So I saw Jonah Goldberg on the Daily Show tonight to promote his book, Liberal Fascism. Apparently the interview went so long that it had to be edited for time (as you can tell as you watch the interview). I was following Jonah for a little bit, but at a certain point I realize that he’s either completely nuts, or just an asshole (or perhaps a little from column ‘a’ and a little from column ‘b’).
Jon Stewart did a good enough job of demonstrating the ridiculousness of Goldberg’s arguments (such as his pedantic histories of “-isms”). The point where I realized Goldberg had taken us all for a trip on the crazy boat was when Stewart referenced Goldberg’s apparent connection of the organic food movement with fascism and Nazism. When asked about this, Goldberg launched into a historical diatribe of the organic state theory. I guess because they both contain “organic” in the titles, that proves the point.
I was not satisfied, however. Surely Goldberg was just tired, after a 19-minute interview with a badgering Stewart and a hostile audience. Surely he couldn’t be trying to argue that because fascists believed that the state was like an organism that organic foods was a fascist ideology. He must have some more convincing (or at least entertaining) thread linking the two. No one could be that much of an asshole!
Well, I googled a little more about the book he’s stumping for and came up with this recent Salon interview:
… there’s a perception that your argument comes down to things like both Nazis and liberals being proponents of organic food. Is that how it works? Because the Nazis liked dogs and I like dogs, I’m a Nazi?
No, no. I mean, I try to reject that kind of thing … I don’t believe that liberals are Nazis[…] I’m not trying to do any argument ad Hitlerum in this book.
But what I am trying to do, at least in the chapter that you’re talking about, is show how — [take] Robert Proctor, who wrote an award-winning, widely esteemed book called “The Nazi War on Cancer.” He points out that this organic food movement, the whole-grain bread operation, the war on cancer, the war on smoking, that these things were as fascist as death camps and yellow stars. They were as central to the ideology of Nazism as the extermination of the Jews. Now, that is not the same thing. And I want to be really clear about this: That is not the same thing as saying that banning smoking is as morally disgusting and reprehensible as trying to wipe out the Jewish people. You can say that something is as much part and parcel of an ideology and not say that it is as evil.
Allow me to translate: “No no… I would never argue that because you share something in common with the Nazis that that equates you to the Nazis. I would never say that! I’m just saying, the Nazis wanted to eat whole-grain bread and cure cancer… liberals want to eat whole-grain breads and cure cancer… I mean… I’m just saying. It’s not necessarily evil for liberals be like Nazis. If you want to be like the Nazis, I leave that to you and your conscience. Liberal and nazis… organic foods… think about it.”
And then, his followup:
Similarly, in terms of this organic stuff, I think it’s important to understand that Mussolini is the guy who coins the word “totalitarian.” […] I’m not a big fan of Mussolini’s, but he meant a society where everyone belongs, everyone counts, everyone is included. The most famous definition of fascism that he offers is, “Everything in the state, nothing outside the state.” … Today we don’t use the word “totalitarian,” because the connotations have been so hardened in our minds. But we use these other words like “holistic” all the time. This quest for wholism, this idea that everything goes together, that we are all part of a single political, social organism … was deeply and profoundly central to the intellectual movements and eddies that fed into Nazism.
Translation: “Some people say cucumbers taste better pickled… Tag, you’re a Nazi!”
Update:The Daily Show website now has the (edited) interview available: