By MANIFESTO JOE
"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." -- Sinclair Lewis
There's a new color of fascism out there -- it's the shade of a Brooks Brothers gray flannel suit.
This is not your grandfather's fascism. They don't need to put dissidents in camps. They can often accomplish the same thing with private blacklists or firings to economically marginalize or eliminate foes.
And next week, U.S. voters may decide in a midterm congressional election whether this is the future of the once great hope for democracy in the world.
Examples of how the new smiley-face fascists operate are plentiful, so for brevity's sake I will focus on a very recent one: NBC's refusal to air an ad promoting the Dixie Chicks' new documentary, Shut Up & Sing.
According to the Web site Think Progress, Variety reported that "NBC's commercial clearance department said in writing that it 'cannot accept these spots because they are disparaging to President Bush.' "
Imagine the international reaction if the TV network were in Venezuela and the leader in question were Hugo Chavez. Braying jackass though many people believe Chavez is, he was, for an example of hypocrisy, vehemently criticized when he had the audacity to fire a high-ranking government official who disagreed with him (like this has never happens in our own government).
But, back to the Chicks. Harvey Weinstein, who is distributing the movie issued the following statement, according to Think Progress:
"It's a sad commentary about the level of fear in our society that a movie about a group of courageous entertainers who were blacklisted for exercising their right of free speech is now itself being blacklisted by corporate America. The idea that anyone should be penalized for criticizing the president is profoundly un-American."
So, what's next for NBC (and parent company General Electric)? Will they stop accepting campaign ads from the Democrats? Kick Leno off the air the next time he tells a "disparaging" joke about Bush?
If the Republicans manage to win, or steal, next week's election, I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see such things coming to pass very soon.
It has been Republican policies that have built the foundation of the new fascism, as the main political arm of corporate America. It has long been the case that Americans are bought and sold in the marketplace, or discarded for the sake of profits -- but of course, they are theoretically free to change masters anytime. But now, suppression of free speech has become endemic in the corporate media, even when the speakers have the money to buy the air time. And, let me remind libertarians that this is an FCC-regulated concern, as it should be (unless you want to go back to pre-1934 broadcast anarchy). But regulation that is actually in the public interest seems a lost concept.
In the upcoming election, if a fix is in, my words here may be rather futile. But there's only one way, in the short term, that Americans can possibly stop the corpo-fascist octopus: Cut off its political arm (or should I say tentacle?).
If you value freedom, vote Democratic on Nov. 7. If nothing else, we can, as Greg Palast has put it, "make them steal it."
MANIFESTO JOE IS AN UNDERGROUND WRITER LIVING IN TEXAS.
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