Losing Democracy

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Naomi Wolf, author of the best-selling The Beauty Myth, likens what is happening in the U.S. with other democracies that became dictatorships, including Weimar Germany, in her new book, The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot. Historian Eric Weitz, author of Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy, joins her to look more deeply at the comparison between then and now.

The End of America is available for purchase at

Weimar Germany is available for purchase at
If you can't see the video click here


Eric Weitz and Naomi Wolf

Comments [96]

American Combatant from Brooklyn

Please see these Post-9/11 Noir films:

"The Truth is Darker Than You Think"


"The Enemy Lies Within"

They are related

Jan. 30 2008 12:24 AM

Hoo, boy, Daniel, that's a whole 'nother can of worms--the deceit AND/OR sheer incompetence of the person who has amassed the singular power Wolf fears.

Intel told Bush there was new info on Iran, but wouldn't tell him what the info was?? That makes no sense, on any level, whatsoever. Why would you tell a lie that makes you look incompetent? We can only conclude because the truth is even worse.

It's astounding what this administration thinks it can get away with. They can say anything, and it just gets lapped up. They're not even trying anymore. Sadly for the country, they don't have to.

The fault lies in our administration stars AND in ourselves.

Dec. 06 2007 12:11 PM
Daniel Inzlicht from Brooklyn

Till this week I taught that the left is just looking to put roadblocks to everything the President is doing. But when I listened to Naomi's comments it struck me, that while we aren't there yet to be a a nation with a dictator, but how can we let a single person have so much power. Then today when I heard that the NIE said that Iran froze their nuclear program for 4 years already, that made me really upset at the president for telling lies again and again. How can we let it happen that 1 person should have so much power with no real over-site?

Dec. 04 2007 03:26 PM
American refugee

Brian says "aren't we far from the [democracy] tipping point.."? Like Germany we are just one economic calamatity away from what Germany experienced in 1933-39.

Dec. 01 2007 05:47 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Just checked, & the audio link is up & working (in case anyone's still reading this...).

Nov. 30 2007 12:37 AM

>>this is your last shot at proving that you can communicate coherently and have even a drop of intellectual honesty.

I don't think I've seen a richer collection of obscurantist argument techniques, all jumbled up and spewed out in just a single paragraph--it's a classic of inept regurgitation.

Your message, clumsily executed as it is, is a bald-faced primer in how some over-ardent politicos think an argument should be won, ie, with the use of:

--name-calling and broad-brush smears (after calling for politeness).

--it's-so-because-I-said-it's-so statements (after calling for dialog).

--marching-orders sound bites (after decrying sloganeering).

--a demand for answers to screwball all-or-nothing questions (after complaining your opponent's arguments are too confusing).

--cutesiness that would choke a horse. ("Today's Quiz," yet. Oh, the smarm . . . the smarm.)

--a flak-storm of side issues, extraneous accusations, goofy reframings and straw men (followed with an appeal for coherence and intellectual honesty).

--finally, drench the whole pitiful bollix in a tone of smug superiority.

Classic. And hilarious, if you're into schadenfreude.

You go look up "intellectual honesty" in the dictionary, but you'd be better off getting a real education outside propaganda spigots. And/or growing up.

Nov. 28 2007 11:46 PM
steve from brooklyn

How can we hear the entire interview?

Nov. 28 2007 07:19 PM
RCTobin from New York City

Great segment; I am e-mailing it to my friends. Anyone who thinks that Wolf is exaggerating the threat should watch Frontline's "Spying on the Home Front," which was aired last night on Channel 13 and should be aired on other PBS stations and available on the Frontline website.

Nov. 28 2007 02:29 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Gene, thanks for posting the list of steps. I see it doesn't include suppression of voting by population groups likely to support the opposition (see comment 21), which I think was 1 of the most egregious abuses in the 2000 & 2004 elections & should be on the list.

This is strange--I checked for the playback link late last night & saw it there (in addition to the YouTube link), but now it's not there. I hope the link to the full segment will be added (again?).

Nov. 28 2007 11:11 AM
Rasputin from New Jersey

Trillion and half dollar spent - all to fight cavemen with boxcutters. Who is winning?

Better yet - who's war is this, really, and what they fighting for?

Nov. 28 2007 10:48 AM
KS from CT

-- BL show responds:
We remove all comments that violate our posting guidelines. This comment was removed because it was offensive.

