It’s the Little Things

by Kieran Healy on December 18, 2007

Jonah Goldberg’s jacket-copy pronouncement that

The quintessential liberal fascist isn’t an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade-school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore

is already passing into legend. In my earlier post I linked to the faculty page of Swarthmore’s Department of Educational Studies. Browsing around, and wanting to learn more about Swarthmorofascism®, I found some information on the academic program they offer:

The Department of Educational Studies offers students several alternative programs of study. Although the Department does not offer a major, it does provide students with the opportunity to develop a Special Major in conjunction with another department. Students may also minor in Education. In the Honors Program, students may do a Special Major in Education and another field or may do an Honors minor in Education. Students may choose to do secondary or elementary Teacher Certification in addition to or independently of these other options.

So, you can minor in Ed, and you can study it in conjunction with something else. But you cannot in fact have “an education degree from Swarthmore” in the same way that you can have an Economics or Physics or History degree from Swarthmore.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Depth First Search » Blog Archive » The Meaning of Swarthmore
12.18.07 at 4:42 am
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12.18.07 at 4:01 pm

{ 72 comments }

1

lemuel pitkin 12.18.07 at 4:01 am

Well, of course! And similarly, you cannot in fact be a “liberal fascist.” So Jonah’s sentence is precisely right.

2

Frenchdoc 12.18.07 at 4:04 am

We already knew that Jonah’s fact-checking skills were, how should I put it, grossly underdeveloped. Facts and logics are the mark of liberal fascists, Kieran. You should know that by now.

3

Total 12.18.07 at 4:30 am

Really? We’re going to go after Goldberg because you can’t, in fact, have a ed degree from Swarthmore? I have this image of you pushing past the burning house with screaming people in it, the car crash bodies strewn all over the place, to point with shaking finger at the misused apostrophe on the bakery sign across the street.

4

Kieran Healy 12.18.07 at 4:37 am

Rubbernecking the car-wreck was what the previous post was for, total. I have an image of you looking for something that isn’t here.

5

bob mcmanus 12.18.07 at 4:47 am

3:Just the perfect description of the “reality-based community”, total, and liberal intellectual politics for at least the last decade.

Joel Grey mocking the moustache. It’s all so funny at the Cabaret.

6

Frenchdoc 12.18.07 at 4:47 am

Remember your Durkheim, total, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And all the parts, in this case, are little piles of horse manure which makes the whole what was described in the previous thread.

7

paul 12.18.07 at 4:57 am

Any bets as to when the list of factual errors in this serious, serious book outnumbers its page count?

8

Kieran Healy 12.18.07 at 5:12 am

Hi bob! Back from the barricades so soon?

9

Thers 12.18.07 at 5:54 am

I have this image of you pushing past the burning house with screaming people in it, the car crash bodies strewn all over the place, to point with shaking finger at the misused apostrophe on the bakery sign across the street.

So the car crashed into the house, then?

10

weichi 12.18.07 at 5:54 am

fucking swarthmore fascists. Won’t even give their storm troopers education degrees.

11

P O'Neill 12.18.07 at 6:02 am

One can have an education degree from Swarthmore in the same way that a national socialist can be a socialist.

12

Punditus Maximus 12.18.07 at 6:09 am

I don’t know which is more insanely hilarious — the fact that the book was printed in the first place or the fact that it has defenders.

Is there some point at which these folks receive some kind of counseling?

13

fjm 12.18.07 at 6:25 am

A slightly weird intervention here, but my PhD is in Quaker history, and I’d suggest that it isn’t as daft a lable as it sounds (even if the author doesn’t mean what I’m about to mean).

The Quakers use a corporatist model of allegiance. Well into the 1960s they regarded unions as “divisive”. While I was researching my thesis in the 1990s I came across several documents from the 1930s whose model of workplace organisation was about internal loyalty to employment heirarchies and the perniciousness of class based organisations. At least one of them discussed “what we can learn from labour relations in Germany”. It was of course rather niaive, but that some Quakers were even looking in that direction was a it disturbing.

