Ed Driscoll

Springtime for Ebert

Nicholas Stix writes that “At Entertainment Weekly, The Word ‘Hitler’ Is Verboten In Comments!”

Late Wednesday night I posted a brief comment to a 1990 Entertainment Weekly (EW) review by the late Walter Clemons of Gavin Lambert’s biography, Norma Shearerr. (The lack of any previous comments suggests that EW only recently posted the review on line.) My uncensored comment follows. [Bolding in original post — Ed]

Mr. Clemons’ otherwise readable review is marred by two jarringly off uses of language: 1. “Her career was a triumph of will”; and 2. “We feel the impact of a sacred monster.”

For anyone of the reviewer’s generation, the phrase “triumph of [the] will,” was indelibly associated with Hitler. However, since Mr. Clemons did not depict Miss Shearer in a Hitlerian manner, his allusion was poorly chosen.

Likewise, though the reviewer was straining for irony, outside of his phrase, he in no way depicted Miss Shearer as monstrous. For that matter, he didn’t depict her as “sacred,” either.

Although the reviewer was a veteran writer, he twice strove for effect in a clumsy, amateurish manner.

The censorship filter or humanoid replaced “Hitler” with “*****.” (The censor even got the number of asterisks wrong!) Oddly enough, she/he/it left “Hitlerian” untouched.

I have no idea if the Chicago Sun-Times employs a similar strategy in its comments section. But while not actually dropping the H-word himself, Roger Ebert goes for the argumentum ad Hitlerum approach in his latest column, in which he once again eschews what he’s best at for wannabe political punditry, loaded with paranoia, including viewing Sarah Palin as a Crypto-Nazi speaking in code. Was Gore Vidal on vacation this week? [Bolding in text mine — Ed]

5. The Bill of Rights has a parallel with pregnancy. You can’t be a little pregnant, and you can’t be a little free. Nor can you serve yourself from it cafeteria style.

6. Somewhere on the Right is an anonymous genius at creating memes. Sarah Palin floats a suspicious number of them: Death Panels, Ground Zero Mosque, 9/11 Mosque, Terror Babies. Her tweets are mine fields of coded words; for her, “patriot” is defined as, “those who agree with me.” When she says “Americans,” it is not inclusive. These two must have been carefully composed in advance to be tweeted within 60 seconds of each other:

[Screen caps of two tweets by Sarah Palin appear at this point in Ebert’s column. Here’s the text of them–Ed]

Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America!

Dr.Laura:don’t retreat…reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence”isn’t American,not fair”)

By using the evocative word “shackles” she associates Dr. Laura’s use of the N-word with the suffering of slaves. By implying Dr. Laura was silenced by “Constitutional obstructionists,” she employs the methodology of the Big Lie, defined in Mein Kampf as an untruth so colossal that “no one would believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” She uses the trigger word “reload” to evoke her support of Second Amendment activists while attacking “activists” for evoking the First.

7. Many Americans and a great many politicians have either never taken a civics class or disagree with what they should have learned there. The major opinion sources in America that seem to devote the most attention to the Bill of Rights are Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, all distorting it as an everyday practice. Bill O’Reilly, to his credit, doesn’t indulge in this.

8. A meme is infecting our society that Muslims are terrorists and hate America; they are the enemy. It is a cliche to say, “the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful,” but is true. When Muslim nations are bombed by America, can those nations be expected to applaud? In Iran after 9/11 there were candlelight marches in sympathy with the United States. [And in the Palestinian territories…there weren’t. — Ed]

Of course, when it comes to American democracy, Roger’s a staunch populist defender of the will of the people:


Meanwhile, regarding Ebert’s day job, Benjamin Kerstein reviews the legendary reviewer on the Pajamas homepage.

Related: “Hey! Remember last month, when we were hyper-sensitive about the problem of taking quotes out of context?”

Related: “Robert Reich Falsely Accuses Newt Gingrich Of Saying ‘Muslims Are Like Nazis.'”

As opposed to saying Alaskans are like Nazis, of course. But then, “In the present, everyone will be Hitler for 15 minutes…”

Related: Flypaper.

Update: In “Cinematic Illusions of Progress,” we look at Hollywood and Valerie Plame, an MIA Richard Armitage, the Big Lie and its forerunner, the Sorelian Myth.