American society is closing down. In ‘The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot,’ scholar Naomi Wolf lists the 10 steps to a closed society and examines the similarities between Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini and the Bush administration in the context of shutting down a society:
10. Manipulate a real or imagined threat: Stalin claimed that ‘sleeper cells’ of capitalists were surrounding Soviet citizens. In the last six years, our leaders have claimed that ‘sleeper cells’ of terrorists are surrounding Americans.
9. Create a secret prison system: How do Lenin’s secret prison system, Mussolini’s confino and Hitler’s study of Mussolini affect us? Why should we worry if brown people and Muslims are held and tortured in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and other secret prisons?
‘I invite you to name a society that created a secret prison system outside the rule of law where torture takes place that didn’t sooner or later turn the abuse against its own citizens,’ Wolf says.
When a democracy closes down, individuals with whom the mainstream public doesn’t identify are tortured first. Then the line between a real terrorist and a mere critic becomes blurred. It doesn’t matter whether you’re white or black, Republican or Democrat, or citizen or foreign national; the president can call anyone an ‘enemy combatant,’ and the government can take you to prison, deny your right to a lawyer and torture you on the president’s say-so.
Andrew Meyer, a student at the University of Florida, was tasered by police after asking why President George W. Bush hasn’t been impeached at a lecture. This is scary because the University of Florida is answerable to the Board of Regents, which is answerable to the state legislature, which has close ties to Florida Governor Jeb Bush. In Nazi Germany, politician Joseph Goebbels pioneered the tactic of using state legislatures to put pressure on university boards of regents to control professors and students critical of Hitler.
8. Create a paramilitary force: Blackwater is a paramilitary corporation with close ties to the White House. The corporation has been in the news for allegedly massacring 17 Iraqi civilians.
But Blackwater is now on Main Street: Blackwater was invited by the Transportation Security Administration to patrol the streets of New Orleans and received orders from Bush to patrol the streets at any time during a ‘disaster’