Nov. 28 2007 10:22 AM
chestine from NY

And re NYPD "parades of power" drills - I remember in the late 60s, anti-war and anti police brutality voters wore the flag to assert their entitlement to patriotism, as the police started wearing flags - we stood up to the would-be usurpers then, we stood up to Nixon, and we won. We are definitely part of the equation, we are just not exercising our power.

Nov. 28 2007 09:11 AM
KS from CT

Whoops - sorry - I meant that you'd vote "against" the Patriot Act and that you have not read it.

Nov. 28 2007 08:45 AM
KS from CT

Thanks Gene,
I saw the link - an exercise in paranoia and bad-faith (readers - check it out). Just to be polite, to introduce you to dialogue rather than the sloganeering to which you seem compelled, and to let other readers see the full depth of your point of view, I'll ask you just one more time - Are you stating that Bush/Cheney are somehow planning to stay in office? If not, then what is their "fascist plot to consolidate power" (or whatever you buffoons call it) about. Please be specific and coherent (from your previous posts, I'd recommend that you consult a dictionary for these terms). (hint - reference to K Street project and Patrick Henry University are not relevant or persuasive. And in the litany of "things moving us towards tyranny", why not take a stab at the consistent shouting down of conservative speakers on campus, and the incessant demonizing of the President (he's stupid/incurious/manipulated/a religious zealot/corrupt). You folks actually accuse him of being the world's first stupid Machavellian.
Finally - today's quiz:
1 - Are you for or against the Patriot Act?
2 - Have you read the Patriot Act?
Let me guess. Yes and No.
Good luck - this is your last shot at proving that you can communicate coherently and have even a drop of intellectual honesty.

Nov. 28 2007 08:43 AM
Mark from Rockland County

OK - in the meantime, for those jonesing to hear the whole interview - here's another one with her:

And a lecture (covers much of the above, but with much more detail):


Nov. 28 2007 07:55 AM
Paul from Brooklyn

I hope everyone emails the show and says how disappointed you are that the Naomi Wolfe interview was intentionally redacted from the replay page.

-- BL show responds:
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The Audio link should be correct at this point, and we apologize for the mistake!

Nov. 28 2007 03:20 AM

Here are the 10 steps of a fascist shift:, as phrased in the book:

1. Invoke an External and Internal Threat
2. Establish Secret Prisons
3. Develop a Paramilitary Force
4. Surveil Ordinary Citizens
5. Infiltrate Citizens' Groups
6. Arbitrarily Detain and Release Citizens
7. Target Key Individuals
8. Restrict the Press
9. Cast Criticism as "Espionage" and Dissent as "Treason"
10. Subvert the Rule of Law

Here is a VERY short "photo-intensive summary:"

Nov. 28 2007 12:36 AM

>>Gene - I don't understand how my simple stating that Bush/Cheney will be out of power is a "naive prognistication".

Read more carefully. I see why you espouse the positions you do--you seem to have a problem with reading comprehension.

But you do raise an interesting aspect of Wolf's book. She talks about _actions_ by people/departments/the Bush administration. She doesn't rail per se against some enemy, nor waste time on unknowable motivations. She lets the actions speak for themselves.

In fact, she urges the military, the FBI, the conservative Christian movement, and all with a stake in Democracy to "stand up directly to confront those who have committed crimes against the Constitution--and hold them accountable, as the Founders trusted us to do."

Nov. 28 2007 12:36 AM
George from NJ

I'd like to add to the requests above that you make this entire segment -- including the questions and comments from listeners -- available as a podcast. I also missed a few parts of it, and am greatly disappointed it is not available in its entirety here on your site.

-- BL show responds:
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The Audio link should be correct at this point, and we apologize for the mistake!

Nov. 27 2007 11:02 PM
Paul from Brooklyn

Good one Rasputin. So true.

Anyway, did you guys notice they left this interview out from the replay page? WTF?!?

Nov. 27 2007 10:51 PM
Rasputin from New Jersey

Oh you wise people who know better - all NW has done is to show you the steps that have already been taken - the gun loaded, the hammer cocked, the muzzle pointed to the temple - and you, oh wisest of the wise - say in your wisest voices:

"But I don't feel no bullets!"

Nov. 27 2007 10:31 PM
Angela B. from Nyack, NY

Please post the MP3!!! I heard a portion of the interview on air and am dying to hear the rest. What's with this YouTube excerpt...a condition from her publicist?

Editor: Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The Audio link should be correct at this point.

Nov. 27 2007 09:44 PM

Please post the full audio for this segment. I missed it on the air and want to listen.

