Jonah Goldberg

My real objection to this report is that its source material amounts to "everybody knows." Everybody knows the right is full of whack-jobs, hatemongers and killers, and if we don't remain vigilant, bad things will happen.

Just look at the coverage of these tea parties. To watch CNN, you'd think these were beer hall putsches, as if emulating the Boston Tea Party and demanding less government were straight out of "Mein Kampf."

I wrote a book on fascism which tried to show that what everybody knows isn't necessarily true. The idea that soldiers will return from war and become right-wing militants? Well, that has its roots in Fascist Italy, where veterans returned as black-shirted shock troops of "Il Duce," Benito Mussolini. The only problem was that they clamored for socialism -- the socialism of the trenches! -- and their leader had earned the title "Il Duce" as the leader of the Socialist Party.

The idea that American "hate groups" are right-wing and bristling with vets got new life with JFK's assassination at the hands of a disgruntled vet named Lee Harvey Oswald. Everybody knew right away that Oswald was an agent of "hate" -- and hate was code for right-wing and racist. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren summed up the instantaneous conventional wisdom when he blamed the "climate of hatred" for Kennedy's death. Everybody knew that the right was involved.

There was just one inconvenient truth: Oswald was a communist who, according to the Warren report, had "an extreme dislike of the rightwing" and had actually tried to murder a right-wing former Army general.

When Hollywood filmed the Tom Clancy novel "The Sum of All Fears," it changed the real villains from Jihadi terrorists to a bunch of European CEOs who were secret Nazis. Because "everybody knows" that's where the real threat lies.

Sen. John Kerry belonged to an organization of vets that considered assassinating American politicians. (Kerry denied participating in those meetings.) Barack Obama was friends with, and a colleague of, a domestic terrorist whose organization plotted to murder soldiers and their wives at a social at Fort Dix. A young Hillary Clinton sympathized with the Black Panthers, a paramilitary gang of racist murderers and cop killers.

Bring that up and you're a paranoid nutcase out of "Dr. Strangelove."

But if you're terrified of a bunch of citizens who throw tea in the water and demand lower taxes and less government spending, well, that's just a sign of political seriousness.

Because everyone knows who the real threat to the country is.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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