The Attack on MoveOn.org and Other Dangerous ‘Fingerprints’

Yeah, I didn’t like the wording of the ad either. But the attack on MoveOn.org by the Senate last week is not an aberration but is part of a dangerous — and accelerating — trend of echoes from the past.Students of history know that the National Socialists in Germany, before they came to power, made multiple assaults on democracy by pushing for laws and that expanded penalties for opponents’ speaking out against certain subjects. What they — and then Stalin, who studied Hitler — perfected was the identification of a `third rail’ of untouchable subjects that one could never approach critically without facing escalating penalties — job loss, personal attacks, or, just a little later, criminal charges. These subjects were the war, the party itself, and the military. Making these subjects sacred and untouchable allowed National Socialists to commit any number of crimes by explaining that the abusive actions were taken in the name of the off-limits-to-criticism ideals.

Then once they came to power, they developed an ever-expanding network of laws criminalizing ever expanding minor actions critical of the state or of the military or the paramilitary forces; they developed broad definitions of `treason’ and of what it meant to `impugn the honor of the nation’ — so that soon it became a crime against the state, defined as an assault on patriotism and a form of treason, to listen to the BBC or to speak up for an imprisoned Jew or communist.

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