Editor: Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The Audio link should be correct at this point.

Nov. 27 2007 07:27 PM
Kristy from Manhattan,,2064157,00.html

Nov. 27 2007 07:22 PM
Rasputin from New Jersey

To KS - I tell you Bush is just puppet like my genuine Barak Oabama Osama ... doll I sell you. Dick Cheney - less so, but there's plenty more where he come from. You think we short handed?

To quote my friend Paul Craig Roberts:

"All polls show that Hillary Clinton is far in the lead for the Democratic presidential nomination and Rudy Giuliani is far in the lead for the Republican nomination [See Polling Election 2008 ]. These are the only two candidates guaranteed to be worse than Bush/Cheney."

Nov. 27 2007 06:07 PM
Rasputin from New Jersey

I tell you though, you must pay in Rouble for genuine Barak Obama Osama Bin Dalai Lama doll.
If I take dollar - today worth - not much. Tomorrow? Nothink.

Nov. 27 2007 06:02 PM
KS from CT

Gene - I don't understand how my simple stating that Bush/Cheney will be out of power is a "naive prognistication". Does "they appear to be ready willing and to do anything to stay in power" mean that you are stating that Bush/Cheney have that intention. If so, please state it clearly so readers can judge your ideas accordingly. If not, I guess I'd suggest a bit more clarity anyway - hard to understand what you're saying except that you Bush is some sort of demon (what an original, thought provoking and interesting idea).

Nov. 27 2007 06:00 PM
Rasputin from New Jersey

Yes, yes dearest Allsin - you buy one - I sell one. Find on ebay.

And we have Keith Olberman doll, and Oprah, and Barak Obama Osama Bin Dalai Lama, and George Clooney too!

Sell you bag of pins too!

Sleep tight little one, Daddy Bush looking over you.

Nov. 27 2007 05:44 PM

>>how does her (your) point of view address the fact that Bush/Cheney will be out in 14 months, and likely replaced by Dems?

Naive prognostication.

What do you think the "K Street Project" and other initiatives were meant to do? What do you think the initiative to pump religious school grads from places like Patrick Henry College throughout the gov's infrastructure is meant to do? What do you think declaring an unending "War" could wind up doing, when you have an Executive that firmly believes it should have the right to make its own laws, while suspending ours?

Emasculating opposing parties by any means possible could well be Wolf's 11th Step--legal but as distasteful to normal Americans as torture (used to be). No party deigned to do it to this enormous, all-encompassing extent until this administration.

No matter how much you agree with their ostensible objectives, if you think these people respect our system of government, you're sadly deluded. Based on established past behavior, they appear to be ready willing and (with our acquiescence) able to do _anything_ to stay in power.

Nov. 27 2007 05:43 PM
Allison from Park Slope

now comrade - kill nicely - :>

wink, wink

in the name of the people

buy - or steal - those nesting dolls with stalin, bin laden, chavez, hitler, pol-pot, mao, & castro

Nov. 27 2007 05:30 PM
chestine from NY

can't get whole youtube and no option to listen. oh well.

I remember the nuns telling us that the Soviets were just waiting till we got too fat and lazy to pounce (and of course to go home and say our rosaries for the conversion of Russia)

In the words of Roseanne Roseannadanna, "It's always sompthin'" to feel unsafe about and there are always s--t disturbers but who knows what will happen? I think we all rolled over and played dead when Al Gore's presidency was stolen from him and we didn't go out into teh streets like French people do when they're pissed off - but Al Gore's wasn't the first - JFK was worried that Tricky Dick would ask for a recount.

I don't know what to make of anything I see or hear but I do worry about presidential arrogance left unchecked, and fascism, like charity, begins at home.

Nov. 27 2007 05:30 PM
Rasputin from New Jersey

Now, now, Allsion - I mean it - you go girl!
Buy dolly at mall-y - play nicey.

Nov. 27 2007 05:24 PM
Allison from Park Slope

to rasputin

go to putin comrade!

you can spend your May Days dancing on the mass graves of stalin's butchered millions

i'll take disneyland any day -

power to the pee-pull!

Nov. 27 2007 05:17 PM
Allison from Park Slope

wow KS - well said

I hope you'll write a book, too, so we don't have to suffer from the wolf interpretation....

Nov. 27 2007 04:46 PM
Rasputin from New Jersey

In America, we will have a dictatorship that looks like Dineyland, and where we all sing about freedom.

To KS - if Osama so bad - why not smoke him out, eh? How many years it take - 20-30-100?