14

ikl 12.18.07 at 6:31 am

I went to Swarthmore and it seems to me that we are more often accused of being communists. So this is an amusing change of pace.

15

bob mcmanus 12.18.07 at 7:22 am

9:Hilarious books from my youth:Witness, God & Man at Yale, None Dare Call It Treason, Six Crises, Joe McCarthy & His Enemies, Conscience of a Conservative

And here we are 40-50 years later, with Baghdad & Bear Stearns & Alito & I just can’t laugh at the right anymore. I don’t think they’re funny.

But the Zeitgeist has changed. Whew. What a relief.

16

noen 12.18.07 at 8:31 am

I think this comes in a close second for Goldbergian stupidity:

“The nativist Ku Klux Klan—ironically, often called “American fascists” by liberals.”

Because in Wingnutlandia calling the KKK fascists reflects badly on you.

17

Ciarán 12.18.07 at 9:06 am

I’m terribly confused, obviously due to my liberal facist ways. Does being amused at your making the facts get in the way of the essential truths of our facism make me a pedantofacist or a reality-based-communofacist?

18

Ciarán 12.18.07 at 9:08 am

Argh. Fascism. Whatever I am I’m definitely an liberal illiterofascist.

19

MikeJ 12.18.07 at 10:20 am

shaking finger at the misused apostrophe on the bakery sign across the street.

The misused apostrophe will affect many more people than the fire will.

20

MR. Bill 12.18.07 at 11:09 am

I’m wondering here just how many Brown and Swarthmore Ed majors there could possibly be, and what percentage actually would be in a school setting.
And then trying to see by just how many orders of magnitude they would be outnumbered by the sort of conservative Southern Baptist (or it’s equivalent) teachers such as my children endured, like the woman who denied that “Song of Solomon” had any erotic intent..

21

MR. Bill 12.18.07 at 11:45 am

And then there was the Professor of a small methodist college(a wife of a fundamentalist preacher) who was infuriated my daughter chose to spend time in the Ancient (Egyptian and Greco-Roman) Galleries of the Louvre, instead of hearing her talk on the Religious content of Renaissance painting…

22

Michael Bérubé 12.18.07 at 1:04 pm

Boy, talk about missing the point. The point is that thirty years ago, that grade-school teacher, wherever her degree was from, made Jonah stand in the corner for eating all that paste. Fascist grade-school teacher! And now Mr. Goldberg has his revenge. Bwah hah hah, etc.

23

Henry (not the famous one) 12.18.07 at 1:09 pm

There used to be a Chinese restaurant on Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles called Chao’s Chop Suey. Except Chao’s was spelled out vertically and without an apostrophe, so that you read the sign as “Chop Suey Chaos.”

I remember being so fixated on that missing apostrophe that I could not hear the cries of those poor souls burning across the street. Goldberg would have DONE SOMETHING.

24

P O'Neill 12.18.07 at 1:42 pm

The point is that thirty years ago, that grade-school teacher, wherever her degree was from, made Jonah stand in the corner for eating all that paste

Or 15 years ago she said No when Jonah asked for a date.

25

harry b 12.18.07 at 2:18 pm

I really really really hate to defend him, but since in a better world it would be impossible to get a teacher certification without a major in some academic subject, and since one can realise the ideal at Swarthmore (major in English, secondary certification) I think that saying one can have an Education degree from Swarthmore is fine, colloquially.

26

Comment 12.18.07 at 2:19 pm

It’s doubtful that someone middle-minded like Jonah could have gotten into Swarthmore – a very competative school. So there’s some resentment going on here – some jealousy masked as indignation.

Ironically Swarthmore offers one of those tough solid liberal arts programs – (lots of solid majors and sciences – not many easy {ie education) majors – that conservatives extol.

