Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld warned yesterday that “moral and intellectual confusion” over the Iraq war and the broader anti-terrorism effort could sap American willpower and divide the country, and he urged renewed resolve to confront extremists waging “a new type of fascism.”
Drawing parallels to efforts by some nations to appease Adolf Hitler before World War II, Rumsfeld said it would be “folly” for the United States to ignore the rising dangers posed by a new enemy that he called “serious, lethal and relentless.”
In a pointed attack on the news media and critics of President Bush’s war and national security policies, Rumsfeld declared: “Any kind of moral and intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can severely weaken the ability of free societies to persevere.”
Torture is good. Civil liberties are bad. Up is down. Down is up.
Actually, I would guess, having moral confusion sort of implies that one has morals. Let’s forgo that line of reasoning.
There is no confusion.
But Islamo-fascism is not the issue.
By referring to something as “Islamo-fascism,” the current Federal Administration implies that there is some single movement, some single ideology that some manifests itself in Iraq, in Afganistan, in Pakistan, in Lebanon.
Clearly, there is no such single movement. (If there were, why would the Iraqis be so eagerly engaged in killing each other, for heaven’s sake?)
Now, gentle reader, do not twist this into my saying that the United States or, perhaps, Western Civilization, is not threatened. There have been too many attacks for anyone to argue that.
Rather, twist it into this.
The way to defend American and Western values is not to make up phony wars nor to destroy the very values that centuries of struggle and tremendous amounts of blood and treasure have purchased for us. It is to live our values and defend them against their real enemies.
With their policies (and they were, indeed, polices, not acts of rogue corporals and privates) of torture, their intrusion into the personal lives of law-abiding citizens, their determined refusal to obey laws, their continual violation of their own oaths to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, the current Federal Administration has made itself as much an enemy of American and Western values as any outsider.
Kieth Olbermann said it well. (Yeah, I know this quotation is all over the blogosphere. It deserves to be. Follow the link to see the clip.)
Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet. We end the countdown where we began, our #1 story, with a special comment on Mr. Rumsfeldâ€™s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday. It demands the deep analysis – and the sober contemplation – of every
American. For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence – indeed, the loyalty – of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land.
Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants – our employees – with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administrationâ€™s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.
Dissent and disagreement with government is the lifeâ€™s blood of human freedom; And not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as “his” troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.
It is also essential. Because just every once in awhileâ€¦ it is right – and the power to which it speaks, is wrong. In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeldâ€™s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis.
For, in their time, there was another government faced with true peril – with a growing evil – powerful and remorseless. That government, like Mr. Rumsfeldâ€™s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the secret information. It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeldâ€™s – questioning their intellect and their morality.
That government was Englandâ€™s, in the 1930â€™s.
It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone to England.
It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.
It knew that the hard evidence it had received, which contradicted itâ€™s own policies, itâ€™s own conclusions – itâ€™s own omniscience – needed to be dismissed.
The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.
Most relevant of all – it “knew” that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile – at best morally or intellectually confused.
That criticâ€™s nameâ€¦ was Winston Churchill.
Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.
History – and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England – had taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty – and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.
Thus did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy excepting the fact that he has the battery plugged in backwards. His government, absolute and exclusive in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis. It is the modern version of the governmentâ€¦ of Neville Chamberlain.
But back to todayâ€™s Omniscient Ones.
That about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely. And as such, all voices count – not just his. Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience – about Osama Bin Ladenâ€™s plans five years ago – about Saddam Husseinâ€™s weapons four years ago – about Hurricane Katrinaâ€™s impact one year ago – we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their omniscience as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.
But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris. Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to flu vaccine shortages, to the entire “Fog of Fear” which continues to envelope this nation – he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies, have – inadvertently or intentionally – profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.
And yet he can stand up in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporerâ€™s New Clothes.
In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised?
As a child, of whose heroism did he read?
On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight?
With what country has he confusedâ€¦ the United States of America?
The confusion we – as its citizens – must now address, is stark and forbidding. But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note – with hope in your heart – that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light and we can too.
The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this Administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.
And about Mr. Rumsfeldâ€™s other main assertion, that this country faces a “new type of fascism.”
As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that – though probably not in the way he thought he meant it. This country faces a new type of fascism – indeed.
Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tributeâ€¦ I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.
But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed, “confused” or “immoral.”
Thus forgive me for reading Murrow in full:
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,” he said, in 1954. “We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear – one, of another. We will not be
driven by fear into an age of un-reason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men; not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were – for the moment – unpopular.”
And so, good night, and good luck.
Has anyone else worried that, if the current Administration lost an election, it might choose to declare the election void under the powers of the “unitary executive“?
That such a thought is even thinkable shows how much damage the current Federal Administration has done to the United States of American and its people.
William Arkin fingers the enemy.
Capitol Hill Blue weighs in.
RawStory on crying wolf.
And Webster’s has its say.