February 08, 2006

Chuckle of the Day

Oliver Kamm can't catch a break from the FrontPage Magazine yahoos, who accuse him of being a "typical Fabian Society International Socialist," of being soft on Sontag, and, most humorously, of singing the praises of Noam Chomsky!

Then there's this, from Kamm:

I try to convince my interviewer, Jamie Glazov, that while he declares he has never before heard of "a longstanding tradition on the American and European Left of militant anti-totalitarianism", the state of his own political education isn't the final arbiter of whether this tradition in fact exists.

Too right. There's much more hilarity from the Keystone Kops Konservatives where that came from. Good times...

Posted by Dr. Frank at February 8, 2006 06:06 PM | TrackBack

It probably won't shock folks here that I don't visit Horowitz's site regularly -- okay, at all -- but I saw an add there that kind of confused me. There's some conservative t-shirt company which has an add showing two shirt slogans, one after the other. The first I understand: a peace symbol with the outline of a bomber in place of the lines, with "peace through strength" under it (I understand it, even if I disagree with it). The other one is "ACLU" with the "C" replaced by a Soviet hammer-and-sickle, and "Enemy of the State" under it.

Well, isn't "enemy of the state" the whole damn point of the ACLU? Don't they spend a lot of time and money suing the government, filing FOIA requests, that kind of thing? I don't think it would particularly bother the ACLU to be called that. And then, on the other hand, isn't "enemy of the state" a very, very USSR way of defining people and organizations? Aren't conservatives supposed to be the ones who are suspicious of "the state" -- specifically because it conjures up images of the USSR or the Department of Education or something? So how exactly is the ACLU an example of Soviet ideology if it's the Enemy of the State?

David Horowitz is one confused dude.

Posted by: Nick at February 8, 2006 06:19 PM

Obviously, Nick, you don't watch the O'Reilly Factor very often, either. Otherwise you'd know that the ACLU is basically an anti-Christmas, pedophile rights lobbying group.

That "enemy of the state" thing is too funny. In fact, I kind of want one of those shirts now. Except of course, that people wouldn't recognize the irony might get the wrong idea. Whatever that might be. I'm confused, too!

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 8, 2006 06:51 PM

Nick: I believe the Hammer-and-Sickle reference is to the Communism of the ACLU's founder, and the organisation's significant Communist ties in its early days (long since purged, of course, no pun intended).

And, really, the ACLU's job is not to be an enemy of the state, but an enemy of the state's excesses.

That some on the right view it as actively anti-American can be ascribed to both their own paranoia on the subject and the ACLU's actions. (Certainly the ACLU lawsuit in, say, LA county over a wee cross over a mission in the county seal smacks of an anti-religious zealotry more than a real defense of the First Amendment against a vile Establishment of Religion. Such singleminded overreach regarding the Establishment clause does fuel the fire, no?)

That and the ACLU's strong tendency to align only with the causes of the Left, even apart from religion (instanced even on first glance by the list of "issues" on their own website).

(I'll skip two long paragraphs about the ACLU's insistence that the Second Amendment must magically apply only to the police and military, regardless of the plain language of the amendment, all the contemporary writings on its meaning, and the "Standard Model" of legal interpretation of same, noting that they'd have a fit if someone tried to maul the First or Fourth Amendments the same way.)

Overall a worthy organisation, but I can see why some people have a rabid dislike of them; certainly I don't give them any donations, myself. If I thought specific civil liberties were in danger, I'd give to better-targeted groups, anyway.

Posted by: Sigivald at February 8, 2006 07:13 PM


I think the confusion has less to do with the history, positions and ideology of the ACLU (do you think the t-shirt is really intended for people who are still bitter about leftist opposition to WWI?), and more to do with the positions and ideology of many on the American right (including FrontPage's founder, David Horowitz, whose Marxist pedigree is probably at least as clear as the ACLU's). Basically, many right-wingers are now happy defenders of the State, including an extra-legal Executive Branch. The ease with which many throw out accusations of "treason" against those who criticise current policies has already made a handful of conservative commentators begin to wonder about the direction of the movement. Was opposition to Big Government a matter of principle, or a matter of jealousy?

