Posts Tagged ‘Jonah Goldberg’

Conflating Outing

Monday, June 8th, 2009

by Brien Jackson

A lot of people have made the point that, in the Whelan/Publius conflict, a lot of people are conflating anonymous writing with pseudononymous writing, and I think Friedersdorf figured out why that’s happening (aside from the reflexive disdain we all feel at times for the “anonymous internet commentor.” But the more interesting thing to me, is the way conservative commentators are trying to compare it to outing conservative gay politicians and so on. Jonah is, as always, the least subtle, so we’ll use this for a nice illustration:

Indeed, the left’s outrage against Whelan stinks of such double-standards. These people express far less outrage over the outing of political donors, gay conservatives et al than of this Blevins guy and the same crowd would cheer the exposure of a conservative anonymous blogger.

First of all, there’s the completely unfalsifiable claim that the same people pissed about publius being outed would “cheer” a conservative blogger being outed. First of all, the reasons would have to be the same; if an anonymous/psedononymous conservative blogger were outed for, say, a conflict of interest or because their identity was somehoe relevant to the context of the argument, that would be completely different than revealing their identity simply because they criticized you in acerbic terms. But more obviously, this would have to happen first. And in the event this doesn’t happen, Goldberg’s contention is completely unfalsifiable, even though the lack of liberals outing conservative writers using pseudonyms would seem to do so to most observers. And as for “political donors,” I’m not really sure how one could “out” them, since donations to political campaigns/parties/committees, with the exception of 527’s, are public record.

But the real thrust here is the remark to outing “gay conservatives.” Frankly I’m conflicted about the practice, but it ought to be rather obvious that there’s a clear difference between conduct, even outing, relating to elected officials or other individuals who have a direct role in making public policy and conduct relating to writers, professors, or others who want to make their opinion known, but are not directly tied to policy making. That’s not hypocrisy, it’s just common sense. If we’re talking about outing a gay blogger who opposes gay marriage or same sex civil marriage rights, that might be a point worth making, but to the best of my knowledge, that hasn’t happened. Outing politicians who oppose gay rights measures might be morally problematic, but given the influence such a person wields, it’s clearly different than outing a random internet writer. And in this particular case, there’s no conceivable reason whatsoever for revealing publius’s identity. It doesn’t reveal any conflict of interest, or call his credibility into question. Indeed, by confirming that publius is, in fact, a law professor, Whelan has actually cemented his qualifications to opine on the matter. The only logical reasoning one could find for outing publius is an attempt to adversely affect his life. Period.

Nope, No Racists Here

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

by Brien Jackson

You rarely get the sort of candor Jonah exhibits here:

For starters, I think the ideal Republican candidate just might be Hispanic — and tough on immigration. The way our politics work, you need some kind of authenticity, some kind of membership, to go after sacred cows. Not just in the Nixon to China or Sista Souljah sense, but in the sense that only members of a “special group” can challenge the orthodoxies of the self-appointed (left-wing) leadership of that group. Blacks can challenge racial quotas in ways whites can’t. Women can attack feminism in ways men can’t. Jews can criticize Israel, Catholics can challenge the Church, gays can question gay marriage, and so on. Yes, they’ll still be attacked for their heresy. But the chief weapon — charges of bigotry — is severely blunted when “one of your own” leads the assault. I don’t like it, but it is what it is.

So, with that in mind, I think an Hispanic Ward Connerly could do wonders for the GOP. For starters, he could set the immigration debate right in a way that fixes much of the GOP’s so-called branding problem. He — or she, though my sense is it would need to be a he — could make it clear that legal immigration is good (though in need of reform) and that illegal immigration undermines not only continued legal immigration, but assimilation. More important, he could allow the GOP to reclaim at least some of the extremely good and noble narrative of immigration as a story of individualism, entrepreneurialism, and patriotic assimilation rather than group victimization. An Hispanic businessman could shake things up in all sorts of ways. He could send the signal that the GOP is still the party of opportunity and self-reliance. He would help with the deteriorating Catholic vote, with the Western states, and even some Eastern urban areas.

But most of all, an Hispanic candidate would help win back Republican moderates. Remember how important Colin Powell and the diversity pageant at the 2000 GOP convention were. It was never the intent to win over huge numbers of black voters. Rather, it was to send the message to soccer moms and the like that it wasn’t “racist” to vote for the GOP. An Hispanic candidate could have the same effect. The trick, however, is for the Hispanic to be a conservative who sells conservatism to Hispanics and others, not a Hispanic who tries to convince conservatives that La Raza is basically right and that Republicans need to get over their alleged racism.

There’s actually two unseemly aspects of modern conservatism here. The first, obviously, is the way tribal conservatives view everyone else through comically caricatured veneers of identity politics. Much like non-conservative females are reduced to caricatures of feminists, and African-American voters are assumed to care only about affirmative action (and welfare, don’t forget the welfare), in imagining conservative “outreach” to hispanics, apparently the only thing Jonah thinks conservatives need to work on is convincing hispanic voters that Republicans are right about…illegal immigration. And something about La Raza. And assimilation. But really, who could ever guess conservatives have a hard time attracting support from minorities?

The second, and more disturbing/amusing, is the modern conservative’s penchant for self-delusion, as evidenced by the way Jonah analogizes his envisioned candidate as a “Hispanic Ward Connerly.” Because Ward Connerly is a model of Republican outreach to minorities? Ward Connerly has made a name for himself in some circles by opposing affirmative action, but not as an appeal to black people, as an appeal to white males. Moreover, the last time I checked, the GOP hadn’t really made any measurable gains with black voters in the past 40 years so, regardless of his intended audience, it certainly seems strange to try to credit Connerly for something that hasn’t happened.

