Monday, March 2, 2009

The new fascism

The reason it is so important for us to know what the Bush administration was thinking when it restricted civil liberties after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is that we need to be able to recognize the fascists among us. The new Obama administration has released nine secret legal opinions relied upon (and solicited, no doubt) by the Bush people to justify their actions, the New York Times reported Monday. The opinions attempt to offer legal cover for restricting privacy, habeas corpus and other constitutional rights by portraying them as necessary to protect the United States from the threat of terrorism. But the previous administration's authoritarian reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks was founded in a complete misunderstanding of the fundamental basis for this country. Hopefully, the Bush administration thought it was doing what had to be done to protect the country. But did we really want a country that no longer offers equal protections to all of its citizens? Did we really want a country that does not respect the fundamental rights of other nations to live in peace? Did we really want a country that is no longer a beacon of hope to the world but is instead an embarrassment of lost or forfeited opportunity? To their great credit, the citizens of the United States did more than just elect their first African-American president in November. They blocked the advance of fascism cloaked in patriotism that was being peddled by the Bush administration and the Republican party. But they may have done us a great service. At least we know what the new fascism is going to look like.

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