"Dr. Seuss’s political cartoons from the early 1940s are just as dead-on target as when he first drew them, and especially pertinent today as the ideological heirs of the good Doctor’s 'Appeasement' characters run amok in the streets of Europe and San Francisco," wrote Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs way back in March of 2004, cited in our own post "Clueless, then and now."
"These days, the term fascism is loosely applied to anything antidemocratic," asserts a Boston Globe editorial this morning, willfuly missing the point of Secretary Rumsfeld's astute camparison -- in a rousing speech at the American Legion convention yesterday -- of international appeasement then and now, even as the Globe's editors lump together Rummy's use of the fascism analogy with that of the Bush=Hitler™ crowd:
The Bush Administration has gone on the offensive this week to shore up collapsing support for its policies in Iraq. The latest effort -- transparent as it is inaccurate -- tries to draw parallels between Iraq and World War II . . . In a long, looping analogy, Rumsfeld described the period before America entered World War II as a time "when those who warned about a coming crisis -- the rise of fascism and Nazism -- were ridiculed and ignored." He said critics of the Iraq war "seem not to have learned history's lessons."
When it comes to missing the lessons of history and indulging in "long, looping" analogies, no one does it better than the Globe:
Meanwhile, in an almost uncanny echo of Rumsfeld's overblown rhetoric, anti-war groups mobilizing for a rally in Washington on Oct. 5 have themselves seized on Nazi analogies [doh] . . . It presents a bill of particulars, from the response to Hurricane Katrina to denying women abortion rights. "People look at all this and think of Hitler, and they are right to do so," the ad concludes. And, like Rumsfeld, the alliance warns that "history is full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to be swallowed up by a horror far beyond what they ever imagined."
You want "uncanny echoes" and "overblown rhetoric"? Look no further than the mainstream media's party line du jour. We heard very much the same misreading of Secretary Rumsfeld's words from Kitty Pilgrim, subbing for Lou Dobbs on CNN last night. CNN International has the talking points:
President George W. Bush has recast his global war on terror in recent days into a "war against Islamic fascism."
Bush used the term this month, in talking about the arrests of suspected terrorists in Britain, and spoke of "Islamic fascists" in a later speech in the middle America state of Wisconsin. Spokesman Tony Snow has used variations on the phrase at White House press briefings.
You don't suppose Tony, Rummy and the President they serve actually believe the "new buzz word" might help focus the citizenry on the no-prisoners intentions of the enemy? You know, those follks who want to kill us and reshape the world in their own totalitarian image the way Hitler did? Naw, it's just about sagging poll numbers:
Stephen J. Wayne, a professor of government at Georgetown University, suggested White House strategists "probably had a focus group, and they found the word 'fascist.'
"The War is Coming. No Matter How Hard We Try to Evade It" subheads Cox & Forkum's awesome cover illustration for Robert Tracinski's "Five Minutes to Midnight."
Observing the events of today -- the hesitation and uncertainty, the stubborn clinging to the fantasy that the enemy can be appeased if we just keep talking and find the right diplomatic solution --I now feel that, for the first time, I really understand the leaders of the 1930s. Their illusion that Hitler could be appeased has always seemed, in historical hindsight, to be such a willful evasion of the facts that I have never grasped how it was possible for those men to deceive themselves. But I can now see how they clung to their evasions because they could not imagine anything worse than a return to the mass slaughter of the First World War. They wanted to believe that something, anything could prevent a return to war. What they refused to imagine is that, in trying to avoid the horrors of the previous war, they were allowing Hitler to unleash the much greater horrors of a new war.
Today's leaders and commentators have less excuse. The "horror" they are afraid of repeating is the insurgency we're fighting in Iraq—a war whose cost in lives, dollars, and resolve is among the smallest America has ever had to pay. And it takes no great feat of imagination to project how much more horrible the coming conflict will be if we wait on events long enough for Iran to arm itself with nuclear technology. Among the horrific consequences is the specter of a new Holocaust, courtesy of an Iranian nuclear bomb.
Yes, but how would it play in a focus group?