An Open Letter to Mr. Jonah Goldberg





Dr Matthew Feldman is Senior Lecturer in 20th century history at the University of Northampton, a Research Fellow at the University of Oxford¹s Rothermere American Institute, and an editor of Wiley-Blackwell¹s online journal Compass: Political Religions (http://www.religion-compass.com); he also directs Northampton¹s Radicalism and New Media research network, and co-edits Continuum Books¹ new monograph series, Historicising Modernism. He has published widely on twentieth century literary modernism, including several volumes on Samuel Beckett¹s manuscripts and recently-released archives, in addition to various publications on fascist ideology, wartime propaganda and far-right extremism since World War One. He also acts as an expert witness on cases against the contemporary radical right in Europe and the US, and is working on a both monograph and documentary film exploring Ezra Pound¹s influence on American fascism after 1945.

27 Jan. 2010
An Open Letter to Mr Jonah Goldberg,
       
I shall see the “old saying” in your retort, “Definitions and Double Standards”, and raise you another pithy adage:  “stop digging.” 

The sneering response to your total evisceration by knowledgeable critics – and you will struggle to find two more erudite in Fascist Studies than Professors Paxton and Griffin – in short, offers nothing new to your already-tautological account:  since critics of Liberal Fascism can only be on the left, we have therefore collectively attacked due to doctrinal loyalty, the party line, or some such variant of trying to shoot the messenger in order to kill off the message.  This argument was already tattooed across your book, which I read closely and completely.  I am glad I did, for negative examples are always useful in class.  I believe that, only in this way, will Liberal Fascism “catch on in academia itself.”

In fact, I reviewed your book with no access to views of any a priori “circles”, and availed myself of no ex post facto discussion, positive or negative, prior to reading it:  I tried to have an open mind at the start.  This is what self-reflective historians, and indeed many other kinds of people, attempt to do before coming to a judgment.  I suspect the other members of HNN’s symposium – including Chip Berlet, who you unfairly dismiss out of hand, and David Neiwert – have done the same.  But this, I fear, does not seem to be a quality you value.  So let me be totally clear in rejoinder:  I have no agenda, and genuinely have no desire to slander you personally.  But it needs to be said, loud and clear:  your book is just ridiculous.  And I do not misunderstand it.  I understand it perfectly well, despite your unsubstantiated claim that I am “wrong.”

Furthermore, I believe, Liberal Fascism is also dangerous.  Understandably, you seem not to engage with this last point, raised by other reviews wholly independent of mine.  Do you really want to carry extremists on your back in trying to discredit those trends in our country you so abhor?  You should look around:  the messenger here spills out the back of a Trojan Horse.  Please glance again at the picture concluding my review:  this is your argument in a 1,000 words.  It is a current image by the LaRouche Organization, whose leader notoriously declared in 1978:  “It is not necessary to wear a brown shirt to be a fascist... It is not necessary to wear a swastika to be a fascist ... It is not necessary to call oneself a fascist to be one, it is simply necessary to be one.”  I say again:  your book is manna from heaven for actual, ideological, revolutionary, radical right-wing, ultra-nationalistic fascists.  Yours is a valuable political cover. To wit:  these are the kinds of posts you have already received on the History News Network since posting your riposte:

Fascists on the left (#140004)
by Rich Xapt on January 27, 2010 at 4:31 PM
Liberal Fascism = the administration/policies of Barack Obama.
Everyone knows (or is catching on to this), hence all the sniveling "scholars" (snicker, snicker) from the left trying to get out front and obscure the truth.

Is this really the political discourse you seek to encourage?

