Friday, January 11, 2008

Jonah Goldberg: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Or your terrible historical analogies…

posted by Bill Arnett @ 12:03 PM Permalink

One of the most insipid, ridiculous, and utterly worthless "opinion writers" of today has to be Jonah Goldberg, whose only claim to fame is that his mother convinced Linda Tripp to be as low-down a snake as to betray Tripp's friend, Monica Lewinsky, by recording allegedly secret conversations and turning them over to the press and Ken Starr. That duplicitous act caused much turmoil, the impeachment, but not conviction of Clinton, over the personal matters of a president that had nothing to do with high crimes and misdemeanors.

Jonah is a loathsome, disgusting little worm who leaves a trail of slime behing him wherever he goes, eh? And the reasons for my feeling that way about this idiot is the abysmal quality of anything he writes, speaks or thinks (although I personally believe his NRO column is ghostwritten by a twelve year-old who dropped out of sixth grade because of his drug and alcohol problems).

See this from Media matters where he speciously claims that a line could be drawn from Moussolini to Clinton to Obama and modern liberals:
[…]National Review Online editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg said that Benito Mussolini is tied to the American liberal movement because he "was a socialist" and that "[t]he Nazis were the National Socialists" who "ran as socialists" and "said over and over again, 'We are socialists.' " Goldberg added that "in the 1920s, American progressives like at The New Republic, still around today, were objectively pro-Mussolini" and that "[y]ou had the founder of The New Republic defending Mussolini against his critics." Scarborough then asked Goldberg: "But you're not suggesting in this book though that you can draw a line from Mussolini to [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY] or Mussolini to [Sen.] Barack Obama [D-IL], are you?" Goldberg then replied: "Well, I'm saying you can draw a line, but it's not a straight one. It goes all sorts of different places. I'm not saying that today's liberalism is the son of Nazism or the son of Italian fascism. I'm saying it's sort of like the great-grandniece once removed." Goldberg added, "They have some common DNA, some common themes, some family resemblances that come up."
I have a much more apt and accurate example of a modern organization and an older organization one for him:
The Spanish Inquisition was an institution that had precedents in other Inquisitions. In the 15th century, as the kingdoms of Castille and Aragon united under the Catholic monarchs and concluded the Reconquista with the conquest of Granada, anxiety about the cultural unity of the country grew. Suspicions were especially raised against Jews who had recently converted to Christianity, called conversos or derogatively marranos, as many doubted the sincerity of these conversions. Indeed, many Jews had been baptized to escape violent anti-Jewish outbursts around 1400. In 1492, the Alhambra Decree ordered all remaining Jews to leave the kingdoms, causing more Jews to convert to Christianity rather than leave Spain.

Various motives have been proposed for the monarchs to start the Inquisition, such as increased political authority, weakening opposition, doing away with conversos and sheer profit.

Ferdinand II of Aragon pressured pope Sixtus IV to agree to let him set up an Inquisition controlled by the monarchy by threatening to withdraw military support at a time when the Turks were a threat to Rome. Sixtus IV later accused the Spanish inquisition of being overzealous, accused the monarchs for being greedy and issued a bull to stop it, but he was pressured into withdrawing the bull. On both occasions Sixtus IV went along with Ferdinand II of Aragon.

During the 16th century a new target was found: Protestants. About 100 were burned as heretics. An index of prohibited books was drawn up that were alleged to contain heresy. In time, converts from Islam, called Moriscos, were also persecuted by the Holy Office. The Spanish Inquisition was an institution at the service of the monarchy, but had to follow procedures set up by the Holy See. Most of the inquisitors had a university education in law. The procedures would start with Edicts of Grace, where people were invited to step forward to confess heresy freely and to denounce others. Denunciations were followed by detentions. A defense counsel was assigned to the defendant, a member of the tribunal itself, whose role was simply to advise the defendant and to encourage him or her to speak the truth. A Notary of the Secreto meticulously wrote down the words of the accused. The archives of the Inquisition, in comparison to those of other judicial systems of the era, are striking in the completeness of their documentation. The percentage of cases where torture was used, which was as a means of getting confessions, varied. Sentences varied from fines to execution and those condemned had to participate in the ceremony of auto de fe (in English auto da fe means act of faith). The arrival of the 18th century slowed inquisitorial activity and it was definitively abolished on July 15, 1834. From 1476 to 1834 probably between 3,500 and 5,500 people were executed.

Motives for instituting the Spanish Inquisition

1. To establish political and religious homogeneity.
2.To weaken local political opposition to the Catholic monarchs.
3. Out of fear.
4. To do away with the powerful converso minority.
5. Profit.
(The property of people found guilty by the Inquisition was confiscated.)
"NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition," as the Monty Python crew used to say.

But I say that if you wish to draw historical equivalences between oppressive people or groups from the past to one today I think the more accurate comparison would be that berween the Spanish Inquisition and the Grand Old Party, the GOP, despite what Jonah Goldberg (or his mother) or his twelve year-old ghostwriter might say.

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At 3:16 PM, Blogger The Sailor said...

Jonah Goldberg is the female equivalent of Ann Coulter.

At 3:23 PM, Blogger Bill Arnett said...

You mean Mann Coulter, don't you?


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