July 4, 2002
Neo-Nazi Brain Drain?Because I harbor fears in the back of my mind of having to flee if things go too much farther toward the fascist vision in American, there was a flash of recognition when I saw an article on Tom Cruise. Cruise is quoted as saying to Britain's Daily Express, "I think the U.S. is terrifying and it saddens me. You only have to look at the state of affairs in America."
Cruise said his children would probably grow up in Australia, where their mother Nicole Kidman grew up. "I do worry about my children," he said. "As a parent you are always concerned. I just want them to be in a place where they are going to be strong enough to make the right choices. Unfortunately, we're in a position where people are so irresponsible that human life holds such little value to them."
When the Nazis began their oppression of the Jews, there were immediate economic gains for Nazi Germany. Getting rid of the Jews was part of Hitler's plan for reducing unemployment. Forcing out the Jews opened up jobs. The property and wealth of the Jews became part of the wealth of the Nazis. But in the long run, the country lost many of its most valuable and productive citizens, many of whom -- like Albert Einstein -- took their talents to America and contributed to the vibrance of a society where they were free to exercise and develop their abilities.
It wasn't just the Jews, either. The Nazis had a list of British intellectuals whom they planned to immediately lock up when they took over Britain. The list included George Bernard Shaw, for example. The fascist vision has short-term advantages that are obvious. Force has advantages against diplomacy and adherence to principle. But there are self-destructive tendencies that eventually come back to haunt those who rely on pure force. A government that is hostile to freedom of expression is suppressing creativity and sowing seeds of its own destruction in the long term.
It has occurred to me that if the U.S. continues in the Bush direction of secrecy and suppression of ideas and individuality, many of America's smartest and most creative people may just go away. Cruise looks like an indication that the brain drain has begun. This is not just some rich guy saying he wants to see some exotic places. He is taking his family and fleeing from a country that is "terrifying."
This is the Bush vision playing itself out. "Kinder and Gentler," and "Compassionate Conservative" are exactly what it isn't.
-- By David Cogswell