So Johah should STFU, grab his bag of Doritos, his Homer Cliffs Notes, and head back to the drawing board.

27

Russell Arben Fox 12.18.07 at 2:24 pm

I just really, really want to read the Hillary Clinton chapter. The whole book is going to be crackpot history and perverse reasoning at best, of course, but it’s when Jonah goes after the facist/lesbian/sign-of-the-Apocalypse Hillary that you know the whole thing is going to descend into scary, frothing-at-the-mouth, nonsensical madness. That’s what I want to see.

28

Western Dave 12.18.07 at 2:27 pm

Kieran,
While you can’t major in education at Swat, you technically can’t get a History degree either. Swarthmore offers only two degrees, BA and BS. The latter is only for the engineers. Ironically, I majored in History minored in Soc/Anth and now teach Upper School. I know two other Swattie teachers and none of us were in the ed. program. I had a roommate who got his teaching cert., got an ed degree from Harvard, but he is now a lawyer.

29

golem582 12.18.07 at 2:43 pm

Does anyone want to make a bet that the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime are conveniently glossed over in Goldberg’s book?

30

Luther Blissett 12.18.07 at 3:20 pm

Harry B:

You need to be specific about *where* in the US you’re talking about. Some states require, especially for 6-12 teaching certs, a major in a “content area,” along with a Masters in Ed or a Masters of Teaching degree. For K-6, a major in one content area wouldn’t make sense, considering that these teachers are teaching every subject every day.

When I moved to New York State, I resented the fact that, with a BA in English, an MA in English, and a Ph.D. in English, I still needed the MAT in 6-12 English Education to teach public high school. After completing the program, though, I’m glad I had the specific teaching training.

Great students often make bad teachers. Great teachers understand what it’s like to have trouble learning and giving a shit about school.

As a liberal fascist teacher, I now control the minds of many young Americans. Whoopie.

31

abb1 12.18.07 at 3:25 pm

But is the quintessential conservative fascist an SS storm trooper?

32

astrongmaybe 12.18.07 at 3:48 pm

Can I accuse him of postmature antifascism?

33

Chris Williams 12.18.07 at 3:58 pm

Can we all play the great Mussolini-admirer game?

1) Pick a group: political, ethnic, national
2) Search through the public utterances of every member of that group between 1915 and 1944, until you find one of them expressing admiration for something that Mussolini has said or done.
3) Declare group x ‘fascist’. Say it in the manner of Jane Horrocks in “Life is Sweet” [fahschEEEST!] for extra points.

It works for everyone. Including Jews!

34

harry b 12.18.07 at 3:59 pm

Quakers?

35

Delicious Pundit 12.18.07 at 4:01 pm

This book is shaping up to be the literary equivalent of the musical “Springtime For Hitler.”

36

Martin G. 12.18.07 at 4:15 pm

Am I the only one who completely missed the subliminal cut first time around?

Look:

The quintessential liberal fascist isn’t an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade-school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.

Let’s see that one more time in slow motion:

The quintessential liberal fascist isn’t an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade-school teacher with an education degree from Brown or _Swarth_more.

See that? See that? Subliminally subliminal words for your unconsciousness, telling you that this is even worse than a female grade school teacher: she is also brown and swarthy, i.e. black.

37

Barry 12.18.07 at 4:17 pm

“Does being amused at your making the facts get in the way of the essential truths of our facism make me a pedantofacist or a reality-based-communofacist?”
Posted by Ciarán ·

Obviously you’re a reality-based-communo-pedanto-fascistic-eco-feminazi!
(the last two are for free, courtesy of Rush Limbaugh)

38

Ben Alpers 12.18.07 at 4:30 pm

But is the quintessential conservative fascist an SS storm trooper?

Absolutely, ’cause conservatives aren’t wusses and surrender monkeys like those liberals. Conservatives do fascism the manly way!

