Republican corporatists favored DP World, a company owned by the Dubai government taking over some American terminal operations. In fairness, numerous national security experts did not object to this transaction either. However, the Christian Right is filled with hatred for Islam and Bush has stoked the flames of nationalism for five years. Consequently, congressional Republicans rebelled against the Bush Administration and joined the Democrats in thwarting it.
I readily acknowledge that legitimate concerns about a nation with pre-9/11 ties to Al Quaeda owning a company running American terminals were raised. Perhaps, on the merits this transaction needed to be thwarted. Also, it must be acknowledged that the 9/11 commission and many Democrats, including John Kerry in 2004, consistently expressed concerns about our port security.
However, this case wasn’t made on the merits. This was about the American public hearing “United Arab Emirates” repeatedly in news coverage and we all know it. I could care less about millionaires in Dubai losing out. However, I am deeply concerned about my country’s psyche and blowback resulting from five years of Republican nationalism.
George Orwell wrote the following in his prescient classic “1984”:
“Patriotism is love for your fellow countrymen above all others. Nationalism is hatred for all others beyond all else."If that quote from Orwell gives you pause, consider this dictionary definition of National Socialism:
“n: a form of socialism featuring racism and expansionism [syn: Nazism, Naziism]”That is the course Republicans have unleashed and anyone who doesn’t see it are deluding themselves. Big brother has expanded exponentially under this “conservative” President in a manner that would make socialists blush using national security as cover. Furthermore, Iraq isn’t about national security or liberating a people from tyranny. It is a war of choice exploiting racism against Arabs after 9/11 and imperialist designs for their oil. We have yet to renounce any claim on permanent bases in Iraq. Nor will we.
The knee jerk reaction among many progressives is to screech about the evil Republican Party, blame the biased corporate media, and vent about feckless Democrats. I’ve done my share of all of that and with justification. This goes far deeper however.
I regret to say that our country has a cascading virus of xenophobia. This is nothing new in our history. We’ve seen it before. But it is somehow more disquieting in a world with raging globalization, Islamic fundamentalism, and proliferating weapons of mass destruction. I don’t want my country to be swept up in the backwash of bile sweeping this planet. Perhaps I am an idealist. I believe my country has a sacred mission to lead by example and appeal to humanity’s better instincts. Instead we appear to be led by the dark impulses of fear, greed, and gratuitous violence.
Our politicians merely reflect it. We see it in the immigration debate under the cover of national security. As for Dubai, hooray the deal was stopped! Does anyone feel safer?
One may see a positive side to all of this. The corporatists inside the Republican Party will engage in a brutal civil war with the Nationalist Socialist wing of their party. Corporatists profit from globalization, find the cheap labor of immigrants desirable, and the labor of foreign workers even more desirable. Although Bush exploited nationalism to keep power in 2004, he is clearly on the side of corporatists. The recent summit with India illustrates what side of the divide Bush is on. So does the Dubai controversy. Hence, some conservatives have become disillusioned with Bush, and are having an “epiphany” as Paul Krugman noted in his New York Times column yesterday.
Bush's comments yesterday were tragically surreal:
"In order to win the war on terror, we've got to strengthen our relationships and friendships with moderate Arab countries in the Middle East."This coming from the President whose Administration sadistically tortures Arabs abroad and denies them due process of law at home. Bush is confronted with the sentiments he stoked to justify an illegal and immoral war.
But we let it happen. We’re to blame. The silent majority of this country was misled because it wanted to be misled. It hungered for vengeance against an unseen enemy and Bush provided the vehicle. Those of us who questioned and protested were in the minority.
Where we go from here frightens me. Obviously, Bush and the Republican Party are not an effective bulwark against this stain on America’s soul. How can they be when their power is contingent upon fear? Or when so called “moderate” Republicans rely on the appeals of xenophobic nationalism to deliver tax cuts for the rich? Sadly, Democrats seem gleeful at the prospect of getting to Bush’s right in order to obtain power themselves. We’ll see this as the immigration debate unfolds in the next couple years.
We want protection from them. The citizens of India poised to take our jobs. The regime in China that fuels its economy with slave labor, infringes upon our copyright laws, and finances our deficit spending. Those brown people crossing our borders, taking jobs, and costing money. Even the Gulf Coast wants protection from our own citizens because those damn victims of Hurricane Katrina need to be housed and schooled. Nobody wants to pay for them but many want to blame them for crime. You know what those people are like. In a time of economic uncertainty as well as vulnerability in our national security, everybody wants to be protected from them. Arabs, gays, the Jewish Zionists, black people from New Orleans who just might have the temerity to better themselves after a disaster.
While the public desires security against the powerful forces of globalization and easy scapegoats, it doesn’t want it to be unduly ugly. Rather Americans desire National Socialism with a "human face." For five years George Bush with his combination of swagger and façade of regular folks appeal has embodied that face. He no longer can due to his lame duck status and political weakness. But National Socialism with a human face is what the public craves and the political party or candidate that can wrap it in the right package will emerge victorious.
I hope my Democratic Party can stand tall against all this. I suspect some will cynically exploit the prevailing national sentiment while others of principle such as Russ Feingold, will eventually be foiled by the silent majority. Even if the Democrats recapture Congress this November and the White House in ’08, it may just be National Socialism with health care. Or Weimar Republic redux?