The Best Jonah Goldberg Quotes From The Last Year — June 21, 2002 – June 21, 2003


“(I)’ve gotten a lot of traction out of my seemingly banal observation that it is highly improbable that the United States will ever become a Nazi-like or otherwise totalitarian nation. For some reason, this is the sort of obvious statement which strikes lots of folks as shocking or controversial, even though it’s only slightly less of a “Well, duh” assertion than saying, “The oceans will not turn into diet Mr. Pibb in our lifetimes.” — Jonah Goldberg

“(T)he most important reason American leftists love France is that French elites say bad things about America. French intellectuals call us racist, stupid, imperialistic, simplistic, etc. ‘ and that alone is proof of their intellectualism. So long as you call America “racist,” you could add that an enema is as good as a toothbrush and some professor of “communications theory” would applaud.” — Jonah Goldberg

“…I have a simple answer to any American patriot who claims that there is no conflict between his love of country and his desire to hitch our fate to the United Nations: “You’re mistaken.” And, therefore, I’m thinking of adding this corollary to my General Rule of patriotism: The more intellectually consistent and pro-U.N. you are, the less patriotic you are likely to be. I haven’t thought that all the way through, but it seems right to me.” — Jonah Goldberg

“Anyway, the gist of the disagreement between Europe and America is the ‘peens think they achieved lasting peace through endless conversations in Swiss hotels with bottles of bubbly water and plates of runny cheese scattered about the table. Americans think the reason Europeans have achieved lasting peace has something to do with the fact that every time these conversations broke out into full-blown brawls, the United States marched into the room and imposed order like a parent getting the kids to stop wrestling over the remote control. This is a profound difference in perspectives and a profound example of how history informs ideology. The Europeans think their “miracle” was achieved through talk. Americans think this miracle was achieved through tanks. And that is all the difference in the world.” — Jonah Goldberg

“(W)ithin 48 hours of the 9/11 attack, the American networks collectively agreed to ban footage of men and women leaping to their deaths from the World Trade Center, believing such footage was too emotional ‘ an argument which was sorely lacking during the Rodney King episode, when those same networks deliberately ignited passions night after night after night after night. Perhaps when the video “shows” America as barbaric, the press see(s) nothing wrong with stirring up passions, but when America is attacked by barbarians, responsible restraint is required.” — Jonah Goldberg

“Let’s get one thing straight from the outset: The U.N. sucks. And before you start talking about the starving babies it saves and the thorns it pulls from cuddly creatures’ paws, please remember that all sorts of awful institutions do good things. Hamas funds hospitals, Hitler built highways, Stalin improved literacy, Baywatch helped people with tired blood by providing uplifting, and uplifted, torsos to look at. One can be in favor of many of the things the U.N. does without being in favor of the U.N., just as being in favor of regular garbage collection doesn’t mean I have to be in favor of the government collecting garbage. If the government stopped picking up my trash, that wouldn’t mean my home would be swallowed up in bags of filth. And, if the U.N. stopped feeding starving people that would hardly mean starving people would never be fed.” — Jonah Goldberg

“Saying we rule the world doesn’t make it so. We don’t rule the world. We lead the world ‘ this is a huge distinction to people who live outside the intellectual menagerie of an Ivy League English department. If the coolest guy in school wears a leather jacket and all the other kids follow suit, that’s hardly the same thing as the coolest guy forcing them at gunpoint to buy a leather jacket from him.” — Jonah Goldberg

“Some pro-war arguments are very strong, some less so. But you have to add them all up together and look at the final tally. So: Is Iraq a brutal totalitarian regime? Check! Is it a proven threat to its neighbors? Check! Is it a proven threat to its own people? Check! Is it a proven threat to our allies? Check! Is it willing to export terrorism abroad? Check! Is it likely that if it got weapons of mass destruction, it would use them recklessly? Check! Is it working very hard to get weapons of mass destruction? Check! Would Saddam’s people be better off without him? Check! Would we and our allies be better off without him? Check! Do we have the power and capabilities to get rid of him without paying too high a cost? Check! And, would getting rid of him make it less likely that another September 11 would “happen again”? Check.” — Jonah Goldberg

“After 9/11 the near-unanimous consensus was that America should do everything it could to prevent something similar from happening ever again. Now, if you believe that al Qaeda, and only al Qaeda, is capable of committing such a crime ever again, you are on safe intellectual ground. But no reasonable person actually believes this. If a scorpion sneaks into your house and bites your child, you kill the scorpion. That’s a no-brainer. But if you believe “something like this must never happen again” then you also go out in the yard and kill the other scorpions. You also kill rattlesnakes and black widow spiders, and maybe you even get a new alarm system and a child safety seat for your car. In other words, you do every reasonable thing you can. Imagine telling your wife, “Honey, I know there’s that huge scorpion nest out in the yard, but I killed the scorpion responsible. Can you prove that the other scorpions had anything to do with the one that bit little Timmy?” — Jonah Goldberg

“(G)etting the support of Syria is the moral equivalent of winning the Klan’s endorsement ‘ it might be useful but it doesn’t necessarily speak well of you.” — Jonah Goldberg

