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Will Your Neighbors Have Your Back?

Posted in the database on Monday, August 28th, 2006 @ 09:55:15 MST (3762 views)
by the Shelter Staff    Shelter from the Storm  

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If worse came to worse, if the government sent some private security firm filled with sociopaths into your town or neighborhood to round up people like you, could you count on your neighbors to stand with you?

The scenario is not so far-fetched. Here's what Daniel Ellsberg had to say in a recent interview

The highly respected US whistleblower, former RAND strategic analyst Daniel Ellsberg, who was Special Assistant to Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam conflict and became famous after leaking the Pentagon Papers, has already warned of his fears that in the event of "another 9/11 or a major war in the Middle-East involving a U.S. attack on Iran, I have no doubt that there will be, the day after or within days an equivalent of a Reichstag fire decree that will involve massive detentions in this country, detention camps for middle-easterners and their quote 'sympathizers', critics of the President's policy and essentially the wiping-out of the Bill of Rights."

Ellsberg is not alone. Former Reagan Treasury official Paul Craig Roberts has written about the "brown shirting " of the conservative movement, In another essay, Roberts wrote:

In the ranks of the new conservatives, however, I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives who literally worship George Bush. Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush.

(If you think Roberts is over-reaching, then spend a few minutes reading through the comments on some of the most popular right-wing weblogs: http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com or http://www.freerepublic.com. See what people advocate be done--by the government and by them--to people like you.)

What if the hateful people Roberts writes about get their way? What if worse comes to worse? Will your neighbors have your back? Will enough people stand up against an out-of-control government and its brown shirt supporters to prevent the arrival of full-blown fascism in America?

Find out who will and who won't after the break.

Has the Danger Passed?

The declining approval ratings for George Bush have reassured some people that the rise of fascism in the United States has been halted, but they're terribly, perhaps tragically, wrong. First, the Bush administration has continued to make progress on its twin policies of permanent war and erasing the Bill of Rights even as approval ratings have dipped below 40%:

Permanent War

Erasing the Bill of Rights

stepped up backdoor draft

continued wiretapping w/o warrant

urged Israel to attack Lebanon

continued tracking bank transfers w/o warrant

sending more troops to Iraq

confirmed Roberts and Alito for S. Ct.and Hayden as head of CIA

preparing for war against Iran

proposed extending no-trial detention to citizens

Second, the declining poll numbers conceal more than they reveal. Bush has long been opposed by those who oppose his murderous and self-destructive foreign policy along with his assault of civil liberties, but that comprises only about 35-40% of the public.

The Core Anti-Fascist Constituency

pre-emptive force rarely/never justified


Patriot Act goes too far


Pew Center Report: Beyond Red and Blue (5/05)

Bush's loss of support has come instead from the defection of some of his most conservative supporters.

Change in Bush Approval btw 1/05 and 3/06





White Evangelicals




Support Iraq War


Source: Pew Center Report: Bush's Approval Falls to 33% (3/06)

This decline has been driven by the perception among some hyper-conservatives that Bush has moved to the middle:

Perceptions of Bush's Ideology




middle of the road






Looking behind the raw approval figures, it's clear that Bush's popularity problems come not from a public increasingly opposed to his right wing policies, but from a perception among his most conservative followers that he is wavering in his devotion to extremist ideology.

Who Is My Neighbor?

The threat of a fascist state in the U. s. is real--and it has not gone away. All it will take is another terrorist attack on U. S. soil, a wider war in the Middle East or an economic crisis triggered by another jump in oil prices or a severe recession brought on by the failing housing market.

Are you sure that enough Americans would rise up in protest and resistance to block an attempt to establish a totalitarian state? Many Germans, even Jews, thought that Hitler would never survive even a few months as a chancellor who headed an extremist, minoriy party. One Jewish newspaper urged its readers to hold firm in the face of the Nazi threat:

Germany remains Germany. No one can deprive us of our homeland and fatherland.

Is it impossible or even unlikely that you can be deprived of your homeland, or would some of your neighbors support your imprisonment while others looked the other way or cowered in fear for their own safety?

Who are your neighbors, really?

American Brown Shirts: The Authoritatians

After the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps were revealed at the end of World War II, many wondered if there was some peculiarity of the German people or culture that had made that genocide possible or if the same terrible things could happen elsewhere.

Social scientists conducted an extensive study of Americans to see if there were citizens of the United States who could, under the right circumstances, become bullying "Brown Shirts" or concentration camp guards. The result was a book, The Authoritarian Personality, that proposed that a substantial minority of Americans had personality traits that predisposed them to serve either as leaders or followers of authoritarian movements.

