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Yatarola should check fascism facts

Letter to the Editor | Monday, February 18, 2008

Most of the time, I am more than happy to be taking on the loans that are paying for my Notre Dame tuition. Sometimes, though, I wish I had settled for “two-fifty in late fees” at the local library. Reading Greg Yatarola’s Feb. 12 column (“Are you fascist?”) provoked such a response in me.

To be clear, I am not writing to defend liberal values or criticize conservative ones, but rather to decry the fact that a 30-year-old man and graduate of Notre Dame could pen a piece so stunningly devoid of critical thinking. Yatarola’s column was flawed from the start. One of the keys to good argument is credible sources and his choice of Jonah Goldberg and George Will – two hyper-conservative partisans – to asperse modern liberalism leaves much to be desired. This bias clearly affects the editorial when, like a child mimicking the arguments he heard his parents make, Yatarola unquestioningly accepts Will’s “ferocity gap” claim that liberals are “meaner” than conservatives. Yet aren’t liberals the ones branded as “hating our troops” and “baby-killers”? And was it not Ann Coulter who labeled a Democratic Presidential candidate a “faggot”? Liberals are not much, if any, better, but to claim there is some sort of large discrepancy between the groups is ignorance, whether willed or inadvertent. (Neither would surprise me.)

Also, in making his argument, Yatarola does not examine modern conservatism very closely and dismisses any connection to fascism out of hand – showing his lack of understanding of the “conservatives as fascist” argument. He argues that since conservatism was based on small government ideals, it cannot be akin to fascism. Yet, liberals do not make the fascism claim when talking about Barry Goldwater and Ron Paul, but rather the current president and some of his congressional supporters who clearly do not base their philosophy on small government. Right or wrong, these conservatives want to determine who people can marry and what they can put in their bodies. They want a government so limited, in fact, that they wanted to pass legislation to tell a man he could not take his wife off a ventilator. Further, the PATRIOT act and its propagandist naming has caused even Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul to use the label “totalitarianism” and draw similarities to Orwell’s “1984.”

Lastly, Yatarola also forgets two tenets of fascism – a strong nationalism and a thirst for military glory. Yet, liberals often derided for “hating” America are labeled as “peaceniks” for their opposition to war while conservatives tend to display a gung-ho version of patriotism and display a glorified “bring it on” (as President Bush said) approach to military encounters. I have touched on a lot of issues, but my argument is not that conservatives are wrong or liberals are right on any of these subjects. I simply wished to point out that Yatarola’s column, which amusingly laments “gross misunderstanding,” displays an ignorance of fact and, more importantly, a lack of comprehension of fascism and how liberals apply it to conservatives (ironically, the very thing against which he is purportedly arguing).

Kevin Jakopchek


Carroll Hall

Feb. 15