February 07, 2002
You keep using that word...

Megan McArdle takes issue with liberals' use of the word "fascist" as a code word for "people I don't like". She suggests the following experiment:

1) Find a liberal
2) Get him to say someone is a 'fascist'
3) Then say, "Other than one fascist's regimes penchant for genocide, what specifically do you have against fascism?"

That sure is a ringing endorsement for fascism, I gotta say. Sorta like the old joke "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?"

If you want to play that game, I'll point out that libertarians and conservatives have their own code word for people they don't like, too: "jackboot". Go to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, look up "jackboot", then click on their link for the Ten Most Popular Sites For "jackboot". Among them (it actually returns 20 links), you'll find four references to John Perry Barlow calling proponents of the Clipper chip "jackboots of the InfoBahn", this quote from The National Review which says "Wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face there will be a well-heeled Western liberal to explain that the face does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy", this article from the Cato Institute entitled "'Jackboot Liberalism' Residues", and this guest comment from The National Review calling Janet Reno a jackboot for daring to enforce the law by returning Elian Gonzales to his father.

I wonder what the response would be if I said to these folks "The primary definition of 'jackboot' is 'a heavy military boot made of glossy black leather extending above the knee and worn especially during the 17th and 18th centuries'. What, specifically, do you have against jackboots?"

By the way, weren't Generalissimo Francisco Franco and Benito Mussolini both fascists as well? That'd be more than one objectionable fascist regime, I think.

Oh, and one last thing: Why are jackboots also a metaphor for people we don't like? Because of who wore them.

And that would be?

Say it with me now...Fascists.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 07, 2002 to Skepticism | TrackBack