(Originally published May 4, 2006 by Earthblog.net, of late lamented memory)
Does censorship work? The answer is yes. But it’s a trick question. Because what censorship succeeded in doing around here this week is what it so often does: arouses curiosity and stimulates the urge to seek more information. Now, I don’t claim this case is the most flagrant outrage currently happening on the planet. But it is the example that’s before my eyes. It’s one of the microcosmic events that illustrate and illuminate what’s going on with the macrocosm. Once again censorship, whose purpose is to hide and suppress ideas, has managed to do the exact opposite, and shed more light into at least one mind.
I know, I know – it’s only censorship if the government does it. Let’s not quibble over terminology. This looks very much like a government-related attempt to suppress dissemination of independent thought. [the phrase was linked to a page where a swastika had been used in some satirical way. It might have been this picture but I’m no longer sure.]
Burst Media, which formerly supplied ads for this site, notified Earthblog.net that the two would no longer be doing business, citing the “use of Nazi symbols and how offensive that is considered to people these days.” Yet, even in ultra-politically-correct Germany, the swastika is still allowed in the realms of art and education. “A Vision in Which Books are Burned” comprises both. [title of the piece where the picture appeared that they were objecting to.]
Who is offended? Is it possible that anyone, even a Holocaust survivor, could be upset by the sight of a swastika in a piece of political satire whose message is a loathing for the Nazi philosophy? Chances are, it isn’t the swastika that upsets the unidentified offended advertiser. No, more likely it’s the superimposition of G. W. Bush’s face on Adolf Hitler’s body.
Busy with other things, I somehow missed the excitement a while back when two Auschwitz slave laborers sued the Bush family. It seems the president’s grandpa made a pile from the companies that ran Hitler’s camps. As the novelist Balzac said, “Behind every great fortune there is a crime,” and never was it truer than in the case of the Bush money, harvested from the Holocaust. (Look up Bush + Thyssen and Bush + Farben.) Even though a stop was supposedly put to his cynical war profiteering in 1942, old Prescott Bush continued for many more years to benefit from his relationships with enemy nationals. As a bonus, the U.S. acquired a whole raft of perfectly legal, government-sanctioned immigrants, namely unemployed Nazi war criminals, brought here not to mow lawns but to start up the C.I.A. and do a few other little odd jobs along the same lines.
After years of experience as a Nazi rent-boy, Prescott Bush went on to a second career: United States senator. (You know, one of those guys who make laws for the rest of us.) During that campaign, the press didn’t mention his Nazi-connected past or the tainted source of his wealth. These items were not discussed by the media when his son became the first President Bush, or when grandson Jeb ran for governor of Florida, or when other grandson George ran for president.
But that was then, this is now. And nobody should be blamed for the sins of his forefathers. Especially in this case, where G. W. has plenty enough sins of his own. So, getting back to “A Vision in Which Books are Burned,” the idea expressed by this audio-visual piece, the idea that apparently calls out for censorship, is: there are a number of similarities between the current U.S. president and the supreme Nazi. A great number.
I never fully realized how very numerous the similarities are, until Burst Media did what they did, and I started looking up stuff. One of the first things I ran across was a disingenuously phrased blogger’s question “Why are there over a million Google hits when you type in nazi + bush?” Why indeed? Of course, many of the references go back to when G. W. Bush called one of his rivals a Nazi. (Question: if G.W. Bush does it, it must be okay, right? So why is Earthblog.net catching flak?)
Mind you, it’s not exactly fresh and original, the idea of comparing some control freak to the notorious Nazi mass murderer and freedom-slayer. No, the surprise comes in the sheer number of times the Bush/Hitler similarity has been proclaimed, all around the globe. Comparing Bush to Hitler has become a cross-cultural phenomenon and a real growth industry. “Bush equals Hitler” must be one of the most pervasive memes in the history of rational thought. And no wonder.
Here’s a checklist of parallels between Hitler’s Germany and the United States of Bush:
● perversion of the language to promote programs that wouldn’t sound so good if truthfully described; lying and propaganda raised to an art form
● hysterical, unrelenting “patriotism” that is not a justifiable pride in a good, well-run country, but a tool to promote suspicion and hate toward the rest of humankind
● a doctrine of “preventative war,” meaning we’d better mop the floor with as many other nations as possible, just so they don’t get any fancy ideas
● disregard for international standards of justice; breaking of international agreements
● “undesirables” rounded up and made to disappear in places of confinement with no legal representation, no notification of families, etc.
● ever-decreasing tolerance for dissent and protest; scorn for the wishes and values of those who prefer peace
● invasion of other countries which pose no threat
● convenient tragic disasters which justify a massive increase in government powers, provide excuse for martial law
● massive surveillance directed not only at threats from outside, but at the country’s own citizens; people encouraged to spy on friends, neighbors and family, and report them to the authorities
● promises made of what a wonderful a future lies ahead if only the sheeple will remain docile and let the leader do his thing unhindered by petty complaints about civil rights, morality, etc.
● glorification of the military, to the detriment of every other facet of society, and to the obscene enrichment of defense contractors
● insistence on an us-versus-them worldview; official enemies demonized and ruthlessly suppressed
● government emphasizes homeland security, ensures that people feel threatened enough to grovel and beg for protection; meanwhile does everything possible to make the rest of the world hate the country enough to pose a real threat
● promotion of the idea that every person’s first duty is to sacrifice self and family, health, religion, culture, sanity, decency and future, all for the glory of the Homeland; complete lack of interest in the fate of this philosophy’s victims, including the veterans of its own military forces
● criminalization of poverty, homelessness, and mental illness; creation of new criminal classes
● internal passports and other strictures; military troops used in domestic matters; internment camps
● major media ignore some stories, prematurely drop others, spin others beyond all recognition; coverage consists of asking government official, “Did you do what you’re accused of?” and accepting answer “No”
One notable difference between the regimes of the two national leaders is that Hitler held cleaner title to his office.
People today look back at the rise of Hitler and say, “Why did the Germans encourage him? Why didn’t they stop him?” Well, the rest of the world has been looking at the people of America for years, saying, “Why do they encourage Bush? Why don’t they stop him?”
There’s a little anecdote about the Soviet leader Khrushchev, who denounced Stalin in a speech before a large group of comrades. Some heckler yelled, “You were his colleague, why didn’t you stop him?” Khrushchev slammed his fist on the lectern and roared, “Who said that?” When answered only by silence, the leader said, “Now you know why.”
Now you know why. At the very least, a totalitarian regime will encourage its commercial arm to injure you economically by pulling all the ads from your website. At the very most, a totalitarian regime will line you up beside a ditch and shoot you. In between, there’s a sliding scale of repressive tactics, and our country’s position on that continuum shifts a little bit every day.
A site that has conveniently gathered together a large number of Hitler/Bush references in one place. http://semiskimmed.net/bushhitler.html