I had a lot of trouble listening to Jonah Goldberg on BookTV last weekend speaking about his book Liberal Fascism. His entire talk was based on quote-mining, invective, circular and often self contradictory arguments, and simple inaccuracies. In one 2 minute span he said that both Nazism was socialism and that socialism killed more people than Nazism. (How can socialism kill more people than socialism?) He then told a joke attributed to Harry Anderson badly. And it wasn’t even Harry’s joke! It was a bit done by Michael Davis where he juggled an axe, a knife, and a cleaver. Now that’s a small insignificant thing, but it is indicative of the kind of lazy attitude Goldberg takes about facts.
I swear I couldn’t make this up. At one point in the speech he says that he’s often called a fascist or Nazi by college audiences, but when he is he asks them, “other than the murder, bigotry, and genocide, what exactly you don’t like about nazism and they’d look at me like my basset hound used to look at me when I’d try to feed it a grape. They just couldn’t comprehend what I was saying to them so I’d fill it in for them. The Nazis were socialists.” When I run up against a comment like this I always have to wonder if the person making it is putting me on. I’ve decided that Ann Coulter is, for instance, But I’m convinced that Jonah doesn’t understand why making a ridiculous statement gets him a funny look because he’s oblivious to how ridiculous it is. Other than murder, bigotry and genocide. I wonder how many people have replied, “Isn’t that enough?” and had him look at them like he was a basset hound being fed a grape. Which is unfair to Jonah. His dog probably has a smarter look on it’s face than he does. After all, his dog knows that dogs are carnivores. In essence the basset hound and college student are looking at Goldberg the same way for the same reason. They can’t believe what a moron he is.
By the way, the whole dog story is a rip-off of a joke Bill Hicks did better. (“We can call anyone? Well, how about my fucking agent, and let's fire him together. Pittsburgh, you bastard. Good crowds? They stared at me like a dog that's just been shown a card-trick.”) No doubt Hicks is spinning in his grave knowing that Jonah is stealing his material, since he stands for just about everything that Hicks hated. That’s two for two. If that isn’t enough, the talk was opened with the joke, “I’ve I’d known the Heritage foundation was going to spring for a podium I wouldn’t have worn pants. (Followed by the sound of crickets chirping from the audience, who undoubtedly looked like Canis lupus familiaris viewing legerdemain.)” Goldberg needs to stay away from comedy. (Insert snaky comment about his political philosophy of your choice here.)
Goldberg seems to be incapable of separating reality from rhetoric. He answers a question regarding how liberals can be socialist and capitalist at the same time by saying “liberals are often confused.” To another question about how fascism is basically militaristic and the modern left is pacifist he replies that it has the moral equivalence of war. That’s some serious scholarship to be had there. Imperialism isn’t militaristic but pacifism is. Wow. At another point he states that it’s IMPOSSIBLE for Americans to become fascist because of our DNA. Such a thing would cause an “enormous antibody response”, he says. Sure it’s hyperbole, but his entire talk is loaded with such statements, which are presented as if they were facts instead of simply hot air. He comes off as a pseudo-intellectual who is so drenched in the rhetoric of the Right Wing that he’s lost sight of the difference between shit and shinola.