How Rightbloggers Made "Fascist" the New "Socialist"
Rightbloggers talked a lot over the past eight years about Bush Derangement Syndrome, liberal sufferers of which thought Bush engaged in a totalitarian overthrow of our liberties. One of the symptoms was calling the President a fascist. "A strong word to fling about," warned The Anchoress, who noted that none of Bush's opponents had been thrown in jail for criticizing him: "None of those dissenting viewpoints or insults resulted in arrest, imprisonment, silencing, firing... You keep using that word, fascist; I do not think it means what you think it means.
Those were the days, eh? Nowadays you can't click through a dozen rightblogger sites without reading that President Obama is a fascist.
"The billions of dollars spent bailing out the auto industry and AIG," said Montana Conservative, "was a smokescreen that allowed Obama the puppet and his radical handlers to begin pushing the government into a fascist state."
"It is possible as of this writing," said The Promise of Reality, "that Barack Obama will become the first true fascist leader in America."
"Fascism Officially Arrives in America... Freedom is now dead in America," said Free Oklahoma. (Shouldn't they change their name, then?)
Obama, we should mention at this point, has been President about two and a half months. He's really giving Hitler a run for his money.
Regarding the worrisome Cybersecurity Act -- being drafted by Senators Rockefeller and Snowe, and nowhere near the President's desk -- Numpty Island says, "Obama has his transparently fascist intents and fear-mongering all over this one too." "Obama Seeks Net Control... Encroaching Fascism," concurs Atlas Shrugs.
Course in Political Miracles ("The Continuing American Revolution") asks, "Is Obama Fascism Legitimate Government?" following with a quote from the Alabama Constitution that suggests a Civil War do-over.
The soberly-named Economic Trends Journal said, "Comrade President Obama has again shown his Marxist-Fascist colors, this time he has come out of the closet as a true totalitarian dictator, like the Castro brothers, Hugo Chavez, and Comrade Putin. It appears Americans are asleep at the wheel, or will they finally all awaken in slavery?"
"He is being controlled in order to bring us to a new fascist dictatorship of the world," said Ninjamurai. "Will we restore the Constitution of the US or accept the fascist state we have become?" asked News2Me. The Underground Conservative called Obama "a corporate fascist" (also a "street thug" and "the Chocolate Jesus").
Yid With Lid saw "the movement of the United States from a capitalist to a fascist economic system." "Obama is a Mussolini style fascist, and his policies show it," said Spurious Missives. "Each day the liberal Barack Hussein Obama is in office," said SpeakNowConservatives, "the closer America comes to fascism."
We may give Ron Pisaturo some credit for not blaming Obama for America's fascist slide -- but only because he thinks it predates his presidency; when Obama said at the G20 that Americans want him to "help them find a job, pay for their home, send their kids to college, live what we call the American Dream," Pisaturo said, "Observe how far down the road to socialism/fascism/Nazism America has come: Many Americans would find no fault with Obama's paragraph above."
Declared fascist also was Obama's environmentalism: "We are victims of the progressive fascist movement which cloaks itself under the banners of green, sustainable and global justice," said Ceo4aday. (He also found "progressive fascist" the "anarchists" who demonstrated against the G20 meeting Obama attended -- someone apparently failed to pass them the memo.)
We've noticed, as have other commentators, that a lot of these guys also call Obama a communist and/or a socialist. Don't accuse them of inconsistency, though: National Review editor Jonah Goldberg explained to them in his 2008 book Liberal Fascism that fascism, communism, socialism, progressivism and liberalism are all basically the same thing. (Goldberg is often quoted by the brethren to this effect: e.g., "Goldberg points out that American liberalism has been pursuing an essentially fascist agenda since Woodrow Wilson's administration in 1914. The Obama administration is the culmination of that effort").
So some of the more scholarly rightbloggers conduct seminars to explain Obamafascism. "When the government controls the economy without actually taking ownership of the means of production, it is still very much socialism: it is fascist socialism," explained The Real Revo. "GM is Krupp is AIG is Messerschmidt." Also: "Liberals have long believed that authoritarian government is fine as long as 'representatives of the people' -- meaning 'liberals'--are in charge. We are witnessing nothing less than the the germination latest mutation of fascism adapted for a new age." Pro-Existence referred to "Abortofascism" and explicated, "the liberal secular statist operates as a relativist who looks to the Federal Empire as the supreme (but pretended) absolute, an idol of raw 'choice' collectivizing a raw will to power set loose and affirmed by worshippers of this idol in media, on campus, in Hollywood, government, and activist groups." Oh, well, when you put it that way...
It's not just bloggers, though. Rightwing radio host Glenn Beck recently announced he saw fascism in the Obama Administration (and those of Woodrow Wilson and, maybe, Teddy Roosevelt). Venerable conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer said, "Some find in this descent into large-scale industrial policy a whiff of 1930s-style fascist corporatism." (He generously added, "I have my doubts," but some of his readers are inclined to overlook them.) The American Spectator ran an article by Quin Hilyer about Obama called "Il Duce, Redux?" in which he determined, "the comparison of today's situation to that of Italian fascism is no mere scare tactic, but a serious concern." Fox News' Andrew Napolitano said Obama's firing of GM CEO Rick Wagoner was "the road to fascism," etc.
If it seems strange to you that rightbloggers, and even mainstream conservatives, would join with extreme leftists ("Obama, another imperialist president of the United States, is being treated the way a fascist should be treated... Dump your US dollars, sit back with a bowl of popcorn and watch this nasty empire going down the history's toilet") and Lyndon LaRouche ("This is fascism in its British form of Oswald Mosley") in declaring our leaders fascist, keep a few things in mind: First, that conservatives have by and large been removed from responsibility for American government, and this leaves them free to accuse that government of whatever horrors they can dream up; second, that they are accustomed to call Obama a Muslim (or muslin), the Anti-Christ, the secret son of Malcolm X, etc. -- why wouldn't they call him a fascist, too?
And lastly, they still recall their old successes as the professed party of limited government, and though the beginnings of the TARPs and bailout troubled them but little under Bush, their expansion under Obama awakens in them the old dream. Calling Obama a mere socialist, though, or even a commie, as they might have done before Hank Paulson started pouring taxpayer money into the banks, would seem a little weak. "Fascist" is a good, strong scare-word. It has the advantage of novelty. And it's not as if it has to mean anything.
When that flames out, they can take "Nazi" out of the test lab and start using it as an alternate. That would be something of a nuclear option, but it only has to last them until the next election.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.