide which laws he will follow and Congress has acquiesced. The President claims the right to invade other countries at a whim and does not have to abide by any laws or treaties. The President stands ready to declare martial law in the event of any natural or manmade disaster.
The Founders did not get everything right when they wrote the Constitution but they understood despotism and knew that democracy was fragile. They therefore designed the government to ensure that no person or branch of government could amass too much power. The Constitution was to be the bulwark protecting the rights of the individual against governmental tyranny.
The survival of democracy, however, would depend on the vigilance of the people as well as the commitment of elected officials to carry out their oath of office—to protect and defend the Constitution. The single contributor to the end of America, in my view, is the Congress, which is unwilling to reign in our own King George.
"We must stand up directly to confront those who have committed crimes against the Constitution" Wolf states, "and hold them accountable, as the Founders trusted us to do." However, she never uses the word impeachment. Yet impeachment is one of the tools provided by the Founders to remove a President who violated the rule of law and abused power. It was the way to remove a despot wannebe. Impeachment is not the only thing that must be done but it is a good first step.
Wolf is part of a group called American Freedom Campaign
They are seeking to educate people and get Presidential candidates to sign this pledge. I would add a statement about supporting impeachment Bush/Cheney and get our US Representatives to sign it.
The Pledge of the American Freedom Campaign
We are Americans. We do not torture, imprison people without charge or legal recourse, allow our phones and emails to be tapped without a court order, and above all, we do not give any President unchecked power above the law and Constitution.
The Constitution protects American freedom. With checks and balances, and basic legal rights, it has prevented tyranny and safeguarded our liberty. Yet today, under the pretense of the 'war on terror," the White House is dismantling the Constitution, concentrating power in the president, and undermining the rule of law.
I pledge to fight to protect and defend the Constitution from the President's assault.
(As part of this fight, I will support the impeachment investigations of Bush and Cheney. I will co-sponsor H RES 333 to impeach Cheney and will join with others to introduce a resolution calling for the impeachment of Bush).
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