Thursday, April 16, 2009

Is it wrong to mention Hitler?

John and Cisco,

On Your radio show ("Big John and Cisco in the Morning", 560-WIND, Chicago) this morning You ridiculed a demonstrator at yesterday's Chicago "Tea Party" because he displayed an image of Barack Obama portrayed as Adolf Hitler. You marginalized him as a kook, or perhaps a disingenuous political plant working to discredit the Tea Party and conservative movement. Your reaction, I think, suggests You may not realize that for many conservatives (like myself), the threat posed by the Obama administration extends well beyond higher taxes.

In just a few months the Obama administration has begun to implement a vision that exalts the power of the state above the rights of individuals. This is evident in government efforts that:

- attack human life (1);
- threaten democratic rights (2);
- erode personal property rights (3);
- and more.

The outrage felt by many conservatives, just as in that first Boston Tea Party, has at least as much to do with oppressive government as with taxes, and this did not begin only with the election of Barack Obama. Conservatives increasingly realize that our Constitution and democracy are threatened, and that historically nations which overturn their founding principles are in danger of tyranny or collapse.

Statism does not develop in a single day, nor does it manifest itself without warning, with parades of goosestepping brownshirts, concentration camps, and a citizenry cowering in silent terror. Statists in our state and federal government today don't wear swastikas, and they don't execute their political opponents or send them to camps. But they do work systematically to expand government power into every aspect of life, funding statist programs, suffocating our liberties through taxation and onerous regulation, and reinterpreting civil and basic human rights until they are no longer rights but privileges which now may be taken away: and all with the populist purpose of helping the common man.

Is it inappropriate or irrelevant to recognize that these threats to freedom are not new to history? The progressive path to statism and tyranny is paved with noble purpose, and has been followed by other nations under leaders who became notorious because of the terrible results of their misguided vision. This is a path strewn with the wreckage of ruined nations and tragic lives. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and others, more or less gradually built statist machines in which salvation was to be had through the state, and only through the state. Therefore the state became not the servant of society, but revealed itself an insatiable and merciless taskmaster.

More than a few Americans today recognize that our federal and state governments are tightening their hands around our necks. There are plenty of historical reasons for Americans to recognize the threat for what it is, and to rise up in peaceful but effective opposition.

Some may use images of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Mussolini, or other well known tyrants to convey in harsh but vivid terms the dangers of state power unrestrained. Such political discourse may ruffle feathers among those too naive to think such things could ever happen here, or who consider themselves too polite to mention the possibility. Yet such discourse remains constitutionally protected "free speech", and true Americans ought to have enough respect for free speech to enthusiastically defend the right of citizens to air strong views without impugning their sincerity or sanity.

(1) eg: funding for abortion and embryonic stem cell research, FOCA legislation, elimination of conscience protection for medical workers.
(2) movement toward "Fairness Doctrine"; demonization of those critical of government policy as "right wing extremists".
(3) through "bailing out" and nationalizing select private businesses; fomenting hostility of the middle class toward corporate executives and the wealthy; manipulating the housing and credit markets; onerous taxation; expensive government programs that distort the flow of capital.

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