"President Likens Dewey to Hitler as Fascist Tool."
So ran the New York Times headline on Oct. 26, 1948, after what Dewey biographer Richard Norton Smith called a "particularly vitriolic attack in Chicago" by Harry Truman.
What brings this to mind is President Bush's assertion that we are "at war with Islamic fascism" and "Islamo-fascism."
After the transatlantic bomb plot was smashed, Bush said the plotters "try to spread their jihadist message I call -- it's totalitarian in nature, Islamic radicalism -- Islamic fascism; they try to spread it, as well, by taking the attack to those of us who love freedom."
What is wrong with the term Islamo-fascism?
First, there is no consensus as to what "fascism" even means. Orwell said when someone calls Smith a fascist, what he means is, "I hate Smith. " By calling Smith a fascist, you force Smith to deny he's a sympathizer of Hitler and Mussolini.
As a concept, writes Arnold Beichman of Hoover Institution, "fascism ... has no intellectual basis at all nor did its founders even pretend to have any. Hitler's ravings in 'Mein Kampf' ... Mussolini's boastful balcony speeches, all of these can be described, in the words of Roger Scruton, as an 'amalgam of disparate conceptions.'"
Richard Pipes considers Stalinism and Hilterism to be siblings of the same birth mother: "Bolshevism and fascism were heresies of socialism."
Since the 1930s, "fascist" has been a term of hate and abuse used by the Left against the Right, as in the Harry Truman campaign. In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. claimed to see in the Goldwater campaign "dangerous signs of Hitlerism." Twin the words, "Reagan, fascism" in Google and 1,800,000 references pop up.
Unsurprisingly, it is neoconservatives, whose roots are in the Trotskyist-Social Democratic Left, who are promoting use of the term. Their goal is to have Bush stuff al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran into the same "Islamo-fascist" kill box, then let SAC do the rest.
But the term represents the same lazy, shallow thinking that got us into Iraq, where Americans were persuaded that by dumping over Saddam, we were avenging 9-11.
But Saddam was about as devout a practitioner of Islam as his hero Stalin was of the Russian Orthodox faith. Saddam was into booze, mistresses, movies, monuments, palaces and dynasty. Bin Laden loathed him and volunteered to fight him in 1991, if Saudi Arabia would only not bring the Americans in to do the fighting Islamic warriors ought to be doing themselves.