To conclude, Mr Goldberg, I have spoken only for myself, both here and in my review, in pointing out that these criticisms are motivated by a heartfelt desire for historical integrity and closer approximations to an actual past, not contortions of history in the interest of political point-scoring.  In fact, and in public, I have been most critical of liberalism – both ‘classical’ or contemporary, since you seem to think these are ideological poles (like fascism and communism are instead) – in the practices it so often adopts in transgression of its own theories.  Quite simply, my wish to defend the history of liberalism is relevant only insofar as you traduce its history.  (I mean Woodrow Wilson, a fascist dictator?!? Do you honestly believe that?)  Yet then again, not nearly as badly, or perhaps willfully, as you traduce the history of fascism.  In sum, there is not enough interpretative texture in Liberal Fascism to even call this book one-sided.

So I ask you:  let these serious issues be aired properly.  Since I have argued that the dangers this ideological book poses to general understandings of the history of ideology in general, and that of fascism in particular – and especially, the dangers of giving ammunition to those that would really shoot us – are truly severe, I will defend that view in a public forum; in fact, I feel obliged to do so.  I therefore propose to engage you on the issues I have highlighted above, and respectfully request that we meet at a venue of your choosing to debate your book, Liberal Fascism.

I await your response.

Faithfully Yours,

Dr. Matthew Feldman

HNN Special: A Symposium on Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism


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Scott Yeager - 2/2/2010

The odds of that happening are probably about as good as me selling you the Golden Gate bridge at a very reasonable rate.


Adam Cody - 2/2/2010

What a collusion of cheats and frauds!?!? This is why reasonable people can't take your scholarship seriously and being free of bias.

Every one of these "historians" have identified themselves as "liberal". If HNN falsely initially titled the special as " Liberals Respond to ..." then HNN should make an official statement rather than simply scrub it out once this fact starts showing up in other areas like wikipedia references.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Liberal_Fascism#HNN_Authors_Should_Be_Identified_As_Being_Liberal_Reviews


PJ Burke - 2/2/2010

That the scholarship -- so-called -- of Goldberg's book has been thoroughly demolished by established scholars who are specialists on the very subject matter of Goldberg's book should be well understood and accepted. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence... and Goldberg wants to claim that the entirety of scholarship in political history, political theory, etc., is not only completely wrong but also has deliberately misrepresented the entire historical record -- for several successive generations -- in order to unfairly tar conservatives.

Goldberg fails -- rather spectacularly -- to make such an outlandish case, and his work is shown to be both sloppy and dishonest.

Case closed.

But not for some.

The fact that Goldberg has been both humiliated and demolished -- pwned -- is not recognized or accepted by some commentators here... and that should be astonishing.

However, it is not so astonishing to those familiar with propaganda and psy-ops warfare methods and techniques. Those commentators making a public display of their non-understanding (by refusal or incapacity, or both) are simply victims of Goldberg's propaganda and Fox News psy-ops warfare campaign upon the American public.

Now why would those -- such as these actually knowledgeable scholars -- who have made careers out of trying to understand and explain how populations have been convinced in the not-so-distant past to take up arms and slaughter millions of their fellow citizens call deliberate, fear-mongering propaganda "dangerous?"

Because it really and truly is dangerous.

It is not at all comparable to the Church censorship of heresy... and not merely because Galileo's assertions were demonstrably true, while Goldberg's assertions are so demonstrably and irretrievably false that they have rightly been called ridiculous (i.e., worthy of ridicule). It is not comparable because Goldberg's assertions are intended to instill and incite fear, and do so on false pretenses. And yes, that is dangerous.

Dangerous how?

Populations who have been terrorized and lied to by authorities and a controlled (or complicit) media have been incited -- fear-whipped -- into committing unspeakable atrocities upon the scapegoats that those authorities pointed to as being blameworthy... scapegoats whom those authorities said were their "enemies" (a list nearly identical to those whom current-day conservatives continuously stigmatize and demonize: gays and lesbians, intellectuals, liberals, those of races and religions different from theirs, foreigners and immigrants, etc), and whom those authorities said needed to be "eliminated."