39

Robert (Bob) Bobinnalong 12.18.07 at 4:31 pm

We think individualism and diversity are valuable, so he calls us fascists. Hmmm.

I suggest we start calling for the siezure and redistribution of all income and property by a unitary executive, and he’ll start calling us libertarian capitalists, and then have nothing left to complain about.

.

40

Michael Bérubé 12.18.07 at 4:48 pm

See that? See that? Subliminally subliminal words for your unconsciousness, telling you that this is even worse than a female grade school teacher: she is also brown and swarthy, i.e. black.

ZOMG, Martin, you’re so right. . . oh, no, wait a minute . . . it could be even worse . . . Hey everybody! Run! Get out while you can! That’s no grade school — it’s a madrassa!! Just like the one Barry Hussein Obama went to!!

41

~~~~ 12.18.07 at 4:58 pm

There used to be a Chinese restaurant on Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles called Chao’s Chop Suey. Except Chao’s was spelled out vertically and without an apostrophe, so that you read the sign as “Chop Suey Chaos.”

In Amsterdam there used to be a snack bar in the Plantage Kerklaan that had a sign that said “Pata’tes frites”. It really puzzled me, and I ignored several disasters wondering about it, until I realized that the foreign owner had probably looked it up in a dictionary and put the apostrophe that indicated word stress on the sign. (Word stress in Dutch that is, French has no word stress.)

42

Grand Moff Texan 12.18.07 at 5:56 pm

Ausbildung macht frei?
.

43

Grand Moff Texan 12.18.07 at 6:01 pm

Except Chao’s was spelled out vertically and without an apostrophe, so that you read the sign as “Chop Suey Chaos.”

During the previous Republican recession, there was a brief vogue of super-low-overhead grocery stores, where I remember buying 10-lb. boxes of cereal anent the rats at a place called “Warehouse Grocery.”

At night, however, the W, the A, the H, and the O were burnt out in the first word, which left the place with a more appropriate name.
.

44

Timothy Burke 12.18.07 at 6:06 pm

Oh, now I think I need to go over to Pearson, where the education program is, and go up on the balcony doing my Mussolini impression.

There’s not much point in going after the major/program distinction when the idea that students studying education at Swarthmore are “liberal fascists” is on tap.

It’s just so silly. It’s a flavor of Orwellian doublespeak, where no words exist save the absurdly hyperbolic. I’d say that Jonah Goldberg should be ashamed of himself, but that would presuppose the capacity to feel that emotion.

45

Total 12.18.07 at 6:48 pm

Rubbernecking the car-wreck was what the previous post was for, total.

How about helping out with the car wreck (rather than rubber-necking) and ignoring the apostrophe altogether?

I have an image of you looking for something that isn’t here.

I have an image of you reading Goldberg’s book to check for misspellings. Focus on what’s important here.

So the car crashed into the house, then?

After the driver swerved to avoid the apostrophe, yes.

There’s not much point in going after the major/program distinction when the idea that students studying education at Swarthmore are “liberal fascists” is on tap.

Exactly right.

46

Josh 12.18.07 at 7:14 pm

How about helping out with the car wreck (rather than rubber-necking) and ignoring the apostrophe altogether?

I’ve heard there are these things called “blogs”, where anyone who wants to opine on any topic can do so with great ease. So, for instance, someone who wants to talk about car wrecks can write a blog about car wrecks, and someone who wants to talk about apostrophes can write a blog about punctuation. This means that the car wreck enthusiast need not whine and moan that the punctuation devotee is talking about apostrophes when there are so many car wrecks to be discussed. These are truly exciting times!

47

mq 12.18.07 at 7:28 pm

Yeah, let’s keep our eye on the ball here.

Let’s try to see if we can’t improve American public life by making this book a universal and bipartisan laughingstock.

48

arcseed 12.18.07 at 7:36 pm

Is a “Special Major” like the “Special Police”?

49

John Emerson 12.18.07 at 7:50 pm

