Maciej Stachowiak has a powerful antidote in his March 22 blog to those who would use the word “fascist” to describe Bush’s policies in Iraq. Words matter, and the experience of Maciej’s family in Poland suggests that, whatever one feels about the Bush Administration’s policies in Iraq, one should be careful in the one’s choice of words:

I know all about dictatorship, and fascism, and totalitarianism and empire. My family and my country of birth have lived through them all.

I am going to give the benefit of the doubt to people who freely toss around these kind of words in reference to America or Bush. I’m going to assume they simply don’t know what they are talking about, or have not thought through it fully. I have no great love for Bush or his policies. I think the USA Patriot Act was a cheap and unconstitutional power grab, and I am not sure his course of action leading up to the war was the wisest.

But there is no way you can compare this to real dictatorship or real empire. Iraq is not going to disappear from the map, or become a vassal state. America isn’t going to turn into a land of bread-lines or secret police knocking on your door in the middle of the night. We are not going to commit genocide or leave a whole nation laid waste. No one is going to be liberating starving prisoners from American labor camps. In fact, our military is trying its best to kill as few people as possible and to destroy as little as possible.

(Thanks to the ubiquitous Dave Mason for pointing this out.)