'The End of America'
Naomi Wolf's 'The End of America,' a searing indictment of George Bush's 'fascist tactics,' has been made into an equally uncompromising documentary
I don't call Bush a fascist. If you look carefully at my language, I am very considered. What I do talk about is "fascist tactics". One definition of "fascist" is when the state informs against the individual in an effort to exclude democracy. And there's no question that that is what's happening now.
If you look at history, you can see that there are 10 steps for turning an open society into a dictatorship. This process took place in "fascist shifts" ranging from Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s to the Latin American coups of the 1970s and beyond. And, difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated in the USA by the Bush administration.
With its jails in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, of course, Guantanamo in Cuba, America certainly has its gulag now. Plus, in our film you see footage of the 2008 Republican National Convention in St Paul, where 400 US citizens were arrested for protesting; footage that was buried in the ground by one of the protesters, but survived.
The fact that the President can call anyone an enemy combatant now and hold them in solitary confinement for three years; the fact that you've got torture camps; the fact that they can "render" people - if this isn't using force against the individual in a effort to undermine democratic process, I don't know what is.
On 1 October, Bush deployed the First Brigade in the United States of America - that's 3,000 to 5,000 warriors redeployed from Iraq, battle-hardened, with tanks, with weapons. The army say their mission is crowd control and dealing with unruly individuals. That violates the Constitution and years of making sure the military don't police civilian streets. It's one definition of a police state. Then there's the federalised National Guard, not to mention Blackwater (the private security company).
I'm heartened by how The End of America has resonated with people. At my events now, it's conservatives and liberals attending because everyone gets that something very sinister is going on. That's what the film does: it shows how these individual stories we are familiar with fit into a much larger pattern.
We're not out of the woods, even if there's a miracle of a transparent, accountable, uncontested, not-defrauded Barack Obama victory. We're still in trouble without a citizens' movement to restore these checks and balances, to roll back these laws, because Obama will be subjected to the same pressures our current situation would give any leader.
My book notes that there's a giant profit motive in shredding the Constitution - telecommunications companies, weapons manufacturers, all of them are shifting into surveillance and security technology. And they're writing laws to facilitate security officials. So Obama will be faced with those pressures - and that's why citizens have to be a counterpressure.
The Founders knew that, without checks and balances, the best-intentioned leaders are going to attempt to surveil the opposition, intimidate their commentators, and threaten their journalists with prosecution under the Espionage Act.
I want to sign people up, across party lines, to create a powerful citizens' movement. I just met Michael Kirk, the distinguished documentary director for Frontline, and he said - which is true - that (Dick) Cheney and (David) Addington have buried time-bombs so deep in secret legislation that we're never going to find them, as they wait to be activated during the next Republican regime.
We may have thought of the American Constitution as a very boring part of civics education in middle school, but it is actually this very, very precious radical document that protects us in a very personal way.
For me, there's this comic component: we've been OK with a foreign policy that perverts democracies around the world, so long as our liberties were secure at home. And now we're experiencing the same kind of intimidation here that we tolerated around the world for so long. The urgency of the timing is why there such a huge distribution plan going on in the USA for this film. It's even been made available online for free.
I knew nothing about the film-making process; it's all new to me. But there are these two remarkable Emmy-nominated film-makers, Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, who made The Trials of Darryl Hunt, about a man who spent 20 years in prison for a brutal rape/murder he did not commit, and The Devil Came on Horseback, about Darfur. I thought: "Oh wow, if only we can get these women to tell this story." And they got these amazing interviews. These ordinary Americans I'd written about, that I knew from newspaper clippings; they found them, and senior people in the military and journalism. I tried to be as useful as I could, in the sense that I tried to give the best lecture I could, which they intercut through the film. But it's their movie. I knew I'd be well served, so I just watched them work their magic.
© 2008 Naomi Wolf