It is fun to play the public intellectual and drop the names of authors whose works one has never read with care. And it is very easy to get out beyond one's depth. At the moment I am thinking of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, and to a lesser extent, Rod Dreher. Their commentarial confidence is sometimes out of proportion to their competence. Gottfried, praising and drawing upon Gordon, here lays into Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism.
He also targets Dinesh D'Souza and Dennis Prager:
Perhaps one of the most ludicrous examples of the conservative movement’s recent attempt at being sophisticated was an exchange of equally uninformed views by talk show host Dennis Prager and Dinesh D’Souza, on the subject of the fascist worldview. The question was whether one could prove that fascism was a leftist ideology by examining the thought of Mussolini’s court philosopher Giovanni Gentile (1875-1944). Gentile defined the “fascist idea” in his political writings while serving as minister of education in fascist Italy. He was also not incidentally one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century; and in works like General Theory of the Spirit as Pure Act, adapts the thought of Hegel to his own theory of evolving national identity. It would be hard to summarize Gentile’s thought in a few pithy sentences; and, not surprisingly, the Canadian historian of philosophy H.S. Harris devotes a book of many hundreds of pages trying to explain his complex philosophical speculation.
Hey, but that’s no big deal for such priests of the GOP church as Prager and D’Souza. They zoom to the heart of Gentile’s neo-Hegelian worldview in thirty seconds and state with absolute certainty that he was a “leftist.” We have to assume that Prager, D’Souza and the rest of their crowd know this intuitively, inasmuch they give no indication of having ever read a word of Gentile’s thought, perhaps outside of a few phrases that they extracted from his Doctrine of Fascism. Their judgment also clashes with that of almost all scholars of Gentile’s work, from across the political spectrum, who view him, as I do in my study of fascism, as the most distinguished intellectual of the revolutionary right.
That's the scholar talking. I agree. But let me say a word in defense of Prager & Co. They reach people. They have influence. Who has heard of Paul Gottfried? Me and five other guys. I exaggerate, but in the direction of an important truth.
Or take Limbaugh. One day he demonstrated his ignorance of the concept of negative rights. But so what given that politics is a practical game the purpose of which is to defeat opponents and remove them from power?
And then there is the much-hated Trump. You say he has the vocabulary of a 13-year-0ld? That he is obnoxious and unpresidential? I agree. But he defeated ISIS. (And accomplished a dozen other important things in his first year in office.) Did Obama defeat ISIS? Would Hillary have? Of course not. She couldn't bring herself to utter the words 'radical Islamic terrorist.'