Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Refuting Goldberg

-- by Dave

Last week I made a trip up to Bellingham to provide a counter-event for local folks in Whatcom County, since Jonah Goldberg was gracing them with his presence to promote Liberal Fascism. It was a fun (if lightly attended) event that gave me a chance to explain what's wrong with Jonah to ordinary folks.

The Bellingham Herald posted a follow-up report:

Jonah Goldberg helps add to public confusion when he applies the term “fascism” to liberals and their policies, freelance writer David Neiwert says.

As Neiwert sees it, the real fascists are white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups whose pedigree can be traced back to the Ku Klux Klan in the South after the Civil War.

Some on the left have long been guilty of misusing “fascism” as a political insult, Neiwert said in a telephone interview, and that appears to be part of the reason for Goldberg’s book.

“What he’s trying to do is refute or repudiate the old left-wing canard that conservatives are fascists,” Neiwert said. “I sympathize with that, actually. Calling (conservatives) that muddies the waters.”

But by replying in kind, Goldberg just makes matters worse, Neiwert said.

“He’s muddying the public’s understanding of something that it’s important for the public to understand,” Neiwert said.

George Bush is no fascist, but neither is Hillary Clinton, Neiwert said.

True fascists are people like Oklahoma City terrorist bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Writing in The American Prospect, Neiwert admits that scholars don’t agree on a precise definition of fascism, but he suggests that most would identify it by “its populism and ultranationalism, its anti-intellectualism, its carefully groomed culture of violence, its insistence that it represents the true national identity, its treatment of dissent as treason, and … its core myth of a phoenix-like rebirth of the national identity in the mold of a nonexistent Golden Age.”

Fascism is also noted for something else, Neiwert wrote: “It has historically always been vigorously — no, viciously — anti-liberal.”

While true American fascists may be few in number, McVeigh proved that the threat they pose is real, Neiwert said.

“It doesn’t take many of them to be a problem,” Neiwert said. “Wild, crazy rhetoric does have consequences.”

Only one minor inaccuracy here: I was a Web producer at MSNBC. I've never done TV production.

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