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A Wordinista Strikes Back

Publication Date: 2006-08-31

After reading an article in the Los Angeles Times describing a recent Donald Rumsefeld observation about Fascists, this high schooler realized he described her (those with opposition belief around this war).

Dear Donald Rumsfeld,

Hi. I'm an American teenager, live in California, get good grades, I'm likable, and a neo-Nazi fascist.

Or, at least, that's my categorization of late--by your own particularly eloquent phrasing. I must say, I'm quite flattered. Many times my government has insulted me personally--everything from terrorist to pinko commie--but fascist is a new one. I'll have to make out new business cards.

I appreciate your attempts to make the language of politics clearer to the American people. After all, my neighbors had no idea I was a fascist! They just thought that I was exercising my rights to free speech when I criticized the government. They were under the impression that "fascism" meant "an oppressive government that stifles personal liberties."

But no! I explained to them quite patiently: Mr. Rumsfeld clearly called this a new type of fascism. It's all very difficult to understand, really, but I think I set them straight. Things like criticizing your government, and freedom of assembly, and worshipping whatever god you like--you know, the things in the amendments--those are all neo-fascist. Just like the Nazis. Only without the Nazi part.

Then, my audience expressed confusion as to what a non-fascist government was, and I think that I answered the question quite well:

"Well, if civil liberties are fascist now, then clearly everything that was fascist before is now going by the moniker 'freedom and democracy!' Think of 1984, by George Orwell, the most famous fictional fascist government ever. Now, what did they do that used to be fascist? How about changing the language? They used doublethink phrases, like WAR IS PEACE to squash any crimethink, redefining words like 'free' to mean just 'free of dust' and not 'free from oppression,' thus killing ideas they didn't like. They even totally switched around the definitions of words, like the Ministry of Torture being named the Ministry of Love. I bet they could have even flipped the definitions of fascism and democracy!

...oh, wait. Those sly dogs.

But absolutely useless fictional works of literature aside, I wanted to commend your redefinitions. It's a quote that will surely go down in history along with "There is nothing to fear but fear itself." It will go something like this: "There is nothing to fear but terrorists, commies, teachers and fascists, so bring your shotgun and plenty of duct tape." Ahhhh, the blossoming flower of fascism.

Democracy! I mean democracy. Not fascism. Oh, it's a little confusing.

However, as much as I appreciate your work in clarifying to the American public who, exactly, they should report to the CIA (hint: it's the guy at the water cooler who's always begging for health insurance), I must regretfully inform you that you've lost.

I don't mean to offend, but you lost.

According to the principle of Reductio ad Hitlerum, as the length of a discussion approaches infinity, (i.e., how long the Republicans and Democrats will be going at it), the probability of a reference to Hitler or the Nazis approaches one. This is referred to in internet discourse as Godwin's Law.

However, the most well-known corollary of Godwin's Law states that the party (or Party) who makes that comparison automatically loses.

Thus, I'm sorry, you lose.

Sylvia Puglisi

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