To Allison - yes to be anti-bush *is* to be anti-american - you go girl!

To Amar - enjoy turkey - is good!

To Megan - enjoy Blackwater detention camp - send postcard.

To all - go to mall, buy things, have merry Christmas - like Jesus want you - dream of Jimminy Crikcet. Good night. God Bless.

Nov. 27 2007 04:45 PM
KS from CT

Thanks JC,
Your "not giving in to fear" seems to me to have massive doses of excessive fear of Bush.
As per the question I said Brian should have asked the braying Ms Wolf, how does her (your) point of view address the fact that Bush/Cheney will be out in 14 months, and likely replaced by Dems? Do you think he's fixin' to stay? If not, how do you explain this fascist motivation? As for the "changing America's image among Muslims", I'd suggest (rather than joining Ms Wolf et al in "blaming America first", you look to the mostly backward and manipulated press, education and mosque teaching in the Muslim world, with very few democracies in sight, all run for the benefit of autocratic regimes and their only alternative, jihadist imams, the latter transparently funded by the Saudis. And add, to the "image of America in the Muslim world", a - our mostly well integrated Muslim population and b - the fact that many Muslims still want to and do come here.
Check out for what is being broadcast in the Muslim world. There is a classic divide between the Left and the Right. The former thinks "it's us", the latter thinks "it's them". Count me among the latter and glad to be the idealogical foe of Ms Wolf.

Nov. 27 2007 03:35 PM
Mark from Rockland County


GREAT interview - but where's the MP3???!?!?!?!?!


Nov. 27 2007 01:32 PM
J.C. from Minneapolis

Wolf's views are over-the-top, but the bottom line is that, as a Sinclair Lewis book reminded us back in the 1930s, "it can happen here." The Constitution was written to limit gov't power, esp. the power of the executive. We need to wary of presidents who think they can do whatever they want, esp. when it's without congressional approval and it's on very shaky constitutional grounds.

BTW, since I'm a proud Democrat, I would like to say that I realize bin Laden is a threat, but he's not as large of a threat the right-wing makes him out to be.

He cannot invade the U.S. He can only take potshots by blowing up planes or whatever. Yes, as a "lefty," I'm for putting a stop to bin Laden (too bad we didn't realize we had al-Qaeda on its knees at the end of 2001) and for changing America's image among Muslims, but I also know that he can only bring down the U.S. if WE let our fears get the better of us. That's why I oppose Bush et al. I will not give in to fear.

Nov. 27 2007 01:24 PM
KS from CT

Precisely Paulo,
To paraphrase Peter Bienart, in order for there to be a DECENT Left it must recognize that Osama Bin Laden is more of a threat than George Bush. Ms Wolf's position is intellectually pathetic and morally IN-decent.
A "useful idiot" in the words of Lenin.

Nov. 27 2007 12:49 PM
Allison from Park Slope


Yes, I did like Gephardt and am sorry he's not in a leadership role these days.

All the anti-Bush / anti-American rhetoric is not helping the Democratic party.

Nov. 27 2007 12:37 PM
Gail from Manhattan

RE NYCM's comment above, you are mistaken. Don't stay lulled into complacency -- read her book, it is written for you! The closing down of open societies has always happened GRADUALLY (like the proverbial frog cooked by degrees so doesn't jump out of the pot). Overt censorship is not needed if there is intimidation and self-censorship of the press.
Few will risk being labelled "unpatriotic" or "whacko conspiracy nut" - much less the CAREER-ENDING retaliation, such as Dan Rather experienced. How chilling is that for the up-and-coming careerist journalists?

For the courageous like Ms Wolf, instead of censorship, there is simple marginalization from mainstream media and audiences. You have freedom of speech here, as long as only a few folks are listening! Notice that The End of America will NOT be reviewed by the New York Times, nor invited on TV talk shows, unlike those who put out the party line. Bill Moyer's video "Buying the War" (free online) traces how the "journalists" who pushed the propaganda lies justifying the disastrous Iraq invasion/occupation are STILL seen on TV talk shows and major newspaper columns, and taken as credible, "expert" pundits!

Nov. 27 2007 12:36 PM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey


"...a Democrat like me"

I take it you were a Gephardt fan?


Do I think this woman is overstating her case? Yes. Do I think she's cherry-picking certain things? Yes. However, I think that behaving like America is immune to the follies of the rest of the world and to think that we MUST inevitably turn back and that the pendulum NECESSARILY must swing back is incredibly naive.

