Arguably the most ludicrous book to emerge during the George W. Bush era was hilariously titled, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, by National Review Online editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg. Yes, somehow Goldberg awkwardly contorted the English language to shoehorn a square liberal peg into a round fascism hole and catapult this hooey to number one on The New York Times bestseller list, making it really difficult to decide which was more idiotic: the book's title or the legion of doofuses who bought it.
Liberal Fascism was really patient zero for what occurred in the Spring and early Summer of 2009 when Glenn Beck, Rick Santelli and other conservatives erupted with inchoate fury, accusing President Obama of being both a socialist and a Nazi. Because as we all know, Nazis love them some mixed-race Harvard-educated leftists. Pegging off Goldberg's insane coitus of liberalism and fascism, Beck went one step further, suggesting that because "Nazi" was short for "National Socialist," Adolf Hitler was a socialist, even though liberalism and fascism are entirely incompatible. Unlike American liberalism, fascism is historically an extreme right-wing governmental system characterized by uber-nationalism, militarism and racial purity.
Just because the word "socialist" was in the National Socialist label doesn't mean Hitler and his cohorts were literally socialists. Indeed, the first groups to be rounded up and incarcerated at Dachau were socialists and leftists. Labels aren't definitions. For example, it might surprise the usual suspects to learn there's nothing democratic or republican about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, aka North Korea. Along those lines, Beck, Goldberg and the rest might be surprised to learn that "hot dogs" don't contain actual dogs.
Goldberg's Benito Mussolini, in particular, paraded around as a socialist until after he was elected and then engaged in one of the biggest flip-flops in political history, shedding every last hint of socialism once in power. Turns out -- shocker -- it's really difficult to get elected by pitching yourself as a fascist strongman.
In a more modern context, politicians will often take on the political characteristics of whichever party might achieve more votes in a particular district, or they'll often shift positions or party affiliation depending upon which way the populist winds are blowing. Political reality is a real pisser, isn't it? In the media, there are countless former morning zoo deejays and local news anchors who are currently masquerading around as bug-eyed paleoconservatives in order to win lucrative syndicated radio or Fox News Channel deals in the face of dwindling local money.
And just when you thought the whole "liberal fascism" meme was so 2009, along comes presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) who said this past weekend:
There is a liberal fascism that is dedicated to going after believing Christians who follow the biblical teaching on marriage!
We've been over and over the marriage issue recently, but this is the first time in a while someone has resurrected the "liberal fascism" myth and ham-fistedly crammed it into the debate. To repeat: Jesus said absolutely nothing about refusing service to same-sex weddings because, 1) there was no such thing as same-sex weddings in Jesus' time, making them impossible to ban, 2) Jesus said nothing whatsoever about homosexuality in general, and 3) because Jesus' teachings sanction an all-inclusive faith, not a straight-men only club. (It's important to repeat: the Bible condemned same-sex intercourse in the context of pagan rituals, and not based upon our modern understanding of homosexuality.)
Generally speaking, the Bible and especially the New Testament doesn't forbid helping so-called sinners. Not only did Jesus go out of his way to embrace alleged sinners and to teach his followers to do the same, but, correct me if I'm wrong, didn't Jesus die a horrifying, torturous death in service of all sinners? And yet some Christians think it's all kinds of harrowing to merely sell a damn pizza to a gay couple. Jesus' narrative, and indeed the reason why he died, has been badly and tragically lost.
I'm still waiting for contrary evidence from anti-gay Christians, and no one has pointed to the passages defining which cake and pizza customers are acceptable, according to the Bible -- whether it's more, less or totally not a sin to bake a cake for a gay wedding as opposed to a second marriage, a marriage involving a bisexual couple or, gasp!, a mixed-race marriage, none of which appear to be a problem for devout Christians even though (weak) biblical arguments could be made against all of the above. That said, it might be interesting in a schadenfreude kind of way to see the GOP field defend the religious liberty of a bakery owner who refuses service to a mixed-raced couple because God said so.
Somehow, opponents of discrimination are considered liberal fascists, whereas relegating an entire demographic of law-abiding citizens to second class status is considered "freedom." In Ted Cruz's twisted noggin, up is down, equality is fascism and discrimination is freedom. By the way, Ted Cruz should probably avoid Bill O'Reilly and evangelical anti-gay Pastor Robert Jeffress who each agree that using "biblical teachings" as an argument against marriage equality in a secular society is a big loser -- a big loser not unlike Cruz after he's forced to drop out of the GOP primaries following Super Tuesday.
Oh, and speaking of losers, we really didn't have to cover any of this because as soon as Cruz blurted out "fascism," he officially crapped all over Godwin"s Law, immediately forfeiting the argument.
In the final analysis, religious freedom can easily be bastardized -- and has historically been bastardized -- as a handy-dandy excuse for a wide range of horrendous things that are sanctioned by religious texts (Hebrew, Christian and Muslim) written at a time when human understanding of the world was comparatively limited. That's not meant to shame people of faith, but it's instead meant to shame those who selectively cherry-pick passages to suit their own personal phobias and biases -- exploiting God's word as a transparently cynical means of excluding those who desire loving, consensual adult relationships. Cruz and others who claim a biblical justification for discriminating against same-sex couples are essentially bearing false witness, as condemned by the ninth commandment, in service of hatred or fear.