"Objectively Pro-Fascist":

Roger Simon writes (thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer):

I don't know much about Honduras, but I do know something about Iran. And Obama's bizarre behavior, taking days to come to the conclusion any decent person knew immediately, indeed other world leaders like Merkel and Sarkozy had demonstrated as much - that there were very clear good and evil sides in the Iranian election, even though the good wasn't perfect. (Is it ever?) So when I heard that our President had joined Chavez and Castro in condemnation of the supposed coup in Honduras, this time with immediacy, I felt a tightening in the gut. Chavez particularly was on the side of Ahmadinejad in the recent Iranian brutality.

This was a side I didn't want to be on, didn't want our country on. I heard many suspicious things about Zelaya, the booted Honduran president, including allegations of drug ties. Also, he was running for succor to the UN, the very organization just weeks ago I had personally seen embrace Ahmadinejad in Geneva. So when I read this message from a Honduran on The Corner, I wasn't surprised.

Obama has strange friends. He equivocates and equalizes in disturbing ways. Is he "objectively pro-fascist" as George Orwell memorably wrote in his famous essay "Pacifism and the War"?

I give you Eric Arthur Blair. Make of it what you will. For me, the word "pacifism" could be replaced by some coinage (it's too late here in LA for me to come up with one, if I could anyway) that encapsulates Obamaism in its supposedly even-handed international policy: "Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other."

Now I have nothing helpful to say about the Administration's actual policy on Iran and Honduras; but I do want to repeat something I posted about the "objectively pro-fascist" locution six years ago. In a Dec. 8, 1944 column, it turns out, Orwell himself repudiated the assertion that Simon quotes:

The same propaganda tricks are to be found almost everywhere. It would take many pages of this paper merely to classify them, but here I draw attention to one very widespread controversial habit — disregard of an opponent's motives. The key-word here is "objectively".

We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort, are "objectively" aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true, the "objectively" line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore "Trotskyism is Fascism". And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated....

In my opinion a few pacifists are inwardly pro-Nazi, and extremist left-wing parties will inevitably contain Fascist spies. The important thing is to discover which individuals are honest and which are not, and the usual blanket accusation merely makes this more difficult. The atmosphere of hatred in which controversy is conducted blinds people to considerations of this kind. To admit that an opponent might be both honest and intelligent is felt to be intolerable. It is more immediately satisfying to shout that he is a fool or a scoundrel, or both, than to find out what he is really like. It is this habit of mind, among other things, that has made political prediction in our time so remarkably unsuccessful.

Naturally, appeals to authority can only count for so much, especially when the authority has contradicted itself. And perhaps Orwell's change of mind was occasioned by the change from the dark days of 1942 to post-D-day, post-Stalingrad 1944. It is easier to be generous to those who, in your view, helped Hitler (even unintentionally) when Hitler is nearly defeated.

Yet I think that Orwell's second thoughts, whatever their reason, were objectively the right ones. Explaining why your adversaries' positions unintentionally help fascists is eminently legitimate. But expressly acknowledging that this effect is likely unintentional is both fairer and more likely to persuade the other side, as well as the undecided.