John on October 28, 2007 at 5:08 pm
Seven years into the Bush administration, its getting hard for the Bush bashers to really distinguish themselves. Comparisons of various members of the administration to Hitler, Goebbels, and Darth Vader are simply passÃ© at this point. So are the pointing out of various parallels to Vietnam. We’ve heard it all at this point, at least it seemed that way.
Today I came across this piece in the International Herald Tribune in which author Francois Furstenburg goes all the way back to the French Revolution in order to find a new way to call Bush a rude name:
The Jacobins shared a defining ideological feature. They divided the world between pro- and anti-Revolutionaries – the defenders of liberty versus its enemies. The French Revolution, as they understood it, was the great event that would determine whether liberty was to prevail on the planet or whether the world would fall back into tyranny and despotism.
To defend the nation from its enemies, Jacobins expanded the government’s police powers at the expense of civil liberties, endowing the state with the power to detain, interrogate and imprison suspects without due process. Policies like the mass warrantless searches undertaken in 1792 – “domicilary visits,” they were called – were justified, according to Georges Danton, the Jacobin leader, “when the homeland is in danger.”
On this principle, the Terror demonized its political opponents, imprisoned suspected enemies without trial and eventually sent thousands to the guillotine. All of these actions emerged from the Jacobin worldview that the enemies of liberty deserved no rights.
Though it has been a topic of much attention in recent years, the origin of the term “terrorist” has gone largely unnoticed by politicians and pundits alike. The word was an invention of the French Revolution, and it referred not to those who hated freedom, nor to non-state actors, nor of course to “Islamofascism.”
A terroriste was, in its original meaning, a Jacobin leader who ruled France during la Terreur.
Any day now, it’ll be guillotines in the streets of New York.Are you following him? The Jacobins are just like neo-cons because they suspended habeas corpus! And, yes, they did execute a few thousand people. Just you wait! Any day now, it’ll be guillotines in the streets of New York. All of this somehow means that, etymologically speaking, George Bush is the real terrorist. Got it?
Conspicuously absent from this historical review of events is the fact that the Jacobins would surely have considered Bush, with his noted evangelical faith, a representative of the Ancien Regime they were busy murdering in the streets.
And that’s the bottom line, isn’t it? The terror wasn’t called the terror because of mean things the Jacobins said about their opponents or even because they really believed they were the saviors of all mankind. It was called the terror because the government was rallying mobs to pull “aristocrats” from their homes and hack them up with knives, behead them in public or drown them in nearby rivers.
Estimates vary, but no one doubts that the terror resulted in the murdered of at least 20,000 Frenchmen in just 10 months starting in the fall of 1793. Unless Mr. Furstenburg is prepared to make a truly salient comparison to the terror, really the only one worth making, we can safely dismiss his piece as the high-sounding tripe it is.
On the left, Bush is an insipient Theocrat one moment and a Rousseau-inspired Jacobin revolutionary the next. The only constant is this: President Bush is always the villain.
Category: Politics |