Journalist and author Rosa Brooks is no stranger to the need to keep power in check. A law professor, the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at Georgetown University Law Center, a columnist and contributing editor for Foreign Policy, and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, her work is reaching the ears of those engaging in unchecked power. Just ask the alt-right.
It is said that those who forget or do not know their history are destined to repeat it. And in the current political climate, a conversation is taking place about the similarities between said climate and 1930s Germany. In the early 20th century, it was the Jewish people who were the subjects and vicitms of categorical extinguishment. Today, it might be fair to ask who will be the subjects and victims of a new regime intent upon something of a similar nature.
I want you to read this article by Brooks. And I want you to weigh the possibility that what we are witnessing in America today is the final days of our democratic government.
In a previous piece, considering out loud the possibility of what hereforeto had been unthinkable in our country — a situation where the military was ordered to do something so unconscionable that it refused — Brooks raised this issue:
The principle of civilian control of the military has been deeply internalized by the U.S. military, which prides itself on its nonpartisan professionalism. What’s more, we know that a high-ranking lawbreaker with even a little subtlety can run rings around the uniformed military. During the first years of the George W. Bush administration, for instance, formal protests from the nation’s senior-most military lawyers didn’t stop the use of torture. When military leaders objected to tactics such as waterboarding, the Bush administration simply bypassed the military, getting the CIA and private contractors to do their dirty work.
But Trump isn’t subtle or sophisticated: He sets policy through rants and late-night tweets, not through quiet hints to aides and lawyers. He’s thin-skinned, erratic, and unconstrained — and his unexpected, self-indulgent pronouncements are reportedly sending shivers through even his closest aides.
What would top U.S. military leaders do if given an order that struck them as not merely ill-advised, but dangerously unhinged? An order that wasn’t along the lines of “Prepare a plan to invade Iraq if Congress authorizes it based on questionable intelligence,” but “Prepare to invade Mexico tomorrow!” or “Start rounding up Muslim Americans and sending them to Guantánamo!” or “I’m going to teach China a lesson — with nukes!”
It’s impossible to say, of course. The prospect of American military leaders responding to a presidential order with open defiance is frightening — but so, too, is the prospect of military obedience to an insane order. After all, military officers swear to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not the president. For the first time in my life, I can imagine plausible scenarios in which senior military officials might simply tell the president: “No, sir. We’re not doing that,” to thunderous applause from the New York Times editorial board.
As you will read in the article, in short order she was receiving threats to her life for “asserting that I was demanding, planning and threatening the violent overthrow of the US government.”
In point of fact, she was doing nothing of the sort. She was engaging in a proverbial “what if” and inviting rigorous and serious dialogue on the matter.
But the implications of the direction things went upon pondering the idea are not good. Steve Bannon’s meteoric rise to seemingly unchecked power in the Republican administration is raising some credibly alarming issues that, if not addressed or at the very least discussed rigorously, have the warning signs the Wannsee Conference should have.
Doing a little floating of my own here I want to put this out there for discussion.
President Trump is being analogously compared to the German leader of the last century, and the things rapidly happening in our country are said to resemble much of the 1930s that predicated the Nazis in World War WII. And perhaps in this analogy, Bannon would be likened to Hitler.
But here’s the question: Not at all to take away from or disparage a group of people who were unquestionably the target of extermination, but in this case, who represents the Jews in this analogy?
I will assert the first thought in the matter and leave it open to discuss. The Jews in this analogy are minorities, outspoken women, dissenters of any persuasion, and liberals as a whole. Furthermore, journalists it would seem are being precariously funneled towards the label of being enemies of the state.
Think about that.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If we lose the Fourth Estate, we’ve lost it all.
But I digress here a little to bring this a little closer to home here in Washington County and assert a little context.
In her article, Brooks raises the question of if it is conceivable that something criminally untoward could happen to a journalist or a like dissenter. Taking it a step further, is it possible here?
Say there was a theater professor at a college who exercised his First Amendment rights to oversee theater productions some at the college found offensive solely for “moral” purposes having nothing to with policy or law. Say this professor was fired without even the slightest modicum of due process and that when the action was scrutinized, a fictitious criminal charge was created to pre-contextualize the suspect firing.
Say a county attorney who also happened to be a member of a foundation named after the college refused to prosecute the case on its lack of merit, probable cause, and elements of the charge but was careful not to make public that not taking the case was for this reason, instead inferring that it simply did not rise to the level of offense prosecuted by his office and that the city where the college was would review it, — the city, mind you, where the mayor sits on the board of trustees of said college.
Say that the probable cause statement was then, in lieu of being written by the investigating campus police officer, written by an attorney for the city and that in the trial that ensued all manner of suspicious activity — from ex parte communications to cops perjuring themselves under oath — took place.
And say that after all of that, and after the professor was acquitted, the college still refused to acquiesce to the decision, instead releasing a defamatory statement crucifying the professor’s character and flatly defending its decision in spite of any and all evidence to the contrary.
Folks, if you think what is happening nationally with abdication of the judicial process and the possibility of those in power carrying out personal hostile agendas under color of law cannot happen locally, perhaps a closer look is warranted.
Think nationally. Act locally.
Words to consider.
See you out there.
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