I’ve gotten a bunch of nasty email about how I wrote or said:

the only reason he (Mussolini) got dubbed a fascist and therefore a right-winger is because he supported World War I.”

I understand why this is causing confusion (though I’m not sure where I actually said it). But, if I did say it, I simply misspoke. If I wrote it, I did so mistakenly. As anyone who read the book knows, I know the evolution of the word fascism. The point is Mussolini was dubbed a rightwinger — and socialist apostate — for supporting WWI. Mussolini himself adopted and popularized the name fascist.

However lots of readers hectoring me about how I don’t know where the word comes from should stop lecturing me with quotes from wikipedia. The phrase “fascio” predates Mussolini as a politically significant label. Socialist, syndicalist and other revolutionary cadres in Italy were dubbed fascios going back as far as the 1870s.

Update: Aha, I said it in the Heritage speech. From a reader:

Hi there:

I was reading John Scalzi’s Whatever blog (, which is a fairly good read so long when Mr. Scalzi stays away from national politics. He happened to link to a Crooks and Liars post written by Nicole Belle ( with the label “‘Mussolini was dubbed a fascist because he founded the Fascist Party, you big, fact-ignoring dope.’” So I took a look at the post.

After reading it (and the interview that produced the block-quote), it appears that you made a flub during an interview (or that your interviewer flubbed in editing your interview for print); specifically, you are quoted as saying that Mussolini was called a fascist because he supported World War I. Unfortunately, Ms. Belle tries to use that flub to discredit the entirety of your thesis.

Anyway, if you have a chance, I’d love to see you take this post apart on the Liberal Fascism blog.

Me: I think the Crooks & Liars post is just an amusing example of the bad faith  and opportunism of these people. Any fair minded person would agree that I simply misspoke. Instead these bandersnatches ignore the rest of the entire speech and focus on this unfortunate but entirely innocuous flub as “proof” of my total and complete ignorance and dishonesty. 

My apologies for giving these buffoons the ammo, but anyone persuaded by this and this alone is beyond reasoning with anyway.


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