The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism.There was a time when I thought the idea of impeaching Bush was a little radical. After all, we get the government we deserve. But now that it's clear that his administration is likely the most inept and deceptive one we've had in my lifetime, I'll happily acquiesce to the idea. Forgetting about the war in Iraq, just within the last couple of weeks:
In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason.
- Umberto Eco
- Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona describes how he was asked to ignore science in order to propagate a political agenda:
All indignant emphasis mine.
"The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to 'water down' a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.
Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings.
And administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organization’s longtime ties to a 'prominent family' that he refused to name.
'I was specifically told by a senior person, "Why would you want to help those people?"' Dr. Carmona said.
The Special Olympics is one of the nation’s premier charitable organizations to benefit disabled people, and the Kennedys have long been deeply involved in it."
- Bush commutes the sentence of a crony, Scooter Libby, who may have implicated people further up the food chain in his administration.
- Bush exerts executive privilege, telling Sara Taylor she need not testify openly before Congress on matters, which might also implicate his administration. (What do you have to hide, W?)
- Bush tells Harriet Miers not to show up for questioning before Congress, an action which may lead to contempt charges against Miers. (Keeping in mind that neither Taylor nor Miers even work for Bush any more.)
If I sound a little obstreperous at this point, please consider giving Umberto Eco's "14 Ways of Looking at a Brown Shirt" a read. His short piece ends thusly:
Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, "I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares." Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances — every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt's words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: "If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land." Freedom and liberation are an unending task.