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The New Fascist

Here is a list of rightwing media attacks against George Soros. Outrageous! Full disclosure: I wrote commentary about George Soros’s support of Democratic causes for a political journal in which I expressed some ambivalence about Soros’s getting involved in US politics. But this stuff goes beyond the pale.

I usually try to guard against using political labels. Usually they are meaningless and full of emotion. But Bill Oreilly is a fascist–as close as the USA will get to having one. He is marginally educated, and at first glance, reasonable-sounding enough, but totally convinced of the rightness of his words and his cause. He’s articulate (I’ll grant him that) and there have been multiple instances where he’s shouted down reasonable people and accused them of sinister motives (look at his tete-a-tete with Terry Gross). He considers himself beyond criticism; alternative viewpoints are to be held at arm’s length, and he always controls the microphone. He surrounds himself with guests who parrot his extremist rhetoric and just seems unable to adopt anything but extremist jingoistic positions. Despite his massive media megaphone, he seems perennially indignant at being ignored, at being silenced. Watch him for 5 minutes, and you can’t help but have the sense that Bill Oreilly has paranoid visions of the world.

Now let me say that I rarely watch him and don’t need to. You can say: why criticize a man when I barely know his opinions? My answer: Oreilly is a voice of intolerance; why should an intolerant man be entitled to our tolerance and indulgence? It’s like saying, “well, your criticism of Adolph Hitler is superficial and invalid because you haven’t read Mein Kamp.” (And beleive me, when referring to Hitler, I am keenly aware of Godwin’s law ).

While we’re in the habit of creating sociological dictums, here is Nagle’s dictum: the degree of Bill O’Reilly’s prominence in American society is proportional to USA’s susceptibility to fascism. Right now Bill Oreilly has one of the most prominent positions in one of the most powerful media outlets in America.

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