I have been puzzled and perturbed by the comments on my most recent post in which I quoted from a description of the reception of a polite but hostile questioner at a Coulter speaking event (note that this is ostensibly a lecture, not a brownshirts rally we are talking about) and suggested they sounded proto-fascist.
Here's the key quote:
At the same moment, several Republicans hurled obscenities at my wife, a Navy veteran, and one threatened her with physical violence, stating he would kick her in the head if she didn’t “shut up,” when she was asking Coulter a question.
Hissing questioners you disagree with is, I believe, quite appropriate. Booing I can understand although I think preventing people from being heard usually is an error in judgment. Even screaming “shut up” is tolerable. But threatening to kick you in the head?
Yet my readers – whom I choose to think are likely literate and well-educated – are trying to excuse it. One writes that this comes from both sides of the political aisle and has been happening for years. Rubbish. Another says that complaining about threats of violence is somehow a cheap shot on my part, and suggests that life in the ivory tower has made me forget about the rough-and-tumble of real life. The writer then equates a threat of physical violence with (unnamed) professors being verbally tough on students!
Another commentator says we should not call it “fascist” until “thugs show up”. To which I offer the following deal: how about we'll call battery fascist and mere assault — defined, please recall as “an unlawful threat or attempt to do bodily injury to another” — merely proto-fascist.
Yet another commentator says they were asking for it! (And when the Coulter fans whose rally they were at told them to shut up (did they really find this surprising?), our narrators became offended. That falls squarely into the category of “those who actively seek to be offended will usually be successful.”) Yes, those poor shrinking violets, both military veterans, had their feelings hurt…when someone threatened to kick them in the head.
We are indeed in parlous times when the articulate people — intellectuals — are providing cover for, and thus encouraging the thugs. It's enough to make you think that David Neiwert is on to something when he warns about the ill effects of eliminationist rhetoric and the rise of pseudo-fascism.