The Corner

Clearing the Decks

Adam Serwer at The American Propsect:

Republicans have been struggling to reconcile crazed right-winger James von Brunn’s assault on the Holocaust Museum with their Manichean worldview in which people on the right represent everything that is decent and good about the world, and liberals represent only the purest of evil. Jonah Goldberg, who has made something of a career out of trying to convince people that discredited right wing movements are actually products of the left, takes a stab at doing the same with Von Brunn. Dave Weigel reports:

“From what I can tell,” explained Jonah Goldberg, the author of the 2008 bestseller “Liberal Fascism” and a writer for National Review, “his hatreds echoed the kind of stuff we hear from the Kos crowd, Chris Matthews, Andrew Sullivan et al.” Goldberg called Von Brunn “objectively crazy,” but argued that “his hatreds would be easier to find at an ANSWER rally than at CPAC.”

That’s right. A neo-nazi who hates blacks, Jews, and thinks Obama wasn’t born in the United States is going to be more at home with a group called “ACT NOW TO STOP WAR AND END RACISM” rather than the political convention where they’re selling Obama Waffles and conservative figures get applause for questioning Obama’s citizenship.

Look, the desperation here speaks for itself. No one would mistake von Brunn for the average conservative. But their breathless attempts to distance themselves only draw more attention to the fact that many conservatives have come to embrace the kind of conspiratorial fantasies that von Brunn believed in.

And the always comically inept David Neiwart at Crooks and Liars:

Last night, Glenn Beck and Jonah Goldberg tried an exercise similar to Rush Limbaugh’s, in which they tried to construct a plausible argument that James von Brunn, the Holocaust Museum shooter, was actually a “figure of the left.”

They ran through the same list: He hated Bush, he hated “neocons,” may have targeted the neocon Weekly Standard too, and most of all, he hated Jews.

Somehow omitted: He also hated black people, and he especially hated Obama because he believed he was controlled by Jews. (See the note he left behind.) He also hated the Federal Reserve, taxes, the United Nations, the federal government generically, admired Hitler, urged the reciminalization [sic] of miscegenation laws, and promoted The Protocols of the Seven Elders of Zion as fact. He worked at one time for Willis Carto’s right-wing publishing house, Noontide Press, and used to sell copies of Carto’s house organ The Spotlight.

Let’s see if I can deal succinctly with both of these. First, I should say that my e-mail to David Weigel was in haste as I was on a deadline and had just made a train to New York with my daughter in tow. If you read my column, you can see what I was trying to get at.

Anyway, I do love that Adam Serwer takes at face value that ANSWER is truly dedicated to fighting racism and war because, by golly, the Stalinist front organization that has defended terrorists, tyrants, and warmongers, says so in their title. I guess all those Cold War lawyers’ committees for peace and justice were simply dedicated to peace and justice, too. I also suppose the signs at ANSWER rallies reading “Smash the Jewish State, Smash the Jewish Race” were expressions of love and hope. I also suppose the ADL is hallucinating when it writes:

In addition to claims that Israel is guilty of “war crimes” against Palestinians and that Israel is a “racist state,” ANSWER events, which often attract protestors by the tens of thousands, have openly supported terror groups targeting Israelis, as well as the “resistance” fighting American forces in Iraq. This environment has led to displays of anti-Semitic sentiments, such as signs comparing Israeli leaders to Nazis or equating the Jewish Star of David with the Nazi swastika.

ANSWER, which considers Israel a capitalist outpost for Western powers, has supported anyone that counters the spread of capitalism around the world, including genocidal dictators such as Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosovic. ANSWER sees Hezbollah and the Palestinian terror organizations as being at the forefront of the war against capitalism and American imperialism. During a July 31, 2006 interview with FOX News ANSWER’s national coordinator, Brian Becker, said: “Do I consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization? The answer is no.”

I don’t know anything about “Obama waffles” other than what’s yielded from a quick Google search, but whether the product is simply in very poor taste or whether it’s racist, it is hardly the stuff of the Klan. And, as fruitless and overheated as the Obama birth certificate thing has become, I’m at a loss as to how it is racist (and I reject liberalism’s relentless insistence that racism = right-wing). I can assure you that you’d be hearing the same arguments about Obama’s eligibility for office if all the facts were same, except that he was white. Was the discussion of McCain’s birth in Panama racist too?

As for Neiwert, as usual, he is so beholden to his cartoonish version of fascism that he’s being intellectually dishonest. If you watch the video provided (around 4:20 or so) you’ll see that neither Beck nor I say von Brunn is left-wing. We say we don’t think he’s left-wing. Admittedly there’s a lot of crosstalk, but that sentiment is very clear to a fair-minded viewer. But if Neiwart had a hard time hearing it, he could have consulted my column in which I wrote:

Never mind that von Brunn isn’t a member of the far right. Nor is he a member of the far left, as some on the right are claiming. He’s not a member of anything other than the crazy caucus. Von Brunn’s True North is conspiratorial anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. He’s not a member of the Christian Right. In fact, he denounces Christianity — just as Hitler did — as a Jewish plot against paganism and Western vigor. Nor is he a capitalist. Again, just as Hitler did, he hails socialism as the solution to the West’s problems.

I did not know the stuff about the Noontide press and, contrary to all of my instincts, I will take Neiwert at his word that that’s all true and fairly presented. But, I’m still hard-pressed to know what the point is. Mainstream conservatism has nothing whatsoever to do with white-supremacist nuts (and miscegenation laws are hardly uniquely conservative or of right-wing provenance). Neiwert lists some things that have a conservative connotation — hating the U.N. for example — and takes no account of the fact that von Brunn believed socialism is the future and shared a hatred of neocons, Bush, and The Jews that, I will say again, is more apt to be found at an ANSWER rally than at CPAC. Many members or heroes of the ANSWER coalition believe the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are real, or at least useful. Some of them believe a Jewish conspiracy took over the U.S. government under Bush. And, if you consider Jeremiah Wright part of that constellation in some sense, they continue to believe it. I have no problem condemning “right-wing” organizations that traffic in such hateful nonsense. The amusing thing is that Mr. Serwer makes no effort here to do likewise about a far more influential left-wing organization that traffics in the same hateful nonsense. I guess he feels no need since, after all, ANSWER’s motives are right there in the title.

Update: Heh. A couple readers inform me that Noam Chomsky’s been published by the Noontide Press. Make of that what you will.


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