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.

Now Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wants to drag the CEOs of various companies in front of his committee to harass and threaten them. Their crime? Reporting huge write-down losses to the Securities and Exchange Commission that will result from the costs incurred by ObamaCare -- something which these companies are required by law to do.

Caterpillar, John Deere, AT&T, Boeing, Prudential, and scores of other companies are already reporting that the new health care legislation will cost them big -- which of course will eventually translate into higher prices and more layoffs. In other words, their reports to the SEC are the beginning of the inevitable results of the idiotic fiscal policy that is embodied in ObamaCare.

But Henry Waxman doesn’t like that. It’s embarrassing to the Democrats and to the Obama administration to have all these companies basically tell their shareholders, “Look, it isn't us -- this is the result of the government’s stupidity.” So he wants to keelhaul them into a one-sided propaganda photo-op in front of his committee, so he can demagogue and place blame for any future layoffs and other adverse economic effects onto the companies themselves. It’s an easy way to generate a lot of needless ill will against big corporations and to get the non-thinkers who soak in the network news to press the government to “do something” about these horrible, greedy corporations.

Once again, a show trial.

Who can ignore the completely biased, one-sided nonsense spewing forth from both the administration and the media about the tea parties? They’re all racists. They’re violent extremists. They’re fringe radical nutcases who don’t represent the American people. Never mind that a majority of Americans agree with the tea party agenda, that numerous "persons of color" are involved with the movement, and that no violence has been recorded at any tea party rallies. The left is working overtime to scare the American people into ignoring facts and believing lies.

Hence, you have black congressmen claiming that tea partiers were calling them “the n-word” -- even though, conveniently, none of a multitude of cameras caught it on tape.  You have Emanuel Cleaver, who misrepresents the district I grew up in back in Missouri, inventing a lie about tea partiers spitting on him. The whole point is to trump up the appearance of “racism,” which will then be replayed incessantly on our television screens for days.

Hey, look over there! Is that a show trial?

Of course, we can then look at the bogus claims of “violence” arising from the passage of ObamaCare. The meme is that tea partiers, ObamaCare opponents, and conservatives in general are “violent” and must be made to stand before the American people. Then they will be revealed to be the violent “breakers” that they are for trying to halt Chairman Obama’s much-needed reforms.

A Democrat congressman’s brother had a propane line on his gas grill cut. Some horrible tea partiers supposedly put a coffin on Congressman Russ Carnahan’s (D-MO) front lawn because he voted for ObamaCare. So it goes. Never mind that the whole “coffin” story turned out to involve a prop at a prayer vigil protesting abortion that took place in front of Congressman Carnahan’s office, or that there has yet been no evidence that evil, dastardly tea partiers were involved with cutting the propane line, as opposed to punk kids, attempted thievery, or even self-inflicted damages (those on the left have been known to vandalize their own property in an attempt to tar their political opponents).

To date, the only actual violence that seems to have come out of the passage of ObamaCare is a bullet that punched its way through a window at one of Eric Cantor’s offices -- most likely fired by someone unhappy that he almost succeeded in derailing Obama’s signature agenda item. But Cantor’s a Republican, so the media didn’t dwell on the matter. They just hope he got the hint.

If it looks like a duck, and it walks like a duck, and it acts like a duck, then it’s a show trial.

Now, we see the latest news coming out of the Midwest -- a violent, apocalyptic “Christian” militia was plotting to overthrow the government! Presumably because a black man is president or something. Now, I will grant that this Hutaree militia group seems to have been a collection of kooks and nutballs. If they genuinely were involved in plotting a series of violent acts with the intention of inciting a general revolt against the government, then I’m very glad they were caught and stopped. However, the timing for all this seems just a tad ... fishy. ObamaCare passes. The news media runs with a week-long series of preparatory propaganda pieces about how violent and crazy and radical opponents of “health care” are. Stories floating around left and right about how the tea partiers are racists, and that what really drives their animus is that Obama is black. The wildly exaggerated stories of violence by “right-wingers.” And then suddenly, the FBI comes swooping in on some rinky-dink “militia” out in the middle of Nowhere, Michigan, just after the pump has been primed for maximum psychological effectiveness.  Really?

It doesn’t help matters that the government has changed its story about this group at least twice. Initially, they were planning to attack Muslims. But then the media handlers remembered that Muslims aren’t viewed all that sympathetically in America, and giving CAIR an opportunity to spit up its talking points onto our television screens would probably have the opposite effect and generate sympathy for the Hutarees.

So then the story changed to one about their being rounded up for weapons laws violations. But wait, this is the country that just saw a year’s worth of record gun sales, specifically because we’re afraid the government is going to try to come in and take them from us. So that backfired. The story then changed to one much more amenable to their needs -- the Hutarees were planning to kill a police officer and then bomb his funeral. After all, who in their right mind wouldn’t get riled up by that? Hence, the perfect excuse for a good Two Minute Hate seems to be in the offing. Like I said, if it eventually turns out that the threat was legitimate, then I’ll applaud the FBI for a job well done. Still, I can’t shake that fishy smell.

This phenomenon is yet another sign of the coarsening and degradation of our culture and society. In the past, we could have legitimate disagreements with each other without having to be hauled up before Congress for a good talking to by the most powerful people in society. Law-abiding citizens with legitimate concerns about the future of liberty and the economy didn’t have to fear being slandered and caricatured by a news media beholden to a certain ideological persuasion and a particular political party. We could have honest disagreements without the show trials, without being rounded up as “breakers.”

Now, the government uses its heavy hand to silence critics and harass dissenters. While there have always been instances of government corruption and misuse of its power -- after all, we are all only human -- never before has it seemed this pervasive.  This bodes ill for the future of freedom in our nation.