One of my bad habits that I’m still working to overcome from my days on the Left is being too open-minded.
I still want to give people the benefit of the doubt when they express interest in participating in the publication. In the past this has bitten me from time to time as deviants and narcissistic self-promoters have wormed their way into publishing posts only to eventually reveal their true colors.
Still, I at least remain willing to listen to people who might not agree with all of our positions who still want to help out in the fights. If someone wants to write in defense of Israel but they hold socialist views on health care then I’m inclined to let them stand with us in defense of the Jewish state. I just won’t publish their writings promoting crackpot economics.
That’s kind of what I was hoping for when someone identifying as possessing “the viewpoint of the left” wanted to write for us. On April 26 my co-editors Jenn Q. Public and Michael van der Galien and I received this inquiry from NRB‘s contact form from “Allen James Burnham” (I’d wager probably his real name given his level of earnestness):
To whom it may concern,
I would like to blog about what I have put in the subject line of this message. I of course understand that this is a right wing blog, but it would be hardly a free and democratic blog in a free and democratic society if the viewpoint of the left were not incorporated. Or not even so much the left as the perspective of someone who was a Soldier for five years and has been an Official for forty two years. In any case the moment nobody engages with what the other side thinks, the country ceases to be a democracy.
I responded back and included an attachment with our standard application that we use to learn about the views and writing histories of those who want to write for us:
Thank you for your interest. Attached is an application for you to fill out to tell us more about what you’d like to write about at our publication.
A few notes of clarification:
1. We are not a “right wing blog.” We are a liberal publication, as the philosophy is defined here: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/guideDesc.asp?catid=102&type=issue
2. The viewpoint of the Left is incorporated at NewsReal Blog. Most of our posts are dedicated to rebutting leftist viewpoints. Also, leftists are perfectly welcome to respond in the comments section provided. We are also perfectly happy to publish posts by leftists who dissent from the predominant views in their movement. There certainly are some leftists who are willing to stand up for Israel’s right to exist (Congressman Anthony Weiner comes to mind) and there are others who will speak honestly about the threat of radical Islam (Christopher Hitchens and Bill Maher and some other secularist leftists are examples.) Leftists with these approaches can find a home at our publication to join the fight on these issues.
3. The country is not a democracy. We are a constitutional republic ruled by law, not a democracy ruled by the tyranny of the majority. James Madison warned of the totalitarianism of democracy in Federalist #10: “From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.” http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm
Allen replied back and included a completed application:
I recognize point 2 but I would debate aspects of 3 with you and deny 1. Here is the relevant information. I am sorry that I don’t have more writing samples but I don’t think inter-staff papers from DoL would be of much interest and I don’t like to release papers unless I am told to. Habit picked up from working 34 years as a DoD official. Thank you for your time and attention.
I looked through the application. This in particular jumped out:
I am for heavily regulated Capitalism, State Capitalism, a welfare State, the deathpenalty, the withdrawal of US forces from all foreign bases, an increase in FederalIncome Tax for the top 1% to 45 or even 50%, as well as the minimal amount of PrivateSector participation in Government.
Alright. So he wasn’t going to be a liberal hawk and he wasn’t any friend of the free market. I didn’t bother to respond to the application.
Then on May 2 I got a follow up from Allen:
Dear Mr. Swindle
I sent in my blogging application form for your examination I have not received confirmation as to whether or not I have been accepted. If a decision has been made I would very much like to know what exactly it was. Please get back to me at your earliest possible convenience
I responded quickly (I recall at the time being swamped with other more urgent NRB tasks):
I don’t see how it’s possible for you to contribute to the publication when you disagree with everything that we’re trying to accomplish.
He decided to play dumb in his response to me:
In what way am I against the publication, a detailed explanation with quotes would be welcome. I am not against free speech, the United States, or the right of the citizen to choose. What could I possibly harm or undermine?
