The Tyranny of OH HELL IT BURNS: Introduction

[Content note: I'm reviewing a book by Jonah Goldberg, so it's safe to say I'll be discussing some pretty awful shit. This particular post includes mentions of eliminationism, homophobia and antisemitism.]

A number of you (zero is a number) have written me to ask about my Goodreads bookshelves. "Kate," you ask, "I see that you're currently reading Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica and Jonah Goldberg's The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas. Should I assume you're working on some sort of awesome slash fiction?"


Liss hooked me up with a pre-release copy of two-time Pultizer Prize nominee entrant (WHOOPS!) Jonah Goldberg's latest book. I wasn't sure I wanted it, but two things were clear:

1. It comes recommended by Marco Rubio, Mitch Daniels, and the guy from Wedding Crashers.
2. The good people at Penguin were really excited for me to have a free copy. Who wouldn't be? Yay!

I plan on reviewing a chapter a week until I either finish the book or find something more amusing to do with my time. There are twenty-four chapters, plus an introduction. Think of it as an advent calendar, only instead of getting shitty candy in honor of Jesus' birth, you'll be getting nothing in honor of Jonah Goldberg's career.

BTW, the book's been available to the public since the start of May. I sincerely apologize to the people at Penguin for not getting on this sooner. I was mesmerized by the amazing centerfold of Grover Cleveland.


"According to legend, when George Will signed up to become a syndicated columnist in the 1970s, he asked his friend William F. Buckley...."

Two random thoughts:
1. On the subject of slash fiction, I am now terrified.
2. Let's flip ahead to the last sentence, to see if this gets better.  Hmmm..... "It is the man-- or woman [as if!]-- who stands up to the mob and says: You will not lynch this man today." HELL ASS DAMN FUCK IT DOES NOT GET BETTER DAN SAVAGE YOU ARE A LYING ASSHOLE.

As for the 277 pages in between, Goldberg's basic premise is that libruls are losers. More intellectually stated, I think he's saying that liberals like to use strawmen (or women!) as a stand in for legitimate intellectual discourse. According to Goldberg, in addition to being intellectually dishonest, this is a BFD because
"Some incredibly ideological ideas simply ride into your head like the dream spelunkers in the movie Inception-- setting up, working their way through your programming-- all because they're wrapped in the protective coating of cliches."
Wait, was Inception a prerequisite for this bullshit? I'm so in over my head.

Anyhow, to get the juices flowing (NOBODY SAID THAT. THAT IS NOT WHAT HE SAID.), Goldberg throws out a few examples.

EXAMPLE 1: "One Man's [Or Woman's! Ladies?] Terrorist is Another Man's Freedom Fighter" 
Goldberg thinks this saying is "pithy hogwash." He also implies, on the basis of HE IS JONAH GOLDBERG, that liberals are saying this all the time.

He quotes William Bill Buckley (obvs) philosophizing about men who throw women in front of/away from buses. (Neat! Did you know that Goldberg knew the William F. Bill Buckley Jr.?) Then he goes on to totally call out all the people that refer to Al Qaeda as freedom fighters. Take that cliche liberal VERY TOTALLY REAL liberals!

EXAMPLE 2: "The Center"
Goldberg thinks that there are issues for which siding with "the center" is not at all reasonable. There are things that aren't up for compromise. I'm sure he can come up with a good example of this....
"[T]he [presumably fictional?] Wahhabis want to kill all the gays and the Jews. The Sufis don't want to kill any gays or Jews. So the moderate, sensible position must be to kill just the gays, but not the Jews. Or maybe the other way around? Or half of all the gays and Jews? Or maybe all the gay Jews? Or maybe we can have a very complicated compromise along the lines of last year's debt-ceiling negotiations [remember all that compromise?], where a small percentage of Jews are killed now and we kill a large number of gays in the out years?"

Goldberg goes on to talk about how moderates want to build a bridge halfway across a river (I HEAR LIBRULS SAY THIS ALL THE TIME.) Then, he makes with the humor:
Undecided centerists are "a**holes who think they must be at the center of the universe."
Yes, Goldberg did write an entire paragraph about a hypothetical situation in which a group of people sought to exterminate Jews and gay people, and then redacted the second and third "s" from "assholes", lest people become offended. He continues:
"Now, hold on, I mean that in a fairly literal way."
By "literal", he means that he's going to go on for a few pages about Galileo and "the anal aperature of the universe, literally." THAT IS LITERALLY WHAT HE DID, BY WHICH I MEAN LITERALLY AND NOT FIGURATIVELY.

This is all proof the liberals are wrong.

I actually have tons (literally) of disagreements with many lines of liberal reasoning, so I feel like I'm in a good position to evaluate Goldberg's blanket claim that liberals are smelly. Alas, he's not even trying (not that he needs to with two Pulitzer Prize entries under his belt) to link liberals (which liberals?) to his cliches strawmen strawpeople examples.

Example 3: Hindsight is 20/20
"We shouldn't have sought out a**hole undecided centrists during that electoral campaign"
"There was no way to know that Saddam Hussein didn't have WMDs."

(Just kidding. I have not recently heard liberals say the former.)

Liberals believe silly things about history:
"The Marxists believed that history was predictable and unidirectional..."

There are a lot of typographical errors in the introduction, but that one was definitely my favorite. I remember when the last Marxist died in captivity, shortly after endorsing Jimmy Carter....

The rest of the chapter (or introduction) is basically just red baiting. Goldberg talks about how "pop gurus like Thomas Friedman" (true story, Thomas Friedman once signed my tits in Reno) and Paul Krugman (who used to be about the music!) have total boners for China, which is basically the same as licking Stalin's nutsack, which is the same kind of fuzzy logic that brought us Solyndra and centrist extremist leftists defending Medicare.

Soooooo.... that's the introduction. Only 260 more pages about how liberals are cheating in the "war of ideas." I don't really see what anything thus far has to do with liberals, but wev. Goldberg also points out that he "does not claim that the conservative mind isn't bound by cliches from time to time", so clearly he's being something here.

Next Week: Ideology


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