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David Neiwert @DavidNeiwert
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1) I’m amused to see @JonahNRO scrambling for higher ground amid the insane tide of nutjob conspiracism that has overtaken the Right in the age of Trump. Amused, because Goldberg had no small role in conjuring up that tide, and still does. Thread follows.…
2) In addition to his role as editor of National Review’s online presence, Goldberg also has been living, ideologically speaking, from his book written a decade ago, ‘Liberal Fascism.’ I had a brief to-and-fro with him regarding its veracity at the time:…
3) I also organized a group of historians who actually specialize in fascism and put their essays together in a project at History News Network, to which Goldberg also responded (see links to all pieces at bottom of this intro):
4) One of Goldberg’s favorites tactics in responding to critics was to affect a high-minded superiority to his interlocutors, who were simply too stupid to comprehend the profound intellectual heights to which he clearly believed he had climbed.…
5) His critics made clear that his thesis – that “fascism is a phenomenon of the left, not the right” – is rubbish, reflecting eagerness to embrace fascists’ own propaganda while ignoring the recorded history of their actions, distinct from their words.
5) One of the points he loved to repeat when promoting the book was that, well, he wasn’t saying all liberals were fascists and all fascists liberals, but rather he was just making a point so convoluted it became a nonsequitur. It’s right in the text:
6) Yet even as he made these and similar claims, he was appearing on right-wing shows promoted by pundits who in fact were quite eager to claim that all liberals or progressives were fascists. Foremost among these was Glenn Beck.…
7) Goldberg appeared on Beck’s show multiple times to promote ‘Liberal Fascism.’ With Goldberg there in the studio, Beck proceeded to claim that the progressive movement was fascist in its origins and in its behavior today. Bailouts were fascist. Health-care reform was fascist.
At no point did Jonah demur. Indeed, he joined right in.…
8) Eventually Beck produced a ‘documentary’ based on Goldberg’s book he titled ‘Live Free or Die’ that called the progressive movement a ‘cancer’ and blamed progressives for every genocide of the 20th century.…
9) At one point, Goldberg and Beck got together and counted all the ways that progressives and fascists were the exact same thing:…
10) Flash forward nine years, and guess what? @DineshDSouza has cobbled together another right-wing bestseller that essentially replicates and updates Goldberg’s thesis. It’s titled ‘The Big Lie,’ and it features antifascists on the cover because they’re the _real_ fascists.
11) D’Souza doesn’t even attempt to demur with high-mindedness as Goldberg does. He nakedly calls Democrats ‘the real fascists’ and equates today’s liberals with 1920s Klansmen, which even Goldberg knew better than to attempt. (He just dismissed the KKK as a crazy movie fan club.
12) It came out two weeks before Charlottesville. And of course, everyone on TV that weekend saw the real dynamic we face: White nationalists bearing swastikas and Dixie flags, chanting Nazi slogans and Trump’s name and wearing MAGA hats, all battling black-clad antifascists.
13) This year, rather hilariously, D’Souza is hoping he can convince everyone that’s not what they really saw. With a new movie (‘Death of a Nation’) out in theaters spouting his thesis that Democrats are the real Nazis, D’Souza is gaslighting us.
14) He’s actually attempting to persuade everyone that what they’re seeing in Charlottesville this weekend is just two warring leftist factions. Seriously.

15) Which is kind of undermined by all the Confederate flags and MAGA hats the organizers’ side like to carry. This year in DC it was American flags. Oh, and the fact that they named it “Unite the Right.”
16) I’ve covered a number of the right-wing Patriot Prayer events here on the West Coast, which lately have been featuring the violently pro-Trump hate group Proud Boys as their main muscle. They carry Trump banners. They make right-wing pronouncements. They are NOT leftists.
17) All this comes back to the point I raised with Jonah lo these many years ago, to wit: If we’re going to discuss fascism in America, oughtn’t we consider and examine the organizations that are expressly fascist and have mostly existed on the fringe of our politics since WWII?
18) There were openly fascist groups that operated in the 1920s and ‘30s, such as William Dudley Pelley’s Silver Shirts. Their direct descendants included William Potter Gale and Mike Beach, founders of the Posse Comitatus, and early neo-Nazi George Lincoln Rockwell.
19) This fringe remained very much alive through the 1970s and 1980s thanks to movements like the Klan revival led by David Duke and the violent neo-Nazi skinheads.
20] They reshaped themselves a couple of ways in the 1990s as Patriot militiamen (essentially a version of white supremacist ideology rebranding and remaking its image for mainstream consumption) and pseudo-academic white nationalists of the Jared Taylor/American Renaissance ilk.
21) Today’s alt-right and militia “III Percent” movements, as well as the Alex Jones conspiracism that fuels all of these elements and provides them with their shared epistemological bubble, are direct products of these movements.
22) All of them are, and always have been, definably right-wing movements. There is nothing remotely left-wing about them, and never has been. D’Souza’s risible claims to the contrary notwithstanding.
23) These are the shoals of hard factual and historical reality upon which these revisionist attempts to reimagine fascism as somehow a left-wing phenomenon run aground. They look frankly ridiculous when confronted with the presence of actual American fascists today.
24) Example: Patriot Front, the neo-Nazis who’ve been spreading fliers in your neighborhoods. They are explicit fascists who even use a fasces as their symbol. One of the fliers reads: ‘Making America Safe For Fascism Again.’…
26) When not promoting the idea of fascism, the rest of the Patriot Front agenda is straight out of D’Souza’s own list of top favorite subjects: Stopping immigration, defending “western civilization,” attacking LGBT rights, attacking nonwhite civil rights and hate-crime laws.
27) So when he tries to claim that these are somehow “radical leftists,” he just looks stupid and foolish. But you know, that’s his call.
28) 25) This is, in fact, the point I made to Goldberg in my original review of ‘Liberal Fascism’ for The American Prospect:…
29) Goldberg was never able to provide a good reply. Rather, he just dismissed it with the immortal line: “Who gives a rat’s ass about the Posse Comitatus?”…
30) Now Goldberg wants us to believe that, while the rest of movement conservatism appears to have been inundated by the tide of Trumpist insanity, there are still a few good old reliable _real_ conservatives rising above it all.
31) Yet at the same time, he himself is responsible for having unleashed much of this same insanity. Indeed, he not only gave rise to D’Souza’s crackpottery, he continues to endorse it himself, quite avidly:…
32) He’s been called out for it by other conservatives, too:…
33) So just remember, when you hear Jonah moan about the difficulty of being a “good” conservative these days, that this is the same man who actively made the ugly little bed in which he now has to sleep – and he still give it a nice plumping daily.
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