I quoted the above passage from his application back to him and then said,
We do not support the welfare state, increasing taxes, “State Capitalism” or the withdrawal of US forces from all foreign bases. Your economic and foreign policy views run counter to the publication. There are plenty of leftist blogs and publications where you can submit pieces on those causes.
His response to this was a delight:
Mr. Swindle, I am aware of this, but Salon has right wing writers on it, I see no reason why your blog should not have an author writing from a left wing perspective. After all, as I said, there is no debate if only one side is talking. Are you really admitting to me that conservatives desire a dictatorship? Are you telling me you will not tolerate any dissenting views? That you have contempt for our constitution? our way of life? Are you telling me that? If so, I would remind you that this makes you as bad as Bolsheviks. You will not countenance the idea that there is any rectitude in the ideas of your opponents. You will not hear them out, and you will do your utmost to see that those ideas are repressed. If that is so, then you are un-American. Bear that in mind. The world is never all one way, and that is something the Founding Fathers left room for, a country where man could fully explore the intellectual horizons of his consciousness, do you intend to restrict that consciousness? Read your Orwell and then tell me seriously that you are fundamentally different from Oceania’s ruling Party.
In other words, a publication that doesn’t publish the views opposite of its editorial line is a “dictatorship” run by those who have “contempt for our constitution” and are thus “as bad as Bolsheviks” and “un-American.” Those of us who spend all day reading and listening to leftist media, who make no effort to try and shut down progressive publications “will not hear them out” and will do our “utmost to see that those ideas are repressed.” This is the insane paranoia the Left has in its heart for conservatives who believe in property rights. NewsReal Blog is the property of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. It’s not a neighborhood sandbox where any stray progressive cat is entitled to relieve himself.
I’ve read Salon almost every day for years now. It’s a publication that no longer strives to offer regular conservative views as it once did long ago. A Socratic responses was appropriate, ignoring all of Allen’s dumb hyperboles:
Who are Salon’s conservative writers?
Deep down I kind of knew that he was going to give a response this braindead:
David Horowitz, and a number of individuals on Open Salon are conservatives. Mr. Horowitz actually contributes regularly to the magazine.
Had this guy been living under a political rock the past decade? Did he still think that Bush was president and we were debating WMDs? I decided to dip my response in the jar of sarcasm that I keep in the bottom right drawer of my desk:
Does he now? Goodness, I must be an idiot totally in the dark about what my boss and mentor is doing with his time. How “regularly” do his columns appear at Salon.com these days?
I was under the impression that Salon hadn’t printed an original column from him since 2002 and has only reprinted 2 of his FrontPage columns in recent years — both of which cautioned conservatives early in Obama’s presidency to give him a chance. http://www.salon.com/author/david_horowitz/index.html
I still await your examples of the conservatives who allegedly get to present their ideas from Salon’s platform.
I still laugh out loud when I reread his answer to me. This is the height of bigotry — a leftist demanding the conservative movement operate by standards higher than what he holds his own movement to. Because I won’t let him use NRB as his litter box he saw fit to compare me to every totalitarian he could think of. Now that I reveal that his beloved Salon operates by the same principles, they’re of course spared from a similar excoriation:
Yes that is true, and so what if Open Salon is open to all. Blogs are blogs, even if there is a platform it is only fair that there is at least some dissent from the line prescribed by it. Besides I would not exactly be contributing an article every week, compared to what normally goes on, as with Horowitz, and he should get back to writing more on Salon, I would be but a drop in the bucket. Unless, and if you believe truly in your own arguments you cannot possibly think this is true, your point of view is so totally wrong my writing of articles would undermine what your blog aims to do, the very presence of my ideas on the blog as articles should energize discussion and make your arguments sharper. Besides even if, as you claim, Liberals monopolize their blogs there is no reason you should not perform to higher standards than them. So unless you really think that your arguments are shoddy and easily undermined, and that you really have better arguments and morals than leftists, you will allow me to write articles and publish them on your blog.
