Mother of Christ

I was posting a message over at the Washington Monthly just now, when I noticed this tidbit from one of the commentors:

[I]f ypu want to talk about the idiocy of the so-called intellectuals of the right, read the piece by Jonah Goldberg in the LA Times today.

On the day when one of the worst GOP scandals has hit the capital, he goes back 85 years to prove that liberals support killers.

I literally refused to believe it. “No one could possibly be that much of a douchebag,” I said to myself. “I mean, that’s like triple-strength Summer’s Eve douchebaggery.”

But sure enough, I looked on the L.A. Times website, and there it was:

THE HOTTEST VOICE of Hollywood’s conscience, George Clooney, recently declared, “Yes, I’m a liberal, and I’m sick of it being a bad word. I don’t know at what time in history liberals have stood on the wrong side of social issues.”

I’d forgotten about this intriguingly categorical declaration until I read in this newspaper a fascinating story about how the father of journalistic muckraking, Upton Sinclair, not only knew that Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were guilty but withheld his information for the good of the “movement,” for his personal safety and his professional success. Sacco and Vanzetti, if you recall, were Italian anarchists sentenced to death for the 1920 murders of a paymaster and his guard in Braintree, Mass.

Sinclair, the Pulitzer Prize-winning crusader who penned the famous novel “The Jungle,” prompting Teddy Roosevelt to coin the term “muckraker,” had, quite simply, lied. But before he lied, he was a true believer. He’d gone to Massachusetts to research his book “Boston,” which was set against the backdrop of the trial ? the trial, that is, of two supposedly innocent men. Unfortunately for Sinclair, Sacco and Vanzetti’s lawyer told him the unvarnished truth: The pair were just plain guilty, and their alibis were a pack of lies. […]

That Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty is no surprise to those who’ve looked into the case (though some die-hards claim Vanzetti was merely a co-conspirator after the fact). But that didn’t stop the martyrdom campaign. Their execution was used to galvanize everyone from establishment liberals to the very, very hard left. Josef Stalin publicly lamented it. Protests erupted in the capitals of Europe and across the U.S. A young Felix Frankfurter staked his reputation on their innocence. Sacco and Vanzetti became props in a passion play about the evils of the U.S. in the 1920s, and the myth endured.

Since Jonah’s decided to plum the depths of history to prove how evil his contemporary ideological opponents are, I think it’s only fair that we take a stroll through the archives of his current employer, The National Review. Here’s a dandy editorial praising the virtues of Francisco Franco from October 26, 1957:

General Franco is an authentic national hero… [with the] talents, the perseverance, and the sense of the righteousness of his cause, that were required to wrest Spain from the hands of the visionaries, ideologues, Marxists, and nihilists that were imposing… a regime so grotesque as to do violence to the Spanish soul, to deny, even, Spain’s historical destiny. He saved the day…. The need was imperative… for a national policy [to]… make this concession to Churchill this morning, that one to Hitler this afternoon…. Franco reigns… supreme. He is not an oppressive dictator…. only as oppressive as is necessary to maintain total power…

And then there’s this gem from August 24 of the same year:

The NAACP and others insist that the Negroes as a unit want integrated schools. Others disagree, contending that most Negroes approve the social sepaation of the races. What if the NAACP is correct, and the matter comes to a vote in a community in which Negroes predominate? The Negroes would, according to democratic processes, win the election; but that is the kind of situation the White community will not permit. The White community will not count the marginal Negro vote. The man who didn’t count it will be hauled up before a jury, he will plead not guilty, and the jury, upon deliberation, will find him not guilty. A federal judge, in a similar situation, might find the defendant guilty, a judgment which would affirm the law and conform with the relevant political abstractions, but whose consequences might be violent and anarchistic.

The central question that emerges–and it is not a parliamentary question or a question that is answered by meerely consulting a catalog of the rights of American citizens, born Equal–is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes–the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced ace.

And here they are mocking Martin Luther King back in 1959:

The soberly-dressed “clerky” little man… seemed oddly unsuited to his unmentioned but implicit role of propagandist…. Let me say at once, for the benefit of the wicked, fearful South, that Martin Luther King wil never rouse a rabble; in fact, I doubt very much if he could keep a rabble awake… past its bedtime… lecture… delivered with all the force and fervor of the five-year-old who nightly recites: “Our Father, Who art in New Haven, Harold be Thy name.”…

The history of Negro freedom in the United States… according to Dr. King, is actually a history of Supreme Court decisions… in each of these decisions “the Supreme Court gave validity to the prevailing mores of the times.” (That’s how they decide, you see? They look up the prevailing mores–probably in the Sunday New York Times.)…

(Thanks to the good Dr. DeLong for all of these wonderful exceprts.)


Comments: 24


Hmm, I haven’t heard that Sacco and Vanzetti were such a slam dunk…checking


Possible evidence indicating one was guilty the other not. Of course it does not appear to be a slam dunk. Regardless of their guilt, were they treated shabbily, and was the evidence convincing at trial? No. Guilty and innocent people can be railroaded equally. Goldberg is a moron. Nice of him to bust out such a cut and dry case. And he still doesn’t make his point.


