When author and National Review Online blogger Jonah Goldberg said recently that socialism is corrupting the youth, and is "something that conservatives have to work harder to beat out of them, either literally or figuratively as far as I’m concerned,” Brooklyn comedian Jamie Kilstein called Goldberg's bluff.
He took to the Internet to challenge Goldberg to put his money where his mouth is, and enter a fight with the socialism-loving, vegan comedian and activist. For charity.
Kilstein, who co-hosts the popular comedy/political podcast "Citizen Radio," started a petition on change.org to see whether Goldberg will back up his call for violence against young "socialists." In the explanation for his campaign, Kilstein says:
Bullying and advocating violence against people who disagree with you is not brave. Stepping into the ring for a fair fight would be.
He indicated that were Goldberg to accept, they would raise money on Kickstarter and donate the money to charity. The last few days, he has been using his Twitter to attempt to get in contact with Goldberg, using the hashtag #Jonahfightsforcharity.
Kilstein's challenge comes hot off the heels of a scathing, much-read piece about Goldberg by Alex Pareene of Salon, harshly criticizing the pundit for lazy argumentation and blustery conviction in favor of well-reasoned rhetoric. Pareene's column was partly in response to Goldberg's false claim that he was "twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize."
While it seems entirely reasonable that Goldberg didn't seriously mean that he thinks kids who disagree with him should be beaten up, as he claims, his muddy confusion over a joke versus a ham-fisted exaggeration seems to be what's at stake here. Especially when it involves violence towards political enemies, a historically sensitive subject indeed.
In an email to The Huffington Post, Kilstein explained that his ultimate goal is some self-reflection -- and maybe even a mea culpa -- from Goldberg, who he considers to exhibit "every quality of the worst sort of bullies." (Anti-bullying champion Dan Savage agrees, and endorsed Kilstein's petition.)
"I'd ask him to go back and apologize for his mistakes," Kilstein says. "We all make mistakes and what makes you a decent person is learning from them." He cited Goldberg's flirtation with war in Iran only a few years after he championed military action in Iraq as a topic that he thinks Goldberg and his ilk should be more careful about.
When asked if he thinks Goldberg would ever show up to fight him, Kilstein has no pretentions. "Of course not," he says.
He explains that the expectation of retreat from Goldberg is part of his point. "I really really want one of these assholes to stand up for what they believe in against someone who will actually fight back, but [they won't]."
"I've been training Mixed Martial Arts for a while now," he told us. "And you can always tell which new guy isn't going to last. Let's call them 'Little Jonahs.' Oddly enough, they're not the small ones. Usually it's the big meathead in the American flag tapout shirt who you know talks shit at the bar every weekend about how much ass he can kick."
As for how much ass Kilstein can kick, some feel that Goldberg would indeed be in danger were he to accept the challenge. Musician Ted Leo, a friend of Kilstein's, weighed in on the proposed fight on his blog. "I have absolutely zero desire to see Jamie Kilstein beat the crap out of Jonah Goldberg, and make no mistake – I know Jamie Kilstein, and he WILL beat the crap out of Jonah Goldberg."
So in the unlikely event that Jonah does show up, where will the charity money be donated? "For me, I'm going to find something like gay lady socialists for a one state solution," Kilstein jokes.
As for Jonah? "He will probably donate it to build an Ayn Rand fuck doll."