On the night of Monday, October 13, in the First Congregational Church in Berkeley, Ca., Naomi Wolf and Daniel Ellsberg were the featured speakers. Ms. Wolf presented a capsulated version of the ten steps that, in the past, have marked the transition to a fascist form of government. She pointed out how the United States is showing signs of qualifying for a match on all ten warning signals. It was noted that there has not yet been massive detention of citizens, only relatively minor incidents. Then Daniel Ellsberg read questions from the audience and the two speakers discussed their response to the question.
Ms. Wolf was highly enthusiastic about enacting a Constitutional Amendment that would approve the concept of ballot measures on a national level. She cited the fact that 70% of the U. S. population is in favor of ending the war in Iraq, but progress toward that goal has been very slow.
She also expressed her displeasure with the apathy toward torture that churches and synagogues have shown. The attitude was: Who Would Jesus Torture?
Mr. Ellsburg decried the “executive despotism” and characterized the November election as two men vying for the title of king.
The church venue was a bit of heavy handed symbolism for any writer who would want to employ the “preaching to the choir” metaphor to describe the ambiance at the event.
The questions concentrated on ways to reverse the alarming rush to fascism that the audience feared is occurring. The replies were strong on enthusiasm for citizen participation in the governing process and rather anemic on specifics.
Afterwards a very small random sampling of the audience indicated that their enthusiasm did not extend to the level of talking to a columnist from a web site which features harsh assessments of the current President (and needs citizen participation in the form of monetary contributions to continue fulfilling that role).
Previously, the columnist had talked on the phone with two people who are much more skeptical about the possibility that martial law could ever be instituted inside the United States.
The attitude of those two seems to be a much stronger level of disbelief than was on display in the event in Berkeley.
If the columnist understood correctly, it boiled down to bemused annoyance for an idea that only proves that freedom of speech is alive and well inside the United States. They fell short of the old “yes, yes, of course; now run along and play” reaction. Jersey Bill reassured the columnist that if and when martial law is declared, he will then do what it necessary to correct the overreaction by whoever takes such a misstep. Yeah, right, if it happens we can hold our breath for as long as it will take for Jersey Bill to have a St. Paul’s moment and change into “Resistance Man”!
Bill is anxiously awaiting the election results so that he can say to the columnist: “See, all went well and you are still crazy so I’ll never be able to convince you that you worry needlessly.”
Somehow it is very difficult to imagine a retired high school teacher comfortably stepping into the role of an American che Guevara, but based on his emphatic assurances, we’ll take a wait and see attitude.
If the institution of martial law impinges on the finale of “Dancing With the Stars,” then America will not tolerate it. If not; well then most Americans will still be able to emphatically reassure Bush critics, that just like the novel title said: “It can’t happen here.” Where’s your patriotic pride? Don’t you know that Americans are not as dumb as the Germans who let Hitler take over?
Super Chicken always said: “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred.”
Now, the disk jockey will play a John Philip Sousa song and we’ll march out of here. Have a good week because if you don’t we will have to report you to the authorities.