That is precisely what Goldberg, Glenn Beck, Fox News and the rest of the Right Wing Noise Machine are doing with their relentless psy-ops fear-mongering: they are attempting to incite vulnerable, ill-educated and deliberately dis-informed people to violence by telling them -- repeatedly and relentlessly -- that they are in immediate mortal danger from "genocidal progressives" like President Obama (who has actually done so very little that Progressives want to see done that its very far from settled whether he's actually even all that "progressive" in the first place).

People who belong to the Fox News cult really ought to be asking themselves "what if I really am being lied to?" ...and then do their own investigation.

They won't.


Reid Reynolds - 2/2/2010

What's the point? When language like that is used, it's pretty clear that the debate has moved well beyond enlightening dialogue. Oh, OK...

All right. I got as far as the part where he accuses Goldberg of being a tool of Lyndon LaRouche. I can't take any more. Sorry. I tried. But, you know, life is short.


Greg Jung - 2/1/2010

Your post suggests to me you are in a binary mode of logic: right (good) vs left (bad, wrong). So you tee off on the "manna from heaven" comment as "absolutely wrong" because it includes "right wing", among several other qualifiers, with fascists.

Right/left characterizations are mostly useful for a debate, say, Toyota vs Ford - Toyota on the right, Ford on the left. or vice- versa. More complicated matters you really ought to explain what you mean.


Patrick Linnen - 2/1/2010

tl;dr

'Too long; Didn't read', s at least an honest opinion. It can be mocked or it can be supported. But it is straight-forward, at least. The better responses would explain their reasons. Most would still be mocked, but there were a few that could forward their viewpoint at the same time and further the conversation. Even the most argumentative left-wing radicals loved those people because they could sharpen their debating skills.

I'd mock these responses myself, but I have had the similar reactions upon read one too many 'cut-and-paste' postings of Hannity, O'Reilly, or Limbaugh's rants. (N.B. I've tried left-wing polemics from Franken or Morris ( or whatever-his-name-is) but got rather bored no matter how left they were.)

But saying 'I stopped reading at this point', and then making making monkey noises goes nowhere. No doubt someone more engaged in this argument could make a better rebuttal, but please give those of use that read through the article something to debate even if you only read one sentence.


Reid Reynolds - 2/1/2010

My reaction. Trash talking is appropriate for some venues, like say, "Professional" Wrestling, but IMHO not very appropriate to this venue.


Patrick Linnen - 2/1/2010

Ermm.

Are your talking to Mr. Feldman, or does this refer to your own reaction?


Reid Reynolds - 1/31/2010

... at "The sneering response to your total evisceration by knowledgeable critics..."

Me Great Ape. Me pound chest. You run away.

I'm pretty sure that's how it unfolded afterwards.


Maarja Krusten - 1/30/2010

See Mr. Goldberg's post at
http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NmNjNjQ4ZmFjN2Q1OTZkOTQ5MjQwYjEzMWVmOTE2NDM=
which links to
http://dissectleft.blogspot.com/2010/01/what-fun-hnn-has-just-run-special.html

None of this gives a clue as to whether or not he has seen your Open Letter.

Best regards,

MK


N. Friedman - 1/30/2010

Maarja,

Thanks, as always, for your kind words. Were I to have time to write a book...


Maarja Krusten - 1/30/2010

Dr. Feldman, a few observations, with due respect. Let me say first that I recognize, even sympathize with, your dilemma. In my dealings with former President Nixon’s lawyers and representatives while employed by the National Archives, I faced various challenges and choices when they disagreed with us or attacked us. Some I handled well, some I now would handle differently, given a do over. With that acknowledgement of my own imperfection, my take on your letter.

I would have omitted the first two paragraphs of your open letter. Unnecessary, in my view. That’s not to say I don’t recognize the maneuver. When you write, “I shall see the ‘old saying’ in your retort, ‘Definitions and Double Standards’, and raise you another pithy adage: ‘stop digging,’” you’re framing the argument as “one-up, one-down,” to use Dr. Tannen’s phrase. It’s ritual opposition, where one guy says something, another tries to top him, the first one returns with an effort to top him.

