Those were the magic words of the time: "Papiere Bitte. (Translation: "Papers, Please.") Hearing those words, even now, causes dull echoes of sounds akin to bodies hitting dirt, or bullets penetrating flesh to thud into my mind. Because, if those papers weren't correctly in order, or, if you were a Jew sneakily present in any place (including the grocery store) which displayed the usual "NO JEWS OR DOGS ALLOWED" sign, you were dead meat literally. And, yes, of course I'm talking about my childhood as a little Jewish kid in Nazi Germany.
No one ever forgets stench. Whether it is a long-forgotten encounter with a ripe skunk, or a ripe egg, or a ripe decomposing body, once one of those odors has been brain-documented, then even the slightest tinge of such an aroma pops back up immediately, along with the circumstances under which it first offended the nostrils.
And, that's what's happening now. I smell the long-forgotten skunk, the long-forgotten rot of fascism. What is happening all around can no longer be denied. What I ran away from so desperately in 1938 is coming back full circle. Only the jack-boots have not yet arrived.
America quite literally saved my life. The love and gratitude deep in my heart for this country will never go away. But I'm scared now. Haunted by deep fear for the generations to come, who may wind up as I did — looking over their shoulders, scurrying for cover, mute with terror. And it hurts.
Think I'm some kind of elderly nut-job neurotically manufacturing dictatorship? Well, let's look at the 82 billion dollar defense bill passed just a few weeks ago, which (with a vote tally of 100 to 0) had the Real ID Act hidden inside it. This law allows a national identification process in which each and every person in the U.S.A. will be on computer.
This ID will be based on driver's license applications, although it isn't just for driving. Just like the infamous "Internal Passport" of Nazi Germany, no one will need it unless needing to fly, cash checks, apply for jobs, walk the streets, enter federal buildings or drive. As stated in Time magazine on May 15, 2005, "If you are a wealthy recluse with liquid assets, it doesn't concern you." Everyone else better watch out! Well, maybe that wealthy recluse had better watch out also. After all, he/she might be of a forbidden religion, or of suspicious racial origin.
Legal "ID Theft" and legal "illegal surveillance”? The Real ID Act links driver's licenses of all states, creating a data base including the private details of every single U.S. citizen. It mandates that your driver's license share a common machine-readable digital photo of you, all the better to track your every movement. It hands the federal government unfunded mandate power to dictate what data all states must collect for license holders, including everything from fingerprints to retinal scans. And, if you don't drive, you'll still need to submit to the national ID card. How else, after all, will the cop who doesn't like the shape of your face, or the fact that you are (God Forbid) wearing a turban get to arrest you? Yes, "Papiere Bitte" has come home to roost.
And, folks, that's only the beginning. More technically sophisticated techniques will be implemented as they occur. If the Nazis had had electronic surveillance, phone bugging and all else that the Patriot Act not only condones but advises, there would have been an even tighter grip on the populace.
After all, the Patriot Act is modeled directly after Gestapo methods: Those 3:00 AM home intrusions — without warrant or reason for arrest — will get our undesirable "domestic terrorists" straight to the nearest version of Guantnamo with no need for trial. The USA is currently building thirty-seven "detention centers" nationwide, and they'll soon be filled with persons who protest too much, or are simply of the wrong nationality. After all, it worked very well in Germany, successfully eliminating Jews, Gypsies, and anyone willing to stand up, and refuse to "Hail Hitler."
What's next? Well, it's already happening: The Geneva Conventions were initiated after WW II to prevent the insane war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by Nazi Germany from ever happening again. Now, with blithe disregard of all of the above, the U.S.A. not only institutes torture (not just physical, but deliberately mental and emotional) on its prisoners, but actually exports these folks to countries in which such torture is governmentally approved. What the U.S. domestic prison system has kept hidden for years, is now right out there for everyone to applaud. How long it will take before the prison guards tie together the legs of a woman in labor and then make bets on how long it will take her to die? After all, that's what guards did for fun in Nazi Germany. Abu Ghraib, anyone?
So, you ask, "If that's all true, why doesn't the media expose it all?" Now, that's such a classic example of Nazi strategy, it's almost funny. The Nazis took over the media, folks. No newspaper published a single sentence without governmental approval, and propaganda was fed to the populace instead of news. Sound familiar? A Time magazine article, (April, 2005), gave illustrated examples of how the current administration administers this process.
And, last but certainly not least, the Nazis took over the German government in its entirety with one simple maneuver: They simply took over the courts. You know, like it's happening right now, today, even as we speak: Our filibuster was busted, and those neo-con activist judges are a-sittin' on the bench, ready to take over the Supreme Court. Because, once that Supreme Court is co-opted, hey, driver's license ID cards are going be the least of our worries. Ask me. I know!
June 6, 2005