Anti-Fascist Super Heroes


Freddie deBoer used to blog at, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

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36 Responses

  1. Roque Nuevo says:

    bankrupt pieces of Auto-Text dross that accomplish little other than fulfilling Hitchens’s only real imperative, celebrating his own righteousness.

    As this phrase illustrates, your whole peice is an exercise of the burro hablando de orejas.Report

    • Freddie in reply to Roque Nuevo says:

      As usual I’d be more impressed by your opinion if I actually thought you had read the post.Report

      • Roque Nuevo in reply to Freddie says:

        Is this good enough for you? It has as much textual support as your original screed against Hitchens. Hitchens has many faults, like most people, and you don’t have to agree with him. But he has paid his dues as a reporter and knows the Middle East/Persian Gulf first-hand. He doesn’t just sit around writing about what bloggers write about what he writes, ad infinitum, like you do:

        If you see Freddie, tell him with my love and a kiss that if he were some tiny fraction of the writer or person that Hitchens is, he’d perhaps have a little justification for that galactic ego of his. Hitchens has produced powerful reportage and polemics concerning totalitarianism and genocide. Freddie has produced dozens of near-identical, argumentatively empty bits of self-fellatio that rage against neo cons and those who question the righteousness of of his hideous and retrograde opinions,, bankrupt pieces of Auto-Text dross that accomplish little other than fulfilling Freddie’s only real imperative, celebrating his own righteousness.


  2. Michael Drew says:

    Wow. This is some shit that seriously needed to be said. If Hitchens were ever to see it, he’d know in his heart he just got flayed even as he was dismissing you as a nobody in his frontal lobes. Kudos.

    One note: at ‘disclaims,’ might you mean ‘declaims’?Report

  3. Chris Dierkes says:

    Bravo. That was some dope shit brother.

    Do we know any design people who could come up with some awesome mockable anti-fascist superhero costumes for our valiant warriors?Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    “The first is Rosenbaum’s strange notion that most evil in the world is done by people aware that they are doing evil.”

    I think that there’s something to be said for this, however. If people start saying things like “sacrifices must be made” or “you can’t make an omelette without breaking any eggs” or similar… well, that’s a warning sign that the speaker knows something is amiss.

    Another thing to watch out for is if, I dunno, you’re standing over Trotsky with an ice axe in your hand and someone calls you on it and you point out that the Capitalists are killing millions… well… that’s a warning sign too.

    If you are covering up stuff like “deaths of millions in famines” and calling the people who discuss them “liars” and “propagandists”, that’s a warning sign.

    Maybe you think that there’s a greater good that you’re working toward and the only way out of Hell is through it or what have you… but the second you find accuracy to be an enemy and you keep finding yourself with broken eggs without an omelette…

    Those are warning signs that the speaker/doer knows that he is doing something wrong.

    Shame is a spectacular indicator.Report

    • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

      I’m not particularly disagreeing with you, but I think True Belief eliminates shame and insight and humanity in general.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        True Belief that sees accurate depictions of what is going on as an enemy will eventually crack and fall.

        Heliocentrism fell by the wayside (Galileo wrote Kepler bitching about cosmological philosophers who refused to look into a telescope).
        Sadly, I’m still waiting for the Pulitzer people to revoke Duranty’s prize… maybe next year.Report

      • Bob in reply to greginak says:

        I read Rosenbaum’s “Explaining Hitler” when it was newly published. As I recall he made the argument there that Hitler was convinced of his own “rectitude.”Report

    • Reason60 in reply to Jaybird says:

      Steve Menashi:
      …“’the banality of evil’ at least captures the reality that people sometimes, if not usually, commit evils without the full knowledge that their actions are evil or the full intention to perpetrate evil acts ”

      I would agree with this thought, that most evil IS done by those who believe they are acting out of good. The entire Arendt/ Heidegger affair sounds to this layperson’s ears like a skirmish over intellectual bragging rights within the academic collective.
      But the thing that makes this so relevant (for me) is its relationship to the current frenzied partisan battles, such as the Stupak Amendment, or the Hasan killings.
      I am placing more and more faith in the conservatism of doubt, when I see the rigid win-at-all-cost attitudes on both sides, the notion that the “Other Side” is not merely wrong, but profoundly evil, and are warranting any manner of contempt and treatment.
      This is the narcotic pleasure of being a Anti-Fascist Super Hero; that all humanity is drained from our enemies, that the normal codes of decency and compassion are lifted, and we can canonize ourselves with the special grace that comes from being in the cause of Justice.
      Yes, I understand the perils of relativism; pointing out that Peter denied Christ doesn’t make him exactly the same as the Devil; and acts can be classified as pure evil, even if people can’t.
      But I know for a fact that in my life I have done bad, even if on a small scale; yet not once did I believe at the time it was wrong. Arendt’s phrase is helpful in forcing us to be introspective, and examine our own actions.Report