“…I don’t listen to Tom Daschle very often. Whatever Republicans do, he says he’s “saddened and disappointed” with them. He talks like a kindergarten teacher, stage-whispering his disapproval of tax policy the way a den mother tsk-tsks a boy for drawing on the wall with crayons. I don’t think I’m alone here. Daschle is not someone most people listen to. If he’s ever turned out of office, fire departments could hire him to talk cats out of trees by lulling them to sleep with his voice until they dropped to the ground. If a cat didn’t fare well, Daschle could say he’s “saddened and disappointed” by the splattered feline and move to the next job.” — Jonah Goldberg

“(I)f France’s righteous bloviating against war makes them your Dashboard Saint of International Integrity, it’s either because you are sand-poundingly ignorant of how the world works or it’s because you think France’s self-interest is more important than America’s. If the former applies to you, read a book. If it’s the latter, maybe you should move there along with Alec Baldwin, Robert Altman, and the rest of the crowd who promised to leave a long time ago. But whatever you do, don’t call France’s position principled, because that just insults us both.” — Jonah Goldberg

“(J)ust to clarify: If you go into every situation saying there’s absolutely nothing worth fighting over, you will inevitably end up on a cot sleeping next to a guy named Tiny, bringing him breakfast in his cell every morning, and spending your afternoons ironing his boxers. Or, in the case of the French, you might spend your afternoon rounding up Jews to send to Germany, but you get the point.” — Jonah Goldberg

“In the weeks prior to the war to liberate Afghanistan, a good friend of mine would ask me almost every day, “Why aren’t we killing people yet?” And I never had a good answer for him. Because one of the most important and vital things the United States could do after 9/11 was to kill people. Call it a “forceful response,” “decisive action” ‘ whatever. Those are all nice euphemisms for killing people. And the world is a better place because America saw the necessity of putting steel beneath the velvet of those euphemisms.” — Jonah Goldberg

What makes McCarthyism so hard to discuss is that McCarthy behaved like a jerk, but he was also right. Every movement has its jerks, the Left included ‘ but liberals are unwilling to elevate these people to villain status or to make their tactics into a full-blown “ism.” Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton are perfectly willing to accuse any Tom, Dick, or Harry of racism without regard to the damage this might do their careers. But we don’t talk about “Jacksonism” or “Sharptonism,” even though being labeled a racist is the modern equivalent of being labeled a Communist. Indeed, being a pr*ck has become something of a badge of honor on the Left.” — Jonah Goldberg

“Now, I don’t think just boiling everything down to a movie script is a great way to think about foreign policy. But I do think it can be an instructive exercise, because, in the most grossly generalized terms, movies tend to reflect the character of the cultures that produce them. Europeans can leave a theater intellectually or aesthetically satisfied by a film that treats evil like inconvenient rain ‘ a problem to be avoided or dealt with but, ultimately, beyond your power to do anything about. Americans prefer to see cinematic evil as a problem to be solved. Maybe we can’t stop it everywhere or for all time, but we don’t turn our backs to it either. We’re not fools, we’re just not fatalistic.” — Jonah Goldberg

“I still think there’s a role for realism where it comes to means, but if you don’t have idealism in mind in terms of ends, you’ll end up letting the world pull you in a direction not of your own choosing, to paraphrase Hayek. Being friends with sons-of-b*tches in order to spread freedom and fight tyranny is entirely defensible; being friends with SOBs because it’s convenient is immoral.” — Jonah Goldberg

“The only sense in which containment can be considered a “good” policy is that it was better than the alternative. A war to topple the Soviet Union, complete with an exchange of nuclear weapons, would have cost too many American and allied lives. But ‘ and here’s the important point ‘ if we could have toppled the Soviets with a small sacrifice of blood and treasure, not only would we have leapt at the opportunity, it would have been the infinitely superior course of action morally and strategically.” — Jonah Goldberg

“The Canadians have for a while now taken it upon themselves to be a “moral superpower,” not a military superpower. The problem with this ‘ as is so often the case with groups, institutions, and even nations seeking to be the conscience of the world ‘ is that it leads to knee-jerk and cost-free preachiness rather than any attempt at real sacrifices. Canada was once willing to back up its moral ambitions with force of arms; today it’s ranked 37th on the list of peacekeepers. Its military, which used to punch well above its weight, is quite literally rusting through, and there are no plans to remedy that. In short, Canada has willfully forgotten that a nation which wants to be a moral superpower doesn’t just say nice things, it does right things even at great cost ‘ as when Great Britain put an end to the slave trade by force of arms, not force of words.” — Jonah Goldberg

“I will have a lot more sympathy for the complaints of Muslim activists once they put even a fraction of the energy they dedicate to portraying themselves as victims of bigoted America ‘ or Europe ‘ toward policing and condemning their own co-religionists. If they’re afraid for their personal safety or even their lives ‘ not an unreasonable fear ‘ that’s no excuse. Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and the rest may constitute hijackers in the cockpit of a peaceful religion, but they will define Islam if the folks in the main cabin don’t fight the hijackers. That’s what happened with Nazis in Germany, and that’s what will happen with militant Islam if non-militant Islam continues to insist that its biggest enemies are the open and tolerant nations of the West that gave them the opportunity to live decent lives in freedom. If they persist in that complaint, nobody will be able to justly blame average Americans for scoffing at the suggestion that Islam means peace.” — Jonah Goldberg

