Keeping it Classy at the National Review

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122 Responses

  1. Avatar Notm says:

    After reading the article, i have to ask if that’s the best you can come up with?Report

  2. Avatar Murali says:

    What is genuinely creepy about the article is the way they keep referring to Clinton as “Herself” and not as “HRC” or “Clinton” etc.

    Of course, Sander’s politics does lead you to an ugly place. Given that his family was murdered duing the holocaust it is amazingly stupid and ironic. There is a lot of racism and xenophobia he engages in, but none of it is anti-semetic per se (or at least not explicitly so). Given that I have little sympathy for his politics, I’m inclined to say that the shoe fits. (its not just a convenient mix of nation oriented socialism. Its the not so veiled xenophobia and racism as well, and especially that make the term, if not exactly accurate, not too far off the mark)Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Agree with Murali re: the references to Hilary Clinton.

    I’m not sure you read the article in full, as it explicitly addresses the issues with referring to not only a Jewish man, but one who had family die at the hands of the Nazis, as a National-Socialist. That doesn’t mean they definitively answered the question(s) associated with doing so or did so correctly. But if you are really wondering how “kosher” it was for them to do this, it seems reasonable for you to engage their stated reasons (in the linked article!) for choosing to do so.Report

    • Because it’s a hit piece, full of guilt by association, false equivalences, and general nonsense. Opposing Citizens United does not mean repealing the First Amendment. It was, after all, a 5-4 decision, and none of Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, or Sotomayor are Nazis. Blaming the banks for the financial meltdown of 2008 isn’t adopting a shadowy anti-Semitic conspiracy — it’s stating a fact.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        #not all banks
        but you knew that…Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I am certainly not arguing that the piece was appropriate. My point is that the writer attempted to engage with that and ultimately defended the piece within the piece. Saul should have engaged with that argument, even if only to present it here as part of the discussion.Report

  4. It’s pretty slimy stuff:

    * The “Herself” Murali mentioned, (Though honestly, I’d adore a piece about Trump that omitted his name in favor of “The Jackass”.)

    * You get the feeling that after a beer or three one of these characters is going to slip up and let out a “comrade.” Because liberals are all communists in disguise,

    * This is national socialism.

    Yup, in so many words.

    * our very large trade deficit with Sweden, which as a share of bilateral trade volume is not much different from our trade deficit with China

    Read more at:

    Williamson is actually smarter than that, though you wouldn’t know it from this piece.

    He is a clumsy speaker, pronouncing “oligarchy” — a word he uses in every speech — as though he were starting to say “à la mode.”

    I guess it’s OK to be prejudiced against Brooklyn accents. (Though only elitists make fun of W’s “nucular”.)Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Jonah Goldberg Era NR has been calling everyone a Nazi forever; liberal fascism and all that.Report

  6. Avatar Damon says:

    Not sure why a “conservative” site is doing a hit piece on Sanders. You’d think they want to play him up, if only to provide more challenge to HRC.Report

    • Avatar notme says:

      Maybe, It’s reverse psych. If conservatieves hate him then liberals will love him?Report

    • Avatar Paul says:

      Those on the right seem to be less tactical in their thinking in comparison to the left. National Review is under no illusions that they are capable of playing up Sanders in any way that matters, anyway; and they’re an ideological institution more than they’re a political one. They strongly disagree with Sanders on almost everything, so it’d be surprising if they didn’t lay out their criticisms.Report

  7. Avatar j r says:

    I ask this question anytime someone posts something like this: if the piece is so shitty, why link to it?

    What’s the value in saying look how shitty the other side can be?Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Lack of better things to talk about
      Talking about better things takes research.
      Bitching about stupid articles is just fun.Report

    • Avatar notme says:

      Is that a rhetorical question?Report

    • Avatar trizzlor says:

      Have we reached a consensus that NR is a slimy rag with so few scruples that it knowingly Nazi-baited a Jewish candidate because of his stance on trade agreements? Because I keep hearing that they’re a venerable conservative publication.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        Well, his stance on trade agreements is xenophobic and racist. He’s not advocating progroms but he is of similar ilk. And, given his response at Netroots Nation to #Blacklivesmatter, he might have a genuine racism problem as well. But he is the doyen of the far left…Report

        • Avatar trizzlor says:

          I’m just going to outsource this to the brats at Vox [ ] because I don’t think you actually want to get on board with the idea that having a protectionist trade policy kinda sorta makes someone a nazi.

          ( also, Williamson does a really cute “who me, I wasn’t callin’ anyone an actual nazi” pout in response to the linked article )Report

          • Avatar Murali says:

            1. As Williamson notes, Sanders’ opposition to trade seems to be limited to with Asian and South American countries. He’s perfectly fine with trading with European countries. This parallels to how racists on the right are fine with immigration from Europe but not from South America or Asia.

