James Von Brunn's act of terrorism has spurred an enormous chunk of the conservative movement to adopt Jonah Goldberg's argument that facism and white supremacy are not propely classified as being on the right wing of the ideological spectrum. Here's Goldberg's column today:

Never mind that von Brunn isn’t a member of the far right. Nor is he a member of the far left, as some on the right are claiming. He’s not a member of anything other than the crazy caucus. Von Brunn’s True North is conspiratorial anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. He’s not a member of the Christian Right. In fact, he denounces Christianity — just as Hitler did — as a Jewish plot against paganism and Western vigor. Nor is he a capitalist. Again, just as Hitler did, he hails socialism as the solution to the West’s problems.

I find it very strange that conservatives are so invested in this bizarre argument. I could see why conservatives would not want to be associated with fascism or white supremacy. But the proper way to make this point is to argue that fascism or white supremacy are different and far more radical than conservatism, not to deny that they're right-wing phenomena at all. Conservatives have spent decades trying to tar liberalism with the brush of communism. The liberal response was to point out the differences, not to deny that communism is left-wing.

So rather than make the fairly easy and straightforward case that their ieology has little in common with white supremacy (any more), conservatives are making an extremely convolutaed case against the basic identity properties of the political spectrum. The attempt to deny that fascism and white supremacy are right-wing is silly in innumerable ways, but maybe the simplist is that it doesn't explain how right-wing thought can be extreme at all. I'd love to hear the answer from Jonah Goldberg: Is there such a thing as a right-wing extremist? When you go past the right wing of the Republican Party, through Tom Tancredo and Pat Buchanan, what comes next? Is there anything there or just a gaping void?

--Jonathan Chait