Naomi Wolf: The End of America

Just watched the documentary based on Naomi Wolf's book The End of America. Many of you will find little here that is surprising, but the film is powerful and disturbing. Wolf presents information that most of us are at least partly aware of in such a compelling way, it's worth watching even if you already have a clearly-developed opinion on the Bush Administration's practices and policies.

Frankly, I had been of the mindset that "going after" the previous administration for its crimes was an unnecessary and potentially damaging endeavor. In part, I was concerned that it would be politically unfruitful for the Obama Administration, and thus not worth the effort. But I've been a fan of Naomi Wolf for some time, and she's got me on the bandwagon now...


1. invoke an internal and external threat.

People who are afraid are willing to do things that they wouldn’t otherwise do.

2. establish secret (unaccountable) prisons where torture takes place.

In a secret system, the government does not have to provide any proof of wrongdoing by those it holds, so it can incarcerate anyone it wants.

3. develop a paramilitary force.

A private military force – under the exclusive direction of the “commander in chief” with no accountability to Congress, the courts, or the public – blurs the line between a civilian police force and a militarized police state.

4. surveil ordinary citizens

People who believe they are being watched are less likely to voice opposition. To scare a population into silence, the government need only monitor the activities of a few to make everyone fear that they are being surveilled. Every closed society keeps a “list” of so-called opponents it tracks.

5. infiltrate citizen’s groups

Spies in activist groups put psychological pressure on genuine activists by undermining their trust in one another. They may also disrupt legal activities, undermining the effectiveness of group efforts.

6. detain and release ordinary citizens

Detention intimidates or psychologically damages those arrested and also lets everyone know that anyone could be labeled an “enemy combatant” and “disappeared.”

7. target key individuals

People are less likely to speak out when those who are highly visible, like journalists, scholars, artists, or celebrities, are intimidated or have the livelihoods threatened. Targeting those who are especially visible makes it less likely that people will speak out and robs society of leaders and others who might inspire opposition.

8. restrict the press

The public is less likely to fi nd out about government wrongdoing if the government can threaten to prosecute anyone who publishes or broadcasts reports that are critical of the government.

9. recast criticism as espionage and dissent as treason

People who protest can be charged with terrorism or treason when laws criminalize or limit free speech rather than protect it.

10. subvert the rule of law

The disappearance of checks and balances makes it easier to declare martial law, especially if the judiciary continues to exercise authority over individuals but has no authority over the Executive branch.

The End Of America - Trailer from IndiePix on Vimeo.

“My sense of alarm comes from the clear lessons from history

that, once certain checks and balances are destroyed, and once

certain institutions have been intimidated, the pressures that

can turn an open society into a closed one turn into direct

assaults; at that point events tend to occur very rapidly, and

a point comes at which there is no turning back to

the way it used to be.”

- Naomi Wolf

The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot

At best, I may be an inconsistent patriot of our nation-state, but I believe in freedom of speech and ideas, and freedom from oppression, and I'm at least aware enough to recognize America - at it's best - can be a protector of those freedoms.

1 comment:

Becca said...

Thanks for this thing that I have found interesting, and frusterating, is the idea that republicans are touting a "smaller government". In many ways I have more respect for Libertarians on this front; they talk the talk and walk the walk. But, I have no patience for republicans who lament the expantion of goverment, the idea of "socialism", when the last administration did so ery much to over-reach its appropriate power realm. No patience at all.

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