“Feminists demanded that “something” be done about the Taliban’s treatment of women for years. Conservatives scoffed. But when the Bush administration saw fit to liberate the women of Afghanistan ‘ for reasons larger than merely their freedom ‘ feminists drew circles in the floor with their open-toed shoes and grumbled about how they didn’t like war. But I guarantee you if Bill Clinton had unleashed the 10th Mountain Division on Kabul to ensure reproductive choice for Afghan women, Gloria Steinem would have done cartwheels.” — Jonah Goldberg

“Today, liberals favor policies which seek to treat racial and ethnic minorities in ways that were they to be advocated by whites about white people would be seen as indisputably racist. My old boss, Ben Wattenberg, is fond of saying that he’s never changed his position on racial quotas. He was against them as a liberal Democrat when they kept Jews and blacks out of universities and he’s against them now that they keep Jews and Asians out of universities. That fairly summarizes the position of most conservatives when it comes to race-based policies.” — Jonah Goldberg

“What is the point of Europe?” Charles de Gaulle once asked. “It must serve to prevent domination either by the Americans or by the Russians.” One might as well say, “What is the point of the corner grocery? It must serve to prevent domination either by the Mafia or the police.” — Jonah Goldberg

“(I)t is simply wrong to confuse cowardice with appeasement. Cowardice is a failing of character. Appeasement is a failure of policy. Stalin appeased Hitler when he signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Stalin was an evil character, to be sure. But cowardice really isn’t the first word that comes to mind when thinking of Stalin ‘ that word is “sexy.” I’m kidding, I’m kidding.” — Jonah Goldberg

“When you think about it, there’s more than a whiff of blame-America-first to an ideology that is so quick to see the need for major or even radical change in free, prosperous, and decent America but believes it to be arrogant and dangerous to push for radical change in totalitarian, poor, and cruel societies abroad. This, at bottom, is the argument of those who say we must “put our own house in order first.” If being the richest, freest, most successful nation in the history of the world doesn’t constitute having our house in order, our house will never be in sufficient order for us to deal with the world outside our borders ‘ which is precisely what many on the left want.” — Jonah Goldberg

“Everyone moralizes. The suggestion that liberals aren’t moralizers is so preposterous it makes it hard for me to take any of them seriously when they wax indignant about “moralizers.” Almost everyday, they tell us what is moral or immoral to think and to say about race, taxes, abortion ‘ you name it. They explain it would be immoral for me to spend more of my own money on my own children when that money could be spent by government on other peoples’ children. In short, they think moralizing is fine. They just want to have a monopoly on the franchise.” — Jonah Goldberg

“Hypocrisy is bad, but it’s not the worst vice in the world. If I declared “murder is wrong” and then killed somebody, I would hope that the top count against me would be homicide, not hypocrisy. Liberal elites ‘ particularly in Hollywood ‘ believe that hypocrisy is the gravest sin in the world, which is why they advocate their own lifestyles for the entire world: Sleep with whomever you want, listen to your own instincts, be true to yourself, blah, blah, blah. Our fear of hypocrisy is forcing us to live in a world where gluttons are fine, so long as they champion gluttony.” — Jonah Goldberg

“I’m sort of at a loss as to why anyone should read Chomsky at any age. The beauty of Chomsky is that the caricatures actually summarize his thought perfectly well. Of the few dozen college students who’ve thrown Chomsky in my face in an argument, I never once felt like if I’d only read more of him I could be more effective in ridiculing him. I do think you should read criticisms of Chomsky from time to time, just to remind yourself of why you’re not reading him.” — Jonah Goldberg

“The word “neoconservative” was coined by Michael Harrington and the editors of Dissent to describe their old friends who’d moved to the right. It was an insult, along the lines of “running dog” or “fellow traveler.” Or perhaps the “neo” was intended to conjure “neo-Nazi,” the only other political label to sport the prefix. As Seymour Martin Lipset, one of the most-respected social scientists of the 20th century and an original neocon wrote, the term “was invented as an invidious label to undermine political opponents, most of whom have been unhappy with being so described.” — Jonah Goldberg

“(W)henever I read liberals reporting about the goings-on of conservatives I always get the nature-documentary vibe. A liberal reporter puts on his or her Dian Fossey hat in order to attempt to write another installment of Conservatives in the Mist. I’ve followed this particular brand of reporting for years, it’s almost a fetish of mine. Most attempts fail. Of these lesser varieties, there’s fear (“Troglodytes!”), mockery (“Irrelevant troglodytes!”), condescension (“I had to explain to them they’re troglodytes.”), bewilderment (“Why don’t they understand they’re troglodytes?”), astonishment (Dear God, they’re not all troglodytes!”), and a few combinations of all the above.” — Jonah Goldberg

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