February 23, 2005


When Democracy Failed - 2005: The Warnings of History (Thom Hartmann, 2/23/05, CommonDreams.Org)

This weekend - February 27th - marks an important historical anniversary. One that the corporate media is not likely to cover. The generation that experienced this history firsthand is now largely dead, and only a few of us dare hear their ghosts.

It started when the government, in the midst of an economic crisis, received reports of an imminent terrorist attack. A foreign ideologue had launched feeble attacks on a few famous buildings, but the media largely ignored his relatively small efforts. The intelligence services knew, however, that the odds were he would eventually succeed. (Historians are still arguing whether or not rogue elements in the intelligence service helped the terrorist. Some, like Sefton Delmer - a London Daily Express reporter on the scene - say they certainly did not, while others, like William Shirer, suggest they did.)

But the warnings of investigators were ignored at the highest levels, in part because the government was distracted; the man who claimed to be the nation's leader had not been elected by a majority vote and the majority of citizens claimed he had no right to the powers he coveted.

He was a simpleton, some said, a cartoon character of a man who saw things in black-and-white terms and didn't have the intellect to understand the subtleties of running a nation in a complex and internationalist world.

His coarse use of language - reflecting his political roots in a southernmost state - and his simplistic and often-inflammatory nationalistic rhetoric offended the aristocrats, foreign leaders, and the well-educated elite in the government and media. And, as a young man, he'd joined a secret society with an occult-sounding name and bizarre initiation rituals that involved skulls and human bones.

Nonetheless, he knew the terrorist was going to strike (although he didn't know where or when), and he had already considered his response. When an aide brought him word that the nation's most prestigious building was ablaze, he verified it was the terrorist who had struck and then rushed to the scene and called a press conference.

"You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history," he proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out building, surrounded by national media. "This fire," he said, his voice trembling with emotion, "is the beginning."

60.6 million American fascists can't be wrong.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 23, 2005 2:24 PM

How's that go again? Oh yeah, republicans righ-wing, democrats left. Nazis reactionary, bolshies progressive. Commies good, nazis bad. Bush=Hitler!

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at February 23, 2005 2:38 PM

Imagine the generation of kids who grows up thinking that the Nazis were prety much like Republicans? They'll have no idea why we fought WWII.

Posted by: oj at February 23, 2005 2:47 PM

Jesus, Orrin where do you dig these nutters up? Oooh, the eeevil corporate media isn't covering the anniversery of the Reichstag fire and it must be Chimpy McBushitler and KKKarl Rove's doing! Big deal! You know what today is? The 60th anniversery of the flag raising atop Mt Suribachi. That's an anniversery I want to honor. Semper Fi!

Posted by: Governor Breck at February 23, 2005 2:52 PM


That would be the Democratic mainstream I'm fishing in--and they always bite.

Posted by: oj at February 23, 2005 2:58 PM

Imagine the generation of kids who grows up thinking that the Nazis were prety much like Republicans? They'll have no idea why we fought WWII.

They'll be told that it was a war for affordable health care, economic and social justice, a cleaner environment, and A Woman's Right To Choose.

Posted by: Mike Morley at February 23, 2005 3:30 PM


No need to worry, with all the American History classes frontloading the first two months of the school year with mandatory native American studies, the classes never get to WWII. In my two kids entire primary and secondary education they only made it to the depression once. A couple times they covered the entire history past the Civil War during the last week of the school year.

Posted by: jeff at February 23, 2005 4:23 PM

jeff: you weren't really expecting the schools to educate your kids were you ? i mean that seriously. they do maybe 1/3 of what is necessary, and the rest has to come from the home environment.
if you think of school as mostly a socialization process it becomes tolerable.

Posted by: cjm at February 23, 2005 5:39 PM

Whoa, that is, like, heavy man.

Posted by: carter at February 23, 2005 7:15 PM

Okay, let me see if I have this straight. Nineteen Arabs burned the Reichstag to the ground and then the Jews were blamed. Yeah, that seems about right.

Posted by: robert at February 23, 2005 8:39 PM


No, we were realistic and provided a lot of home support. Actually it was reassuring that some of their ying yang teachers were'nt giving them important info. The one time they did get 20th century it was from a good teacher. The boys both thought he was probably moderate left but weren't sure as he was generally even-handed. He also only used the text for reference.

Posted by: jeff at February 23, 2005 8:46 PM

what's the difference between hitler and the democrats ? hitler didn't steal elections...

jeff: sounds like you have things under control :)

Posted by: cjm at February 23, 2005 10:35 PM