In the weeks before the US Congress passed major healthcare reform, select members of the political right (from “the base” on up to the leadership) repeated the claim that the Obama administration was turning America into a fascist/totalitarian/Maoist/Nazi state. The language was inflammatory and reckless, and it deeply trivialized the past. Now, it’s time for a little reality check. This is what fascism & totalitarianism actually look like. It looks like prison camps, torture, starvation, the bleakest of bleak conditions, and mass death, running into the millions. And take note: there’s not much healthcare going to the uninsured in this world (nor a strident political opposition, I can assure you). This wartime documentary, Death Mills (above), comes from the great director Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard). It was intended to educate Germans about the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. But, apparently it still has educational value for Congressmen, pundits and tea partiers today. Unless, of course, these folks were just being cynical all along.
For those who opposed the healthcare plan intelligently and civilly, don’t take offense. This is not about healthcare per se. It’s about intellectual honesty … or at least setting the historical record straight.