Verschärfte Vernehmung

This blog post is disturbing enough, but some of the responses are downright scary. First read the original, along with the references, then follow the talk-backs. “The Bull in Full” has a particularly good analysis, part of which I’ve excerpted below.

“The written word is a funny thing, though … And there’s something about seeing the words “Verschärfte Vernehmung,” which can be alternately translated as “sharpened interrogation” or “enhanced interrogation” atop a Gestapo memo describing ways of getting information out of prisoners. And it’s quite another to see that this memo lays out many of the techniques authorized by our current administration, and even forbids some that we’ve now embraced as too inhumane.

Again—we’ve now reached a level of inhumanity that the Gestapo was hesitant to stoop to. And we’re even using the same Orwellian phrase to dress it up to make it more acceptable.”

At this juncture it is difficult to deny that we as a country have taken significant steps towards a totalitarian regime. We have been there before, after World War 1 (the first “Red Scare“, Palmer raids, the rise of J. Edgar Hoover). The current political tone is disturbingly resonant with the political and social tone of 1918-1920. Author Ann Hagedorn has documented that period in a recent book, “Savage Peace, Hope and Fear in America, 1919“(a review of the book can be found here).

We again leaned towards totalitarianism, albeit to a lesser extent, during the early 1950s with junior Senator Joe McCarthy. The incipient question is: will we recognize the threat our current culture is posing and step back from the brink in time to prevent a descent into the end of what James Madison astutely referred to as the American experiment?

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