This Week in Hyperbole: Jonah Goldberg

17 December 2007

Jonah Goldberg has a new book coming out, titled "Liberal Fascists." The book's cover portrays a smiley face with a Hitler-style mustache. Here is an excerpt (via Matthew Yglesias):

The quote reads:

Fascism was an international movement that appeared in different forms in different countries, depending on the vagaries of national culture and temperament. In Germany, fascism appeared as genocidal racist nationalism. In America, it took a “friendlier,” more liberal form. The modern heirs of this “friendly fascist” tradition include the New York Times, the Democratic Party, the Ivy League professoriate, and the liberals of Hollywood. The quintessential Liberal Fascist isn't an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.

As Brendan Nyhan points out, this is especially funny given Goldberg's previous comments about how people should avoid using overwrought Nazi analogies:

1/5/01: "Nazism and the Holocaust are hardly joking matters. So let me be very careful in how I talk about this.

"If you honestly think John Ashcroft or elected Republicans in general are Nazis, then you are either a moron of ground-shaking proportions or you are so daft that you shouldn't be allowed to play with grown-up scissors."

..."Calling someone a Nazi is as bad as calling them a "nigger" or a "kike" or anything else you can think of. It's not cute. It's not funny. And it's certainly not clever. If you're too stupid to understand that a philosophy that favors a federally structured republic, with numerous restraints on the scope and power of government to interfere with individual rights or the free market, is a lot different from an ethnic-nationalist, atheistic, and socialist program of genocide and international aggression, you should use this rule of thumb: If someone isn't advocating the murder of millions of people in gas chambers and a global Reich for the White Man you shouldn't assume he's a Nazi and you should know it's pretty damn evil to call him one."

6/19/02: "[T]he use and abuse of Nazi analogies has been a major peeve of mine for quite some time."

9/4/03: "Suffice it to say that the Nazis weren't simply generically bad, they were uniquely and monumentally evil, not just in their hearts but also in literally billions of intentional, well-planned, and bureaucratized decisions they made every day.

"And yet, in polite and supposedly sophisticated circles in America today it is acceptable to say George Bush is akin to a Nazi and that America is becoming Nazi-like. Indeed, in certain corners of the globe to disagree with this assertion is the more outlandish position than to agree with it."

..."When you say that anything George Bush has done is akin to what Hitler did, you make the Holocaust into nothing more than an example of partisan excess. Tax cuts are not genocide, as so many Democrats have suggested over the years...

"Darn those Republicans" does not equal "Darn those Nazis." The Patriot Act is not the final solution. The handful of men in Guantanamo may not all be guilty of terrorism, but it's more than reasonable to assume they are. And no matter how you try to contort it, Gitmo is not the same thing as Auschwitz or Dachau. There are no children there. You don't get carted off to Cuba and gassed if you criticize the president or if you are one-quarter Muslim. And, inversely, there was no reasonable justification for throwing the Jews and the Gypsies and all the others into the death camps. The Jews weren't terrorists or members of a terrorist organization. To say that the men in Guantanamo -- or any of the Muslims being politely interviewed by appointment -- are akin to the Jews of Germany is to trivialize the experiences of the millions who were slaughtered. Even if you think Muslims are being unfairly inconvenienced, when you say they are the Jews of Nazified America you are in essence saying the worst crime of the Holocaust was to unfairly inconvenience the Jews.

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