Letter to the Editor: Patrick Sundstrom is partly correct
In the past, while I have patently disagreed with most of the opinions written in by Patrick Sundstrom, this time, I need to write in defense of him, at least partly. While I wouldn't incorrectly refer to Islamic Extremists as "fascists" as he does, he made some good points in his Aug. 28 opinion (in his retort to Cody Thornton), on how they are similar to Nazi fascists. While there are no two groups that are absolutely identical, in some cases, there are certain analogies that can be formed to help us understand another group better. I commend Mr. Sundstrom for pointing out similarities between two groups to illustrate his point.
Mr. Sundstrom wrote, "First, the Nazi party was the only political party in Germany after Hitler took power. No dissent against the Nazi party was tolerated. After the Islamic fascists took control of Afghanistan they became the only political party. No dissent against the Islamic fascists was tolerated. Hmmm."
I would heartily agree with Mr. Sundstrom that when a government does not tolerate dissent that is a sign of fascism. Kind of like when Mr. Sundstrom wrote regarding the U.S. government during World War II, "People like Mr. Wright remained silent because they understood what the consequences of losing the war were. They also knew the government would not tolerate their cowardice and sedition as it does now." I find it interesting that in both cases he mentioned the respective governments not "tolerating" dissent or sedition.
I completely agree with Mr. Sundstrom's more recent assessment and would add that, in defiance to fascism, dissent should be praised as a necessary quality of a free society when people see something wrong with the government, and that a government is utterly wrong to stifle opinions with which they do not agree. The Nazis were wrong to stifle dissent; the Taliban were wrong to stifle dissent. The U.S. government is wrong when it stifles dissent (and it has apologized many times since then for its WWII "fascist" behavior). On that point, Mr. Sundstrom, I couldn't agree more. Dissent is a sign of a free society; stifling of dissent (or even a belief that stifling dissent is good) is a sign of fascism. You're preaching to the choir on this one.
Mr. Sundstrom explained further, "Second, the Nazis believed the world should be dominated and controlled by them and if you were not a member of the party you should be enslaved or killed. The Islamic fascists believe the world should be controlled by them and if you are not a true believer of Islam you should be enslaved or killed. Hmmm."
I would fully agree with Sundstrom's assessment on both of these group's beliefs. The only difference is (which I believe was Mr. Thornton's point) Nazi Germany had the military might to carry out their belief. Islamic Fundamentalists, while they may at some future time acquire a nuke, do not have the military power to carry out their belief (even if they do acquire a nuke). The American public may rightfully worry about a terrorist attack, but to believe terrorists will overpower our military and take over our country is the height of unfounded fear. (That is, of course, unless we stretch our military too thin in exercises like Iraq.)
So while Sundstrom's current point is well taken, his original assessment of February 14th, 2006, incorrectly stated, "The one thing the democrats need to understand and they probably never will is this. If we lose the war on terror, the constitution will not amount to a hill of beans. We will be living under the terrorists." This original assessment is patently untrue, totally unfounded, and utilizes fear and false information. I'm also assuming that this distinction was the very point Mr. Thornton was making and the distinction that Mr. Sundstrom can't or doesn't want to see. While we are not 100 percent safe (nor will we ever be) and are vulnerable to an attack by terrorists, we will never be overrun and ruled by terrorists. This is in stark contrast to Nazi Germany that actually had the military might to act on its belief.
Sundstrom had stated in his Aug. 7 opinion, "In closing, I would like to remind Mr. Wright and your readers who don't already get it that the enemy is Islamic Fascism, not George W. Bush."
Once again, while I wouldn't refer to them as fascists, I totally agree that one of our enemies is Islamic Extremists. But two wrongs don't make a right, and just because George Bush fights against terrorists doesn't make his methods right. In many conflicts, there is not a good guy versus a bad guy. Sometimes, there are just two bad guys. And honestly, I'm a lot less afraid for what Islamic Extremists can theoretically do to this country than what one very misguided president is already doing. Fortunately in this country, we are still free to dissent as both Mr. Sundstom and I both agree is necessary for a free society.
I sure am glad that Mr. Sundstrom and I are finding some common ground. Thank you, Mr. Sundstrom, for helping me to understand that fascist beliefs can be found not only in traditional fascism, but also Islamic Extremists or even belief systems here in the United States. While I rarely agree with him, I appreciate Mr. Sundstrom's opinion and am glad that there are people who do not agree with me. As with anyone, I would never want Mr. Sundstrom's opinion stifled. I wonder if Mr. Sundstrom feels the same about my opinion or whether he would want to stifle my opinion. Oh wait, I already knew the answer to that when he said, "People like Mr. Wright remained silent because they understood what the consequences of losing the war were. They also knew the government would not tolerate their cowardice and sedition as it does now."
If we could only silence the dissent and "sedition" of those liberals, then we'd win the war, right, Mr. Sundstrom? Now let's see: the Nazis believed stifling dissent was good for the Reich, the Taliban believed stifling dissent was good for Afghanistan, President Bush believes stifling dissent is good for America, and Mr. Sundstrom also believes stifling dissent is good for America. Hmmm.