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Wednesday, January 30, 2008
In America they came first for Dennis Kucinich
By Jerry D. Rose
Martin Niemoeller gave us the classic description of how fascism (corporate political dominance) comes into the world on little cat feet and remains to devour everything in its path.
Speaking of the ascension of the Nazis, Niemoeller says that, in Germany, they came first for the communists and he did not speak up, because he was not a communist. Then they went for the Jews and he did not speak up because he was not a Jew; for the trade unionists, same story, for the Catholics, same story. By the time they came for him, there was no one left to speak up.
This, I think, is the most ominous aspect of the process by which Dennis Kucinich, a Democratic Party presidential candidate whose views are considerably to the left of all the “top tier” candidates (but not of the majority of the American people), was excluded from all the recent presidential debates, despite a Nevada court’s ruling that his exclusion in the Las Vegas debate was unfair and unacceptable.
Kucinich of course “spoke up” for himself, although his speaking was scarcely covered by the main stream media outlets which had been the perpetrators of the exclusion. But how about everyone else who was “not Kucinich?”
What of the three “top tier” Democrats....Clinton, Obama, Edwards....who might have been expected to exert a spot of noblesse oblige toward their competitor and insist that Kucinich be included in the debates; even boycotting participation themselves if he were excluded? Where were they? They simply continued their “debates” which, without any major substantive differences of viewpoint among the candidates, alternated between “love fests” and nasty personal accusations and innuendos, engaging in pissing contests when America desperately needed a debate on solutions of the country’s pressing problems, with all solutions “on the table” and none excluded because the media decided that some of the most popular ones (like real universal health care or immediate end of the Iraqi war) did not belong on that table.
Had the exclusionary activity ended with the decisions of the broadcast media and the acquiescence of the favored candidates, the situation would be troubling but not surprising nor especially alarming. But what of others who might have been expected to “speak up” for Kucinich? How about the alternative media, no friends of the MSM forces that perpetrated the offense? With some notable exceptions (Common Dreams, Alter Net, Nation Magazine and Women’s International Perspective, to name a few), these media have, for the most part, continued on their customary agenda of hammering Clinton, Obama or both.
Counter Punch, self-described as “America’s Best Political Newsletter,” has had nothing to say, so far as I have noticed in my daily perusals. (CP has a longstanding editorial bias against Kucinich though he, more perhaps than any other U.S. leader, shares CP’s Israel-critical perspective.) But then all of these entities are “not Kucinich,” so they keep silent while they shut out consciousness of the impending arrival of suppression of all internet-based “dissent.”
Then, too, I must ask what of those “progressive” forces most closely aligned with the Kucinich agenda, for example, the co-sponsors of HR 676, the universal health care bill, including most members of the so-called “Progressive Caucus? Have any of these people spoken up, or has their speaking been muted in the reportage of the MSM or of their almost-equally silent journalistic counterparts in the alternative press?
And, finally, where are the Progressive Democrats of America, staffed largely by former Kucinich campaigners, and whose online presidential preference poll was easily won by Kucinich?
Apparently, PDA is so adamantly aligned with the campaign of John Edwards, their designated “other” poll winner, that they did not want to offend John by speaking up for Dennis. Shortly before the Nevada caucuses, PDA asked its Nevada members who supported Kucinich in the first round of the caucuses to support Edwards in the second round if they didn’t get the requisite 15% support to gain delegates; without a whisper of a reciprocal request that Edwards supporters vote for Kucinich in the event of a reverse scenario. I can only wonder that PDA staffers felt themselves “not Kucinich” even though many of them came out of that campaign; but were so ambitious to support a “winning” candidate that they chose to work for a candidate “more likely to succeed.”
Maybe that last thought is the most disturbing of all; that America has become so “success” oriented that we seldom ask whether a person should get an academy award or people should be making money on Wall Street; we’re all scorecard holders whose main interest is in winning or losing, not whether people deserve to win or lose. Dennis Kucinich is a “loser” in the minds of most Americans, if they are aware of him at all; the fact that he said he saw a flying saucer is probably known to more people than is the inspiring vision of American and world futures that he articulates so eloquently. Communists were “losers” in 1930s Germany, so who cared about their “civil rights?”
But again let us be reminded that today’s silent majority who sit by as the losers are suppressed are destined to become tomorrow’s losers, as fascism continues its relentless march toward making losers of us all.
Yes, they have “come for” Dennis Kucinich and, with his withdrawal from the presidential race, that eloquent voice is removed officially from a presidential debate from which de facto it had been removed by an active corporate media and their allies in the sleeping public. And now, there is the very likely prospect that the same combination of forces may deprive him of his congressional seat and from being heard in that forum as well. It is precisely among that legion of “sleepers” that any vestiges of independent thinking will be roused from their slumbers as the fascist powers come for “them.”
Jerry D. Rose, a retired sociology professor from State University of New York, lives in Gainesville Florida.