May 2, 2003


May Day is quickly slipping away. It's an international tribute to Labor, nearly forgotten in the US, though it originated here. The eight-hour day, for example, was only won after years of struggle in which many people died. Think about it. People died to achieve the eight-hour day. We took it for granted. Now the Bush administration is rolling those rights back. Maybe it would be good to remember.

As Molly Ivins points out in "Coming Soon, the United Serfs of America", the Bush administration has proposed "new rules that will erode the 40-hour workweek and affect more than 80 million workers now protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act."

The History Channel tonight played a documentary called "Reign of Terror," a chilling documentary about Hitler's drive for power. The superfluous host introduced the series pointing out that Saddam Hussein is often compared to Hitler.

And sure, there are comparisons in terms of being brutal, ugly despots. But I can't imagine how people could watch that history and not see the striking parallels between the political evolution of Hitler's Germany and that of present-day United States.

Beyond the basic personality of the brutal tyrant, there is not a striking parallel between Saddam Hussein and Hitler. And Bush is certainly very different from Hitler. He plays a different role in the power structure he is part of. It's a different world, a different culture. When you look at the grainy black-and-white footage, it seems so remote. The styles of clothes and hair are very different. They speak a different language. The contrasts are surely many. The goosestepping is very foreign to us. Not like America at all.

And many focus on the differences, dismissing any similarities. But there were a number of phrases that came from either the narrator, the quotes of living Germans who survived the period, or the quotes of Hitler himself that had tremendous resonance with today's USA and I was hoping people who have not known of that history will start to pick up on it.

It is hard not to think that the lessons of Hitler, the techniques of Nazism have been well learned and are selectively employed by the Bush regime.

The Reichstag burned. Freedom of assembly and the press were abolished, a state of emergency declared.

In "Mein Kampf" he said the people are stupid and if you just repeat the same slogans to them over and over, they'll believe them.

People thought things couldn't get any worse, but Hitler fooled them.

When the first people were rounded up, no one said anything. It was something that happened to other people.

"What good fortune for governments that people do not think," said Hitler.

There was a very sinister side to it, but you couldn't mention it. It was suppressed. Whoever was a danger to the state was shut away.

Of course I was afraid. There was an atmosphere of fear at that time.

Criticism of the Fuhrer was high treason.

Nothing was allowed to foil the image of the peaceful leader. The wolf in sheep's clothing. The deception was perfect.

Perfect deception. Say it isn't so. We are not like the Germans. Fascism is not creeping over the United States. Say we are not like them. We don't have concentration camps. We don't gas our people. We electrocute, hang or inject them. We are different.

Say what you will. But don't let them destroy the Constitution. Don't let them make it a crime to protest the government, to disagree with the Fuhrer.

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