  5. EngineerScotty says:

    Reading this post, I’m somehow reminded of Salieri being wheeled through the asylum, granting abolution to his fellow inmates as he heads off to the bath, finally coming to accept that he is not Mozart.

    (An interesting question, though, perhaps for another thread: Who ARE, exactly, twenty-first century America’s great thinkers? Certainly, none of them are employed by any mainstream political publication, least of all Slate…)Report

  6. JosephFM says:

    Can we throw Marty Peretz in with them too?Report

  7. A.R.Yngve says:

    Beware of the lure of “Purity”: the seductive notion that it is not good enough to be human — one must be “Pure.”

    Of course, no one is Pure. It’s an abstract concept. We are all flawed. We all sleep, eat, lie, s**t and die (including: Ghandi, Elle McPherson and you and me). But you will come across the kind of person who will put down anyone who fails the “Purity Test.”

    This person may actually be right in an objective sense, and still… he/she rubs you the wrong way. Deep down, you suspect he/she is expressing thinly veiled, poisonous bitterness.

    Authors should be particularly wary of “Purity”…Report

  8. Francis says:

    Here’s my game. Name three 20th century thinkers, from different fields, you think that people will know of immediately in a 100 years’ time. I’ll start with:


    • Murali in reply to Francis says:

      I wouldnt put FDR inside. If your not american, you dont follow american politics etc you wont know FDR from teddy roosevelt. It may just be my philo background, but John Rawls is a better candidate. If you say things like public reason etc, a lot of people would know what youre talking about. (especially if you’ve been exposed to at least some liberals)Report

    • Katherine in reply to Francis says:


  9. angullimala says:

    This reminds me of Slacktivist’s “Anti Kitten-Burning Coalition”

    Those letters and comments were uniformly and universally opposed to kitten-burning. Opinon on that question was unanimous and vehement.

    But here was the weird part: Most of the commenters and letter-writers didn’t seem to notice that they were expressing a unanimous and noncontroversial sentiment. Their comments and letters were contentious and sort of aggressively defensive. Or maybe defensively aggressive. They were angry, and that anger didn’t seem to be directed only at the kitten-burners, but also at some larger group of others whom they imagined must condone this sort of thing.

    If you jumped into the comments thread and started reading at any random point in the middle, you’d get the impression that the comments immediately preceding must have offered a vigorous defense of kitten-burning. No such comments offering any such defense existed, and yet reader after reader seemed to be responding to or anticipating this phantom kitten-burning advocacy group.

    But one also came away from reading that thread with the sense that people seemed to think this ultra-minimal moral stance made them exceptional and exceptionally righteous. Like the earlier editorial writers, they seemed to think they were exhibiting courage by taking a bold position on a matter of great controversy. Whatever comfort might be gleaned from the reaffirmation that most people were right about this non-issue issue was overshadowed by the discomfiting realization that so many people also seemed to want or need most others to be wrong.

    The kitten-burners seem to fulfill some urgent need. They give us someone we can clearly and correctly say we’re better than. Their extravagant cruelty makes us feel better about ourselves because we know that we would never do what they have done. They thus function as signposts of depravity, reassuring the rest of us that we’re Not As Bad As them, and thus letting us tell ourselves that this is the same thing as us being good.

    I oppose kitten-burning AND murderous totalitarianism.

    Gaze with wonder upon my moral seriousness!!!Report

  10. Bob says:

    “If you can’t generate gravity through the usual methods of intellectual and moral responsibility, then you can just grab hold of some of the saddest and most terrible moments of human history, and squeeze out importance and pathos like juice from an orange– and the only cost is that you are reducing human loss to fuel for careerism.”

    What are these banal, “usual methods,” you speak of?Report

  11. Oh my God, Arendt quoted anti-Semites in a book about totalitarianism? That would be like quoting racists in a book about slavery!Report

  12. peterb says:

    But…but…but…Gunther Grass *IS* a hypocritical moralizing blowhard.Report