But certainly, to say that we are a closed society today is ridiculous. I came from a country that had a dictatorship. I have read a lot about countries today that are still dictatorships, and we are certainly not that. However, to think that we can't ever become that is ridiculous. Not only is it possible, but it's likely. Democracy is the most fragile form of all governments and it must end at some point. Nothing lasts forever.

I think Bush has pushed the boundaries moreso than any other, but he's not looking to be king. If he wanted the crown, he'd have it by now because he has gotten so little resistance. It will be future Presidents who might covet the crown that we should be afraid of.

Nov. 27 2007 12:28 PM
Anthony from NYC

Thank you Brian. This discussion helps immensely.

Please keep on with it.

Nov. 27 2007 12:26 PM
Tom L from Norwalk, CT

Ms. Wolf pulled back from inferring any US involvement with 9/11. I did not hear or see any comments relating to the Able Danger incident(s). Would you consider US acquiescence to 9/11?

I've heard there is an Able Danger movie in the works. How about an interview?

Nov. 27 2007 12:24 PM
chestine from NY

wish the audio would come online so I could hear this segment- one thing about Hiter and the Germans is this: Hitler's rise was supported by Prescott Bush and his fellow investors at UBC - at the same time that the Russians were supported by the same forces, looking to profit from another war.

I heard a psychic say that eventiually we will not have a president, just legislators

Nov. 27 2007 12:24 PM
Amar from Astoria

As an immigrant from the Middle East who loves the US, I can tell you that Naomi Wolf has no idea what fascism is.

While she is making big "no-brand" bucks off her white-guilt attack on America, I'm thrilled to have spent my 3rd Thanksgiving in my new country.

Nov. 27 2007 12:06 PM
Megan from Harlem

I'll take Blackwater over Al Qeida any day.

Sloppy anti-American screeds don't work even if they have some really good anti-Bush vitriol.

I suspect Naomi Wolf wants one world, no borders, run by the UN or the editors of the Nation.

Naomi Wolf's world vision is the nightmare of tens of millions of Americans - including Democrats like me.

Nov. 27 2007 12:02 PM
darla from tribeca

I do not commend her for writing this screed. She must have a big mortgage to pay for her to write such alarmist crap. her arguments sound exactly like the arguments she accuses the right of making. She makes light of our attck by terrorists- first in 93 and then again in 2001 - almost 8 years later- but creates paranoia regarding Blackwater..
Fine. Blackwater is alarming- good -we all know it and steps are being taken to reign it in...and with the next few years- well..and one of you wrote - what will she write about if Obama is elected? exactly...
oh, and by the way, America is not fascist or racist- some people are.

Nov. 27 2007 11:53 AM
KS from CT

Shame on you Brian, for your breathless and fawning accepting of Ms Wolf's diatribes.
Your use of Prof. Weitz as an alternative is next to useless - he disagrees with her only on the margin. You denied us what could have been a lively debate. You could have made even a token of a challenge by asking, for example:
1 - Rather than dismissing the threat of Radical Islam as simply that which is used to trump up this fascistic over-reaction and facilely quoting Gordon Brown (out of context) referring to it as a crime, please describe how you see that threat. We note your grudging acknowledgement that 9/11 was not set up but the government (seemingly contracting your earlier statement). What is the significance of 9/11?
2 - How does your theory deal with the fact that there is a Pres election in 2008, likely to be won by Dems?
3 - What is your reaction to the fact that conservative speakers are frequently shouted down and pied on campus?

Nov. 27 2007 11:47 AM
Kaye Vivian

This is one of the reasons I subscribe to and listen to WNYC. Excellent guests, excellent topic, and riveting information. And they didn't even have to shout over each other to be heard. Thank you for a truly eye-opening discussion.

Nov. 27 2007 11:45 AM
J.C. from Minneapolis

@ Hans Hilde (#29):

We have a "compromise" on rights vs. security: it's called the Bill of Rights.

Nov. 27 2007 11:42 AM
sara hopkins from randolph, nj

My daughter just was asking me about Weimar Germany last night for a class in her high school. So I was just thinking about this issue. I just ordered both of these books. The only thing I can say at this point is that this society is a very pluralistic society, much more than Germany was at that time. I do wish that these issues would be brought out in school settings so that yound people can be more informed about what is facing this country/

Nov. 27 2007 11:41 AM
Chad Harris from Ridgewood

If I had a nickel for everytime Brian used the term "anti-Semite."

