I quoted him over a year ago:
…undeterred by circumstance, well pleased with his persona as the last, best hope of mankind, the President smiles his spendthrift and self-congratulating smile and bets another Marine division on the chance that it will save Mel Gibson’s Jesus from a mob of bearded terrorists in Najaf. I can understand why some people might find the performance terrifying, also why some other people might see it as darkly comic, but what I don’t understand is why anybody continues to think that the man knows what he is doing.
Now Gilles d’Aymery of Swans Commentary fame has scanned in another gem by the man Molly Ivins calls the best essayist in the country. He’s riffing on a ten-year-old piece by Umberto Eco, which includes this bit from Franklin Roosevelt (November 4, 1938):
But I venture the challenging statement that if American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, then Fascism and Communism, aided, unconsciously perhaps, by old-line Tory Republicanism, will grow in strength in our land.
Lapham writes so beautifully and thinks so deeply that it’s impossible to characterize, let alone summarize, an essay of his. All I can do is offer a quote and recommend the entire thing. It’s not particularly long.
As set forth in Eco’s list, the fascist terms of political endearment are refreshingly straightforward and mercifully simple, many of them already accepted and understood by a gratifyingly large number of our most forward-thinking fellow citizens, multitasking and safe with Jesus. It does no good to ask the weakling’s pointless question, “Is America a fascist state?” We must ask instead, in a major rather than a minor key, “Can we make America the best damned fascist state the world has ever seen,” an authoritarian paradise deserving the admiration of the international capital markets, worthy of “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind”? I wish to be the first to say we can. We’re Americans; we have the money and the know-how to succeed where Hitler failed, and history has favored us with advantages not given to the early pioneers.