Why not let readers draw their own conclusions about Mr. Goldberg’s approach? Not everyone is drawn to ritualized opposition. So why not begin with the portion that explains how reflective historians approach issues? I do think your call for a debate is fine and perhaps Mr. Goldberg will meet you for one somewhere, some day.

I thought your essay in the forum here was fine in tone, overall. I thought Mr. Goldberg did better than I thought he would in his posted response here too, given that he makes his blogging home at The Corner. If you read his response carefully, you’ll see that he rebuts some of the criticism but actually admits that there were things he could have done differently. I’m very, very different from him in terms of temperament and style of communications, but I still recognize and give credit for effort when I see it. I would have acknowledged the areas where he tried, rather than just striking back.

Although now an Independent, I once self-identified as a conservative Republican. I believe the people who blog at The Corner have good intentions but I don’t view the site as very effective in terms of advocacy. Too constrained, too cramped for my taste. To me as an occasional reader, The Corner is like a fraternity house where a bunch of guys gather and high five each other over their mutual brilliance. I’m not using that as a gender-specific characteristic, I’m just using frat house as an example. (I actually believe some academic blogs share that same characteristic.) If you meet one of them outside the frat house, he may quietly acknowledge that issues are much more complex than the group admits. But he’ll never feel able to say it around his fraternity brothers.

Your opportunity, and that of your fellow academics, is to reach for a broader audience than The Corner as presently consitututed can reach. The political world can be very oppositional. Sometimes people become so immersed in “combat” that they overlook the value of moderation. Mr. Goldberg said in 2008 of the upcoming election that "I think one of the things that is decidedly fascistic, or at least just a bad idea, is looking for silver bullets. You know, when [Sen.] Barack Obama campaigns, he's basically saying, 'I'm a silver bullet. I'm going to solve all your problems just by electing me.' FDR, Hitler, all these guys, they basically said, 'All your problems can be solved.' " (see
http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/200802250008

Had he been in a position to advise a campaign, instead of speaking as a private citizen who had written a book, advice based on that reading would have led to a sure loss. I had concluded as early as 2005 that regardless of which party or ideology he or she represented, the candidate who could tap into a unity theme (“bring us together,” to quote the sign held up to Mr. Nixon after he won in ’68) would win. (There is no reason why a Republican candidate could not have run a “I don’t see a Red America or a Blue America, I see a United States of America” campaign. The ability or inability to do that is not based on ideology, in my view. Exit polls from 2008 showed that the finger in the air sense I began developing in 2005 was spot on in terms of assessing the zeitgeist.

It’s very hard to break the patterns developed in a political life. Many people can’t, a few do. John Taylor, who served as Richard Nixon’s chief of staff in retirement, was able to do it. I admire him immensely. There are lessons to be learned from him about the extent to which the political world can hold people in thrall. I find John’s experiences useful to keep in mind in looking at The Corner. Consider what Mr. Taylor told a reporter in 2008, the same year Mr. Goldberg offered his take on the campaign. The reported noted that

“When Nixon died in 1994, Taylor was named one of two co-executors of the estate. He has considered himself a Nixon man for 27 years, but it has not all been good—for the first half of those Taylor says that he was almost rancorous in support of Nixon’s tarnished presidency. ‘I think what had happened was that I had become personally wrapped up in it and I was perceiving attacks on him as one would attacks on their dad in the school yard.’ He later realized that it wasn’t helping Nixon’s image, changing any minds or healthy for himself.

At 40, Taylor had dealt with years of legal entanglement in his career and a broken marriage at home, leading him to a moment of mid-life reconsideration. After realizing that the missing element in his life was religion, he entered Claremont University’s seminary with the support of his family and the Nixon Foundation Board. He was ordained in January 2004 as a priest in the Episcopal Church and assigned as a vicar of St. John’s Church and School in Santa Margarita. ‘It was processing pain and brokenness and weakness and vulnerability and all the things that end up being the tools of ministry,’ Taylor says.”

