TNR/Blog fascism smackdown

News & Politics

Lee Siegel, blogging at The New Republic, has joined the battle against the blogs and the millions who read them.

"The battle," in short, goes like this:

There is a google group of liberal/progressive bloggers, journalists and others who share ideas, argue, make suggestions, etc.

A New Republic blogger by the name of Jason Zengerle got a hold of some of these emails and made them public, purporting to show that Kos had dictatorial control over the liberal/prog blogs.

Zengerle continued to publish these emails claiming to have three sources from the list, unwittingly publishing an email that was never sent by anyone on the list. Zengerle acknowledges this, though he won't reveal how he came by a false email.

The fact that his "three sources" all let a fabricated email slip by is unaccounted for. Hmph.

Enter Lee Siegel, with a comical and head-smacking bloggers-are-fascists post. He cites comments, emails -- which was it? from whom? -- that insult him to support his charge. I'll let James Wolcott speak to this post, a follow up of an earlier one claiming that bloggers are fascists:

Unfortunately, he has followed that up with an even ill'er thought out post, putting his foot in it up to his hip socket. His attempt to enlarge the frame of his argument and isolate the fascist gene that makes the Kossacks and their ilk so dangerous to democracy and discourse is an embarrassing display of smarmy sophistry the likes of which I haven’t seen since Jonah Goldberg last tried to form a serious, non-Captain Kirk thought. Siegel begins by recounting some of the vile insults and suggestions he received after his first post. It’s no fun being at the receiving end of one of these pile-ons. I’ve been the subject of threads on some of the rightwing sites where no aspect of my well-crafted persona went unvilified; it’s true that there are a lot of gnomes lying in the weeds out there spreading fumes. But there’s quite a difference between mouthy malcontents and fascist fodder, a distinction lost on Siegel, who absurdly writes,
'Two other traits of fascism are its hatred of the processes of politics, and the knockabout origins of its adherents. Communism was hatched by elites. Fascism was born along the drifting paths of rootless men, often ex-soldiers who had fought in the First World War and been demobilized. They turned European politics into a madhouse of deracinated ambition.'
Here's my two cents. Siegel begins his doddering post with a Santayana quote pulled from, ahem, a blog:

"Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim."

Implying, I guess, that liberal/progressive bloggers are too awash in name calling to fight the good fight. Perhaps valid if Siegel could connect the invectives to the bloggers -- which he doesn't.

But I've got a Santayana quote in response:

"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."

This is for Siegel and others who refuse to see the good side of the blogs and what they represent. A no money down, people-powered movement to participate in politics and the public dialogue.

Sometimes it's messy, sometimes it's nasty, and sometimes it threatens those who've enjoyed using only one end of the telephone. In time wholesale condemnations of blogs will seem as fusty and clueless as those who turned their noses at the horseless carriage. (James Wolcott, The Plank)

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