Dagger in hand

A man of prodigious fortune, coming to add his opinion to some light discussion that was going on casually at his table, began precisely thus: "It can only be a liar or an ignoramus who will say otherwise than," and so on. Pursue that philosophical point, dagger in hand.

--Michel de Montaigne, Of the art of discussion.

Stab back: cmnewman99-at-yahoo.com


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Tuesday, June 04, 2002
Thanks to Meryl Yourish for noting and properly eviscerating a review of Fallaci's book in Foreign Policy. I often wonder whether the term "fascist" has any conceptual content at all for many of the people who use it. It seems rather to be a term of general opprobrium used by certain people on the "left" for anything they don't like on the "right." The indispensible Mr. Lileks did an unparalleled bleat on this a while back specifically responding to the equation one so often hears from pro-Palestinian demonstrators of Israelis with Nazis. Unfortunately, I can't find it in his archive now to link to it.

Nor is the equation of freedom (at least certain forms of it) with fascism limited to European intellectuals. It's implicit in the way the term "right-wing" is used every day by "left wingers" to describe those who espouse laissez-faire economics or decentralization of political authority (i.e., constitutional federalism, deregulation, etc). I've never understood how this makes any sense when the paradigmatic "right-wingers"--those whom you are supposed to run into if you go far enough in that direction--are Benito and Adolf, both of whom practiced absolute centralization of political power and espoused (though with less thorough implementation) economic collectivism as well. But why bother arguing when you can label?

UPDATE: Still can't find the Lileks link, but here's the money quote:
When the citizens of Israel are told daily by their press and TV that the Arabs are subhumans who must be destroyed, then Sharon will be like Hitler. When Arabs must wear crescents on their shirts, Sharon will be Hitler. When stadiums full of Jews bay for the blood of the Arabs, and pour out in a torchlight parade to kick and beat and shave the beards of devout Muslims, Sharon will be Hitler. When the organizing principles of the Jewish state are war against neighbors, territorial conquest and the extirpation or subjugation of all non-Jewish peoples, then Sharon will be Hitler. When the mosques are burned and the minarets toppled and the babies thrown in the air and speared on bayonet point, Sharon will be Hitler.

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