Goldberg’s manifold weaknesses make defending him an impossible task, but there is a way of making his claims plausible from a little-government constitutionalist, libertarian, or traditionalist conservative point of view.

First would be to define American liberalism as a form of socialism (akin to democratic socialism). Next would be to point out that socialism and fascism both advocate a strong, innovative, interventionist state which does not honor or follow past tradition. Next would be to point out that both socialism and fascism tend to be dominated by “new men” and tend to scorn the traditional elites and shove them aside.

What’s missing is the gangs of hoodlums, the death camps, the secret police, the arbitrary imprisonments and executions, and so on. (It reminds me of the free-marketer’s claim that Sweden was worse than the USSR, since the state share of the Swedish economy was actually larger than the state share in the USSR).

And then, you do have the fact that Fascist Roosevelt did bring the US into the war against Fascist Germany, Italy, and Japan.

There are many cases of individuals who switched from the left to Fascism, Mussolini being a famous case. I believe that Scott E. Kaufman finds Jack London’s political position ambiguous and shifting in this sense (Hi, Scott, correct me if I’m wrong).

In the U.S. the populist Democrats often opposed WWII, and some seemed to have fascist / nativist sympathies. I’l repeat the example I’ve posted here before. In Minnesota, the Farmer-Labor Party (the US’s most successful left party ever) elected a Communist Congressman in 1936 or so (John Bernard of the Duluth area), but in 1942 FL Senator Ledeen was implicated in German propaganda activities, dying shortly thereafter in a mysterious plane crash — the first but not the last Minnesota Senator to do so.)

In other news, Turturro’s Jesus Quintana in “The Big Lebowski” is the best supporting part ever.

50

John Emerson 12.18.07 at 7:57 pm

I failed to mention, of course, that Jonah’s own political movement is riddled with proto-fascists, irrationalists, eliminationists, and blind followers of the Christlike George W. Bush. Jonah’s thesis is a broad one, and we should not expect him to be accurate on every detail.

51

abb1 12.18.07 at 8:00 pm

Special Major is like a common Colonel.

52

Grand Moff Texan 12.18.07 at 8:03 pm

Jonah’s thesis is a broad one, and we should not expect him to be accurate on every detail.

Seeing as how Jonah is a mid-level meatus of the regurgitron, I don’t expect him to know his ass from a hole in the ground, because he’s never had to.
.

53

luci 12.18.07 at 8:10 pm

How many Swarthmore or Brown grads teach elementary school? Less than 1%?

We’ve got a recruiting problem.

54

Lord Acton 12.18.07 at 8:12 pm

Thank goodness our American Educators are doing such
an outstanding job regardless of alma mater.

“In OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment 2003, 15 year olds ranked 24th of 38 in mathematics, 19th of 38 in science, 12th of 38 in reading, and 26th of 38 in problem solving.”

Keep up the great work you guys. No doubt our American students lead the entire world in Self-Esteem!!

55

Total 12.18.07 at 8:18 pm

I’ve heard there are these things called “blogs”, where anyone who wants to opine on any topic can do so with great ease

I hear there are these things called “comments” on “blogs” where people can point out that the “blogger” has missed not only the forest, but the trees, the bushes, and the shrubs (not to mention the Knights of Ni), because he’s fixated on an acorn.

56

Kieran Healy 12.18.07 at 8:21 pm

because he’s fixated

I don’t think “fixated” means what you think it means, total.

57

MikeJ 12.18.07 at 8:36 pm

In the U.S. the populist Democrats often opposed WWII…..

You seem to be making (one of) the mistake(s) Goldberg does, conflating “Democrat” with “liberal”. Even today the two are hardly completely overlapping sets. No sane person could call Hillary a “liberal”. Before the 60s there were many, many more conservative Democrats than there are now.

The “populist” part of your sentence is far more important than the “Democrats”part.

58

Total 12.18.07 at 8:54 pm

I don’t think “fixated” means what you think it means, total.