At this point a #facepalm seems to be the appropriate physical response. Here’s the written response to go along with it:
You don’t really understand the political world.When a political publication publishes an article it’s telling its readers that it agrees with the ideas presented. That’s why Salon, The Nation, Media Matters, Mother Jones, Think Progress, etc. etc. don’t publish conservative articles — and why we (and National Review, The Weekly Standard, Breitbart’s Big blogs, etc.) don’t publish leftist articles. Political publications aren’t general interest newspapers or magazines that publish a wide range of opinions because they’re trying to make a product that a broad range of people will buy. They publish because they’re pursuing particular activist agendas.If you want to disagree with an article then that’s what the comments section is for. As long as you don’t violate our terms and conditions then you can dissent all you want. (And if you made a good argument then perhaps I’d excerpt your comment in a post and respond to it.) But apparently we’re still “Bolsheviks” even though we allow this.And if you couldn’t tell from the lack of conservative views at Salon the past 8 years, they’re not interested in publishing David anymore. Salon wouldn’t even get back to me when I offered them a book review of David’s recent book A Cracking of the Heart, which tells the story of the life of his progressive daughter Sarah. No leftist publication had any interest in celebrating the life of a progressive who campaigned for Obama like Sarah. If you’re concerned about “Bolshevik” attitudes why don’t you work on pulling out the log from your own movement’s eye before going after the splinter in ours. Why not get a leftist publication to have a debate with us? Both publications could print both sides in the context of a debate. Unfortunately you’re going to get nothing but crickets in response. The Left is not interested in debating the Right, they’re interested in obliterating it — which is why we’re smeared as bigoted, sexist, homophobic, racist, warmongering, greedy imperialists. Our motives and character are always maligned, our arguments and facts never actually addressed. Go ahead and try and find a single leftist that has tried to seriously rebut Radical Son, The Politics of Bad Faith,Uncivil Wars, Unholy Alliance or any of David’s other books. I’ve spent years looking and have found NOTHING.
Now of course his true motivations came out. He just wanted to argue:
You know what, you are right, I do not understand the Political world. That’s why for all my working life I have served the US Government and the American people. By the way, in fairness you do allow comments, but the Bolsheviks also had Democratic Centralism, which allowed for inside debate, but ultimately once it was established, all had to toe the Party line. As for Salon not publishing Mr. Horowitz, that is something you should complain to them about. You want to complain to them about it, with moral righteousness, you can have me published and say in truth and honesty “See, we publish a genuine leftist on our blog, please reciprocate. I am not familiar with David Horowitz’s books.
You do have a log in your movement Mr. Swindle, you do. Ann Coulter and her eliminationist rhetoric. If you want I could provide examples. Gordon Liddy telling listeners on his program how to assasinate myself and my co-workers (federal workers). As for greedy imperialists, see Saipan, racist see Jack Abramoff and the comments he made about his clients while accusing good men and women who were trying to get rid of what amounted to a GULAG on American soil of racism. Warmongering, oh my god, I was an official in DoD during the lead up to Iraq and I can tell you all about that for a very long time. A movement that is dedicated to enriching the few and impoverishing the many, of course people will aim to be rid of it or marginalize it to insignificance. Take a good look in the mirror, if you are a good person, if you are committed to human dignity, social justice, and the American way of life, you will not like much what you see that you have been supporting. Furthermore I do not support the Democratic Party, I am an independent.
Regards and with hopes for continued debate,
Allen James Burnham
Do you see that? “If you are a good person” then you can’t be part of the conservative movement. That’s the mentality of the Left. It’s kind of a non-starter for any constructive discussion. Reminder: the Left hates you and everything you stand for.
Alright, so he wanted a debate, I might as well give it to him. Here’s a tactic I regularly use when talking or emailing with leftists: ask them what conservative books they’ve read (usually the answer will be zero.) If it isn’t then talk with them about the book they claim to have read:
Can you name any books by conservative authors that you’ve read?
Sure Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Facism” and “Trickle Up Poverty” by Michael Savage.
