The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Some thoughts on the American politics topic du jour

June 11, 2009

There’s no substantive difference between the attempts by right-wingers to define Nazism as a phenomena of the left and Marxist attempts to define Soviet Socialism as “state capitalism.”

Anyway, I think the speed with which the right-wing blogsphere has circled the wagons over the shooting at the Holocaust museum speaks for itself.

It should be patently obvious that any disagreements your typical conservatives have with someone like Von Brunn are far more important than relative location on a one-dimensional political spectrum.

So why bother? The two major theories right now:

• They realize they look pretty silly for their attacks on the DHS right-wing extremism report, i.e., it’s CYA time.

• They’re freaked out that people will draw a connection between the increasing paranoia found online (and on conservative talk radio) and both the Holocaust Museum attack and the George Tiller murder.

I sympathize with the second concern, but not at all with the first.

I find it pretty hard to blame typical right-wing bloggers and message-board posters for the actions of an octogenarian neo-Nazi, or even the murder of an abortion doctor [update: maybe I’m being too generous when it comes to the Tiller murder].

But they should recognize this strategy is a total loser. For example, arguing that a racist couldn’t be right-wing because right-wingers oppose Affirmative Action just makes you look like an idiot. No one outside the bubble is buying it. In fact, we’re in “don’t think of an elephant” territory here: the more they protest, the more the rest of us think about the possible connections.

(They also need to muzzle people like Randall Terry. Now.)

And frankly, they need to take a long and hard look at themselves. Because violent resistance is the logical conclusion of their rhetoric; if they really believe the US is turning into a left-wing police state run by a foreign agent, then they should be at least planning for insurrection.*

I almost have to wonder if some of the people peddling this stuff might be, perish the thought, insincere.

*Note the difference between this and, say, claiming that the Bush administration’s interrogation and executive power policies justified impeachment or voting the bums out of office. But, of course plenty of left-wingers made parallel accusations about the “fascism” of the Bush regime. I seem to remember right-wingers excoriating them for doing so.

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.