"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
- George W. Bush.
Here we are, it's 2006. Autumn turned 14 weeks this week. And it appears, this is the week the US entered the murky territory of being a dictatorship. And guess who the dictator is? Crazy talk from a sleep-deprived dad?
The US Government currently tortures. Under new law passed last week, Murder and Rape are outlawed, but other means of interrogation are up to the President.
The US Government has eliminated Habeas Corpus. The President is now allowed to declare someone an Enemy Combatant and hold them indefinitely. That person doesn't get to hear the charges, or dispute them.
The US Government is allowed to spy on anyone, without getting a warrant. In fact, the Government has been spying on anyone, without oversight for a few years now. This is the NSA Wiretapping story. The President calls it the Terrorist Surveillance Program.
The US Government has waged a pre-emptive war in Iraq. They waged war on Iraq not because of something they did, but because of what they might have done. Note the future tense: this is important, because the theme comes up again.
Now, the money-quote:
"In the 1920s, a failed Austrian painter published a book in which he explained his intention to build an Aryan super-state in Germany and take revenge on Europe and eradicate the Jews. The world ignored Hitler’s words, and paid a terrible price."
- George W. Bush.
His point is this: had the world stood up and taken notice earlier, the atrocities of the Nazis could have been avoided.
True. Only, he's talking with the perspective of history. He knows what Hitler did. When Hitler wrote the words that became Mein Kampf, he hadn't yet done anything wrong. Sure it would have been great to have arrested Hitler before he took over Germany and waged World War II. But doing so would have not have been right in a free society.
And that is the point. By envoking Hitler, the administration forces anyone who disagrees with even the premise of the argument to say Adolph Hitler shouldn't have been arrested for writing a book. Which is hard because we all know what it led to. So it seems insane to suggest that Hitler shouldn't have been taken care of when he wrote Mein Kampf.
But think about it, of course he shouldn't have. Because the people at the time would have had to arrest him for his ideas.
And ideas are different than actions in a free society. People should not be arrested and held without charge, and even tortured for their ideas.
And yet, the Government has the power to detain and the power to torture. And, in this particular speech, Bush is suggesting there is a historical precedent by which the world should have used dictator-like powers to stop Hitler by jailing him for his thoughts.
He seems to be arguing that if someone else has ideas that he deems harmful, he would presumably detain them without charge.
And isn't that the very definition of a dictator?