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L. Neil Smith's
Number 453, January 27, 2008

"Judy Rue Liani, the Parisian streetwalker
cross-dressing former mayor of New Jack City"

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How to be a Useful Idiot
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to: The Libertarian Enterprise

If you look up "useful idiot" in a reference like, you'll be treated to an interminable discussion as to whether V.I. Lenin is the actual source of the phrase or not. I'd always been told it came from Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, but what do I know?

Although the term was apparently first used to refer to Italian Communists Lenin planned to manipulate, it is more frequently applied to those—like members of the German-American Bund or the American Communist Party—whose naive enthusiasm for an evil cause such as fascism or communism is an asset to the puppet masters pulling their strings.

Apparently the neofascists—oops, I mean neoconservatives—running the current administration have taken to using the expression against those of us who object to a pair of undeclared (and therefore illegal) wars they're waging at the moment in the middle east, or to their so-called "war on terror", with its draconian anti-Bill of Rights features, here at home. Their crude implication—we saw Lyndon Johnson and his buddies do the same thing when we took to the streets against the Vietnam war—is that all those of us who oppose domestic state terrorism are, in effect, aiding and abetting foreign terrorism.

"If you're not with us," as George Bush declared early in this mess, displaying the reasoning power of the spoiled child that he basically remains, "you're against us." Or, as the National Rifle Association apparently sees it, "It feels better if we do it to ourselves."

I don't know about anybody else, but I'm vehemently opposed to terrorism of any kind and I have my own definition of "useful idiot", submitted, as Rod Serling used to say, for your approval. A useful idiot is anyone employing sophistry, casuistry (look them up), or some other form of pseudointellectual exercise in a self-evidently phony attempt to excuse or justify some utter abomination they would have known perfectly well was morally despicable when they were five years old.

Recent examples include articles I've seen on the World Wide Web trying to present torture in a favorable light (usually by claiming that it isn't really torture), and one piece in particular, written by someone who ought to know better, trying to claim that a recent law passed by the congress against free speech isn't all that great a threat.

We'll get back to that in a moment.

One of the torture-apologists, ostensibly a libertarian, recently recanted, which is possibly somewhat to his credit, but I was deeply disappointed to see that it was over a legality—"Well, by George, the Army says it's wrong, after all, ahyulk!"—rather than the much more obvious point that inflicting discomfort and pain on somebody when they're your helpless prisoner, especially to the point they think they're going to die, is the act of a low, scum-bellied, craven coward.

The anti-free speech bill is H.R. 1955. Anybody who really thinks it's innocuous not only missed every history class he ever signed up for, he's been comatose (or maybe just not born yet) for at least the past half century. He also needs some seriously expensive couch time. The bill has no other purpose than to crush every disagreement with government policy, by labeling political dissenters (what else?) "terrorists".

The bill is called "The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007" and you can read it for yourself here:

Today's "study" quickly becomes tomorrow's edict. We've all seen far too much history being made over the past seven years to have any other take on the matter. Not to mention the last century, when the socialist Fabian Society, for example, concocted "study" after "study" that quickly became law and eventually destroyed Britain as a free society and a great power. Nobody "studying" violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism, especially with regard to the Internet, is very likely to be a friend of individual liberty or the Bill of Rights.

Go to:

But we were speaking of "useful idiots". Ed Haas, writing for, is the individual I had in mind who ought to know better. Although the topics on his website range from possible ballot tampering in New Hampshire to doubts about the official 9/11 story—and include enthusiastic support for the Presidential candidacy of Congressman Ron Paul—for some reason he feels a need to criticize those who are concerned about the potential impact of H.R. 1955 on this country with regard to freedom in general and free speech in particular.

In a recent article on his site entitled "H.R. 1955 Misinformation Spreads Across the Internet", he argues that the new legislation only authorizes a study and does not criminalize any behavior. "It does not," he emphasizes, "as many independent writers found on the Internet claim, criminalize political dissent. It does not create any criminal penalties, or pave the way for Americans to be rounded up by the federal government and locked away in Halliburton' Internment Camps."

"H.R. 1955 does not legislate against thought, protected political expression, or free speech. It also does not seek to censor the Internet," he claims. "It recognizes the Internet as a tool used to spread information rapidly [including] misinformation that could spawn violent reaction. Again, H.R. 1955 creates no criminal penalty or new laws."

Then why, one begs to inquire, is the bill subtitled, "an act to prevent" instead "an act to commission a study", and if is not about thought control, then why does it specifically mention the "planned use or threatened use" of violence"—don't they require thought? And why does he feel a need to mention Halliburton and its internment camps?

At all?

Interestingly, Haas' view H.R. 1955 is in conflict with that of the individual he wants to be the next President. To read Ron Paul's opinion, go to

Understand that H.R. 1955 is a "trial balloon", something to be sent up to see who will try to shoot it down. Following an 18-month "study" which will be designed to yield exactly what the government wants it to yield, legislation will be drafted—if it hasn't been already—and, combined with unconstitutional legislation already on the books (like the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, the so-called Veteran's Disarmament Act, and whatever mealy-mouthed ruling on the Second Amendment the United States Supreme Court generates) to turn political dissent into a crime, and quite possibly a symptom of insanity.

Those who continue to complain will be hauled off to "hospitals" where they will be treated to plenty of mind-numbing drugs and to electric shock "therapy", just as they were in the Good Old Soviet Union.

Haas even goes as far as to say that maybe the commission will decide that the government has gone too far, and that the Internet must be left alone. My second reaction, on reading this, was to wonder how the man can be so naive, so ignorant of history as to expect such an outcome. My first was to recall an expression about monkeys from Wayne's World that I can't, in all decency and decorum, use in this essay.

Oh, hell—and monkeys might fly out of my butt!

Read Haas, read Paul, and—remembering Wounded Knee, the Gulf of Tonkin, Waco, and all the weapons of mass destruction it turned out Saddam Hussein didn't have—make up your own mind. I guarantee that you can't be cynical enough, wary enough, about what this new law portends.


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