Olbermann: Rumsfeld is a fascist
In a time when non-stop JonBenet Ramsey coverage passes as TV
"journalism," we should all be thankful that there are still a few real
journalists on TV.
Responding to Donald Rumsfeld's recent
speech on America facing a new form of "fascism," Keith Olbermann
delivered this critical commentary and proved that he is, indeed, one
of the rare hero journalists.
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Transcript of Olbermann's commentary courtesy of Atrios below:
"The man who sees absolutes, where all other men
see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.
Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.
Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American
Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis—and the sober
contemplation—of every American.
For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality
or intelligence -- indeed, the loyalty -- of the majority of Americans
who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land.
Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants -- our
employees -- with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which
neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or
abroad, suggests they deserve.
Dissent and disagreement with government is the
life’s blood of human freedom; and not merely because it is the first
roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to
think of as “his” troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.
It is also essential. Because just every once in
awhile it is right and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.
In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s
speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of
the Nazis. For in their time, there was another government faced with
true peril—with a growing evil—powerful and remorseless.
That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a
monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the “secret information.” It
alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted
its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s -- questioning their intellect
and their morality.
That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.
It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let
It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of
all treaties and accords.
It knew that the hard evidence it received, which
contradicted its own policies, its own conclusions — its own
omniscience -- needed to be dismissed.
The English government of Neville Chamberlain
already knew the truth.
Most relevant of all — it “knew” that its
staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it
portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was,
if not truly senile, at best morally or intellectually confused.
That critic’s name was Winston Churchill.
Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among
us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing
disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.
History — and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe
bombs over England — have taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was
his certainty — and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that
the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make
Thus, did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical
Excepting the fact, that he has the battery
plugged in backwards.
His government, absolute -- and exclusive -- in
its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to
It is the modern version of the government of
But back to today’s Omniscient ones.
That, about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is
simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.
And, as such, all voices count -- not just his.
Had he or his president perhaps proven any of
their prior claims of omniscience — about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five
years ago, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago, about
Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago — we all might be able to
swallow hard, and accept their “omniscience” as a bearable, even useful
recipe, of fact, plus ego.
But, to date, this government has proved little
besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.
Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally
or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to
Katrina, to the entire “Fog of Fear” which continues to envelop this
nation, he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies have —
inadvertently or intentionally — profited and benefited, both
personally, and politically.
And yet he can stand up, in public, and question
the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the
receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes?
In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a
child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for
freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he
confused the United States of America?
The confusion we -- as its citizens— must now
address, is stark and forbidding.
But variations of it have faced our forefathers,
when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our
skies and obscured our flag. Note -- with hope in your heart — that
those earlier Americans always found their way to the light, and we
The confusion is about whether this Secretary of
Defense, and this administration, are in fact now accomplishing what
they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the
very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday
in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.
And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion,
that this country faces a “new type of fascism.”
As he was correct to remind us how a government
that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right
when he said that -- though probably not in the way he thought he meant
This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.
Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each
night, in feeble tribute, I have utterly no claim to the words of the
exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.
But never in the trial of a thousand years of
writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an
earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they
(and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed:
“confused” or “immoral.”
Thus, forgive me, for reading Murrow, in full:
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,” he
said, in 1954. “We must remember always that accusation is not proof,
and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.
“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will
not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our
history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from
fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate,
and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular.”
And so good night, and good luck."
David DeGraw is AlterNet's video blogger.
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