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Wolf - The End of America (2007) - Synopsis

Wolf - The End of America (2007) - Synopsis

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Published by Mark K. Jensen
Synopsis of Naomi Wolf, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, [September] 2007). Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on May 19, 2008.
Synopsis of Naomi Wolf, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, [September] 2007). Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on May 19, 2008.

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Published by: Mark K. Jensen on May 31, 2009
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08/30/2010

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UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper XLVIII: May 19, 2008, 7:00 p.m.
Naomi Wolf,
The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot 
(WhiteRiver Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, [September] 2007).Preface.
The “young patriot” of thesubtitle is Chris Le, whose mother fledVietnam with her son when he was lessthan two months old; Wolf attended hiswedding as she was writing this book(xii).
Introduction: Ten Steps.
Summer2006 headlines (1-3). Despite November2006 elections, “the dangers are notgone; they are regrouping” (3). Appealacross the political spectrum (3).Americans take freedom for granted andknow little of history (4-5). Post-9/11echoes of the processes by which rightand left dictatorships have been effected(6-11). One cannot rely on thereassuring “pendulum” view of Americanhistory (11-12). “I am not comparing theUnited States in 2007 to Nazi Germany,or Bush to Hitler” (13). “The fascist shift. . . progresses in a buildup of many actsassaulting democracy simultaneously,that then form a critical mass” (14).“Everything changed in September of 2006, when Congress passed the MilitaryCommissions Act. This law created anew legal reality that heralds the end of America if we do not take action. Yetmost Americans still do not understandwhat happened to them when that lawpassed” (15; 15-17).
Ch. 1: The Founders and the Fragilityof Democracy.
Wolf is making “aconservative argument” (19). Not theRepublican Party but “a far smallergroup, or rather of several smallergroups, driven by motives of power andmoney” are responsible for the “assaulton democracy” (19). The danger is of “afascist shift,” defined as a “process”using legislation, cultural pressure,imprisonment, and torture gradually toconsolidate the power of a militaristicsystem that is antidemocratic
 
(21).“Fascist” is more accurate than“authoritarianism” (22-23). U.S. flirtationwith fascism in 1920s and 1930s (23-24). The Founders of the American Republicwere conscious of the danger of the riseof tyranny (24-29). Violence is not theessence of the process (29-30).Appearances of normalcy are maintainedin “an early fascist shift” (30-34).
Ch. 2: Invoke an External andInternal Threat.
Mobilization against ademonized enemy (35-39). In his rise topower Hitler used legal institutions (39-40). Assertion of a terrorist threat byHitler, Stalin, etc. (41-42). In the U.S.profit plays the role that ideology playedin fascist Italy and Nazi Germany and hascreated a “security-industrial complex”(42-44).
Ch. 3: Establish Secret Prisons.
Habeas corpus is replaced with a secret(i.e. unaccountable) prison system (45-47). Getting away with early arrests is akey step in the fascist shift, and is “wherewe are right now in America” (47; 47-48).Prison systems under Hitler and Stalin(48-51). Guantanamo (51-54). YaserHamdi (55). José Padilla (55-57).Examination of the government’s legalarguments shows that the state throughvague language is reaching for the abilityto detain and mistreat U.S. citizens asenemy combatants on the president’sauthority alone (57-60). Parallels of U.S.prisons with Stalinist prisons (60-64).Endangerment of those who act to helpprisoners (64-68). “I say again: you donot need ovens to create a fascist reality.All you need is fear” (68). Theadministration has pursued with “single-minded focus” the creation of “a placebeyond the rule of law where people canbe tortured”; hence the establishment of the system of military tribunals (69-72).
 
Ch. 4: Develop a Paramilitary Force.
Blackwater (73-76). Intimidation withthugs (76-80).
Ch. 5: Surveil Ordinary Citizens.
Maintenance of known surveillance helpsmake ordinary citizens docile
 
(81-86).“Spying is the fuel of fascism” (86).Germans, Czechs, Chinese (86-88).“Surveillance leads to fear and fear leadsto silence” (88).
Ch. 6: Infiltrate Citizens’ Groups.
Infiltration,
agents provocateurs
, andharassment serve to facilitate the fascistshift (89-92).
Ch. 7: Arbitrarily Detain and ReleaseCitizens.
Watch lists (93-97). TheMaher Arar and James Yee cases, withhistorical parallels (97-101). Arbitrarysearches and seizures (101-03). Limitingcitizen assembly (103-05).
Ch. 8: Target Key Individuals.
 Targeting campus intellectuals (WardChurchill), with historical parallels (106-10). Pressure on artists and entertainers(110-12). Civil servants risk losing their jobs (112-13).
Ch. 9: Restrict the Press.
Pressureand threats affecting journalists, withhistorical parallels (114-123).Propaganda, including lies and falsedocuments, has the goal of creating “anew reality in which truth
can no longer 
 
be ascertained and no longer counts
 
(127, emphasis in original; 123-30).Advocates a new media activism, withbloggers as “warriors for truth andaccountability” (131; 131-32).
Ch. 10: Cast Criticism as“Espionage” and Dissent as“Treason.”
A broadened definition of treason is part of a fascist shift (133-34).Ann Coulter, etc. (134-37). AdamGadahn case (137-38). Historicalparallels (138-41).
Ch. 11: Subvert the Rule of Law.
Changing the rules of the game; e.g.signing statements (142-44). Hitler andMussolini used “a stunning series of escalating
 pronunciamentos
or
faitsaccomplis
” (145). In the U.S., the legalinfrastructure is in place for a “papercoup”
 
(146). The president now hasauthority, under the 2007 DefenseAuthorization Bill, “to declare martiallaw” (147)
.
Wolf challenges readers withvarious scenarios, asking: “Would thatbe the end of America?” (149-51). TheU.S. is in some sense the last bastion of freedom: “The United States has stoodfor the rule of law in the past: We set astandard for other leaders, and set apoint of aspiration for other citizens. If we lose that, what force on earth willstem any barbarism that any despotwishes to impose on his people? Thebureaucrats of the European Union? Thefragmented voices of the UnitedNations?” (151).
Conclusion: The Patriot’s Task.
Urges“citizens from across the politicalspectrum” to enlist in “a war to save ourdemocracy” (153). Urges people toprepare by revealing secrets that couldbe used to blackmail them and to bewilling to experience personal smears(154). Call for a movement (154-55).
Acknowledgments.
 
Notes.
14 pp.
Bibliography.
86 books.
The American Freedom Campaign.
“[A] nonpartisan alliance aimed atrestating nine basic American principles”(175).www.americanfreedomcampaign.org Also lists her publisher, the ACLU, HumanRights Watch, and the Center of Constitutional Rights. “The Pledge of theAmerican Freedom Campaign” (176).

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