Thursday, June 22, 2006

Morans indeed

I think I may have finally figured out who this guy was talking about.

Seems that Rick Moran at RightWingNuthouse is now claiming he "debunked" my work on fascism and mainstream conservatism back in this post.

Problem is, I responded rather pointedly, making clear that Moran didn't even scratch the surface of the subject. Moran never responded publicly (though we did have a brief and rancorouos e-mail exchange that went nowhere).

Moreover, as he makes clear again, he misses the entire point of my thesis. This is obvious when he says:
The author of a post skewering conservatives for name calling has approvingly linked to a post that refers to conservatives as fascists.

Actually, what Hume's Ghost at Unclaimed Territory links to is a series of posts, and what I say in that series specifically is this:
It seems clear to me that by any reasonable definition, George W. Bush is a corporatist, not a fascist. It seems unlikely, of course, that he or his family are the kinds of corporatists who would financially underwrite far-right organizations today, given that the discovery of such would doom any political legitimacy for the Bushes.

I later say this:
While the Bush regime is devotedly corporatist, it is only in the way it circulates and traffics in fascist memes and Newspeak that it resembles anything fascist. There is so far none of the strict and brutal authoritarianism or police-state tactics that also typify fascist regimes. Perhaps most telling at this stage of things is the extent to which it resorts to thuggery and street violence, or any of the other tactics of threatening intimidation that are associated with genuine fascism -- which so far is not to any great or really appreciable degree. That may, however, be changing.

Of course, the identifiable proto-fascist element in America -- the Patriot/militia movement and associated manifestations of right-wing extremism, especially anti-abortion extremists -- often favors such tactics. And unfortunately, the Bush campaign's apparent alliance with some of these thuggish elements in the Florida debacle indicates that, when push comes to shove, they may be precisely the kind of corporatists who wouldn't hesitate a moment to form an alliance with, and unleash the latent violence of, the Patriots and their ilk. When that occurs, real fascism will have arrived.

And finally, this:
In today's context, Nazism specifically and fascism generally are most often cited by partisans of both sides not with any reference to its actual content but merely as the essence of totalitarian evil itself. This is knee-jerk half-thought. Obviously, I don't agree that the mere reference to fascism, let alone a serious discussion of it, automatically renders a point moot. But a reflexive, ill-informed or inappropriate reference -- which describes the bulk of them -- should suffice to invalidate any argument.

Without question the worst offenders are those on the left. It began back in the 1960s, when antiwar radicals came to refer to anyone from the Establishment as "fascist," particularly if they were from the police. This bled over into the later view that identified fascism with a police state. The confusion is alive and well today with peace marchers who blithely identify Bush with Hitler and compare Republicans to Nazis. The purpose of these analogies is to shame conservatives, but they instead only give their accusers the appearance of shrill harpies willing to abuse the memory of the Holocaust for cheap political theater.

Most of all, such comparisons obscure the reality of what's taking place. The genuine proto-fascists -- namely, the anti-democratic extremists of the Patriot movement, and their thuggish cohorts among the 'Freeper' crowd -- are identified with mainstream conservatives instead of being distinguished from them. That in turn gives their coalescence a kind of cover instead of exposing it.

A strategically astute left would try to drive a wedge between the two factions by raising awareness of their growing intersection, particularly in the growing phenomenon of agitation against antiwar protests. Instead, we have a liberalism that thoughtlessly identifies the conservative movement of the early 21st century with mature fascism of the 1930s, thereby only revealing how little aware it is itself of the eternal and mutative nature of fascism, and how little it can recognize it in action today.

Moreover, as I went on later to explore in depth, mainstream conservatism is not fascist in the classic sense; what it has done, instead, is gradually adopt a series of appeals and memes that are classically fascist, but overall it lacks certain major traits, especially the violent thuggishness that really is the beating heart of fascism.

Note, also, that while Moran is grossly mischaracterizing what I wrote, he neglects to provide his readers any link to the work in question so that they may judge for themselves the accuracy of his charge. This kind of brain-dead dishonesty is something I've encountered before with right-wing bloggers, and again lays waste to the rosy-lensed notion that the blogosphere is "self-correcting."

But the most dishonest thing that Moran wrote in this post, really, doesn't directly relate to my work in that he isn't referencing it specifically. Nonetheless, it does relate:
And while "eliminationist" rhetoric is vile and disgusting, only certain types of polemicists use it – those without the intellectual gifts to form complete sentences or close their mouths when breathing.

He then goes on to characterize Ann Coulter's work -- one of the larger topics of the post -- as simply "vile 'jokes'," evidently to be distinguished from eliminationist rhetoric. It's clear, indeed, from his ardent admiration for Coulter's intellect (which in itself raises the question: What kind of intellect, exactly, relies on ugly sensationalism and gross factual distortion to make its point?) that he does not include Coulter among the mouth-breathers.

Actually, as I've demonstrated time and again, not only is Ann Coulter one of the leading progenitors of eliminationist rhetoric, the entire right-wing pundit class is infected with it, ranging from Fox News anchors to prominent right-wing radio talk-show hosts (and to their local imitators) to leading right-wing bloggers.

There is a whole segment of the right wing devoted to what Moran is doing here. While claiming to be all about "civility" as they gently denounce figures like Ann Coulter, they simultaneously defend them as "superior" intellects who have, sadly, stumbled a bit. (Meanwhile, of course, Michael Moore is fat.)

And eliminationist rhetoric? Whazzat? (Indeed, when you raise this specific argument with the "unhinged" Malkinite right, the response universally is a blank stare.)

The upshot, in the right-wing narrative, is that "uncivil" behavior is really only a problem on the left, though naturally there are a few outbreaks on the right that we can condemn even as we continue to support those responsible for the outbreaks. This is that Bizarro World mentality that Hume's Ghost was talking about in action.

Now, note that Moran is the brother of Terry Moran, the ABC News correspondent whose name keeps cropping up in Eric Boehlert's marvelous book Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush. Terry Moran operates in a similar fashion, with a bizarre double standard in which conservatives receive all the benefit of the doubt and "liberals" -- who, in reality, are simply non-conservatives -- none: Asking tough questions about the Bush administration's connections to the Enron scandal is inappropriate for the press because we've invaded Afghanistan (p. 234); Jeff Gannon's briefing-room contributions at the White House were "valuable and necessary," though coverage of questions about Gannon's credentials, as well as his past occupations, was unnecessary (p. 37). Perhaps most remarkably, Moran -- anchoring a discussion on ABC World News Tonight Sunday -- brushed off questions about the credibility of the Swift Boat Veterans and insisted, instead, on focusing on whether the charges were hurting John Kerry (p. 190).

I guess it must be a familial thing. Which finally explains that sign.

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