If Jim Bowman’s piece in the Oct. 22 Wednesday Journal is meant to be satire, I apologize for this response. [The liberals seem to have their ‘man of action,’ Viewpoints, Oct. 22] It is fortunate that the bulk of the audience for Mr. Bowman’s article will not be persuaded by the article’s falsehoods and inflammatory innuendo. But for those who might be more susceptible to Mr. Bowman’s poison, let’s unpack how he travels from the fact that Barack Obama was a community organizer to the conclusion that he is a nascent fascist.

First, Mr. Bowman sarcastically observes that Bill Ayers apparently recognized Obama’s potential in the ’90s. He refers to Ayers as “that unrepentant son of a ComEd CEO.” Ayers is the son of a former ComEd CEO, but the relevance of that fact is unclear. Bowman’s term “unrepentant” apparently refers to the McCain campaign’s allegation that Ayers supposedly said in 2001 that he wished he had done more bombing back in the ’60s and ’70s. But that allegation is based on a Sept. 11, 2001 piece in the New York Times by Dinitia Smith, which Ayers promptly repudiated in a Sept. 15, 2001 letter to the editor in which he said, among other things, that he told Dinitia Smith that he condemns terrorism and that he felt he and others had not done enough to stop the Viet Nam War, not that he wished he had done more bombing. (You can check this by looking up Bill Ayers on Wikipedia.)

Bowman then refers to Obama’s role in the Annenberg Challenge, which he implies funded “school programs in how to overthrow the government.” The Annenberg Foundation is a respected charitable organization, and the Annenberg Challenge had the support of
Illinois‘ Republican governor at the time, and its board included prominent local leaders, including a Republican who has contributed to the McCain campaign. (See factcheck.org.) Mr. Bowman needs to explain his statement that the Annenberg Challenge funded programs in “how to overthrow the government.” Education Week described the project as reflecting “mainstream thinking” about school reform. (factcheck.org.) It appears that Mr. Bowman has simply lapped up McCain’s propaganda without doing any fact-checking of his own. Mr. Bowman wants you to believe that Obama embraces the politics of Bill Ayers’ youth, but he knows that is an absurd proposition.

Mr. Bowman next tries to spin Obama’s experience as a community organizer as evidence that he is a Hitler-esque fascist. He refers to a community organizer named Saul Alinsky, who, according to Bowman, believed that the “end justifies the means,” that “he who fears corruption fears life,” and spoke of a pragmatic “man of action.” Of course, Bowman does not show that there is any connection whatsoever between the thinking of Alinsky and the thinking of Obama. The only connection is that they were both “community organizers.” Using that completely irrelevant “connection,” Bowman then asserts that the “man of action business” is “a staple of fascism” and that “Mussolini, Hitler, and FDR were a mutual admiration society,” apparently because they were all “men of action.”

Of course, the proposition that there is any valid comparison between Hitler and FDR is-let’s not mince words-insane. One can be a “man of action” in the service of good, as was FDR, or a “man of action” in the service of evil, as was Hitler. But Bowman equates the “man of action” with Hitler, proclaims that liberals/progressives “love the man of action,” and says now they have “a man of action” in Obama. Ergo, Obama is a fascist.

As proof that Obama is a fascist, Bowman cites Obama’s supposed “yen for deciding how much you should earn before being hit with a tax hike-to ‘spread the wealth around.'” In other words, Bowman is trying to draw a connection between fascism and a progressive tax regime. I assume, without knowing, that Bowman understands that a president cannot dictate a tax structure; that a president can only make proposals that are either enacted or rejected by Congress. I assume, without knowing, that Bowman understands that a progressive tax-i.e., a tax regime in which the wealthy are taxed at a higher rate than middle-class and poor taxpayers-has been a bedrock of our tax structure for decades, and has been supported by Democrats and Republicans alike. I assume, without knowing, that he also understands that taxation is by definition “spreading the wealth.” To accuse Obama of being a fascist or a socialist because his tax plan involves progressive tax rates (i.e., a tax increase for the top 5 percent, but not on the middle class) is dishonest.

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