            2. Since I live in a country which a) is in Southeast Asia and b) has benefitted in the past by MNCs moving here for low taxes and cheap labour, I read “shipping our jobs to china” rhetoric as attempts to stoke panic and ill-feelings against people like me. Since places like the one in which I live are mentioned in a disparaging way, you bet your ass that sitting in my part of the world, a lot of protectionist rhetoric comes across as racist and xenophobic and the policies likewise sold by that rhetoric as motivated by such animus.Report

            • Avatar Mo says:

              As Williamson notes, Sanders’ opposition to trade seems to be limited to with Asian and South American countries. He’s perfectly fine with trading with European countries. This parallels to how racists on the right are fine with immigration from Europe but not from South America or Asia.

              I would note that part of this is due to the nature of how the trade with those countries happen. I am not familiar with situations where a manufacturing plant in the US is closed down and moved to Europe for cost (labor and environmental) savings. It’s basically the cousin of loss aversion. It’s more psychologically jarring to have a job that was here go overseas than it is for a job never to appear here.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Oh, my! Look who’s talking about genocide!
          … except you motherfucking haven’t thought a whit, and it’s nothing to fucking laugh about.
          Even kinder, gentler genocide…

          You must be so thankful that your politicians aren’t plotting ways to murder entire populations!!! Isn’t it fun living in a small country?Report

          • Avatar Glyph says:

            Oh no! The CIA has gotten to Kim’s comments!Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              The CIA comes with Bandoliers of Carrots!Report

            • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

              Am currently discussing this incident and the topic of how to handle such with the editors. Do you agree that Kim is a frequent offender against the site’s comment guidelines (and should knock it off)? Of course, you can still read the blacked out text in State of the Discussion, if you REALLY WANT TO.Report

              • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

                I think this is a good way to handle it, CK: still easily readable for anyone who wants to read it.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                Whoa. Whoa. Kim’s crazy outbursts are part of our shared heritage. You can’t just erase that! Besides, it’s part of her charm. You never know what you’ll get next!

                Also, you can read the blacked-out text just by highlighting it. Actually, could you apply that style to some rarely-used tag and let us use it in comments for spoiler text? Seems like it would be more convenient than rot13.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Actually, that’s a brilliant idea.

                And Kim’s outbursts are so short, random, and disconnected from anything to which they might be considered a reply that it’s hard to see them as anything other than a slightly thornier extension of her everyday, almost entirely benign nuttiness.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                That’s one non-javascript and non-rot13 way of doing (what’s called) a “spoiler.” (Which you may find confusing, since the objective of a spoiler is to avoid spoilers… but that’s life…)

                Could make it available from comment-editing and the post editing panel, but would also have to finagle with the SoD code to make it blacked out and non-spoilering there, too.

                However, as soon as I do that, then someone will come along and say that rot13 is a cherished tradition of the site… etc. But tuna ’em, I’ll see about it sometime.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                If it’s doable, I agree that it seems a nicer solution than rot13…Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                And to be clear, I object to her language – or to her speech act of attacking another commenter with foul language or “fighting words” – not to her opinions or thoughts.

                Since I also find that casual use of foul language – typically for cheap emphasis, by people with limited powers of self-expression, brought up in barns – tends to undermine standards of discussion generally and progressively, “broken windows” style, I don’t care for it either. (I’d really not like to see the word motherfucker” become part of “normal” speech here, and it’s verging on doing so. (I think it began with a certain post on moral reasoning (whose thesis I didn’t happen to agree with either, but that’s another topic (tho might actually be related, but we’re already digressing enough…))))Report

              • That is a heckuva good idea.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                OK, you should now all be able to spoil whatever you want to spoil when you feel like spoiling it in your comments. Will add to post and other editors soonish.

                Last’ll come making work in SOD – may be a tetch tricky.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I can’t believe you used the s-word on a classy site like this.

                Also, this is pretty FREE TOY SURPRISE awesome.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                He is a magician.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                Wow, this is FOIA-rific.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                testing something here that’s troublingReport

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Just FYI, on mobile Safari this doesn’t work great, due to the kludgy copy function/no right click/highlight there.

                That said, it’s no worse there than rot13 (and probably slightly better) since copypasting the whole block into notepad or equivalent reveals the hidden text with no other decryption required.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Damn Safari mobile! ::shakes fist:: ::realizes that’s Glyph’s job:: ::stops shaking fist::

                this is kindofa quickanddirty solution, though if I realized it didn’t work on mobile well (haven’t checked my Android), I might have held off and reconnoitered the terrain a bit.

                Can the Safari-disabled select the spoiled text, click “paste selection,” and reveal the de-spoiled result in his or her very own comment box?Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Even easier: just click quote comment button… don’t even need to selectReport

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Test long comment with spoilerific content to see how it shows up in SOD excerpt where, if you must know,■■■■ ALERT! THIS COMMENT CONTAINS SPOILERS ■■■ TEXT WILL BE BLACKED OUT, BUT EASY TO REVEAL BY HIGHLIGHTING – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED ■■■■ ■■■ tags get stripped during the process of rendering the excerpt, and I think all things considered this solution is most commenter-proof for now.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                ■ ■ (SPOILER OR OTHER CONTENT REDACTED ■■■ SPOILER TEXT BLACKED OUT, BUT EASY TO REVEAL BY HIGHLIGHTING OR COPY-PASTING ■■ SO, LIKE, BE CAREFUL OR SOMETHING ■■OK – now that (the part not showing in the comment thread) is bending over backwards, but it IS an easy solution to implement, and kind of an interesting experiment – even if probably people won’t use it very often, and for that matter will probably not even do it right… anyway at least doesn’t require me to re-write the SOD code….Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                Nice that the actual text is still there, so that those who are determined can find out what has actually been redacted.Report

            • Avatar Dave says:


              Better the CIA than me.Report

          • Avatar Dave says:


            The problem with Kim is that she really needs to learn the shut the fish up at times and despite being told repeatedly that she’s a repeat offender and having her head too far up her a– to realize it, we’re stuck with him/her/it.

