Odious comparisons

From LA Observed, we learn that a group of progressive LA leaders went to Spring Street to lobby for the return of Robert Scheer to the LA Times op-ed pages. The group, headed by Marcy Winograd of the Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, objected to the Times’ running columns by conservatives Max Boot and Jonah Goldberg. Boot writes mostly about foreign affairs, and his work appears sometimes in the Weekly Standard. Goldberg is associated with the National Review, and is the son of the infamous Lucianne Goldberg, pal of Linda Tripp.

I liked reading Robert Scheer. The Times was foolish to fire him. It makes perfect sense for progressives, to whom Scheer has been a hero for 35 years, to object.

But it says a lot about the state of political discourse nowadays that Winograd & co. found it reasonable to make this statement in an e-mail after the meeting:

When (Andres) Martinez and (Nick) Goldberg mentioned wanting to be intellectually provocative on their Opinion pages, thereby running people with far-right opinions, Marcy asked, “Would you run Hitler? Would you give a half a page to someone who espoused annihilating a race?” They got defensive, but we pressed on — saying these were extraordinary times in which people were being disappeared, tortured, sent to fight a war based on lies, etc. “You should be writing editorials calling for impeachment.” No traction there.

I’m an a la carte political thinker. I have my favorites on the left as well as the right, and respect above all independent thinkers who look at issues objectively, and don’t worry about where the partisan chips might fall. I’m sure Marcy Winograd and I agree on at least a few things.

But it’s beneath anyone who calls themselves “progressive” to compare writers like Boot and Goldberg to Hitler, or to suggest their viewpoints equate to those of a genocidal maniac. It also points up why the Left has become so marginalized in the past 20 years. The constant evocations of Hitler, Nazis, fascists to describe anyone who disagrees with them signifies nothing other than extreme intolerance.

Why discuss anything with someone who will hurl the harshest conceivable epithet if you vary from their doctrine? What thinking person would submit themselves to that? And, more to the point, who would give political power to such people? If Winograd thinks Max Boot and Jonah Goldberg are indistinguishable from Hitler, then it is reasonable to conclude that, if Winograd were in charge, Boot and Goldberg would not only be censored; they would go to prison.

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