I think “fixated” means exactly what I think it means, kieran.

59

Ben Alpers 12.18.07 at 8:59 pm

There actually are serious books that draw parallels between the New Deal, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany, e.g. Wolfgang Schivelbusch’s Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933-1939.

It’s actually a pretty interesting book.

However, Schivelbusch does not argue that these regimes were equivalent, let alone that the New Deal was fascist or Nazism left-wing.

60

John Emerson 12.18.07 at 9:21 pm

The populist Democrats were often pretty liberal. I understand that liberals have a fainting terror of populism, but that’s part of the weakness of the Democrats today. The populist FL party was more liberal, by present standards, than any other party in the US at that time, and left the US as the most liberal state in the union. (It was Humphrey, who engineeried the Democrat / FL merger) whose civil rights proposals triggered the Dixiecrat revolt in 1948. Hofstadter got a lot of stuff wrong, and people read him too uncritically.

Goldberg is a fool, but these questions are more complicated than the knee-jerk liberal can understand.

61

John Emerson 12.18.07 at 9:22 pm

“Left Minnesota as the most liberal state in the union”.

62

MikeJ 12.18.07 at 10:46 pm

Populists ne liberal ne Democrat. Which of course was pretty obviously the point of my comment.

63

Josh R. 12.18.07 at 10:47 pm

MikeJ,

Not only that, Mike, but there’s that whole party realignment thing that began to occur AFTER World War II, in which [conservative] Southern Democrats white flighted their butts to the GOP over civil rights. How many of them were isolationist, and against US entry into the War? That’s another important consideration to, well, consider.

64

John Emerson 12.18.07 at 10:54 pm

“Populist” as I used it was a descriptive term for a style of politics, not the political party (which didn’t survive WWI). After that point most populists were Democrats, though in Minnesota and Wisconsin new third parties arose. And some populists were liberals.

65

JakeB 12.19.07 at 12:23 am

re #51–

John Emerson–

Another thing that fascism needs is a cult of personality. I can only hope that Mr. Goldberg has determined that the great leader is Noam Chomsky (although I suppose Jimmy Carter would also do).

66

Shelby 12.19.07 at 12:54 am

Despite all the foregoing, the funniest thing on this page remains Goldberg’s jacket-copy quote. That probably doesn’t mean much, but I’m just sayin’.

67

Ben Alpers 12.19.07 at 5:58 am

I can only hope that Mr. Goldberg has determined that the great leader is Noam Chomsky (although I suppose Jimmy Carter would also do).

It’s got to be teh Clenis! (Actually, Hillary was in one of the first iterations of the subtitle.)

68

bad Jim 12.19.07 at 8:32 am

Doesn’t Facebook deserve at least some of the blame for the resurgence of facism?

69

novakant 12.19.07 at 10:15 am

Let’s just scrap both fascism and socialism from our vocabulary – decades of misuse have drained these terms of all explanatory power. I’ll make an exception for serious social scientists and historians trying to delineate certain movements in the past with descriptive rather than polemical intent and willing and able to spend a few pages on semantics.

70

Christopher Robinson 12.19.07 at 1:46 pm

Laughing all the way to the bank…What’s Jonah’s
second act?

71

paul 12.19.07 at 9:04 pm

total’s claim has a noble history, of course:

“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,’ it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'”

72

j.c. 12.21.07 at 12:29 am

Total–assuming that your mildly sanctimonious claim about “focusing on what’s important” is correct, why does that necessarily exclude also checking for misspellings? Why can’t one pay attention to both the apostrophe and the car wreck? For all you know, after Kieran Healy logs off of CT at night he puts a cape on and pulls babies out of burning buildings. I think you missed the point of Josh’s comment(48); there is a time and place for everything (except,possibly in the hideously drab Total world where we always only pull people from important fires…)

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