Ed Driscoll

You Keep Using That Word. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

“Salon: NYPD Anti-De Blasio Revolt a ‘Fascist Coup.’” Link safe, goes to a lengthy excerpt of Salon’s article at Breitbart News:

I’m not the first person to observe that the New York police unions’ current mini-rebellion against Mayor Bill de Blasio carries anti-democratic undertones, and even a faint odor of right-wing coup. Indeed, it feels like an early chapter in a contemporary rewrite of “It Can’t Happen Here”: Police in the nation’s largest city openly disrespect and defy an elected reformist mayor, inspiring a nationwide wave of support from “true patriots” eager to take their country back from the dubious alien forces who have degraded and desecrated it. However you read the proximate issues between the cops and de Blasio (some of which are New York-specific), the police protest rests on the same philosophical foundation as the fascist movement in Lewis’ novel. Indeed, it’s a constant undercurrent in American political life, one that surfaced most recently in the Tea Party rebellion of 2010, and is closely related to the disorder famously anatomized by Richard Hofstadter in his 1964 essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.”

So the far left views the police in New York as paranoid right-wing fascists? Gee, why on earth would the NYPD feel like they’ve lost the respect of those currently in power? As for the other two words in that troika of adjectives:

Joseph Stalin championed the idea that all of his political opponents should be dubbed fascists, including many of his fellow Bolsheviks, such as Leon Trotsky (whom Stalin had assassinated), and much of the Red Army’s officer corps (whom he had executed), and countless Ukrainians (whom he had liquidated). Stalin insisted that even mentioning the man-made – i.e., Stalin-made — Ukranian famine was evidence you were an agent of the Nazis.

Under Stalin’s “theory of social fascism,” any socialist, social-democratic, or progressive group or party not loyal to him had to be called fascist. Hence, for a while Moscow insisted that FDR and even Norman Thomas (head of the Socialist Party of America) were fascists.

Ultimately, Communist propagandists and their allied intellectuals would reflexively blame fascism for everything, regardless of the facts. That’s what prompted George Orwell to remark that “the word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable.’”

But then the whole Salon article, with its ancient references to Hofstadter and Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here reads like a joke to anyone who’s read Liberal Fascism, has even a cursory knowledge of the left’s leather helmet-era playbook and expects to see these hackneyed tropes pulled out every single time there’s a mass protest to their actions.

If the argument is that the NYPD is to the right of Bill de Blasio, that’s a fair statement. I doubt I’ll see Mike Bloomberg, gun-grabber, champion of the Nanny State and fierce global warming warrior on the next National Review Cruise. But it can be legitimately argued that he’s to the right of de Blasio. But to declare the NYPD fascists for opposing his radical chic worldview and his condemning his anti-police rhetoric — c’mon.

Not to mention, way back when in an October 2001 article titled “Patriotic Dissent,” Salon was telling its readers, “When we question our government, we help it make smart choices — and show the world the strength of democracy.”

It’s possible to disagree with the police’s actions by noting that they risk endangering the public safety, as the New York Post and historian Amity Shlaes have each recently wrote. But imagine if at some point from late 2001 through the end of 2008, a troop of American soldiers turned their backs on George W. Bush during a speech*, they’d be praised as brave dissent demonstrators, and possibly “Salon’s People of the Year.”

Exit quote:

* Or a nutter who threw a shoe at Bush.

Update: Well, so much for the spirit of “Resist we much!” “MSNBC public sector union supporter questions cops’ right to protest.”