            I wanted her gone from this place when I returned two years ago, but for some strange reason people actually like her. Freaking betas…Report

            • Avatar Chris says:

              I think one of the most interesting things about her is that both administrative warnings and social pressure have absolutely no effect on her whatsoever. She is in a sense completely asocial, an interpretation boosted by the fact that she rarely actually replies to anything anyone says, and regardless of whether she’s doing so she writes the bulk of her comments in a language that only she can understand. She remains, however, one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever encountered on the internet. If we’re around long enough, most of us start to look like manifestations of previously encountered types of people, but Kim? I don’t know what category to put her in, other than the Kim category. That’s rare.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                when I first started posting here, more than one person asked if I was BlaisePReport

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Blaise did share your taste for tall tales.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Enough of mine come with citations (granted, I’m often too lazy to pull ’em).

                And a miniature tornado (about as big as a large kitchen stove) dropped a rather large tree limb on my husband yesterday (broke a good deal of our fence, and some of our wall as well).Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Well, I hope he’s OK.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                What’s a heart attack or two among friends?Report

              • Avatar Bert The Turtle says:

                Honestly, I’ve always thought your posts sounded more like a reincarnation of mat0k0 ch4n (using 1337-speak to avoid the possibility that typing her name will summon her).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                (That’s kind of my theory too.)Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                I’ve wondered about that too – there are certain similarities, but also some differences.

                I will say that Kim is (generally) much mellower than MC was.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                I’ve known the commenter known here as “Matoko Chan” by other names: For a long time she was “strangelet” to me at my own site and at a “big” site, and I also knew her on Twitter. Kim’s got nothing to do with her, I’d reckon. Odd that very few comments from MC are available in the site archives, but maybe she was using an alternative spelling. The one lengthy comment I found used some of her favorite references and trademarks (like referring to our species as “homo sap”).

                A very peculiar individual, to say the least, was or is strangelet: Clearly very intelligent, but obsessive, repetitious, and very – insistently and aggressively – impolite: Not just given to foul language, but to other forms of verbal aggression. The last I had anything to do with her, she was quitting her latest much-blocked account in order, she said, to pursue her deepening involvement with Islam.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Have you killed a man in Africa?

                (That’s my favorite BlaiseP test).

                Also, can we get a sidebar list of all the problem commenters? I have simultaneously aspirations, and an idea for a fantasy draft.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                I killed a man down in Africa
                Gonna take some time to grab some things, go on the lam

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                And I got confused – I killed a nun; I can’t help the way I feel.

                Why is the last mile the hardest mile?Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              “people actually like her”
              … first time for everything, I suppose.Report

            • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

              As someone who has been treated as a “problem commenter” at this very site, I’m not really interested in characterizing Kim’s contributions in general or Kim as an individual. I’ll just say that, for me, personally, she’s far from my least favorite commenter, and I suspect we’ve all known true trolls in our time who were far less interesting and far more annoying, and I feel confident she won’t take that as a challenge! Her constant use of foul language does seem symptomatic, however, of the “expressive anti-social” syndrome that makes “trolls” so exasperating. It embodies disrespect and hostility, but is also overly familiar or pseudo-intimate. I’ve already referred to the way I think it tends to distort and undermine discussion, and that’s my main focus.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                I’d say my wanting to discuss Israel in a topic that’s about the Holocaust and Bernie Sanders is probably more poisonous to the actual discussion Saul meant to have.

                All backpats for the liberals, while Hitler laughs from his grave.
                … but if Saul wanted to be comfortable, he wouldn’t be posting about this.Report

        • Avatar j r says:

          Cannot and will not speak to Bernie Sanders motivations, but @murali has a point in noting that an opposition to free trade is xenophobic and a bit racist. And it is in many ways similar to opposition to immigration. From an economic standpoint, the movement of labor and capital across borders is largely the same thing. Lots of conservatives oppose the former, but are OK with the latter. And lots of progressives are OK with the former, but oppose the latter.

          The big difference between the two sides is that those conservatives don’t mind foreigners doing jobs that Americans could be doing, so long as they are doing them outside of America, whole those progressives don’t mind foreigners coming to America, but don’t want them doing those jobs in their home countries.Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            Opposition to free trade is xenophobic??? Well huh, that sounds like a big claim without any back up and also greatly simplified to avoid dealing with any difficult specifics.

