When Republicans Were Nazis
© Jack Cashill
I had the occasion this past week to meet with former Attorney General, John Ashcroft. I asked him how he felt when Democratic express outrage about accusations of fascism against the Obama administration.
Ashcroft smiled. He knows a little something about such accusations. Five years ago I wrote about the subject on these pages, and I thought it worth a revisit.
Back then, one progressive friend after another alerted me to a rather scary development: U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft had become a Nazi—“another Hitler” as one fretfully described our former Missouri governor and senator.
This all came as news to me. I had met Ashcroft a few times, and he had exhibited no signs of latent Nazism: no heel-clicking or arm-thrusting, no anti-Semitic slurs or “sieg heils,” no quiet yearnings for the Fatherland.
I wondered too how a man of such presumed extremes could manage to win five statewide races in America’s most politically indicative state.
Still, I could not just dismiss those alarums. At least, three of my friendly Cassandras were prominent Missourians. Perhaps they knew something I did not.
To test their suspicions, I did a quick online search and got a jolt of confirmation. Some 18.400 web postings linked “Ashcroft” and “Nazi,” at least 2/3 of which accused Ashcroft of being a Nazi.
One site served as an unofficial Ashcroft songbook. It posted the lyrics of more than 70 songs, all of which alerted the innocent to the suspected reign of terror at Justice.
Indeed, it must have taken an act of deep courage to pen a song like The Obnoxious Right Wing Nazi Pig Dog From Missouri (sung to tune of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy) knowing that the aforementioned “pig dog” was creating “Dachaus” for his political opponents.
I could not write off these suspicions as mere Internet blather. On one even more damning site, America’s erstwhile “most trusted man,” the late Walter Cronkite, denounced Ashcroft as the “ Torquemada of American law.”
Torquemada was the proto-fascist responsible, according to Cronkite, for the unholy methods of the Spanish Inquisition, “including torture and the burning of heretics - Muslims in particular.”
Egads! No wonder my friends were upset.
As I learned in my investigation, progressives do not upset easily. During World War I, the Espionage and Sedition Acts allowed Woodrow Wilson’s progressive administration to prosecute those reckless enough to voice anti-war sentiments.
Socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs spent 10 years in prison as a result. He was one of 2,000 so prosecuted. During World War II, the always progressive FDR interned--by executive order--120,000 ethnic Japanese with the full-throated support of the Supreme Court.
The Clinton years witnessed a renewal of the left’s selective affection for civil rights. When, for instance, Ashcroft’s predecessor as Attorney General, Janet Reno, launched a tank assault on a religious community outside of Waco, killing 80 people, more than half of them minorities, 20 of them children, my friends kept silent.
Ditto when Reno sent her troopers to liberate Elian at gunpoint from his Miami family and send him back to Cuba where, unlike America, no little boy goes without health coverage.
In the age of Obama, our progressive friends uphold that finely tuned tradition of situational libertarianism more than ever.
There is not a government intrusion or overreach, not a single suppression of thought or liberty, that they can bring themselves to protest.
Close to home, my progressive friends prudently held their tongues when In early October 2008, KMOV News 4 in St. Louis ran a feature on Missouri's "Barack Obama Truth Squads."
These squads, the viewer was told, were composed of Democratic prosecutors and sheriffs from throughout the state that support Barack Obama.
"They will be reminding voters," said News 4 reporter John Mills mindlessly, "that Barack Obama is a Christian who wants to cut taxes for anyone making less than $250,000 a year."
They also say," Mills continued, "they plan to respond immediately to any ads and statements that violate Missouri ethics laws."
A week later, a YouTube video caught the shocked attention of just about every one in America without an Obama bumper sticker.
The video showed a group of boys at a Kansas City public school marching in military attire, chanting "Yes we can" in praise of Obama. My progressive friends held their tongues once more.
The fact is that liberty or the lack of it is not what outraged the left about John Ashcroft or any other conservative.
In inquiring more deeply, I learned that his opponents had begun to label Ashcroft a “Nazi” even before September 11th.
The one scribe who had warned of another “ Dachau” wrote tellingly, “We tried to stop this religious fanatic fundamentalist from ever getting the job.”
Walter Cronkite was only slightly more circumspect. “ What makes this administration's legal bloodthirstiness particularly alarming,” he writes in his denunciation of Ashcroft, “is the almost religious zeal that seems to drive it.”
Even the composer of The Obnoxious Right Wing Nazi Pig Dog From Missouri penned his immortal lyrics before 9-11 due largely to Ashcroft’s unapologetic Christianity and the lyricist’s phobia about the same.
The celebrated logician Jesse Jackson helped me understand the progressive angst about a traditional Christian like Ashcroft.
”In South Africa, we call it apartheid,” warned Jackson. “In Nazi Germany, we'd call it fascism. Here in the United States, we call it conservatism.”
As I learned, Jackson was not the first person to yoke these two wildly dissimilar ideologies. As was often the case, the Soviets showed the way.
When Nazi Germany turned on its Soviet ally in May 1941, American communists and fellow travelers shifted in a heartbeat from being anti-war to pro-war.
From their perspective, those conservatives who continued to resist America’s entry into World War II (before Pearl Harbor) now had, of course, to be fascists.
Through their influence in the media, the left made the so-called “brown smear” stick on a whole lot of innocent people. It worked so well they continued to use it. John Ashcroft was merely its latest victim.
Ashcroft was called a fascist by the left for limiting the freedoms of our enemies.The Obama administration is earning the title by limiting the freedoms of ourselves.
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