The End of America

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This 2008 film by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, based on Naomi Wolf's book of the same name is a fine reconstruction of the decline of republics into dictatorships. They all follow a simple pattern of ten steps.

Reviewed by Ron Denner

The founders didn't write the Constitution and Bill of Rights for all this bravado. They wrote those documents in fear. They came, or their families had from places where they were hung for speaking out for their rights.

I saw that dictators learn from one another and they developed a blue print for closing down open society. And then I saw that this blue print was simple. It consists of ten steps.

—Naomi Wolf

The End of America, a 2008 film by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, is based on Naomi Wolf's book of the same name. It's a fine reconstruction of the decline of republics into dictatorships. From Rome to Communist Russia to Japan to Burma to Nazi Germany to Fascist Italy to America today, they all follow a simple ten step pattern. Following are the ten steps.

1. Invent a terrifying internal and external threat.

Wolf compared the manner in which the Nazis used the Reischstag fire to justify laws limiting human rights and to denounce free-thinkers as traitors to the ways in which the Bush Administration used 9/11 to do the same thing.

2. Use secret prisons where torture takes place.

President Bush used torture techniques taken from the Gulag in the Soviet Union. Military Order Number One under Bush affirmed that the President can pick up any non-citizen anywhere in the world if the President "Thinks he is a threat." Wolf stressed that no one is immune. In Germany, people would be dragged out of halls during meetings "like this one" and subjected to "enhanced interrogation", i.e., torture. Wolf specified that torture doesn't work, as America attacked Iraq on false information provided under torture. "It provides information that is completely wrong."

3. Create a paramilitary force.

Wolf mentioned Blackwater USA, which gave $2.4 million to the Republican Party and received hundredss of millions of dollars in uncontested contracts. Blackwater hires handpicked torturers and murderers from third world nations, where they were doing this to their own citizens. Wolf mentioned how Blackwater is operating in America, as is regular military forces, in direct violation of the Constitution. Pictures were shown of these military and para-military forces at work. She noted that Black Water was the name for a German civilian organization under the Nazis.

4. Employ surveillance.

Hitler and Stalin both used neighborhood spies. "We all know our e-mail and phone calls are observed." But Wolf pointed out that most people are unaware how surveillance personnel can just make something up, or twist things out of context.

Naomi Wolf, who travels a lot, noticed the letters SSSS appearing on her documents every time she entered an airport. She finally found an employee who explained this to her: "You're on the list." Over one million Americans are on the list and it is growing every day. An American military officer, Colonel David Antoon, told how he went on the list after he spoke out against the war.

5. Define certain groups as illegal.

In 2004, Quakers were defined as an illegal group. A Quaker Meeting House was infiltrated, as are groups formed to protest the war. Wolf asks "Are U. S. dollars being spent to make us safer or stifle dissent?"

6. Detain and recluse ordinary citizens.

Wolf mentioned a military officer who had protested the war. He was carrying papers he had downloaded from the internet for a class he was taking offline. Those papers were declared secret and he was arrested for their possession. He was eventually exonerated, but every time he crosses a border he is taken and held, then released.

7. Target key individuals.

Goebbels was good at this. The Dixie Chicks said they wished Bush wasn't from Texas and their hit record went from #1 to oblivion in two weeks. According to Wolf, orders were given to radio stations not to play the Dixie Chicks. "Spontaneous CD burnings" were held of their CDs, reminiscent of the "spontaneous book burnings" held by Goebbels, except that CDs don't burn.

Dan Rather was "driven out of his job" after reporting a criticism of Bush.

Valerie Plame appeared, the CIA spy who's life and the lives of her operatives were endangered by Vice-President Cheney in order to punish her husband for exposing the truth that the assertion that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was a fraud. Her whole career, which depended on secrecy, was ended, and her life endangered; Plame stated that one day she walked out on her porch deck, 20 feet above the ground, and noticed someone had loosened the bolts in her deck.

8. Restrict the Press.

When a reporter for the New York Times revealed that the White House was making illegal profits, they called this information a government secret and denounced the reporter as a traitor. The Times was also accused of treason. Naomi compared this to Stalin's trial and execution of an Yzvestia editor, and reminded us of the ten-year retardation of free speech in America after the trial of Eugene Debs.

9. Recast criticism as sabotage and terrorism.

Video was shown of Amy Goodman's arrest for reporting on a protest. Over 200 people were arrested in a mass arrest who had nothing to do with the protest. They just had chosen that day to relax in a park. This is reminiscent of the murder of four students at Kent State University by the National Guard. Not one student killed was a demonstrator. Three were walking to class, and one was simply standing in her apartment when they were shot.

Wolf pointed out that House Resolution 1955 "was taken right out of Goebbels playbook." In essence, it says: "If you criticize America, you are a terrorist."

10. Subvert the rule of law.

Mussolini just ignored Italy's Parliament, much as George W. Bush ignored Congress. Video footage was shown of Republican Senator Arlen Specter condemning Congress for not having the courage to assert its authority over the President. Though Bush denied it, Wolf mentioned papers that have been released revealing that Bush wanted to purge all US Government attorneys. Goebbels actually succeeded at purging his.

Wolf also recommended the American Freedom Campaign, which is fighting to win this country back and is dedicated to confronting and correcting these abuses of our America.

"Jefferson and Franklin said it is not a right, but a responsibility, to stand up to your government." STAND UP!! As a nation, we've lost our way. At present, there are 3,000 soldiers on American streets. Wolf concluded by saying: "They make it look like a democracy but it's not."

The End of America is available on DVD from Indiepix Films or can be watched online.

Ron Denner is a member of Tri-Cities Action for Peace (TCAP).

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