In what has to be one of the scummiest, most intellectually dishonest pieces of pretend journalism to come out of the conservative cesspool that is the National Review, Kevin D. Williamson has basically labeled Bernie Sanders a Nazi. Without using the actual word, Williamson’s breathless diatribe against the Vermont Senator combines a mixture of highly specious comparisons and outright bullshit to portray Sanders as a racist, nationalistic extremist who does not belong in the mainstream of American politics. Here’s the not so subtle Nazi comparison:
In the Bernieverse, there’s a whole lot of nationalism mixed up in the socialism. He is, in fact, leading a national-socialist movement, which is a queasy and uncomfortable thing to write about a man who is the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and whose family was murdered in the Holocaust. But there is no other way to characterize his views and his politics.
Well, yes, there is another way to characterize Sander’s politics that doesn’t include Nazi comparisons – an obvious fact for anyone not writing for a media outlet that ludicrously compares President Obama to Donald Trump. National socialism – a term almost exclusively designated to fascist military dictatorships born out of the Prussian/Germanic tradition – is not in any way comparable to Sander’s politics that would in any other industrialized country outside of America be regarded as mildly left wing progressivism. But, you see, Williamson had no choice but to label Sanders a national-socialist, because Sanders is a racist even if he doesn’t know he is:
The incessant reliance on xenophobic (and largely untrue) tropes holding that the current economic woes of the United States are the result of scheming foreigners, especially the wicked Chinese, “stealing our jobs” and victimizing his class allies is nothing more than an updated version of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s “yellow peril” rhetoric, and though the kaiser had a more poetical imagination — he said he had a vision of the Buddha riding a dragon across Europe, laying waste to all — Bernie’s take is substantially similar. He describes the normalization of trade relations with China as “catastrophic” — Sanders and Jesse Helms both voted against the Clinton-backed China-trade legislation — and heaps scorn on every other trade-liberalization pact. That economic interactions with foreigners are inherently hurtful and exploitative is central to his view of how the world works.
This risible nonsense is the same type of garbage leveled at the President by Glenn Beck types who insist President Obama is the racist because he dares point out the obvious inequality between racial groups in America. Sanders has not portrayed the Chinese as being ‘wicked, scheming foreigners,’ he has simply pointed out that current trade agreements with China have devastated American companies and workers – a statement corroborated by hard facts. Reported the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) back in 2008:
The growth of U.S. trade with China since China entered the World Trade Organization in 2001 has had a devastating effect on U.S. workers and the domestic economy. Between 2001 and 2007 2.3 million jobs were lost or displaced, including 366,000 in 2007 alone. New demographic research shows that, even when re-employed in non-traded industries, the 2.3 million workers displaced by the increase in China trade deficits in this period have lost an average $8,146 per worker/year. In 2007, these losses totalled $19.4 billion.1
Williamson’s Orwellian doublespeak is sadly a familiar trademark of the intellectually vacant right that is now so utterly devoid of ideas that it resorts to name calling and flagrant mischaracterizations to score points. Check out this amazing piece of syntactic gymnastics:
Criminalizing things is very much on Bernie’s agenda, beginning with the criminalization of political dissent. At every event he swears to introduce a constitutional amendment reversing Supreme Court decisions that affirmed the free-speech protections of people and organizations filming documentaries, organizing Web campaigns, and airing television commercials in the hopes of influencing elections or public attitudes toward public issues. That this would amount to a repeal of the First Amendment does not trouble Bernie at all. If the First Amendment enables Them, then the First Amendment has got to go.
Williamson is of course referring to the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for unlimited corruption of the political process by corporations and the ultra wealthy. Sanders is not suggesting in any way that “the First Amendment has got to go,” but has made reversing Citizens United a focal point for his campaign as be believes in saving what is left of the American democratic process. This gratuitous intellectual dishonesty would be shameful if it weren’t so hysterically funny.
The rest of Williamson’s fraudulent piece is too dire to go into, but it should be held up as a brilliant example of a dying movement in America desperately attempting relevance again.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.