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On Securing the Homeland.

by Dear Jon
November 11, 2008

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Dear Jon,

Homeland "security" in its Orwellian sense was the same name for the German SS in World War II. Now, you will report to Homeland Security your identity before travelling in a public air carrier. Identity papers. When does this Nazification end?

Dear Unidentified,

Just to preserve us from misinformation, you have forced me to "look something up." What I looked up on a google search string, which is all I have time to do and THAT only because I'm behind this deadline, are the German words and their definitions. All the rest comes from my own memory of things read and especially things watched on The History Channel and PBS.

According to Wikipedia, SS stands for "Schutzstaffel," which literally means "protective squad." It was created to be Hitler's personal body guard. They were functionaries of the Nazi party and swore their allegiance to Adolph Hitler personally regardless of any government office he held. The SS operated independently of either military or civilian-state government.

As the wing loyal to Hitler, they were rivals to the SA, which is the abbreviation for "Sturmabteilung," colorfully and accurately rendered in English "storm troopers." These men were directed by Roehms. Even after Hitler was declared the head of the Nazi party and then won the chancellorship, the SA's existence was an embarrassing and threatening problem. Hitler used his SS to conduct a surprise blood-purge, murdering the SA's leadership in a single night—many of them in their beds.

By the time of the Nuremburg party rally in the Fall of 1934, which was captured and edited for the movie Triumph of the Will, Hitler had taken over the presidency of Germany. He tried to speak reassuringly to the SA's rank-and-file, but one can see the haunted, hunted look of whichever lackey was low enough on the food chain to survive Hitler's paranoia and stand in as the SA's leader. I've wanted to find out that guy's name but I haven't had time to look it up.

Triumph of the Will is a perfectly dull movie with far too many parades. It is also creepy and chilling when these monsters actually have anything to say. "The Nazi Party is Germany. Hitler is the Nazi Party. Hitler is Germany! Heil Hitler!"


I am scratching my head as to any military, police, or bureaucratic arm of Nazi Germany that had a title that could be translated "Homeland Security." GESTAPO is any acronym for "Secret State Police." The East German secret police under the postwar communist umbrella might come closest.

You are asking me about the Nazification of the United States. I can't go there. Nazism is a party ideology that puts boots on its racist followers and arms them. Think of it this way: A white supremacy party turning the Ku Klux Klan into its leader's personal body-guard--that is what the SS would look like in an American context.

The SS only achieved "official" status within the government by virtue of the Nazi Party taking over the government. The SS was chiefly deployed in three ways: a rear occupational force in conquered territories, the control of concentration camps and death camps, and then, as front-line combat troops.

Homeland Security, on the other hand, is an arm of government under civilian control. It does not run our off-shore prisons where terror suspects are held—that is our military, nor does it declare fealty to an individual regardless of office or constitutional authority.

While many Americans might see ourselves heading down the slippery slope of fear and control and government paternalism  towards a totalitarian state, we are a long way from being Nazified in either our outlook or our conduct.  How does a nation undergoing "Nazification" elect a black man to be its president? Answer: It doesn't. Nazification cannot be Nazification if it is divorced from the paranoia and racist hatred of Nazism.

Your concern is with the slippery erosion of American liberties. I share your concern. However to throw around terms like "Nazification" ad hominem will not contribute to a much-needed national discussion about the roots of our liberty and the limits of our government. It only arms your opponents, those "mainstream" liberals and neo-conservative who believe that Americans need for more paternalism and control; they will see in their own coalition millions who represent the complex American diversities of heritage, class and creed. Thus these liberals and neo-conservatives who believe in more government and more low-scale intervention will see that your protests of "we're being Nazified!" are patently absurd.

A better parallel is that America is being "Caesarized." Currently we are an Imperial Republic of diverse ethnic groups; we are trying to manage our own affairs and those of our allies, satellites, and colonies to preserve our prosperity; we are proud of our system of justice and the rational principles on which it is founded; we have renewed a strategic position of pre-emptive or "first strike" invasion.

This is not a new doctrine. This is the doctrine that applied to the invasion of Canada in 1812, to the invasion of sovereign Mexican territory in the 1840's, to the invasion of sovereign Plains Native Nations in the 1860's and 1870's, and to the invasion of Spanish-held possessions in the 1890's. The failed Canadian adventure taught us that to fully manifest our destiny, we needed a much larger standing regular army. All other pre-emptive ventures noted here through the 1890's were successful.

The kinds of fears we are experiencing and the solutions we are aiming at are more akin to Rome's problems around 100 years before Christ, and less like Germany's problems between the world wars.

This presidential administration and the next will continue to grab broader executive powers and to marginalize Congress. Somewhere down the line it is likely that both congressional houses, responding to the fears of the people and our felt need for strong, sustained leadership along the lines of Franklin Roosevelt, will first of all remove the two-term limitations for the President. This will be followed in a few years or a generation by a constitutional revision which will allow, but only by public votes called "plebiscites", that a President can be "elected for life."

As I will be a public critic of this Caesarization and black-listed as a so-called "Republican," in my old age I may very well have my life ended by presidential decree, and be assassinated by a sniper from Homeland Security.

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