Not everyone is religious. Not everyone can break free of destructive forces and adjust the way he engages with others. But just realizing how destructive the forces are helps provide context for how the political world operates. That doesn’t mean we all have to fight battles the same way. I’m not saying people shouldn’t hold on to principled positions. They should and can. I see a much, much broader battlefield here than just one man’s book. Both sides can reach beyond the small plot where they are jousting now. Breaking free of ritual opposition can be a positive in terms of the overall outcomes. But it requires considering what doesn’t help image, doesn’t change minds and what does.


Maarja Krusten - 1/30/2010

Re-read your post this morning with my cup of java in hand. I think you're on to something with the heresy/apostasy thing. I happen to be Lutheran and it is very interesting for my to hear Catholics talk about their faith. I am Christian, as they are, yet some largely overlook my church attendance because it is not taking place within the Catholic structure. Interesting vibe. Again, I do think you're on to something. Hey, maybe you should write your own book after you retire. You're very smart and as I said before, a cool dude, in every sense of the word, including a sense of calm and reason in your posting.


N. Friedman - 1/30/2010

Maarja,

My title had no serious intent. It was merely a play on your title.


Mark L Liveringhouse - 1/30/2010

Here is what makes Feldman's and the other critics of Goldberg's book absolutely wrong: "your book is manna from heaven for actual, ideological, revolutionary, radical right-wing, ultra-nationalistic fascists."

It is the inclusion of the word "right wing". IN using these words he is trying to tie groups like the KKK and Neo-Nazis to conservatives like George W. Bush, Jonah Goldberg, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck (and me).

THe problem is that the KKK and neo-Nazis have much more in common with the Left and Barrack Obama than they do with Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

The reason is Limbaugh and Beck (and Goldberg (and me)) all profess a libertarian based conservative idealogy that seeks to limit the powers of government and maximize the powers of the indivual. There is simply nothing in the idealogy of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck that would seek a government that would coerce people into behaving as a racist.

Statists like Barrack Obama on the other hand, seek increased government actions and powers. Albeit, they seek them to redress what they believe is wrong in the nation. But, so did Hitler. They may have seen the wrongs differently, but they saw that same solution. More power to the state.





Maarja Krusten - 1/30/2010

Hi, N., I didn't mean to imply YOU were at war. Should have made that clearer. Keep in mind my belief that the Nixonian template (the binary blame/praise trap) makes open debate of many issues difficult. People trap themselves or get trapped and don't know how to get out. Or they think they are winning when they are not. I think a lot of it comes from focusing on alphas and betas and omegas and overlooking the many people who are gammas. And of course, politics is what it is, for better or worse. The more political something is, the harder it is to unravel and escape from. The less political it is, the more room one has to maneuver. At any rate, it's something I observe in many settings these days. Hmmm, I wonder if Dr. Tannen will write about this some day, since this all (not me and you, we're just chatting) is playing out here on the web, LOL.

Enjoy your weekend!


N. Friedman - 1/30/2010

Maarja,

I was referring to the open letter, not the original post.

I do not see the book as a dangerous book. Pointing out some connections - using hyperbole at times -, strained or otherwise, among political agendas is the stuff of political science. In James Weinstein's classic book The Corporate Ideal in the Liberal State, 1900-1918, he points out that progressives were not limited to the working class and their advocates but included major leaders of industry and finance.

In fact, there was an ongoing, persistent effort by a very great many of the most elite of the corporate elites, for example, via the National Civic Federation, towards binding classes together and in opposition to class conflict by means, for example, of extending benefits to the working class, by regulating corporate behavior and by cooperation between business and government. In fact, the NCF brought labor voices into their organization (e.g. Samuel Gompers). And, according to Weinstein, progressive liberalism, as a venture involving many corporate voices, was advanced by WWI.

