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I Was the Target of a Fox News Hoax

When I was asked to address a conference at Brandeis, a right-wing shock jock created a hoax to stir up the right. Then Glenn Beck ran with it.

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The work of Fritzsche and others on voting patterns in Weimar Germany demonstrates that in the late 1920s Hitler's Nazi Party was able to exploit the fears of exasperated middle class voters by promising to fix a broken economic and political system.

After the First World War Yeats wrote in his poem "The Second Coming" :

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold...

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Most right-wing populist movements never become fascist, and most fascist movements never gain state power; but the turmoil created in these volatile periods can undermine civil society, and harm the individuals targeted as scapegoats.

Even if you think my presentation is hogwash, please understand that no one at Brandeis and no panelist here today, including me, ever meant to suggest that the Tea Party movement was the equivalent of the Nazi Party. We all thought that was obvious.

A simple Internet search would have demonstrated that I have repeatedly condemned the trivialization, mockery, and name-calling aimed at the participants in the Tea Party movement.

For media demagogues to exploit the agony of the Holocaust for political gain and to attract personal attention is offensive to this audience, the Brandeis community, Jews around the world, and every decent person on this planet.

You may disagree with everything I said here today, but know that the point of conferences like this is to ensure we have learned the horrible lessons of the Nazi genocide, and continuously explore it from a variety of perspectives. And I hope all of us here today can agree on one point... Never Again!

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This post is my personal rant (see, for example going Santelli) . It does not in any way represent the views of my employer, my freelance editors, or the many subversive pinko human rights groups to which I belong or support as a board member or advisor.

More on right-wing populism is here

Chip Berlet, senior analyst at Political Research Associates, is editor of the book, Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash (South End Press).

 
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