As for the political leanings of the ACLU, people often ignore their work on behalf of many churches, including siding with Jerry Falwell in a suit against the state of Virginia (folks can check out the wikipedia entry on the group for a brief summary of prominent cases they've been involved in). ACLU also helped Ollie North appeal his convictions. So I think their partisanship -- in the sense of supporting Dems simply because they're Dems -- is largely a canard. They support conservatives, even conservatives who raise money by demonizing the ACLU.

Now, I do agree that the law suit over LA's insignia was a little extreme. But didn't some crazy, leftist bomb-thrower once say, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice"?

Posted by: Nick at February 8, 2006 07:46 PM

Hey! I remember you from Cal!

The Suicide Girls entry on Wikipedia calls you a "celebrity."

Do you feel like a "celebrity?"

Posted by: The Liberal Avenger at February 8, 2006 08:04 PM

*Do you feel like a "celebrity?"*


Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 8, 2006 08:23 PM

The ACLU is trying to force civil liberties on us just like Stalin did to his people!!!

Posted by: josh at February 8, 2006 08:54 PM

I've seen those ads for conservative tees on a few websites now (I like to see what makes the other half tick) and I can't help but notice that only the hottest white chicks with the sweetest racks are allowed to wear them. Get 'em all together and you've got yourself one hell of an angry Arian wet t-shirt contest. Skin to win, Ms. Coulter.

I have never seen anyone wearing one of those shirts anywhere other than in an ad. To be fair, I've never seen anybody wearing those shirts that are advertised at The Onion either. So I guess the left and right tee shirt companies are equally ignored. Only problem is, at least the ones on the left are funny. A bomber as a peace symbol? That just seems cruel. Do you think the Galactic Empire had similar shirts printed up using a Star Destroyer to create the triangle in the peace sign? Same message; "Peace through the total destruction of anyone that thinks things should be run differently".

Posted by: Tim at February 8, 2006 10:56 PM

I don't feel sorry for Kamm. For one thing, for Kamm to join the Front Page interviewer in praising Paul Hollander's poorly researched book of half-truths "Political Pilgrims and Anti-Americanism" is indicative of the striking similarities between Kamm and the reactionary right. Published in 1981, it is hardly surprising to note that the authors didn't care to put out an updated version of this book that documented the post-1981 bloodbaths in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Iraq, etc., since they were not supported by "the left," but by Washington. Kamm never threw any of this back at his interviewer, in fact, Kamm called the book "great."

Kamm was way too easy on his interviewer in so many respects. If you are with Front Page, and you blast a long list of intellectuals that includes "Susan Sontag," "Jean Paul Sartre," "Jane Fonda," "Bernard Shaw," etc. as "venerators of tyranny," then why in the hell isn't ex-Stalinist David Horowitz (the founder of Front Page) included in that category by the FP interviewer? How has Horowitz lived a more redemptive life than Jane Fonda (who, from what I understand, is more often spotted at church potluck dinners than at political rallies these days) since the 1960's? What bullshit.

In typical "moderate" fashion, Kamm didn't have the balls to rip into FP. This prevailing cowardice is why I don't consider myself a centrist Democrat anymore. It is not that I agree with people like Chomsky that much, it is just easier to look at myself in the mirror.

Posted by: David Cummings at February 9, 2006 01:26 AM

Well, I guess it was a stretch - to say the least - for me to call Jane Fonda an "intellectual." At least as much so as David Horowitz, but I digress.

Posted by: David Cummings at February 9, 2006 01:31 AM

Well, David, I'd guess Kamm's agenda was to plug his book rather than to bring down the David Horowitz media empire.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 9, 2006 09:30 AM

I suppose it was a book plug, but it's kind of bizarre to just sit there and take all that abuse.

Posted by: David Cummings at February 9, 2006 04:49 PM