            @murali This is really weak. Maybe you should try to expand this to a full post to explain how being opposed to free trade is racist and xenophobic because that isn’t, at best, really clear. Are there no trade barriers that might not be justifiable?Report

            • Avatar j r says:


              I made the claim quite clearly. If you don’t wish to address it, that’s your prerogative. The argument is there above in plain English.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                @jr Not seeing much of an argument but some simplistic stereotypes. Progressives don’t want poor people to work in their own countries??? Oh please, that is a shallow generalization with a generous dollop of wild extrapolation at best.

                Labor and capital are the same. Well except for being different things that is true. That really isn’t much of an argument. Make the argument if you wish, but that isn’t explaining much.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                OK, so we are going to do this thing where you demonstrate incredibly poor reading comprehension to try and make your point?

                Try it again and notice that I never said:

                Progressives don’t want poor people to work in their own countries???

                nor did I say:

                Labor and capital are the same.

                What I said was:

                From an economic standpoint, the movement of labor and capital across borders is largely the same thing.

                Notice how the qualifications I made make what you claim that I said different from what I actually said?

                Since, you are having a hard time parsing a relatively simple argument, I’ll state it again: whether you are opposing immigration to the United States or the free flow of foreign made goods into the United States, you are still expressing the belief that foreign workers ought not be doing jobs that American workers ought to be doing. The only difference is whether foreigners are doing those jobs here or in their own countries.

                Again, if you disagree with the argument that I am actually making, fine. Please tell me where I have gotten it wrong. Just do not do that thing where you present a mangled version of what I’ve said and pretend that you’re incapable of understanding the real argument.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                JR, well you did say “those progressives don’t mind foreigners coming to America, but don’t want them doing those jobs in their home countries.”

                Well that is a bit more fleshed out. Opposing the free flow of goods in does not imply anybody doesn’t think foreigners shouldn’t be doing some job. It is more complex than that.

                One argument for some tariffs is that other countries give support to certain industries, Airbus as an example, so imposing trade limits or some such is a way of helping US companies who don’t have that same advantage. I don’t think this is a great argument at all, but the concept is clearly not “those foreigners shouldn’t be working.” Or limiting imports to prevent a US industry from being destroyed is not really the same at “those foreigners shouldn’t be working.” I think you are using very simplified statements that miss a fair amount of complexity.

                There is big leap from protecting US jobs/limiting what foreign goods can be imported to saying “The only difference is whether foreigners are doing those jobs here or in their own countries.”

                Okay you qualified the labor and capital are the same statement. Of course saying they are the same would be silly. But what is the point then, since they aren’t?Report

              • Avatar j r says:


                Nowhere have I said that opposing free trade is akin to not wanting foreigners to have jobs. Opposing immigration is not akin to not wanting foreigners to have jobs. What they both have in common is a belief that there are certain jobs to which Americans have a higher moral claim than foreigners.

                Here is a quote from John Kerry during his 2004 run for the Presidency:

                Instead of George Bush’s raw deal, we need a real deal that stands up to the powerful interests. That’s built on people and products not privileges and perks. And that closes every loophole for the Benedict Arnold companies that ship jobs overseas.

                The underlying implications are quite clear. There are jobs that rightly belong to Americans and when companies take actions that result in those jobs being done by foreigners, they are betraying America.Report

              • Bu the same logic, it’s xenophobic and racist not to allow foreigners to vote in American electionsReport

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Not allowing certain Americans to vote in local elections is simply prudent.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                For what it’s worth, I’ve heard people make the serious argument (or the internet’s version of the serious argument) that the role of President of the US is so important that people in other countries should have a say in who is chosen and, therefore, should be allowed to vote for him or her.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                Bu the same logic, it’s xenophobic and racist not to allow foreigners to vote in American elections

                Yes, a country which allowed foreigners to vote in their elections would, by definition, be more cosmopolitan than a country which did not. So, a country which does not maintain that certain jobs ought to be filled by citizens and residents is more cosmopolitan than a country that does maintain those protections.

                This is not a question a right or wrong, but a question of location on the scale between completely cosmopolitan and unconcerned with borders and national origins on one end and completely xenophobic and jingoistic on the other end.Report

            • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

              Having borders at all, or requirements for citizenship, is to make an exception in favor of one’s own, secured against others. In some ideal sense it is “xenophobic,” and is likely a species of “racism,” or originates in the same place. That is not to say that it is “wrong,” unless any position that is not perfectly egalitarian and liberal-universalist is wrong – which would make total divestment of possessions and pure pacifism up to and including refusal of self-defense the only right. Hardly anyone is or can be “right” in that sense consistently – which is why Williamson’s argument qualifies as sophomoric, since by logical extension “we’re all Nazis,” including Murali and Williamson and certainly including Williamson’s colleagues and editors.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                So to shorten JR’s point:

                “Well, liberals think countries are a THING that EXISTS”.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                You are getting there, but for whatever reason you have declined to complete the thought, which is that the specific form of anti-free trade argument to which I am referring hinges on the belief that:

                Countries are a thing that exist. The existence of countries creates two classes of people: residents and foreigners. With respect to jobs and certain kinds of economic activity, we have an obligation to privilege the interests of residents over the interests of foreigners.

