Daring to utter the F-word
She is Jewish. She likens the Bush regime to Nazism - a brave woman indeed. I have to agree with her observations that the land of the free is much less free than we like to think.
Photo of Naomi Wolf by Marco del Grand.
Naomi Wolf doesn't apologise for comparing the Bush Administration with fascism. And she certainly rejects suggestions of paranoia.
"We are facing a genuine constitutional crisis" … Naomi Wolf.
There is a convention on the internet called Godwin's Law. It states that, during an online discussion, the first person to draw an analogy with Nazi Germany automatically loses the argument.
It's a rule that exists in academia, journalism and even politics. Comparing your opponent to a Nazi is a sure way not just to lose an argument but to suffer the indignity of having to apologise later. After all, it's hard to justify a comparison to a regime which started World War II and killed 6 million Jews.
So perhaps it's surprising that Naomi Wolf, a feminist icon and the author of The Beauty Myth, has written a book which compares the Bush Administration with Nazi Germany.
Not just in a passing reference, mind you.
Wolf hasn't just ignored the taboo; in fact, she has taken an axe to it, arguing that the situation is so grave it is blinding us to an urgent danger. The entire book is devoted to a comparison between the Bush Administration's response to the threat of Islamic terrorism and the methods the Nazis used to turn Germany into a fascist state.
(In addition to the Nazi regime, she cites Lenin, Stalin, Pinochet's Chile, Communist China, the recent military coup in Thailand, and particularly Mussolini's Italy.)
Wolf, who is Jewish and whose family were victims of the Holocaust, was well aware of the taboo of drawing comparisons with the Nazis and she did not "go there" lightly.
"Of course I considered it - I'm Jewish!"
Is it a tad intemperate? Does it put her one step away from the mad conspiracy crowd that thinks the Bush Administration organised the planes to fly into the World Trade Centre or set demolition charges to make sure the buildings collapsed?
If so, it is not worrying Wolf. Not only is she unapologetic about the comparison, she wants the world to wake up to the danger she sees.
The United States is in danger of having its democratic nature closed down, she argues. Now is the time to act, before it is too late.
The title of the book, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, conveys the boldness of her stance.
And Wolf certainly isn't worried about blotting her intellectual copybook as a result of the analogy, even though she admits there has been an "intellectual third rail" surrounding it.
Her reputation? There are more important things to worry about.
"Can I just say something?" she says, almost in exasperation at the question. "I don't know how to make this any clearer. We are facing a genuine constitutional crisis in the United States, where the president has the power to declare any innocent US citizen an enemy combatant and lock him or her up in a 10-foot cell in solitary confinement for three years. We are torturing people. We are torturing people!....