Published on Thursday, September 2, 2004 by Newsday / Long Island, New York
Prime-time Republicans are Hard to Take
by Hugh Pearson
As I watched Tuesday night's network coverage of the unrelenting political propaganda hour known as the Republican National Convention, the first thought that came to mind was of old newsreels of those self-congratulatory Nazi rallies held in Germany during the reign of Adolf Hitler.
For many people, I'm sure, such a comparison sounds extreme. Yet, just as the Nazis were obsessed with endless displays of swastikas, the Republicans are obsessed with the red, white and blue (for that matter, the Democrats are, too).
In the same manner that the German people were told that Nazi leadership was faultless, the Republicans are telling the American public that no one knows what's best for the world except the current leadership in the White House.
"If you believe this country and not the United Nations is the best hope for democracy, then you are a Republican!" bellowed California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In the same way that Nazis rationalized doing away with democratic rights and launching a pre-emptive war to protect the self-interests of the Third Reich, Republicans this week continue to encourage the American public to ignore our Constitution's directive that only Congress has the right to declare war (thus, we are not officially at war with anyone), and that a pre-emptive war with no exit strategy will actually protect "the American way of life," rather than further endanger it.
Simultaneously, on the streets of New York City, the police are responding to dissent by protesters from around the country with a mild approximation of the kind of crackdown that happened decades ago in Germany. Tuesday night they arrested close to 1,000 protesters in an attempt to make sure the demonstrators couldn't come close to displaying to a world shocked by the mess our government has made of its foreign policy that, indeed, dissent in America is alive and well.
With the cooperation from the broadcast media, there were ominous signs that the Republicans have every intention of continuing to dumb down the American public, turning us into collective putty in their hands. Indications came not only from the propaganda espoused by Schwarzenegger, but in the performance of President George W. Bush's twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna. Having the audacity to stand in front of the convention like two bored rich girls at a coming out party, they told the audience: "Since we've graduated from college, we're looking around for something to do for the next few years..."
How about suiting up and joining the front-line troops your father has sent to fight in Iraq, in his misdirected effort to protect your privileged existence?
After watching this convention on television, about the only sign I could find that the Republicans have any understanding of the real struggles facing those in this nation without the privileges epitomized by the president's daughters came from the mouth of the president's wife, Laura Bush. Our first lady acknowledged that making the ideal of freedom in America real has been an arduous task.
What neither she nor anyone else speaking from the podium acknowledged is that the economic and foreign policy facts of life in America are about as far from Republican fantasies as Crawford, Texas, is from New York City.
Convention speakers want us to believe that decisiveness from our current president, even if you disagree with where he has led us, beats the wishy-washy pronouncements from the mouth of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
Given the tone of what Republicans have been telling us at their convention about the direction George W. Bush is leading us - and the way they are delivering the message - let us not forget one other thing: Hitler was decisive, too.
Hugh Pearson is currently working on a biography of James Weldon Johnson and is a publisher of the Web site, NYAge.Net.
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