Nov. 27 2007 11:41 AM
Winston Smith from Room 101, Miniluv

Rex 84 -

It's a reality. what happens when the next attack happens.

COINTELPRO was the start, Rex 84 is the completion.

Nov. 27 2007 11:41 AM
Jimmy from Brooklyn

Ideology, like religion, in this country is all on the surface. For good or for bad, we are essentially godless country interested only in abundance. Religion and ideology is used only in the pursuit of this abundance.

Nov. 27 2007 11:41 AM
David from Greenpoint

I wonder if Ms. Wolf realizes that she is echoing so many of the arguments of fringe conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones who have been harping on this point for nearly a decade. Strange to see this conversation moving into the mainstream. While I commend her for have the gall to write the book, I'd like to see the crazies on the fringes get some credit for putting forth this hypotheses so long before she did. It's certainly something the public should be talking about.

Nov. 27 2007 11:40 AM
Gail from Manhattan

Hooray, Naomi - her book/campaign is so needed!

Pls ask her:

Query for both (all 3 of you, who knows):
Who first said/wrote, "We're all good Germans now"?

Doesn't the Reichstag fire-9/11 analogy make it urgent and imperative for professional journalists finally to investigate the unanswered questions of the 9/11 Commission Report? We have two wars and loss of Habeas, 2nd, 4th and 8th Amendments already! The FBI says there is "no hard evidence" linking Osama Bin Laden to 9/11! Yet the press has been supine taking the "official conspiracy theory" - that 19 Saudis with boxcutters utterly defeated our vaunted NORAD defenses - at face value! Whether "false flag" or massive incompetence, the press should "question authority" about this, because eit is TERRIFYING EITHER WAY! 9/11 is Naomi's STEP ONE - the precipitating tool for the "war OF terror" again our democratic rights and heritage!!

Nov. 27 2007 11:40 AM

It would be nice if Brian would actually let Naomi Wolf finish a single sentence. His interviewing style is getting more intrusive and obnoxious by the day.

Nov. 27 2007 11:39 AM

Remember, Hitler didn't prevail at every turn, but rather tried & failed, tried & succeeded, etc. So just because the U.S. Rs are not succeeding at every turn, doesn't mean they won't ultimately prevail. That they are trying cannot be denying.

Re: population with guns. Do you really want to go up against Blackwater? Every household in Iraq has an AK47 & what good does it do them?

Nov. 27 2007 11:39 AM
Jason Spence from Manhattan, Lower East Side

Naomi Wolf is absolutely correct.

Most of the American public are overweight and brainwashed.

Bred not to rebel or fight for any rights but to be sheeple.

We are watching the end and no one is fighting to save it.

Everyday, I see how the government is forcing us into a police state.
When we march into Iran, the end will be at hand.

Nov. 27 2007 11:39 AM


Ms Wolf is not a paranoid schizophrenic. You are simply ill-informed.

Nov. 27 2007 11:38 AM
Elizabeth from New York

[quote] Moreover, does she cite specific instances of prior threats in the American context and what eventually was done in reaction to those in their time? [/quote]

Yes. She said that in previous times, the war ended and we got our freedoms back. (WWII ends, Japanese internment ends.) There is no end in sight for the War on Terror.

Nov. 27 2007 11:37 AM
Ellen Ervin from Riverdale, Bronx, NYC

Please ask Naomi Wolf what I can do about Guantanamo. I don't want to be a silent collaborator in torture.

Nov. 27 2007 11:37 AM
Al from Greenwich, CT

Why in almost any discussion about how this country treats people are Native Americans and Black People left out. Throughout the history of this country, it has been quite acceptable for these two groups to be treated the worst. People have been legally tortured and had their civil rights denied, repressed, subverted… throughout the history of this country. The only thing that is different today is that the ruling class is all of a sudden loosing their rights at another blip in history and so now it’s an issue again. Quite hypocritical. We’ll see how much the Dems covet the expanded presidential powers after the election next year.

Nov. 27 2007 11:36 AM
World's Toughest Milkman from the_C_train

Brian, thanks so much for consistently blurring the differences between illegal immigrants with immigrants. It's my understanding that the Minuteman project is geared towards illegal immigration only.

I believe that immigration is great and has made this nation strong and diverse, and welcome people from anywhere, we do have laws.

Nov. 27 2007 11:35 AM
JB from Midtown

She says, "I lie awake in night in fear of Blackwater"


This woman is a textbook paranoid schizophrenic.

It's like the mirror-image opposite of Ann Coulter!

At least the good professor is there to lend an educated opinion in the discussion.