And what did you think of Jonah’s book? I haven’t read it yet but it’s on the to-do list. (I’ve read many books already about the history of the Left.) Should I bother with reading it?
I believe it is fundamentally flawed, but some of the things he says about Liberals are funny. I incidentally do not own it, I borrowed it from my local library. His argument that Fascism is a product of Liberalism, because it too claims to be about “a third way” I do not think stands up to proper scrutiny. There also seem to be contradictory voices in his head about issues, such as accusing Liberalism of being Dictatorial and nasty at the same time at being such because it is nannying to people, which comes off as cloying. However the fundamental paradoxes, I do not think, are addressed properly. How could Liberal FDR be a Fascist, when he was the one really eager to get people into World War II and the fact that Roosevelt was more anti-business than either Mussolini or Hitler and was in power because he had been put into office by the American people.
I have the book right here in my office (we get a lot of books sent to us at the Freedom Center.) Here’s page 122, the chapter on FDR:
I think it is unfair to compare Government initiatives undertaken by FDR and his people in order to keep the economy going, to policies undertaken by Hitler or even Stalin. For example it would be as if I compared the Stalinist measure of higher wages and better privileges for Politburo members to higher wages for certain managers in the Private or Public Sector. The reasons, more responsibility, greater skill of the individual, are the same for paying higher salaries, but the difference lies in how each regime treated its people and what its vision was. The Nazi idea was warped with only people of certain “race” owning practically everything and women “being kept in their place.” The Soviet regime, less so under Stalin, than under Lenin and those who succeeded Stalin aimed to improve the living standards of its people and those of the world in a number of ways, but because of the inherent flaws of Bolshevism, they made that vision impossible and brutally killed millions of people to try and realize a better future, the overwhelming majority of those deaths were entirely unnecessary. Whereas Roosevelt and his people believed that people, all people, were entitled to a good education, a well paid job and a decent home, yet that need not mean being rich was forbidden. The slogan of the 1965 budget, in this country was, “a mass of prosperity widely shared” with living standards increasing for everybody, with no need to repress dissent or kill millions of people, or exclude anyone from the system. Fascism and Stalinism did exclude enormous swathes of people from the system and both systems trampeled on the right of their citizens to protest, so I would say with confidence that there are enormous differences between Rooseveltian Liberalism and Fascism.
Big differences between Rooseveltian Liberalism and Fascism? Sure. But there are also big similarities and a shared heritage that Allen’s brain can’t allow itself to comprehend.
When going back and forth with a leftist be sure and focus down onto single issues and keep your opponent on track (a hard task to perform, admittedly.) Usually so-called liberals will try and change the subject as soon as you put up a factual road block. So I steered the discussion back to the damning FDR admission:
So you would say that FDR was being unfair (to whom? himself?) when he compared his own policies to Hitler’s and Stalin’s? Or is Jonah Goldberg being unfair by quoting him?
Yes he was, it was a foolish thing for him to say, and I don’t think, given all else that FDR did, that he can seriously be compared to Hitler. Hitler did not support working people and FDR’s Second Bill of Rights idea was not fascistic.
So you’re going to deny the historical fact that FDR and his New Deal architects admitted to being influenced by fascism? You’re just going to dismiss this historical fact “as fundamentally flawed”?There’s no comparison to Hitler here, just the historical fact that FDR and his people admitted that they were intellectually influenced by fascism. FDR didn’t kill Jews and he wasn’t an evil man. He just had some bad ideas that were influenced by fascism.
I don’t think that they were influenced by Facsism, the New Deal measures came before what Hitler did. They only way FDR was influenced by Fascism was his desire to see its existence terminated. I think their influences were based on their background, community work, Progressive ideology, and the ideas brought forth by William Jennings Bryan that the Democrats were on the side of working people. Furthermore the New Deal was not a bad idea. I grew up in the aftermath of it, and practically everyone I knew loved it. My father was saved from being unemployed by it, and was able to purchase a house because of the New Deal. The New Deal saved the country and it is sad that we have forgotten the lessons from it.