Um, so people on the Left have been known in the past to support people who are obviously guilty.

Gee, good thing nobody does that these days.


wow, i havent heard anyone talk about Sacco and Vanzetti in almost 7 years! the last (and only) time i heard someone talk about them was when i was into radical politics. to actualy use them as proof of anything is to grasp at something so obscure that you practically nullify your own point. that and you make youself look like a Douchie McQueef Gaymo.


That was a good one, derek.



If I get some time later this evening, I might just decide to Godwin this whole silly idea of the doughboy’s by digging up some of the lovely things the American conservative element had to say about Hitler in the thirties.

Has anyone else noticed that any discussion involving any of the brain trust over at National Review always ends up coming back to fascists sooner or later?


brad, that was a great post. nice work.

(now listening to “Sacco and Vanzetti” by Christie Moore)


I mean, that’s like triple-strength Summer’s Eve douchebaggery.

Superb execution of expanding the metaphor. Magnifique!

Doubtless Jonah Goldberg’s douchebaggery will eventually reveal a virtual symphony of subtle and not-so-subtle notes, bouquets and finishes, from vinegar, water and Canestan, all the way to SOS, lye soap and powdery Pristine residue, influences he was exposed to at the earliest possible moment when he emerged from Lucianne’s va…

…oops. Gotta go. Phone’s ringing.


The most infuriating thing is how he conflates the fringe anarchist left with “liberals.” I mean, really, how many of us lose sleep at night worrying about Mumia?


But, dude, I hear there arre places where you can get Free Mumia. What? That doesn’t mean what I think it means?

Hmm. Well, then, do you know where I can get a Sack O’ Vanzetti?


I was a bit flabbergasted by the Matthew Shepard slam–I must have missed a news story along the way????


YEah, I have no idea. Jonah’s a twat.


And that Boss Tweed, he was naughty, too! Darn those corrupt Democrats!


Damn, I wish my high school debating team had taken on Jonah. We could have torn him a new one rather than countering the well-reasoned arguments of other high school students…

Long story short, Jonah’s an assbag.


I note, solemly, the ease with which the final National Review item you cite could be interpreted as an embryonic screed against “judicial activism”.


Two words:

Prescott Bush.


Having sentenced the two men to death, the judge boasted to a friend “Did you see what I did to those anarchist bastards the other day?” (quoted by Kurt Vonnegut in Jailbird).

Not a shocking, irrelevant turn of Doughy Pantload events, considering that his first column for the LA Times was “FDR fudged the intelligence on Pearl Harbor!!!1!1!”


I saw that stupid column fouling up the op-ed page of my hometown paper and laughed because s.z. at Wo’C was snarking about some idiot named Chuck DeVore who wrote on something called Human Events Online about….wait for it…Sacco and Vanzetti and modern lefties. What a coinky-dink! It’s almost as if there was a wingnut think tank out there pushing this meme. No, that would never happen, would it?


Henry, you’re just being cynical.

To suggest that Repugs could have independent thoughts….um….disregard, Henry.


I’m fully ready to break out the faux outrage over Goldberg’s attacks on Italians and our vowel-laden surnames.

If the Repubs can mewl about Durbin, Leahy and Kennedy being anti-Catholic when they take on right-wing judicial nominees, then I can point out that Pantload’s (and DeVore’s) fixation on a 85-year old crime where ethnicity played such a large part (I believe the judge was named Thayer) is anti-Italian and unseemly.


I just sent a letter to the times. Here it is:

Dear Editors;

Jonah Goldberg’s characterization of Matthew Shepard as a “drug addict” has never ever been proven or even alleged by anyone other than the young men who killed him. Pathetic.

The fact that he misspelled Matthew Shepard’s name in his poor excuse for an article is just sloppy and lazy. Do you actually pay him for this drivel? Seriously?

Uncle Mike
(via internet)


From that radical bastion of left-wing thought “Court TV” (ahem) on the case:

“…the Sacco-Vanzetti case remains in its broad outline the prime example of defendants tried not for what they did, but for whom they were: poor, passionate radicals, in an era in which the United States lived in a state of fear. It was the era of “The Red Scare.”

The case is hardly a slam dunk and most evidence till this day suggests that they were innocent. Dukakis in ’77 tried to make up for the state’s role:

“They weren’t pardoned. That would have been a declaration that they had been guilty. They were — in a manner of speaking — apologized to.”

I also love this line from the article:

“Josef Stalin publicly lamented it.”

Right and anyone who studied the Russian revolution knows just how friendly the communists were to the anarchists (Kronstadt?). Marxists/Stalinists and anarchists are antithetical positions. Good lord someone needs to read some history.


He is not an oppressive dictator…. only as oppressive as is necessary to maintain total power…


If that was how she was gonna use it, God should have never given Lucianne Goldberg a uterus.


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