Does that make Wilson (or the NCF, for that matter), who might at times favor such a similar corporate progressive line, a fascist? Not in my view. But, fascists clearly view nation as a single organic entity which binds people together, something that the progressives, to go by Weinstein's book, also favored to some extent. So, there is at least some similarity - maybe not nearly or remotely as strong as Mr. Goldberg sees it but not wholly absent either. And, Weinstein's book does note the advantage taken by Wilson's administration during WWI to advance the progressive agenda.

I do, however, think that Mr. Goldberg's argument goes astray. That the founders of a movement in one political party retain pieces of that movement when they apostatize and create a different political party does not mean that both parties are on the same side of the political spectrum. Goldberg has it that Mussolini began as a man of the left and may, if Goldberg is correct, have always thought himself a man of the left. And, Goldberg has it that a number of other fascists began on the left. And, he may be correct that they brought elements of leftist thinking with them when they created fascism. That far, ok. He may well be right about that.

But, the argument begins to break down at the next step. And, that is because the second party is a heresy, both in its beliefs and in how it is perceived by the other party. Which is to say, it becomes something quite different, even if it retains certain elements that the first party favored.

Consider this in religious terms. Christianity, in most tellings, had its origins in Judaism. That, however, does not make Christianity a Jewish religion. At the same time, Christianity retains quite a bit of Judaism. Yet, the two religions are, to each other, heresies. And, while they have a number of things in common, they believe really very different things and their need to differentiate each other drives them further apart. And, that there is some overlap does not put them in the same category.

Returning to the political sphere, the neo-conservatives include a number of former Leftists - including some of those thought to be founders of neo-conservatism - but, even though some of them may retain some of those ideas, they shed many others to the extent that they are no longer of the left - in fact, they see themselves as rivals of the left. That may not make them part of the right but that is a different matter. It certainly does not mean that their ideology remains leftist in any discernible fashion. And, the bitterness of the dispute between leftists and neo-conservatives is of a type that, while somewhat muted, is reserved for groups where there has been an apostasy.

I think the correct word for describing something like fascism is heresy. It founders apostatized while retaining some features that leftists advocate. The heretical views are sufficiently different that leftist and fascists basically have nothing to say to each other. And, the heresy is sufficiently strong that rightists often find it attractive. So, fascism is its own thing, not an adjunct of the left.

I choose the word heresy with all of religious characteristics. Which is to say, a heretic is no longer in a religion. He or she is even worse than an infidel. That changes both sides - the original religion and the heretical one. They define each other, in part, by their differences and want to make their differences important. Brown shirt instead of Red flag, as it were. While there may be some resemblance between the two religions, they are not sufficient for them to be considered in the same family.

Anyway, that is my view.

Changing topics,

Back in 1971, I was very much against the war. I recall a proclamation/song as you describe.

I did not, in those days, understand the silent majority. Of course, I was a bit younger. Still, my experiences did not allow me to understand their concerns.

I have never read any books by Deborah Tannen. I did, however, noted your header.

Take care.


Maarja Krusten - 1/30/2010

Hi, N. I have a different take on Dr. Feldman’s essay than you do, if what you are referring to is his Open Letter rather than his essay in the original forum. (I would have worded some of the letter differently, but then I’ve read all of Professor Deborah Tannen’s books, LOL. Including the one on which the Texas Attorney General’s Office wisely bases some of its internal training). Your mileage may vary, but I pick up on a concern in the Open Letter that people will read Mr. Goldberg’s book as history and consequently regard it as dispositive of the issues. It isn’t, of course, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mr. Goldberg claim that his account in dispositive rather than interpretive, but it does pay to keep in mind the possibility that some readers will take it as such. You’d be surprised how many people I’ve seen refer to Bob Woodward’s books (at which I as a former NARA employee mostly roll my eyes) as “history.” Read that way, the concern expressed in the letter becomes understandable. He knows the book is not history, his concern is that not everyone who reads it will know that.

