Wow-where to begin with Jim Bowman’s truly appalling Oct. 22 column equating Barack Obama with fascists?

Bowman and Virginia Seuffert have so much in common. Although superficially more coherent and articulate, Bowman’s column is of the same ilk as the pathetic splutterings emanating from Seuffert. Bowman starts with his usual gentle humor-some equal opportunity ribbing of our local Republican Party (evidently numbering 10 souls, since that’s all the McCain signs they were allotted) and effete wine-and-cheese liberals. Then he gives some interesting history of local Saul Alinsky-style community organizing, of which he was a beneficiary.

Then the sneak attack. After stringing together some Alinsky quotes (full disclosure, Alinsky was a proud socialist-that is, a person who seeks to use political power to help the least among us, as Jesus commanded), Bowman uses some version of the concept of “six degrees of separation” to determine that Barack Obama is a fascist. Whoa!

“Fascism” is improperly used these days by unthinking people like Bowman as an all-purpose epithet for people whose political views they disagree with. But journalistic ethics require an alleged journalist to exercise responsibility when using such loaded terminology. The most basic definition of Fascism is “the totalitarian principles and organization of the extreme right-wing nationalist movement in Italy (1922-1943)” or any similar nationalist and authoritarian movement. That’s the definition in the Oxford American Dictionary.

Political scientists and others of heightened intellectual vigor augment this basic definition when describing other political movements similar to the terroristic regime of Mussolini. Based on their study of the Nazis of Germany and similar regimes, they have found common elements to include an ideology that seeks to renew a society’s economy and culture by appealing to the population’s sense of national belonging or ethnic identity. Concepts of freedom of thought and individual rights by definition are rejected by such a regime, instead focusing on centralized leadership, fanaticism and racism.

Historical fascist movements have relied on demonization of the “other” in order to achieve domination over a cringing, fearful populace. It has been horrifying to see the same fascistic tendencies in evidence during this campaign-not from the Obama campaign, but from the McCain campaign. McCain and his surrogates, especially the demagogue Sarah Palin, exuberantly exhort their mobs to question Obama’s patriotism: Who is Barack Obama? Why doesn’t he see
America the way they do?

The mobs respond in appropriately Pavlovian fashion (just like the “good Germans” of another age), with shouts of “Kill him” and racial epithets directed at black journalists. Chilling reminders of dark days captured in old newsreels-mobs saluting a crazed dictator, nights of broken glass.

So, Jim Bowman, just who is the fascist here?

Marie Jordan

Oak Park

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