And, of course, there’s the paens to the “alleged” nature of Republican racism. It would certainly be wrong to say that all Republicans, or conservatives, are racists, and it would even be over-simplifying a bit to say that conservatism is founded on vaguely racist conceits (although not by much, at least in the contemporary sense), you would think someone writing under the masthead of a publication whose official position was that ending segregation was worse than segregation itself, who’s writing on the same group blog as someone who wrote a book entitled The New Case Against Immigration, Both Legal and Illegal, and which boasts almuni who go on to write columns explaining why the opinions of black people don’t really count might have a better sense of why some people perceive the conservative movement of being, at the least, a little too tolerant of racism and racists.

Goldberg and Miller Get Their Wires Crossed: Are These Movies Conservative Or Fascist?

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

by Tommy Brown

When I came across an article by the National Review‘s John Miller listing the twenty-five greatest conservative movies,  I got a pretty good laugh out of it. Movies such as Team America: World Police, Groundhog Day and The Dark Knight made the list, with reasons ranging from “they make fun of Hollywood actors” to “it’s a metaphor for Bush and the War on Terror.” Pretty amusing stuff.

Now, before this, his coworker Jonah Goldberg wrote in his seminal wingnut tome Liberal Fascism that many Hollywood movies are fascist in theme or tone. These movies included Dead Poet’s Society, The Matrix and Fight Club. But the really really entertaining part is that a few of the movies on Miller’s conservative movie list made it onto Goldberg’s fascist movie list as well.

My favorite? Forrest Gump. Miller writes:

Forrest Gump (1994): It won an Oscar for best picture — beating Pulp Fiction, a movie that’s far more expressive of Hollywood’s worldview. Tom Hanks plays the title character, an amiable dunce who is far too smart to embrace the lethal values of the 1960s. The love of his life, wonderfully played by Robin Wright Penn, chooses a different path; she becomes a drug-addled hippie, with disastrous results. Forrest’s IQ may be room temperature, but he serves as an unexpected font of wisdom. Put ’em on a Whitman’s Sampler, but Mama Gump’s famous words about life’s being like a box of chocolates ring true.

But in Liberal Fascism, Goldberg takes Mr. Hanks and Co. to task for their film:

Of course, sometimes it is not a psychosexual breakthrough that redeems the white man but a physical abnormality or injury usually resulting in the suppression of his ability to reason. In Forrest Gump a retarded white man is the only reliably moral force during the chaos of the 1960s and the 1970s

It gets better. Miller’s article lauds the films 300 and Braveheart, perennial favorites among conservatives and people who just like to see heads get chopped off:

300 (2007): During the Bush years, Hollywood neglected the heroism of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan — but it did release this action film about martial honor, unflinching courage, and the oft-ignored truth that freedom isn’t free. Beneath a layer of egregious non-history — including goblin-like creatures that belong in a fantasy epic — is a stylized story about the ancient battle of Thermopylae and the Spartan defense of the West’s fledgling institutions. It contrasts a small band of Spartans, motivated by their convictions and a commitment to the law, with a Persian horde that is driven forward by whips. In the words recorded by the real-life Herodotus: “Law is their master, which they fear more than your men[, Xerxes,] fear you.”

Braveheart (1995): Forget the travesty this soaring action film makes of the historical record. Braveheart raised its hero, medieval Scottish warrior William Wallace, to the level of myth and won five Oscars, including best director for Mel Gibson, who played Wallace as he led a spirited revolt against English tyranny. Braveheart taught that freedom is not just worth dying for, but also worth killing for, in defense of hearth and homeland. Six years later, amid the ruins of the Twin Towers, Gibson’s message resonated with a generation of American youth who signed up to fight terrorists, instead of inviting them to join a “constructive dialogue.” Liberals have never forgiven Gibson since.

Of course, once again Mr. Goldberg takes the opposite stance, and throws in The Last Samurai for good measure. Quoth Jonah:

Consider such popular films as Braveheart, The Last Samurai and 300. Many conservatives loved them because they depicted resistance to tyranny and celebrated “freedom.” But the “liberty” of these films was not individual liberty per se so much as the freedom of the tribe to behave according to its own relativistic values. The clans of the Scottish Highlands were hardly constitutional republics. Tom Cruise portrays the proto-fascist culture of the Meiji-era samurai as morally superior to that of the decadent West, echoing the German fascination with the Orient. And the Spartans of 300 are a eugenic (and vaguely homoerotic) warrior caste that would have had Hitler applauding in the aisle, despite valiant efforts to Americanize them.

Who to believe, who to believe. You just can’t make this stuff up.

By This Definition, What Isn’t Fascism?

Monday, February 9th, 2009

By Tommy Brown

So I finally picked up a copy of Liberal Fascism from the library on a lark, a tome authored by my favorite nepotistic neoconservative, Jonah Goldberg. The book’s thesis, of course, is that fascism is a left-wing ideology (and, thus, modern American liberals are “smiley-face fascists”). Now I haven’t even gotten beyond the first chapter, because in the introduction he admits that there is no concrete definition for fascism, but then proceeds to lay out what he feels are the similarities between political movements that make them fascist:

1. The quest for community.

2. The urge to “get beyond” politics

3. Faith in the perfectability of man and the authority of experts

4. An obsession with the aesthetics of youth and the “cult of action.”

5. The need for a powerful state to coordinate society

6. The belief in the ability to create a better world.

I leave it to the reader to contemplate the depths of madness required for those to be your prerequsites for fascism.

(And, yes, I know this was done a million times when the book came out, but it still made my jaw drop)