It’s not that the behavior of our government has never reminded me of a certain totalitarian German regime of the last century. It’s the fact that reckless accusations of some person or group being Nazis are thrown about with little sense of accuracy or restraint.
A good example of this hysteria can be found in the words of one Bill O’Reilly. Apparently he was very upset at some fleeting post by a reader of the anti-war liberal website called the Daily Kos. Old Bully O’Really went so far as to accuse them of being a “left wing Nazi hate site,” and “like the KKK. It’s like the Nazi Party.”
So are we to think that Nazis are those folks who oppose a militaristic regime? Are Nazis the people who protest against leaders that attack a sovereign nation based on fear-mongering and outright propaganda? Are Nazis opposed to unprovoked war? Are Nazis the radicals who want our Bill of Rights restored?
Or are Nazis just people who don’t like O’Reilly? Doesn’t this all seem more than just a little backwards here? Since when have Nazis become anti-fascist?
On the other hand, we can see more than one similarity between the methods of the Bush Administration and those of the Third Reich. Both regimes seized power undemocratically. Both regimes lied to their citizens. Both regimes initiated a war of aggression. Both regimes regarded anyone who dissented as enemies. Both accused political opponents of defeatism. Both regimes spied on their citizens. Both regimes turned their militaries into a police force to be used against their own populations. Both regimes claimed the authority to indefinitely incarcerate its citizens on secret evidence.
Another characteristic of a totalitarian regime is its elevation of every person in uniform to the status of hero. This is true of Germany in the Second World War and it is true of the US Government in the Glorious War for Bush’s Re-Election. Er, I mean Operation Iraqi Freedom.
We all need to respect and support our fellow countrymen in the armed services. They didn’t start this mess. However, calling them all heroes leaves the meaning of the word “hero” so much emptier. What is left to distinguish those who do perform above and beyond the call? As the vets often say, the heroes are the ones who don’t come home.
Let’s take a look at two soldiers who wore different uniforms but shared the honor of being heroes. These two soldiers were loyal, even when their countries invaded and occupied nations that did not attack their homelands. They grew to reject the belligerent and authoritarian leadership forcing their people into unjust war and national disgrace.
The two soldiers died and were honored with extravagant and patriotic memorial services. The memorials were used by the governments to bolster support for their wars and to distract the people from the ugly truths emerging from the conflicts.
The first soldier was Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox. He was a brilliant leader of the German Wehrmacht in Europe and Africa during WWII. He was the youngest man ever to be promoted to the rank of Field Marshall. His famous Afrika Korps was victorious until abandoned and unsupported by Hitler.
Realizing Hitler was destroying his country, Rommel joined those who were conspiring against the dictator. They understood there was no way to legally arrest Hitler, so they determined it was necessary to assassinate him. After von Stauffenberg’s bomb failed to kill Hitler on July 20, 1944, Rommel was soon implicated.
He was given the choice to commit suicide or face trial and execution. To protect his family from reprisals, Rommel chose the former. Desperate for a hero to present to the public, the Nazis told the German people Rommel had succumbed to war wounds and was given a lavish public memorial.
The other soldier was a brave and patriotic young man named Pat Tillman. Foregoing a lucrative professional football career, he volunteered to join the army to defend his country after the attacks of September 11th. When Bush decided to invade Iraq, Tillman thought it was wrong and illegal, and that it was not part of the war against those who attacked the US. He began to talk about his opposition to the invasion. He even suggested to others that they not vote to re-elect Bush.
Tillman was killed on April 22, 2004 while serving in Afghanistan. The American people were told that he died fighting the enemy and was to be posthumously promoted to corporal and awarded the Silver Star. While leaders in the Pentagon and White House knew the official story was not true, he was given a splendid hero’s memorial service that was televised to the nation.
This was just the event needed by the administration to boost patriotism and support for the war in Iraq. As we remember, it was in April of 2004 that things started to turn very bloody in Iraq. The Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr urged his Mehdi Army to rise up against the American occupiers. Our casualties increased and the chaos worsened.
Only later did Tillman’s family and the nation learn that Pat was killed by “friendly fire.” There was no battle with the enemy and he was killed by either one of his comrades or some other unknown figure. The army medical examiners suspected that it was possible Tillman was murdered. He was shot three times in the forehead from close range with an M16 rifle.
The reports were a whitewash, complete with army officers boasting that they shook off further criminal investigations.
I am sorry to admit that I can even consider it possible that this man was killed, or even executed, by some shady rogue element in the field. It is sad to conceive the very idea that some private Blackwater mercenary goon or government spook silenced a high-profile outspoken military man of conscience.
No matter how Tillman died, his sacrifice was profanely and obscenely exploited into a shameful betrayal of all that is noble in our nation’s character.
One would expect this kind of treachery from Nazis. It is deeply painful to see these fascist tendencies in our own leaders.