Friday, June 29, 2007

What Real Fascism Looks Like

Imagine for a moment that the American ambassador to France summons the organizer of the Cannes Film Festival to his office and after a meeting the two announce that it would be best for France if Michael Moore’s latest movie is not shown in the country.

Unthinkable, right? Yet that’s essentially what happened this week in Thailand.

The Iranian government succeeded in getting Persepolis removed the Bangkok Film Festival line up. The film by French-based Iranian dissident Marjane Satrapi is opposed by the Iranian theocracy because it "presents an unrealistic face of the achievements and results of the glorious Islamic Revolution in some of its parts".

In withdrawing the offending film, the festival organizer said, “It's a good film, but there are other considerations."

Those other considerations include a barbarically violent “insurgency” in southern Thailand where Islamists are fighting Buddhist oppression by cutting the heads off women and children with dull machetes.

Considering that Iran is an equal opportunity jihad supporter, I am almost tempted to wonder if Iran has a hand in the “insurgency.” Nah, that’s unthinkable too.

But for all the critics who feverishly imagine the United States throwing around its influence to crush dissent, this is a useful lesson in how fascism actually works. The threat of physical violence is what is censoring Persepolis.

Fascism always comes down to physical pain. And pain is very persuasive. That's why it's employed so frequently and effectively by proxies in places like Gaza, Kashmir, and Thailand as well as by governments such as Cuba, Zimbabwe, North Korea.

And that’s why it’s hard to take seriously those who go on national television to complain about the crushing of dissent here in the U.S. In the real world "speaking truth to power" can get you crushed quite literally.

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