Home/Daniel Larison/The Neocon Press Is Having A Fascism Field Day

The Neocon Press Is Having A Fascism Field Day

Thus, the Washington Times published 95 articles and columns that featured the words “fascism” or “fascist” and “Iraq” over the past year, twice as many as appeared in the New York Times during the same period. More than half of the Washington Times‘ articles were published in just the past three months – three times as many as appeared in the New York Times.

Similarly, the National Review led all magazines and journals with 66 such references over the past year, followed by 48 in The American Spectator, and 14 by The Weekly Standard. Together, those three publications accounted for more than half of all articles with those words published by the more than three dozen U.S. periodicals catalogued by Nexis since last September.

The results were similar for “appease” or “appeasement” and “Iraq.” Led by the Review, the same three journals accounted for more than half the articles (175) that included those words in some three dozen U.S. Magazines over the past year. As for newspapers, the Washington Times led the list with 46 articles, 50 percent more than the New York Times which also had fewer articles than its crosstown neoconservative rival, the much-smaller New York Sun.

Searching on Nexis for articles and columns that included “Iran” and “fascist” or “fascism,” IPS found that the Sun and the Times topped the newspaper list by a substantial margin, as did the Review, the Spectator, and the Standard among the magazines and journals. Nearly one-third of all such references over the past year were published in August, according to the survey. ~Jim Lobe, Antiwar.com

We cannot discount the impact that such persistent use of this language in the neocon and Republican media will have on public sentiments.  While it may be the case, as some have suggested, that the latest round of official speeches using this sort of rhetoric is actually politically ineffective and the product of desperation–and that people can see that it is a product of desperation–it is nonetheless the case that a large segment of the population is being inundated with this rhetorical trash at an amazing rate.  Repeating words and suggesting analogies often enough will lead people to come to think in those terms, whether they want to or not–the fact that all of us are arguing, pro or con, the merits of a fantastically stupid phrase like “Islamic fascist” shows that the propaganda is working pretty well.  People are being exposed to this stuff to such a degree that future foreign policy debates will only become even more shrill than they already are as the respective sides seem set to inhabit entirely different universes. 

In one universe, the mission in Iraq is a “miracle,” there are fascists simply everywhere (have you checked your closet for fascists today?), America is awash in lilly-livered appeasers and defeatists and the Twelfth Imam may soon be returning in the form of an Iranian nuke or some such (did we say August 22? we meant September 22, or possibly October!). In the other universe, Iraq is deteriorating rapidly from low-grade civil war to full-sized civil war, the same old, same old strategy continues to be insufficient (as there are occasional advances in one part of the country only at the expense of another part), and a crazed administration is more interested in spinning its failures as our lack of resolve and talking about the 1930s than taking responsibility and changing course one way or another.  

This whole propaganda campaign in the Republican media and now from the administration is designed for one thing above all: to make the elections about Iraq and nothing but Iraq.  This will backfire on the jingoes, because if the elections are a referendum on the war (which helps the Democrats to nationalise the midterms without their having to do very much at all) the jingoes are going to discover that the people will take their frustrations with the administration’s war management out on the GOP.  That may not necessarily mean that the people “don’t want to win,” or even that they want to leave Iraq without some measure of success, but that Mr. Bush and his loyalists have invited them to pass judgement on the conduct of the war and they will oblige with a rather negative assessment.  What some folks cannot seem to grasp is that when a majority of Americans say that they don’t believe Iraq is connected to the “war on terror,” they are quite serious, so when the administration and its loyalists try to make opposition to the Iraq war into some general abandonment of the “war on terror” the majority will take offense at this insult and deal out some chastisement. 

When one-third of all Americans are planning to vote strictly based on their opposition to the Iraq war (including 12% of Republicans), which shows that this is a particularly powerful and highly charged issue, a wise man who wants to win would not charge head on into making Iraq the single issue of the election.  By making a prominent, public campaign to defend the war in Iraq two months before the midterms, Mr. Bush and his followers have guaranteed that the results in November will be taken as a judgement of his war policy (or lack thereof).  Since the odds have long been in favour of Democratic gains, this cannot work to the President’s advantage, so one suspects that ideological commitment and stubborn attachment to the same rhetoric and roughly the same strategy have simply overwhelmed Rovian cunning. 

Someone will say, perhaps not entirely seriously, “Yes, exactly, Mr. Bush doesn’t heed polls; indeed, there has virtually never been a time when Mr. Bush has heeded the people at all!  Isn’t it great?”  In fact, Mr. Bush has been a practitioner of triangulation for most of his presidency, but he does not seem to be nearly smooth or affable enough to pull it off in the way that Bubba did.  In any case, this lack of calculation will only make Mr. Bush’s supporters more proud to be his supporters.  They will, a la Mario Loyola, wax poetic about the wonder that is Mr. Bush’s stern and principled leadership; one suspects that these people also admire British generalship at the Battle of Balaclava for its resolute commitment to order a charge into withering fire.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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