                Personally, I reject that belief. It’s fine if you don’t, but just recognize the repercussions.

                Also, I nowhere said that “liberals think X.”Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Well, most real-existing “liberals” still hold on to patriotism in some way, somewhere, but in a philosophical sense the underlying impetus of ideal universal liberalism/libertarianism is anti-patriotic. If “all people are created equal,” then the distinction American vs (fill in the blank) is a false distinction or a distinction to be overcome. Or some would say that the true, original Americanism, the true Americanism of Jefferson and company, was anti-patriotic and anti-nationalist in this radically Whig sense.Report

            • Avatar Murali says:


              See my reply above to @trizzlorReport

              • Avatar greginak says:

                @murali I guess that is fair enough as far as it goes. Of course European countries don’t pay workers pennies on the dollar compared to saleries in the US. They also have higher taxes and social welfare systems, so they aren’t treating workers poorly. Euro countries are getting “our jobs” in the same way other countries maybe. I used an example of Airbus above. US companies asked for help to compete with the government supported Airbus. Was that cynical since the US companies get plenty of help, well yeah, but it is an example of complaints about euro countries. Other US industries have asked for tariffs or protections from euro industries.

                I can see a point depending how the complaints are phrased. Certainly there is plenty of very thinly veiled racism against Latinos throughout strains of US politics ( hiya Mr Trump). But being for some trade protections doesn’t seem xenophobic or racist on its own. That was what i was responding to. Equating any limits on unrestrained free trade as xenophobia is unsubstantiated by your post to trizzlor. But there is certainly plenty of sleazy commentary about other countries when talking about some of them. On that i agree.Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                “Of course European countries don’t pay workers pennies on the dollar compared to saleries in the US.”

                I would be very curious as to how that plays out between white European workers vs. Turkish, Algerian, Chadian, Pakistani etc. workers.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                One of the first things that occurred to me while reading Williamson’s piece was failure to account for wage and other differentials. China is different from Sweden not just because of skin colors or “races,” but for good economic reasons, but they are very difficult to address successfully. Much easier just to sum up as “what’s rightfully ours is being stolen from us.”

                In classical socialist rhetoric, the villains would be the bosses, of course, but even our token socialists shy away from that kind of thing. I don’t know whatever else Sanders may have said, but the salience of the “shipping jobs to China [and other non-Euorpean countries]” argument from both a traditional socialist perspective and from a new social movements era perspective is that with Sweden and other social democratic countries “fair” competition or “more fair” competition is possible, or, put differently, the capitalists don’t benefit from dumping pollution and exploiting workers in Sweden due to Swedish protections for the environment and workers.

                Unfortunately, it doesn’t appeal directly to self-interest to say “When I’m President I’m going to press for higher wages for Chinese workers and environmental protection in China.” At the same time, if we defined parity as the sine qua non of fairness, then the “global test” would equate with a dramatic reduction in living standards for American and Swedish workers. So, Sanders is left with some version of “socialism for us, but not including them” or “socialism in this country – forget the others,” which resembles the Stalinist “socialism in one country,” which in turn resembles “national socialism” in theory and, arguably, in actual tendency (i.e., vastly expanded powers of the state).Report

          • Avatar LWA says:

            Who is opposed to “free trade”?
            I know plenty of people who are opposed to trade agreements that favor certain entrenched interests at the expense of others.

            I refuse to accept the assumption that a massive volume of thousands of rules and regulations governing international contracts and using the coercive power of governments to protect certain classes of property is in any way “free trade”.

            I especially refuse to accept the assumption that this all is being done to serve the interests of the global poor.Report

            • Avatar j r says:


              I made a very simple limited claim about the preference for Americans to have certain jobs over foreigners having those jobs. That’s it. The rest is another conversation.Report

              • Avatar LWA says:

                progressives don’t mind foreigners coming to America, but don’t want them doing those jobs in their home countries.

                Presumably you mean that you think we don’t want people in Bangladesh to assemble cars?
                Do you seriously think that’s our preferred state of affairs?Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                I didn’t make the claim about all progressives or about all foreigners or about all jobs. Again, how about a little bit of reading comprehension?

                I am pointing out that the anti-immigrant position, which is opposed to foreigners coming to the United States and taking American jobs, is the same form of argument as the anti-free trade position which opposes U.S. corporations moving jobs to other countries in that they both express a preference that Americans have a prior claim on certain jobs that ought to keep those jobs from being done by foreigners. Whether those jobs are being done here or there does not alter the underlying moral calculation.

