Credit to American Psychological Association website

Credit to American Psychological Association website

October 15, 2007
New York, NY
22nd Street and 6th Ave

Fascism is coming to America. This is the overarching message of Naomi Wolf’s new book, The End of America: A Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot. Naomi Wolf came to the Barnes and Noble on 22nd Street and 6th Ave. to promote this book, and she has been promoting it for the last month. Wolf, an American author and activist whose claim to fame was the feminist book The Beauty Myth, argues that there are ten definitive steps that governments take in order to turn their society into a fascist one. These ten steps, argues Wolf, are occurring right here in America, under the administration of George W. Bush. “It’s almost as if someone in the Bush Administration sat down and read history books,” said Wolf, comparing the current regime’s policies to ones taken by the National Socialists in 1930’s Germany and other totalitarian societies. The claim is certainly now a new claim, given that it is usually a lefty talking point and that Chris Hedges wrote a book detailing the coming of fascism to America via Christian Fundamentalists.

Wolf’s book builds on her article published in The Guardian, a British newspaper, which was titled “Fascist America, in Ten Easy Steps”. In the book, the first step in which Wolf outlines is the invoking of a threat. She traces the word “sleeper cells” to the regime of Josef Stalin, when he used the phrase to describe the threat of “capitalist terrorists”. She more closely compares the Pinochet regime’s concoction of fake documents on the subject of armed insurgents to the trumped up Bush Administration claim that Saddam Hussein sought to buy yellowcake from Niger, which, as you know, was later found out to be a lie. The second step in Wolf’s “shopping list” of fascist governments is the development of a network of secret prisons and torturous policies. Naomi Wolf compares the current deplorable conditions in Guantanamo Bay to the gulags of Stalin’s era, a comparison that was made by Amnesty International a few years ago, and a criticism that the Bush Administration (obviously) deplored. Naomi Wolf said that “it just blows my mind that we’re sitting in Chelsea on a beautiful October night, and George W. Bush can say ‘Jamie, you’re an enemy combatant (making a reference to an audience member)’”, commenting on American’s complacency in the face of the above actions that this administration has taken.

The next aspect of totalitarianism is the usage of paramilitary forces, an especially relevant point to make given the recent (and way to late) media coverage of Blackwater USA, the mercenary company that has been operating in Iraq and that has been culpable in the killings of innocent Iraqi civilians. Naomi Wolf exclaimed that Blackwater is in “complete violation of everything that this country stands for” and that “nothing prevents Blackwater from shooting 17 civilians in Times Square”. She made the last point when, illustrating the fact that Blackwater operated in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, there were reports of the shooting upon unarmed civilians, a claim that author Jeremy Scahill made. The last step that Wolf discussed, in the interest of the time constraints she was speaking under, was the surveillance apparatus. She said that the new security climate in America is “very effective in quelling dissent,” and uses East Germany in the 1950’s as a comparison point. Naomi Wolf said that the Bush Administration is “ratcheting up intimidation” and that “many critics of the Bush Administration are on the list,” referring to a watch list of Americans. Naomi Wolf claimed that she is on that list, as she got a security mark on her boarding pass and extra searching of her belongings. She also used the comparison that in fascist Germany and Italy, they forced people to drink liquids against there will, much like TSA agents did in the aftermath of the liquid terrorist scare.

Naomi Wolf closed out her discussion with the talk of what to do about all of the above. She encourages the building of a “citizen’s democracy movement,” a move that she is trying to jumpstart with the group the American Freedom Campaign. She placed a strong emphasis on electoral politics, even glorifying the Clinton years (it is worth noting that she was an adviser to Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign and Al Gore’s 2000 Presidential run), saying that Americans “have no time” and implying that the Bush Administration might try to stay in office past it’s time. Wolf also called on the audience to get involved in a November 6th general strike being organized by her group, and to also “harass Congress to confront the abusers”. Emphasis was also placed on the impeachment and prosecution of the Bush Administration for war crimes and treason.

She then went on to take questions from the audience, ranging in topics from Prescott Bush to the question of armed struggle. She highlighted a recent BBC report that Prescott Bush and other influential financiers were admirers of fascism, and sought to overthrow Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a coup de tat. Surprisingly, she reacted favorably to the question on armed struggle, saying that she has reconsidered the 2nd Amendment. The totality of the discussion lasted for about an hour, with book signings afterwards.