Wednesday, January 02, 2008
We were the better kind:

What does the American Legion make of Jonah Goldberg's claim that it was "founded as an essentially fascist organization"? I asked communications director John Raughter.

"The statement, as you said, is just laughable," Raughter said. "The American Legion -- more than any other organization, our members bled to fight fascism as legionnaires in World War II. It's just a ridiculously slanderous statement." He seemed not to understand that Jonah's slander of the American Legion is merely part of a very serious, thoughtful argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care.

Strangely, the slanderous aspect of Goldberg's attack on a veteran's organization didn't make it into David Oshinsky's puffy NYT review. Maybe when the book is published next week the Legion will take the matter up with Goldberg's publishers.

--Spencer Ackerman
Goldberg isn't entirely wrong on this one. The Legion wasn't fascist exactly, but it was a far-right, xenophobic, populist, ultranationalist veterans' organization...an American version of similar proto-fascist organizations in post-WWI Europe.
Blogger The Special | 2:24 PM

In fact, Goldberg is not entirely wrong on this (even a stopped clock, etc.). Alvin Owsley, one of the national leaders of the American Legion in the 1920s, was also one of many US admirers of il Duce and gave many speeches praising him. In 1923, he famously said "Do not forget that the Fascisti are to Italy what the American Legion is to the United States."
Blogger Ben | 2:16 AM