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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jonah Goldberg: Paranoid Style for Thee But Not For Me

Jonah Goldberg, author of Liberal Fascism, has a great piece today about how the hand is on the other foot now for conspiracy theorists these days. It's the natural ebb and flow of perennially nervous ideologues. Neither the Right nor the Left has the corner on the conspiracy theory market.

From Paranoid Style for Thee But Not For Me:

I love how liberals — who have been pushing to Europeanize American social policy for generations — are suddenly aghast and contemptuous when conservatives complain that liberals want to Europeanize American social policy, just as the liberal effort starts to succeed.

But I just have a hard time listening to liberals grow suddenly high-brow and Ivy League serious about the paranoid style of the American Right. Where were these people for the last eight years when abject paranoid hysteria consumed the left flank of liberalism and threatened to capsize the entire enterprise? There are certainly elements on the Right that are prone to such things, but there are also elements on the Left that are just as prone to it. I will stack Naomi Wolfe up against any John Bircher. Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, the folks at ANSWER, Ward Churchill, are no less conspiratorial than your typical right-wing conspiracy theorist and some of them are not only worse, but far more accepted by the liberal establishment than their opposite numbers are by the conservative establishment.

Why do the Tim McVeigh types count against the Right, but the Black Panthers never against the Left? Why aren't liberals troubled by Rosie "Steel Never Melted Before Before Bush" O'Donnell but wigged out by Michael Savage? When Spike Lee floated the idea that the Bush administration blew up the levees to flood New Orleans, where was (the New Yorker's George) Packer & Co's hand-wringing then? When Randall Robinson proclaimed at the Huffington Post that blacks — and only blacks — were being forced to eat the flesh of the dead in the wake of Katrina, why did no one dust off their Hofstadter? Where was The New Yorker when a Greek Chorus of dunderheads claimed that a cabal of perfidious bagel-snarfing neocons were, like the Elders of Zion of yore, scheming to undo all that is good in the world? Where were they when Hollywood buffoons were producing Broadway plays depicting the very same neocons shouting "Hail Leo Strauss!"


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