Former Nixon aide John Dean has resurrected The Authoritarian Personality and tied its thesis to what he observes as a growing trend in the Republican Party toward totalitarian views and policies. Dean provided a brief description of the follower and leader personality types in a recent interview:

The work on authoritarian followers showed a personality that is easily submissive to authority, be it political, religious or even parental. They submit quickly, and once they do, they become very aggressive in pushing that world view of that authority. They become submissive because they find great comfort psychologically in submitting. It helps them remove the ambiguities of life. And if they’re frightened by events, then this gives them a sense of security. And they’re typically very conventional in their lifestyle.

...They are very self-righteous. They are not self-critical. They have very little critical thinking about their own behavior. They are often nasty and mean-spirited. They are bullies. They are prejudiced.

...On the other side are the leaders. They are typically men whose desire in life is to dominate others and to be in charge. They are very aggressive when they do so. They are highly manipulative. They are also people who have absolutely no appreciation of equality of others. They see themselves as superior, and they are amoral in their thinking.

These are your most dangerous neighbors. Jonathan Schell has described American leaders like Joe McCarthy who have used fear and scapegoating to manipulate their followers into a frenzy of hatred. Ironically, it is when these leaders fail or make mistakes that they are the most dangerous, for they use their authority to shift the blame onto their opponents or vulnerable out-groups in society. Hitler blamed the Jews for Germany's defeat in World War I. American neoconservatives are already blaming critics of the Iraq War for the United States' failures there.

When the stakes are high enough, these authoritarian leaders can be expected to whip their followers into a hatful frenzy and turn them loose on target groups like Muslims and critics of the Bush administration.

The Religious Right: America's Inquisition

Only slightly less dangerous are your neighbors who are caught up in the Religious Right. A potent mixture of fundamentalist religion, hyper-patriotism, homophobia and patriarchalism, Christian conservatives have little or no respect for America's First Amendment tradition of separation of church and state. The most extreme, called Dominionists or Reconstructionists, seek to replace the legal system in the United States with bronze age statutes pulled from the Hebrew Bible.

Michelle Goldberg's book, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, cites one example of what she calls Christian Nationalist thinking drawn from a former executive of Coral Ridge Ministries, a widely influential organization founded by D James Kennedy:

Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.

But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.

It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.

It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.

It is dominion we are after.

World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish.

These are the neighbors who may claim to only hate your "sin" while loving you, but that won't stop them from insisting your children be brought up in their religion or demanding that you swear allegiance to their god or face "re-education."

What Your Neighbors Believe: The Pew Center Report

The Pew Reearch Center undertook after the 2004 election to conduct an extensive survey of Americans to determine what lay behind the facile red/blue distinctions. Using a survey that probed not only political attitudes but also values, perceptions and even personality, the Pew report uncovered a complex combination of alliances and coalitions producing the close races between Republicans and Demcrats over the past six years.

They found a total of ten groups distinguishable by their views on government, personal responsibility, the fairness of the American system, religion and civil liberties.

The Right Wing's Core

Three of these groups track closely with those already described. Those the Pew Group calls "Social Conservatives" and "Pro-Government Conservatives" are virtually the same as the Christian Conservatives described above. The Pew Group's "Enterprisers" contain some--though not all--of the authoritarian leader and follower types.

Key Characteristics of Core Right Wing Pew Groups





Use overwhelming military force to defeat terrorists



Social Conservaties



Social Conservaties

homosexuality should be discouraged



Pro-Government Conservatives



P-G Conservatives

dangerous books should be banned



Together, these three groups comprise 29% of the adult population and 33% of voters.

Pollyannas and Eeyores

Obviously, thirty-three percent of voters is not enough to explain how the Republicans currently control the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate, vote fraud notwithstanding. It is only with the help of two other groups that the forces of the Far Right have gained and continue to hold power in the U. S.

One group was key to Bush's victory in 2004. Pew calls them "The Upbeats," but they might also be called "Pollyannas." According to them, everything is morning in America, and the government, big business and everyone else are doing just fine by them. Typical is their attitude about corporations:




corporate profits are fair



Remarkably, this group comprises 11% of the population and 13% of registered voters. They are disproportionately young, well-educated and affluent.

If Big Brother comes knocking on your door, don't expect these self-satisfied folks to have your back.

The group the Pew study calls "The Disaffected" are almost the mirror image of the "Upbeats." These people struggle in the current economic system, but are deeply cynical that government can or will help them. They are strongly anti-immigrant:




immigrants are a burden



Few of the Disaffecteds vote on a regular basis, and when they do, they lean Republican. Most are preoccupied with surviving economically and have little or no interest in what happens to those around them. Disaffecteds comprise 9% of the population and 10% of registered voters.

These neighbors are not likely to risk what little they have for you if things get rough.

Even more disconnected from politics are those the Pew report labels "Bystanders." They neither vote nor follow political news. They comprise 10% of the population.

Democrats by Habit

This group is older and more religious than Democrats on average, but despite their more conservative views on social issues and foreign policty, they usually vote Democratic as they have in the past. But they should not be mistaken for liberals.