                This is not a claim about all anti-immigrant positions or about all anti- free trade positions, but a claim about a specific position that many hold.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                The point doesn’t hold due to the devil in the details; but you knew that.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                I know no such thing, so maybe you should elaborate.

                ps – I have to say that the “but you knew that” is one of the least useful appendages that one can add to any argument. It adds nothing but snark. And in this case, it’s snark not backed up by any semblance of an actual argument.Report

      • NR: slimy rag or flagship publication of movement conservatism?Report

    • Avatar trizzlor says:

      And for that matter, let’s look at L’Affaire Derb, who now writes his toxic screeds from the comfort of a personal web-site, and now no one here talks about him the present tense.Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

      Converting Bernie Sanders into a Holocaust victim because his father’s family was murdered in Poland, thus rendering Williamson’s argument “un-kosher,” strikes me as a stretch, especially since the main problem with Williamson’s argument isn’t its inaccuracy but its sophomoric banality: Jonah Goldberg was not the first, by a long shot, on the further-right to argue that a movement on the further-left was – shockingly! – seeking to appeal simultaneously to the two pillars of National Socialism.

      The problem we have is that “fascism” and “national socialism” in their moment spoke to powerful impulses that can be channeled in different directions and given different names, but are universal. There is no significant politics that is not an appeal to “care for our own, secured against others.” If we interpret the terms broadly, all political success in modern mass societies will appear to be fascist and national socialist successes, very much including the victory over the Nazi and fascist powers.

      At the same time, no general recognition of the superficiality and injustice of Williamson’s approach will prevent someone, somewhere, at some site you like and maybe even this one, from comparing the next GOP convention to the Nuremberg rallies, a quadrennial tradition for as long as I’ve been reading coverage of GOP conventions.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I think there has been an attempt on the right-wing in the past few years to portray Nazism/National Socialism as a left-wing rather than a right-wing ideology.

        This is absurd. There are plenty of people on the left who describe themselves as anti-communist and even anti-socialist. Neither has tried to do this kind of jedi mind trick stuff where they convince themselves that communism and/or socialism are not left-wing philosophies.Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

          Oh, absolutely there has been such an attempt. So far as I can tell, it is entirely successful within the echo chamber, though not widely appreciated outside. This is in precisely the same vein as the argument that blacks should vote Republican because Lincoln. It is hard to tell on the internet if someone is making an argument with a straight face, but this is a fairly common argument in some circles. A related argument is that Martin Luther King Jr. was a 21st century small government free market Republican, but that is a harder sell.

          What I find most interesting about the “Nazis were lefties” claim is that I have seen it espoused by righties who clearly have a self-image of being intellectual and historically informed. Such is the power of ideology and mental compartmentalization.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


            That is what I am saying. The right-wing frequently argues that Fascism and Nazism were left-wing movements.* I have yet to see liberals, even anti-communist and anti-socialist Democratic centerists, argue that Communism and Socialism are actually right-wing political philosophies.

            The “no enemies on the right” view point causes some need to discard the most disreputable and rebrand them as left-wingers.

            *The one thing I will say that in Europe it seems more common to refer to parties as having wings. We don’t always do that here or we do it to a more limited extent. The classic examples are the fights in the UK Labour Party where someone like Gaitskill or Blair was described as being on the right-wing of the Labour Party and people like Nye Bevan, Harold Wilson, Michael Foot, and Tony Been were always part of various Keep Left factions.Report

            • Avatar aaron david says:

              Out of curiosity @saul-degraw what would you say ties the nazi ideology to “right-wing ideology?”

              I am generally of the opinion that the particular ideology in question doesn’t really apply to US politics, but that both parties use it indiscriminately to tar their opponents. If it applies at all it seems to apply equally to both parties, at least to me. I could think of specific actions that seem facisitic, such as increased police presence or ties of gov’t to corporations, but again, could find examples on both sides of the fence.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


                There were plenty of Americans including leading Republicans and Republican donors who were at least very cozy to the Nazis. I am thinking of Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford. There was also the very pro-Nazi German American Bund.

                The NSDAP emerged from the right-wing and anti-democratic Freikorps, DAP, and German Fatherland Party. The early financial backers were German bankers and industrialists and old Prussian Junkers who opposed Weimar and various democratic representative reforms. Their biggest foe was the Communists. They generally aligned themselves with right-wing parties/mainstream conservative parties to grow.Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:


                Uhm, you do know that Ford was a Democrat, right? “President Woodrow Wilson asked Ford to run as a Democrat for the United States Senate from Michigan in 1918. Although the nation was at war, Ford ran as a peace candidate and a strong supporter of the proposed League of Nations.[17] Ford was defeated in a close election by the Republican candidate, Truman Newberry, a former United States Secretary of the Navy.”

                I can’t find any solid connection between the Bund and the R’s, which isn’t to say that there isn’t one, but that it isn’t obvious. Lindbergh does seem to be highly sympathetic to them, but looking through his wiki page the only politics I can see him being steadfast about was the America First party, which was anti-war, but it does look like he was a defender of the Nazi’s. And while he did run against Roosevelt, he was not the Republican candidate, Philip Roth’s fears not withstanding.

                European left/right doesn’t seem (to me at least) generally applicable to US politics, as many of the motivations manifest differently (land, communism, religion.)

