On Wednesday, “Fascism Forever” started trending on Twitter. Britain’s The Daily Mail had reported that President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, founded a club by that name in high school. Naturally, this seems to have confirmed everything the Left “knew” about Trump’s Supreme Court pick.
“Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch founded and led a student group called the ‘Fascism Forever Club’ at his elite high school, DailyMail.com can reveal,” wrote the British paper’s Alana Goodman. “The club was set up to rally against the ‘left-wing tendencies’ of his professors while attending a Jesuit all-boys preparatory school near Washington D.C.”
But The Daily Mail relied on only one source for this bombshell — Gorsuch’s high school yearbook. Yes, his high school yearbook. From the same source, The Daily Mail can exclusively reveal that Sallie Jean had a crush on the future Supreme Court nominee, and that Billy Johnson was not a fan. Sally even signed the yearbook with a heart! How inappropriate.
A close examination of the blurb in question, which includes the damning detail about the “Fascism Forever Club,” also reveals that Gorsuch was a “lazy Spanish student,” “Believer in The World According to Ward,” and “The carousel ride is over.” The all-revealing yearbook description also adds, “I am not an alkie; I never wrote a debate case!” Considering the blurb also lists “Forensics 1, 2, 3 (National Champion,” it seems exceedingly unlikely Gorsuch never wrote a debate case.
“Earth to newspaper reporters: High-school yearbook editors sometimes have a sophomoric sense of humor,” wrote National Review‘s Ed Whelan.
Whelan also added, “I am reliably informed that no such club ever existed and that there was instead an inside joke among friends in the senior class that parodied political debates happening at the school. A contemporary of Gorsuch’s at the school also tells me that yearbook editors added stuff to student blurbs without their permission.”
Kyle Blaine, an editor at CNN’s K-File, had another suggestion: “Let’s all at least consider that a 1980s ‘Fascism forever’ club was a young conservative’s cheeky response to liberals calling Reagan one.” Huh. That makes a lot more sense.
These considerations, of course, did nothing to dampen the spirits of liberals hasty to take the “club name” and run with it.
“Neil Gorsuch is a terrible person, who started a ‘Fascism Forever Club’ in high school. Trump & Bannon are probably honorary members!” tweeted a French and American couple behind the @France4Hillary account.
Neil Gorsuch is a terrible person, who started a 'Fascism Forever Club' in high school. Trump & Bannon are probably honorary members!
— #RemoveTrump (@Blue______Wave) February 2, 2017
Evan Smith, CEO of the Texas Tribune, said, “In the old days, a presidential nominee who started and led a “Fascism Forever” club would be DOA. Today, meh.”
Others twisted the meme around. “Fascism Forever is when you riot and destroy to the point where UC Berkely has to be shut down in opposition to a gay Jew,” tweeted Scott Presler, an anti-Hillary activist.
Fascism Forever is when you riot and destroy to the point where UC Berkely has to be shut down in opposition to a gay Jew.#FascismForever
— #ThePersistence (@ScottPresler) February 2, 2017
Charles C. W. Cooke had a great response: “If you shared this story in earnest you must get ‘I don’t understand my political opponents’ tattooed on your face.”
If you shared this story in earnest you must get “I don’t understand my political opponents” tattooed on your face. https://t.co/z7AbHLl8x4
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) February 2, 2017
This also helps explain it.
Finally, a note on political labels. During this election, feminists for Hillary Clinton have embraced the term “nasty woman,” and Trump supporters have embraced the term “deplorable.” They have done so, not because they see themselves as nasty or deplorable, but to identify with their political heroes and to undercut the arguments against them.
Neil Gorsuch, who adheres to the original meaning of laws and the Constitution, is exactly the opposite of a fascist — a totalitarian who follows a strong leader to lead the country in a new direction. Gorsuch’s legal interpretations place him firmly on the side of the rule of law, not its reinterpretation. This means he would be the first one to resist the urges of a totalitarian populist like Mussolini.
Mussolini argued that “fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State.” It is arguable that Trump has fascist tendencies, but Gorsuch, in his support for religious freedom and his limited reading of the Constitution, most certainly does not.
If Gorsuch ever did lead a “Fascism Forever Club” (which seems unlikely given Whelan’s report), it is far more likely to have been a joke, as Blaine suggested, than a totalitarian movement based off of Mussolini’s fascism. In any case, it has a great deal less relevance to Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation than, say, his actual record.