Consider also that this is not the only forum where this is being discussed. Interesting to see how people write differently depending on the forum in which they find themselves. Compare Mr. Ledeen’s post at The Corner about the book forum
http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ZDNhNjYyZDY5ZTVjODFhMzRkOTU5ODJiNGVjOGMzMzM=
with what he wrote at HNN. Different style, different approach, different readership (actually, some overlap since I read HNN every week and occasionally look in at The Corner).

As to the other issues, I myself think it unlikely that they will be resolved. My sense is that the principals have passed a point of no return. Someone would have to be open to the points that Dr. Tannen made in her 1998 op ed, “For Argument's Sake; Why Do We Feel Compelled to Fight About Everything?” at
http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/tannend/argsake.htm
(She includes some observations about grad school, interestingly enough.) I haven’t picked out such a player here but I know them only by their web personas and am not privvy to anything that may or may not be occuring behind the scenes in terms of outreach. Maybe they're not boxed in, I dunno.

N., did you notice my header, "War is Over! (If You Want It)"? Oh noes, should I worry that someone now will tase me for quoting a John Lennon/Yoko Ono song from 1971? Nah, I’m immunized—not only was I walking around wearing “Tell it to Hanoi” and “Silent Majority” buttons back then, but my letters of support to President Nixon are preserved in the Nixon Presidential Library’s archival collections. Some were released to the public in 2004 as part of a release from the White House Central Files: Alpha Name Files.

Take care, dude, see you around.


N. Friedman - 1/30/2010

I think that your objection to Mr. Goldberg's book is unfair. He did not write a history book. And, his book ought not be used as a history textbook or the like, unless, of course, one is teaching about political arguments made in the early 21st Century.

Rather, his book is akin, I think, to Paul Berman's interesting book, Terror and Liberalism. I am not saying that Goldberg's book is as good as Paul Berman's book. I am not saying it is worse. I am merely saying that it is of a similar genre, albeit on a different topic.

Both books attempt to understand a complex phenomena, not historically but as a way of thinking. Both books are written by non-experts on the topics addressed. Both books make contributions to how one might think about the topics they address.

Both books are worth reading but remember, we are not reading history. Not to understand that most basic point strikes me as bizarre.


Jeffrey Todd Singer - 1/29/2010

Dr. Feldman,

I hope Jonah takes you up on your offer as you are just plain ridiculous.

First of all, what is wrong with the quote from "Rich Xapt"? Other than the fact that you don't like the idea that the American people might have negative associations with Obama's policies?

Secondly, why would you say the following: "I mean Woodrow Wilson, a fascist dictator?!? Do you honestly believe that?" without at least attempting to present an argument. Jonah explained why he makes this claim in his book and the folks at "National Review" ran a book review by the esteemed historian Paul Johnson in which he explained why he disagreed with Jonah's assessment. No sneering questions and exclamation points. Just make your case if you are so confident of your argument.

Instead you spend most of your open letter telling all of us how dangerous you think Jonah's book is but you don't explain the causal chain of events that leads from a political book about America with errors (according to you) to fascist violence. I mean aren't you more worried about other books that are out there leading to violence?:

http://al-quran.info/#&&sura=56&trans=en-shakir&show=both&format=rows&ver=1.00


T S Seethaler - 1/29/2010

Dr. Feldman: what sort of scholar uses the argument "we shouldn't talk about because it’s dangerous"? That was the argument the Roman Catholic Church used against Galileo 400 years ago. Wasn't valid then, is less valid now.
That you would even raise it shows that, despite your denials, you most certainly have "a priori" beliefs. That you want to raise it shows that, far from being wrong, you are perfect evidence that Mr. Goldberg is on to something. When a progressive such as yourself is calling for censorship, and let’s be honest, that is what you are doing, what clearer example of “Liberal Fascism” could one ask for?

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