                Non of which doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a connection between the US right and Nazism, but I think just as strong a case could be made with the Lefts emphasis on centralised economic reforms and Progressive support for Eugenics

                All of which is a long way of saying that no matter ones politics, the other is the real Nazi.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                The Republican connection with Nazis was strengthened and deepened after WW2, when a lot of Nazi gentry wound up in this country. Bush’s clan in particular grew up around a lot of former nazis.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Brin says that fascism is a disease of the center, not of right or left. Authoritarian, but center…Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

                If you have access to newspaper archives, look up the Bund rallies. These ran from 1938 or so through 1940. Some of the incidents were pretty amusing, really. There was one in New Jersey where the Communists took over the rally and the Bund crowd had to make a run for it. Next look at who else the Volksbund considered their enemy: They loathed Roosevelt. One report talks about how the speaker called him “Franklin Rosenfeld,” clearly thinking this a devastating snap.

                If you want to argue that the Bund were a bunch of lefties, you will find yourself arguing that Roosevelt was a rightie. Knock yourself out.

                A somewhat more coherent argument would be that things have changed between then and now such that you can’t really map ideologies from then with those of today. This isn’t a great argument, if only because we are constantly refighting the New Deal battles. But it is less bad.

                But if you want an example of close mapping between issues of today and the 1930s, consider the recurring theme of blaming an ethnic minority for society’s ills. Which minority gets the blame changes, but the underlying ideology is the same.Report

              • Avatar aarondavid says:

                “A somewhat more coherent argument would be that things have changed between then and now such that you can’t really map ideologies from then with those of today.”

                That is a part of my argument, along with the fact that both sides of the fence often did things that were fascist. Saying that the Bund was right wing solely because they opposed Roosevelt is as bad an argument as saying Libertarians are right wing because they oppose the ACA. Sure, it is an argument, but it would take a lot of work that hasn’t been done to prove.

                As far as blaming ethnic minorities in the 30’s and 40’s, I can’t look farther than Roosevelt’s internment policies to see how that argument plays out. Also, as Murali and JR point out there are current policies on the left regarding trade and with what countries that can be easily classified as racist.

                My point is that both sides can point to the Nazis, say “look, they are just like team red/blue” and have concrete examples to back them up. Saying that the Bund was closer to the right (entirely possible) in the 30’s and 40’s while ignoring many actions on the left does not make the case.Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

                I don’t consider libertarian ideology right wing. I consider libertarians to be effectively right wing in that most people nowadays who self-identify as “libertarian” end up pulling the lever for the guy with the “R” after his name, regardless.

                The Japanese internment was a different sort of wrongness than picking some minority and blaming them for everything bad.Report

        • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

          If we try to account for all of the contradictions, inconsistencies, and outright nonsense in people’s political self-descriptions, we’ll never have any discussion at all. Nazism included among other things the attempt to overthrow the political order which the left-right spectrum was created to interpret: a classic “Third Way” movement in many respects. For the American anti-statist right, the key component of fascism that fascism shares with (social) liberalism, or left-liberalism, or leftism, is “statism” or, as they also sometimes say, “statolatry.” In the European context, the configuration of available social and political forces was different, even if many patterns or themes and variations end up being copied back and forth, sometimes in unexpected ways.Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

            A libertarian, or better yet an anarchist, could construct a coherent scheme in which Nazis and socialists subsets of the group “statists.” This is not the same thing as Nazis and socialists being the same group. In the present-day context, where self-identified libertarians (and yes, anarchists) are effectively a faction within the Republican Party, this ends up as a claim that Democrats are a bunch of Nazis. I have no qualms about pointing and laughing.Report

            • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

              Richard Hershberger: A libertarian, or better yet an anarchist, could construct a coherent scheme in which Nazis and socialists subsets of the group “statists.”

              Not sure how much time you’ve spent walking on the wild side politically, but the position of American conservatives, especially conservative intellectuals and especially at NR, is that this “coherent scheme” is what the Republican Party or the conservative movement as a whole, not just its nominally “libertarian” faction, is really about. Statism is the “history” that Buckley was yelling “Stop!” at. American conservatism was to be the refuge of anti-statism in the aftermath of WW2, which marked, historically, the final catastrophe of the old European liberalism and the full conversion of its American counterpart into social liberalism or state liberalism, with liberal internationalism defining its orientation toward the rest of the world. The ejection of the Birchers, Randites, latter-day America Firsters, and extreme ideological libertarians meant that NR conservatives could yell Stop! at the Roosevelt state and reject European socialism, without equating either with the Soviet state or the Third Reich, but while still situating them all on the same spectrum. From this perspective the USSR and the Third Reich showed many significant common features, and pointing them out was a major project of the Buckley right. Meanwhile, the Democrats were engaged in their own long drawn-out re-definition, completing the movement begun with Wilson, if not with Jackson, defining themselves as the party of government and especially of the federal government. Numerous contradictions remain, but American liberal democratic constitutionalism is as much about managing and preserving them as about resolving them.Report

        • Avatar j r says:

          There are plenty of people on the left who describe themselves as anti-communist and even anti-socialist. Neither has tried to do this kind of jedi mind trick stuff where they convince themselves that communism and/or socialism are not left-wing philosophies.

