My fellow Americans, it’s official now: We live in a fascist nation.
Now, the term "fascist" has been thrown around over the last fifty years in a loose way that has drained it of much of its meaning. If someone wanted to cut 5% off of a leftist professor's favourite welfare programme, the professor would call his opponent a "fascist." I’m not using the word like that. I mean the old-fashioned, original, 1930s style fascism, featuring such old favourites as:
* Secret prisons – they’re back!
* Torture – we’re doing it.
* Spying on all citizens, and forget the warrant!
* Arrests and indefinite imprisonment without trial (or even charge).
* Denial and restriction of habeas corpus.
* Blatantly unjust trial procedures.
(This list was compiled partially based on the work of Amnesty International, available here.)
An absolutely mind-numbing response to complaints that our traditional legal system is being torn apart is the question, "So, you want to protect the rights of terrorists?"
Um, no, I want to protect the rights of non-terrorists who might be falsely accused of terrorism! That was sort of, you know, the whole idea of our legal system. I’m sure there was some neo-con around in the 1700s saying to Jefferson or Madison, "So, you want to protect the rights of murderers and robbers?" but luckily they ignored him.
Living in a fascist nation? Not quite yet, IMO. But if things keep going the way they're going? Then oh yes indeed, we'll be sieg heil-ing and marching minorities to concentration camps with the best of 'em. (What, you're all surprised and shit? We've even done it before. Betcha didn't read about THAT in your high school history book.)
And if it happens, then you, Mr and Mrs middle America, you will still support Dubya. Oh yeah, you will. Because the truth of the matter is... there are a LOT of people in this country who really, well and truly hate other people's freedom. It's so easy to talk about "freedom for all" in the abstract. To claim that's what you believe in. But when it comes time to, you know, defend someone's free speech even when you think they're dead wrong? Or defend their right to hold religious or political views that completely disagree with yours? To grant them the right to do things you prefer not to, as long as they don't hurt anyone? Well, it's not quite so easy to adhere to your high-falutin' principles then, is it? It turns into "freedom for, uh, everyone except those people over there, who I don't like."
Difficult civil libertarian life lesson #1: Rights aren't just for the people you like. Rights are for EVERYONE.