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During the early morning hours of Monday, March 31, an unidentified person or persons smashed out the window of a ten-year-old Honda Civic parked on Cumberland Street in the neighborhood of Montford in Asheville.
The car is registered in my name. My son, who works here in Asheville, had used the car for several years and, having purchased a new car, had parked the Civic in front of my apartment building in Montford so that I could turn it over to my youngest son for his use at college.
The vandals took nothing from the car. They didn’t even bother to unlock the door of the window they’d smashed. After shattering as well the mirror on the driver’s side of the car, they fled the scene.
The garage I visited today has set the cost of repair at $1000 to replace the door and the mirror.
Why would anyone, on a street in which many residents park their cars, pick a run-down Civic, whose name I now see as a classic case of irony, as a target?
The answer, I believe, is simple. My son had applied a sticker to the bumper of the Civic depicting the 2012 Obama campaign logos surrounded by a question: “Seriously?”
As I swept up the debris from this assault, dumping it into the splintered glass in the child’s booster seat by the missing window, an incredible rage flooded through me. I wanted to roam the streets of Montford that night and key the vehicles bearing a pro-Obama sticker, easy pickings in a neighborhood in which 80% of the residents support the “progressive” cause. For that quarter hour of sweeping—a broken window leaves a lot of glass—I contemplated carving out a smiley face in the vehicles of my liberal neighbors.
Eventually, of course, my rage subsided, and I stood back from what had happened and tried to understand why someone would do such a thing.
Coincidentally, that week I was rereading parts of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, a profound book linking the American Left—progressives, liberals, whatever they want to call themselves—to the policies of Mussolini and Hitler. In this book, Goldberg proves decisively what any reasonably dispassionate student of history knows, that fascism was not some sort of reactionary or conservative movement but a strain of radical socialism promoting the state over the individual, tearing apart the ideas of family and faith, controlling the economy by merging the government with corporations, and social policies and controls on its citizenry.
American progressives, like fascists, are bullies. Theirs is a softer, gentler compassion: they use words and laws rather than truncheons to beat people over the head, propaganda and the courts rather than jackboots to kick people into line. You smoke cigarettes? They will help you kick the habit by outrageous taxation. You’re too fat? They help you by scorning obesity and trying to tax fast food establishments. You have more than two children? You are an object of ridicule, a “birther.” As a small business owner, you don’t want to take photographs of a gay wedding because of religious principles or pay for your employees’ contraceptives and abortions? You’ll be bankrupted in a court of law. You form a political party based on constitutional principles of restrained government? Your organization will be investigated, audited, and refused certain tax breaks while enduring the merciless sneers and lie of a media that welcomes a government of controls, a government which sets itself above individuals, a fascist government.
Six years ago, Newsweek magazine, now thankfully defunct in its print edition, ran a cover proclaiming “We Are All Socialists Now!” The magazine only got it half right: we are not just socialists, but in deep danger of becoming fascists as well. We won’t click our heels, but we will heel like dogs when commanded by masters who keep us on a very short chain indeed.
Once upon a time America was the “land of liberty.” Those who still believe in liberty and freedom know its dangers. They know the responsibilities inherent in the word liberty. They know the limitations of human beings, including their own limitations. They know about failure, but continue to believe that we as human persons own a right to failure. They also know, as our Founding Fathers and several generations of Americans once understood, that government is a necessary evil, a potential monster capable of misrule and corruption.
To those who still believe in such concepts as liberty, natural law, initiative, and private charity, I urge you to continue fighting the good fight. To those tempted toward violence, like the person who smashed up my car, I urge you to reconsider the effects of your criminal act. You are acting as fascist thugs, not as Americans. You won’t win even the battle, but will instead raise up yet another person more determined than ever to resist criminals like you.
And to those who voted for President Obama and his ilk in 2012—I can understand voting for him in 2008; you desired a change—I have only one question:
Glad to see you are now blogging on the Chronicles website. I've always enjoyed your work in Chronicles magazine. Just a minor demurral about your citing Goldberg as the ultimate authority on fascism (e.g., his statement that fascism was neither reactionary nor conservative). Fascism was a lot more nuanced than the caricature presented by Jonah. Paul Gottfried (among others) has treated the issue of fascism in a much more intellectually credible fashion.
Excellent piece, except for the unfortunate reference to the pathetic Goldberg, who understands even less of fascism than he does of America. Fascism in Italy and Spain had many drawbacks, but leading fascists believed in public order and public decency and advocated high standards of excellence. Yes, they had misguided notions about the corporate state, which, by the way, they put very little of into practice, and Mussolini was a fool for making common cause with Hitler, but he did make the Concordat with the Church, drained the Pontine marshes, and made ordinary middle class Italians proud, for a time, of their country. Giovanni Gentile was a leading fascist intellectual, and Pirandello supported the party. There is simply no parallel for this in America. Instead, we are stuck with people like Jonah Goldberg. What a country!
I’d like to comment on the topic of the mistaken identification of Fascism, and generally of the Right, with the repressive measures of the Left in today’s world which usually go by the name of liberal or progressive measures—politically correct measures for short. I had long ago figured out that it is ridiculous to try to equate right-wing regimes with left-wing regimes, for the simple reason that the fundamental difference between Left and Right is that the Right acknowledges the legitimacy of tradition, whereas the Left in principle rejects tradition. It rejects everything that exists, in favor of “change.” Goethe put this best in Faust, when he has the devil, Mephistopheles, say: “Ich bin der Geist der stets verneint. Und das mit Recht, denn alles was entsteht ist wert dass es zugrunde geht.” (I am the spirit that always negates. And rightly so, since everything that exists deserves to be destroyed.)
But recently I received an insight (from an unlikely source, a comment on a news article about another “hate crime”) that is even more fundamental than acceptance versus rejection of tradition as the difference between Right and Left. And that is their respective acceptance and rejection of unchanging human nature. Of course! Tradition is the lesson of human history about human nature. That is why tradition works, why it is a good source of wisdom. Conversely, the Left’s fundamental rejection of tradition in favor of unaided human reason cuts it off from the lessons that history provides us via tradition about how human nature works. The Left rejects unchanging human nature and tradition because of hubris, the desire “to be like gods.” Not limited.
Ms. Haywood is correct: fundamentally the ignorance of human nature, including its social character, and I would argue both its good and bad points, is the root of the left-wing nightmare. This is the sort of ignorance that led to the condemnation of a Joëlle Pesnel to 13 years in prison for sequestering and starving Suzanne de Canson to death in order to steal and sell off the latter's art collection, when it SHOULD have ignited calls for the re-establishment of capital punishment. Pesnel served her time, got out and changed careers into real estate, where her depredations will probably be limited to what she can do more or less in the open, but no decent person should want to re-integrate her into society, nor could we. But this of course is a time in which evil is called good, and good evil. Woe to us!
Sorry Jeff you lost me at Jonah Goldberg.
I just could not get past this. He really sickens me as do all the children at National Review. Hopefully no one on this website will ever use the word profound and Jonah Goldberg in the same sentence.
Love Chronicles and Tom Fleming though
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