There's been plenty of talk about Jonah Goldberg's newly released "Liberal Fascism" recently, from the scorn and insults of the Left to the gloating on the Right as the book ascends to heights Amazon.com nonfiction popularity previously enjoyed only by Ann Coulter. I haven't read the entire book, chiefly because I can't stomach giving money to such a patently puerile enterprise. But I have read numerous musings by and interviews with Jonah, as well as lengthy excerpts posted around the web. Is it possible to draw comprehensive conclusions about a work without reading the whole thing? No. It is possible to draw some conclusions based on reading excerpts and how an author summarizes, explains, and defends his own work? Absolutely.
Sadly, No has printed numerous short excerpts and has engaged in rather consistent ridicule of Goldberg for some time. Recently they offered what I think is the most devestating treatment of Goldberg and his book that I've seen, in the form of commentary on his own words during an interview with Salon magazine. It's really difficult to believe that anyone who wants to portray himself as a serious writer said some of these things. Note, for example, his explanation that Mussolini is regarded as a fascist only because he supported World War I — not, for instance, because he started a party with "fascist" in its name or called himself a fascist or defended explicitly labeled fascist principles. Goldberg carefully explains that you can't really look at what Mussolini actually said about fascism in determining why he was a fascist. Oooookay.
Another personal favorite is his defense of the cover of his book. Putting a Hitler caricature and mentioning Hillary in the same breath as Mussolini is typical right-wing-opinion-porn marketing, just as the covers of Moore or Franken books are typical left-wing-opinion-porn marketing. What seems to distinguish the NRO crowd, though, is their angry insistence that when they choose to use deliberately inflammatory red-meat titles, they should still be considered as serious thinkers and historians. Goldberg and his ilk want it both ways — they want to sling mud and still be seen as clean.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
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