Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sandy Levinson: "The stench of fascism"

The New York Times reports that Glenn Beck, in his closing speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, described "progressivism" as a cancer, "the disease in America." Let there be no doubt that this is nothing more than the stench of fascism, which relies on treating one's political opponents as what Carl Schmitt, the great (I use that word advisedly) Weimar political theorist (who ended up supporting Hitler's takeover in 1933), termed "enemies" who were viewed ultimately as subhuman (as "cancers" are), ulutimately fit to be eradicated "by any means necessary." Forget Newt Gingrich, who also spoke, and who, by contemporary standards, is almost a reasonable elder statesman of the GOP, actually willing to work, on occasion, with Hillary Clinton. The voice of way too much of contemporary "conservatism" (the scare quotes are also deliberate, because it is an insult to "conservatives" to say that they are necessarily fascists) is fascistic.

Beck and his ilk feel free to call on Democrats to denounce anyone who strays from a quite narrow "political correctness." Jessie Jackson is still being criticized, after his many apologies, for his "hymietown" remark of 1984. God help us if Barack Obama were ever discovered to have written a term paper at Occidental in which he argued that there might be something to be said for "socialism." But Republicans say nothing. They are truly "useful idiots," who are counting on their ability to rein in Glenn Beck (and Sarah Palin) before they destroy the country. It is past time for Republicans to be called on whether or not they tolerate millions of their fellow citizens being called "cancers" and "diseases." We are indeed in a true moment of cultural and political warfare, in which Glenn Beck has made very clear that he has no regard whatsoever for the most basic notions of civility (which begin by granting the possibility that one's opponents simply disagree rather than are "cancers" to be ripped out of the body politic).

What "Beckism" presages is more terrorist violence like that conducted in Austin, Texas, where a demented citizen flew into an IRS building and killed a true American "hero" a/k/a known as a public servant who had dedicated his life to tax collection. One might remember that Justice Holmes called taxes "the price we pay for civilization." Part of our move toward fascism is to view as "heroes" only those who carry guns and are prepared to risk their lives while preparing to inflict fatal violence on others. We must recognize that all public servants are, in their own ways, "heroes." The Republican Party for the past generation has systematically viewed all public servants, save for the military, as chumps, who if they had any real talent, would be working in the private sector (perhaps in Goldman Sachs, etc.). I truly fear for our country.

Lightly edited by Φ

Source: http://balkin.blogspot.com/2010/02/stench-of-fascism.html

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search This Blog


What I'm Following

It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. ---W.K. Clifford

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. ---Thomas Jefferson