          No, but there are plenty of people on the left who have pointed out the similarities between right-wingers and radical Islamicists. There is definitely something similar at work between fascism and communism in that they both tend towards authoritarianism. In fact, when you look at how fascist and communist regimes take and hold power, their methods are remarkably similar. Further, fascism and communism are similar in that they are largely based on reductionism. Fascists tend to reduce everything down to the supremacy of some particular nationalistic or ethnic identity. Communists reduce everything down to class dynamics, the ascendancy of the proletarian class.

          That said, there are intelligent ways to talk about these similarities and ways that are mostly just about tribal warfare.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

          There are plenty of people on the left who describe themselves as anti-communist and even anti-socialist. Neither has tried to do this kind of jedi mind trick stuff where they convince themselves that communism and/or socialism are not left-wing philosophies.

          That’s not a valid analogy. Nazism isn’t really an example of an extreme-right ideology in the same sense that revolutionary socialism is an example of an extreme-left ideology. The mainstream of the Democratic party has never embraced full-on socialism, but a nontrivial fraction of the American left did. Eugene V. Debs won 6% of the vote in 1912, and the Socialist presidential candidate won over 2% as recently as 1932. Throughout much of the Cold War, prominent public leftists acted as apologists for revolutionary socialist governments.

          Even today, Sanders explicitly identifies as a socialist. Is there any elected politician anywhere who self-identifies as a Nazi? I frequently see left-wing but still relatively mainstream Democrats lamenting the fact that us stupid Americans don’t understand that socialism isn’t such a bad thing. Can’t say I’ve ever seen anything similar with Republicans and Nazism or fascism.

          To the best of my knowledge, the American right has never really had the kind of relationship with fascism and Nazism that the American left has had with socialism and communism. And really, when it comes to economic policy, they were arguably more left than right, at least by the standards of the time, when Congressional Republicans were trying in vain to hold back Roosevelt’s and the Democrats’ unprecedented expansion of government control over the economy.Report

          • Is there any elected politician anywhere who self-identifies as a Nazi?

            David Duke. When he ran for office it was as a Republican, and not to uniform disdain from other the voters or the party.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            “To the best of my knowledge, the American right has never really had the kind of relationship with fascism and Nazism that the American left has had with socialism and communism.”

            I think that might be a tad revisionist, and in both directions.

            In the 1920s and 1930s, there was in fact a lot of support on the US and British slight-fringes for all of the European fascists, many of whom got caught up in the dream those fascists painted. Which, really, is pretty much exactly what happened with other slight-fringes in the US and Brittain with the communist revolutions.

            As I recall, the biggest common-denominator factor that separated those American and British slight-fringes that fell for the communists dreams as opposed to the fascist dreams was wealth.Report

            • Avatar j r says:

              This is an interesting point. One can wonder if, in an alternate history where European fascism had been unencumbered by such a madman as Hitler, would German and Italian fascists have been content to consolidate rule at home and not try to conquer all of Europe, like Franco’s Spain, for instance. In that case, would fascism have become a personally acceptable political orientation among certain U.S. political factions? Would the fascists have become our allies against the Soviet bloc? Conservatives in the United States certainly had no problem supporting right wing authoritarianism in any number of countries as part of the Cold War.

              In the 1930s, lots of people across the political spectrum were enamored with the idea of corporatist government and top-down control of the economy. The chaos of WWI and the Depression made a lot of people wish for strong leaders who could give voice to the will of the people and make things happen without all of the distractions of fully participatory democracy and market mechanisms.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                I’m pretty sure Roosevelt was the fascist choice in America at the time — not too crazy, but left enough that they wouldn’t need to use those shiny machine guns on their mansions (bonus points if you can name the mansion).

                Fascist, in this sense, is explicitly “not the German or anti-German faction” (as those were more based on ethnicity)Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      @j-r I often agree with this sentiment, even if I do sometimes do it myself.

      Still, it seems like in this case Saul asked what is, actually, a pretty interesting question — especially in this era of vitriolic identity politics.

      That no one seems interested in focusing on Saul’s actual question hardly seems Saul’s fault.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod says:


        I did address Saul’s point, though we could devote a little more time to all of the reasons that being the son of someone whose “family died in the Holocaust” doesn’t offer much of a shield against a “drawing of implications” of this general type. The taboo has been violated too many times, including by being clumsily invoked, to retain its former power, and its existence has also rarely restrained those on the further-left, more or less in Sanders’ vicinity, from aiming similar charges against Jews on the right, especially Israelis and Israel’s defenders.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        When you start with “Keeping it classy at…” it makes me think that the question is rhetorical. Perhaps I am getting too caught up on the title, though.

        The real issue for me is that this seems like the internet of equivalent of handing someone a cartoon of passed milk and asking “doesn’t this smell terrible?” From Saul’s post, I have no idea whether there is something resembling an interesting or coherent argument in the NRO piece or this is purely about scoring partisan points by pointing out how terrible the other team is. Some more context in the post would help let me know which.Report

  8. Avatar Mo says:

    I frequently finding myself mutter, “JFC what an a-hole,” whenever I read a Kevin Williamson article, even when I agree with him. His writing seems to be designed to appeal to the exact same part of the conservative id that Trump appeals to.Report