Conservative Dems

must believe in God to be moral



Approximately 14% of the population and 15% of registered voters are Conservative Democrats.

The group is disporportionately old, female, minority and poor. While their heart may be in the right place, these neighbors have little influence and less inclination to stick their necks out for someone who is different from them.

The Remnant

What remains is what's left of the Left in America. It is composed of two of Pew's groups: Disadvantaged Democrats and Liberals. Disadvantaged Democrats are struggling to survive, but still hope that government can provide a leg up. Nearly half are minority, sixty percent are female, and more than half have someone in the family who's been unemployed in the past year. Disadvantaged Democrats comprise 10% of the population and 10% of registered voters.

Liberals are disproportionately affluent and well-educated, and are far more worried about militarism, the Religious Right and infringements on civil liberties than any other group.

Liberals comprise 17% of the population and 19% of registered voters and are concentrated on the East and West Coasts.

When the Unthinkable Happens: How Neighbors Kill Neighbors

Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosnians had lived together in peace for a generation following the Second World War. The death of dictator Tito and economic difficulties increased the level of stress in Yugoslavian society in the late 80s. Neo-fascist elements began to exploit ethnic divisions by spreading rumors and escalating hate rhetoric to the point that some minority residents began to relocate to areas where they were part of the ethnic majority.

When the situation escalated, authoritarian leaders sent gangs of thugs into areas they wanted to "ethnically cleanse." Author Suzy Hansen describes the process:

One of the things that happened in Bosnia is that Slobodan Milosevic, who was engineering this whole push for a greater Serbia, had sent in paramilitary forces. And these were guys -- when we talk about evil, this is the level you're talking about -- who were thugs that were recruited from the criminal classes specifically because they have no moral stance. Some of them are psychopaths and others were opportunists who wanted to make a buck and could care less if they killed people along the way.

Once the killing had begun, locals were recruited to assist in killing their neighbors:

''They came around looking for volunteers,'' one Serb told Sudetic. ''They said, 'Grab your gun and come down to the soccer field.' ''

But America Is Different

But that could never happen here.

We want to believe that, but America is not so different. Has one group gone to war against another, committing murder and rape in order to drive people from their homes and "purify" the area? Such violence became almost commonplace in the post-World War I period as whites attacked African-Americans in cities across the country.

We would like to think that the public and the courts would never allow the government to round people up and put them in concentration camps just because of their race or religion, but that's exactly what they did to Japanese-Americans in World War II.

We hope that the electoral balance between the parties is too close in the United States for a right-wing dictatorship to succeed, but Hitler and the Nazis never even managed to win 40% of the vote in Germany. In the election immediately preceding Hitler's appointment as Chancellor, the Nazis actually lost 34 seats in the Reichstag. It was the crisis atmosphere and the support of wealthy industrialists that catapulted Hitler into a positionof power that he then leveraged, using terror and lies, into a total dictatorship.

Will Your Neighbors Have Your Back?

Martin Niemoeller was a Lutheran pastor who first supported the Nazis, but then opposed them and was sent to prison. He survived because he had been a heavily decorated U-boat captain in World War I, and he emerged from a concentration camp to pen words often quoted as a reminded of how a people can allow terrible things to happen:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Perhaps we should all consider the converse of Niemoeller's poem. We might call it:

If They Come For Me

If they come for me, who will speak up?
Will the flag-waving Republican?
Or will he chortle that it was he who fingered me?

If they come for me, who will speak up?
Will the Falwell-loving Sunday School teacher?
Or will she only promise to pray for me?

If they come for me, who will speak up?
Will the junior vice-president?
Or will he snicker, "What a loser"?

If they come for me, who will speak up?
Will the poor, the Muslim, the gay, the liberal?
Or will they be coming for them too?


Read from Looking Glass News

Welcome to Neo-Fascism 101

Three Signs That Your Superpower Is Becoming a Cheap Rip-Off of the Soviet Union

The 63 Characteristics Of Fascism And America's Development As A Fascist Nation

How to tell if you are in a tyrannical police state

Top Ten Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State

Rex 84: FEMA's Blueprint for Martial Law in America

Profiles Toward a New Dachau

Halliburton Detention Camps For Political Subversives

10-Year U.S. Strategic Plan For Detention Camps Revives Proposals From Oliver North

Are Concentration Camps Coming to U.S.?

FEMA and Katrina: REX-84 Revisited

Fascism Anyone?

Fascism in America: Are We There Yet?

Victims of Creeping Fascism

''Papers, please': I smell the long-forgotten rot of fascism'

Democratic Fascism

Faith-Based Fascism

The New Fascism

Go to Original Article >>>

The views expressed herein are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of Looking Glass News. Click the disclaimer link below for more information.
Email: editor@lookingglassnews.org.

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