Nov. 27 2007 11:33 AM
JJ from brooklyn

I love Naomi Wolf, but she is way off the mark here. She is selectively plucking similarities in order to construct an argument which is ending up as a very blurry blob. The core intention of Bush vs. Hitler, {& Stalin} et al is radically different.

Bush could better be compared to Putinm, his agenda & his war with Chechnya - and yet that would be a huge stretch, since Putin arrests his dissidents, etc.

btw, Bush is pro-immigration so he can hardly compared to Hitler in that regard - she is confusing the sources of issues and blurring the lines too much.

Nov. 27 2007 11:33 AM
Hans Gilde from Brooklyn, NY

To make this argument really valid, I think she also has to address the concerns of the other side. It's very important to protect civil liberties but the need for security is also very legitimate. Rather than label the other side with names like traitor or potential dictator, we need to reach compromise on this issue. So what kinds of compromises can we discuss?

Nov. 27 2007 11:33 AM
olivia from Brooklyn/Manhattan

Yes I have been saying this since the Propaganda about the war has started. Naomi Wolf can be a polemist (The Beauty Myth), however I don't think it's too far fetched or off-base to suggest that Karl Rove and all Bush's friends looked to the success of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and GOEBBELS for ideas on how to progress their ideas and plans. It was Geobbels who said, "if you repeat a lie often enough eventually people will belive it." In February 2003, 67% of the people in this country believe Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for 9/11. Where did this idea come from? From the advertising campaign that Rice, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, Rove set in motion. We went to war a month later. Let us not forget these famous statement: The Smokin Gun; Smoking Them Out of Their Holes; The Mushroom Cloud; Axis of Evil; The Evil Forces...Very powerful imagery. Very powerful. She's not so off...

Nov. 27 2007 11:33 AM

If the prof thinks that what W is doing is NOT setting up for a dictatorship, he's been living in a closet for the last 7 years. Calling it a "permanent Republican majority" may be a polite term, but it's just another name for a dictatorship.

Nov. 27 2007 11:32 AM
Robert from Chelsea

What about the repression by the NYPD of the peaceful protesters and roundup of even those documenting their arrests during the Republican Convention and the ongoing crackdown against the peaceful cyclists who rode for years without causing any skies to fall.

These are both examples of the exertion of power to intimidate the populace. Another example are the "terrorist drills" conducted by the NYPD that we've all had to suffer through where they drive columns of police cars through the streets, sirens blazing, to go nowhere, only to stage a "presence" = intimidation!

Nov. 27 2007 11:32 AM
P.G. from Manhattan

The U.S. is already a racial state. Ask any African-American. In fact, America has always been a racial state.

Black Americans already know that the U.S. is a fascist state.

Nov. 27 2007 11:32 AM
Bruce Berenson from NYC

Interesting parallels – but I’d argue Germany didn’t have a 200 plus year history of established freedoms prior to Hitler.
BTW – We’re a Republic (another parallel?)– not a Democracy as so many wrongly state.

Nov. 27 2007 11:32 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

I think the one component of Nazism that is most assuredly not going to be a part of any future fascist America is the racial element. "Illegal immigrants" might be a common fear tactic, but I don't see Americans getting on board with a genocide. And this is the big problem with drawing comparisons with what happened in Germany is because people immediately leap on the racial element as if it's a necessary part of fascism and it simply isn't.

Nov. 27 2007 11:31 AM
TW in queens from queens

It alarms me is how conservative, force-first approach to foreign policy is permeating the society. Its happening in a uniquely American way. It's highly profitable for ABC Radio and Rush Limbaugh to lay on the Propaganda. FOX is often the most popular source for news! And I see beer commercials during highly watched games which subtly suggest that we "stay on course, etc. Slowly, it becomes normal to be right wing, and the opposition is marginalized right in our advertisements and products.

Nov. 27 2007 11:30 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Brian, could you put Naomi Wolf's 10 steps from democracy to dictatorship on your site? I can't remember them all, & I want to cite them to other people. And was denial of the vote to marginalized people (through "felon" lists; refusal to provide translators, as legally required, to voters who needed them; & last-minute diversion from voting sites in minority neighborhoods) covered in those 10 steps? Thanks.

Nov. 27 2007 11:29 AM
Jonathan Friedman from Glen Cove NY

Am I hearing "It can't happen here!" again?

