The Return of the Show Trial?

Anyone who has read about the modern history of totalitarian movements knows that one of the most useful tools in the statist’s toolbox is the show trial.

The show trial is not about the things that we, in our free society, tend to think trials should be about. This type of tribunal is not about seeing justice done or getting to the bottom of a thorny question of the law or fact. Instead, it is designed to highlight the perfidy of enemies of the state and to serve as a warning to others who might follow the same path taken by the poor unfortunates standing before a kangaroo court.

Show trials served to put a spotlight on those who did or thought the wrong things, so that all right-thinking people could see how horrible they were. The take-home message from a show trial was that those who faced them were obvious enemies of the state, scum who deserved everything they got for being subversives, seditionists, or malcontents.

The Nazis used them a lot, most often against political dissidents or those “guilty” of racial or ideological crimes (since “guilt” had, of course, already been established prior to the trial). In the use of this tool of despotism they were preceded, however, by the Soviets. The Soviets used show trials for all sorts of things, and often they were simply designed to provide a justification for doing away with rivals within the Bolshevik revolution. Other leftists besides the Bolsheviks -- such as social democrats or anarchists -- also found themselves in front of a phony court.

One particular specialty dealt with through show trials, as Solzhenitsyn notes repeatedly in The Gulag Archipelago, was the punishment of “breakers” -- those who were accused of sabotage, in some form or another, against the advancement of the Soviet state. A “breaker” was someone who, on paper at least, had tried to hinder the progress of the revolution by trying to monkey-wrench it from within.

In modern America -- the land of the free and the home of the brave -- we are supposed to be free of such things as show trials. Yet we’re not.

The present administration, with the complicity of the propaganda wing of the Democrat Party known as ABCNBCBS, has been doing its share of propagandizing with a view towards holding up enemies of the state so that they can be reviled by all. As Rahm Emanuel has noted, why waste a good crisis when it presents itself? In our situation, this hasn’t reached the level of actual trials with actual bullets behind the police station yet, but these adepts have been working feverishly to manipulate public opinion, often through overt government action, so as to create the proper atmosphere of hatred for the president’s enemies.

The administration has used the regulatory and investigative powers of the state to attempt a kneecapping of Government Motors’ primary competitor in the American domestic market: Toyota. Though there have been recalls for various reasons -- some quite serious -- among other automakers for years, these generally only received a brief mention towards the end of local newscasts. Indeed, Ford and Audi saw the same sorts of complaints that Toyota currently faces back in the 1980s and 1990s.

Not so with the Toyota accelerator problems, which saw non-stop media attention for weeks. As it turned out, the problem with Toyotas suddenly rocketing off into the wild blue yonder of their own accord was just a tad overstated, and many of the claims seem more than a bit concocted. This, of course, didn’t stop the media from reporting the problem as if it were a huge, systematic problem that Toyota had been trying to hide. Nor did it stop Democrats at various levels in our government from launching loud, berating calls for “investigations” into this serious, serious problem with Toyotas. The entire hullabaloo appears to have been generated so as to strike down the most successful car company in the country -- one whose success has a direct impact on the lack of success of our now-government run auto companies.

That’s a show trial, folks.