Nov. 27 2007 11:29 AM
Brian from Red Bank, NJ

The author points out the tactics of extremist threats against democracy. However, does she point out what needs to be done to counter this threat? Moreover, does she cite specific instances of prior threats in the American context and what eventually was done in reaction to those in their time? Does she have a fundamental doubt about the resilience of America as a democratic republic?

Nov. 27 2007 11:28 AM

The established right has already given up to the extreme right. Remember RINOs? (Republicans In Name Only.)

In fact the far right has invaded the left. Michael O'Hanlon who advises Senator Clinton thinks the U.S. should invade Pakistan.

Can't get more rightwing than that.

Nov. 27 2007 11:27 AM
Mary Bon from Westbrook, CT

The timing of the release on DVD of Berlin Alexanderplatz is interesting. So, too, is the notice I got from netflix this morning that it has been removed from my queue and due to circumstances behond their control will no longer be available.

It may be a matter of degrees, but I've long felt that I live among the "good germans" here in cozy Connecticut.

Nov. 27 2007 11:25 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

I'm not terribly concerned about a totalitarian, Nazi-esque regime coming to power. However, it will be a less free, fascist society. Not only are many principles of fascism a part of the Republican party, there are elements that are accepted by the Democrats as well. And it's hard to say that because people only look at the most grotesque example of fascism in Nazi Germany. I think America, however, will look much more like early Mussolini Italy within fifty years.

Nov. 27 2007 11:25 AM
Crissie Ferrara from Manhattan

I've read Naomi Wolfe's book and have been passing it on to all my colleagues and friends. The key point is that these are all 'tipping points" and once they get beyond 'tipping' we are all in trouble.
People need to wake up read the book and be more aware of our freedoms that are slowly eroding.
My biggest fear is how this will snowball if Guiliani will get into office next year!

Nov. 27 2007 11:24 AM
Tom from Soho

I'm more worried about the shouting down of other opinion at all the Universities in the country. There is a mob mentality working here that eventually leads to the control of government those who suppose only they are right.

Nov. 27 2007 11:23 AM

How centralized was the Weimar gov't and german society. Most conservatives hate the idea of so much power in the hands of the federal gov't instead of the states. But we have so many people in the USA with guns, and states still have power.

Nov. 27 2007 11:22 AM
Petra Dorfsman from Yorktown Heights

Thank you for this very important interview with Naomi Wolf!

Nov. 27 2007 11:22 AM
hjs from 11211

lynn stewart, civil rights attorney jailed

Nov. 27 2007 11:21 AM
Bernie from Brooklyn Carroll Gardens

Giuliani already has fascism down pat.

Nov. 27 2007 11:19 AM
NYCMB from Manhattan

The problem I have with what she is saying is that it is a matter of degree here. This country has stabilizing checks and balances at every point. The very fact that she is on the radio and publishing books is proof that there is NO comparison between then and now.

Nov. 27 2007 11:16 AM

What about Jane Harmon's domestic terrorism bill?

Nov. 27 2007 11:16 AM
nat from brooklyn

I found this recently in my travels across the internet. Its an old school room video from 1946 instructing children on how to recognize the rise of despotism:

Its a fascinating historical document relevant to this discussion. Despite its age, it is an interesting metric for looking at the rise of despotic power.

Nov. 27 2007 11:16 AM
barry from Manhattan

Who is going to be the Dictator? I wonder

Nov. 27 2007 11:14 AM

The most amazing thing to comtemplate about the pattern is that, in Germany it took WWI reparations, depression, hyperinflation and other disasters to push to Germans into giving up their liberties and falling into the hands of a demagogue. But in the U.S., all it took was flying 2 planes into the WTC and 3000 deaths. That is the single most telling point about how weak the U.S. democracy is.

Nov. 27 2007 11:13 AM
nycerbarb from Brooklyn

Yes, this is worrisome.

But Germany did not have the long and entrenched democratic tradition that we have here in America.

Nov. 27 2007 11:12 AM
barry from Manhattan

Well won't all comparisons stop as soon as Obama gets elected?

Nov. 27 2007 11:12 AM
Israel Martinez from Woodside, Queens

I've long agreed with this notion. The problem is as old as Athens and Rome--they were both democracies. We're at a crossroads, and it really depends on the people. We have to decide which we want: democracy and quality of life, or empire. The latter always ends badly, and won't co-exist with the former.

Nov. 27 2007 10:21 AM
hjs from 11211

Weimar germany ended the the burning of the Reichstag, Germany's congress. history will tell us if our republic ended with the burning of the twin towers.

Nov. 27 2007 10:14 AM

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