Why would I say such a thing about one of the leading literary critics of our day? Bear with me and I'll will explain all.
Here is an excerpt from his op ed in the New York Times in which he admits that the Left has a hypocritical double standard for Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher. Maher has a long rap sheet as hate-filled, foul-mouthed and anti-women, yet President Obama takes a million dollar donation from Bill Maher and goes after Limbaugh for doing once what Maher does regularly. Why? Simply because Limbaugh is Republican. And, amazingly, Fish admits all this. He writes:
Now maybe you are one of those people who still call people like Obama, Shultz, Maher and Fish liberals. But Fish understands that he is not a liberal. The only liberals left in America are conservatives like Limbaugh and Sarah Palin and those who actually stand for equality. Fish is an authoritarian leftist just like Obama and Maher and he isn't even trying to hide it any more. (Never call Obama a Liberal; it is a compliment he has not earned.) Fish writes:
What is a double standard? It’s a double standard when you condemn an opponent for doing or saying something you would approve or excuse if it were said or done by one of your buddies. The double standard that is in the news these days concerns Rush Limbaugh, who called Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown, a “slut” and “prostitute” because she told Congress that her university’s health plan should cover the cost of contraceptives.
Limbaugh has not had many defenders (Mitt Romney said weakly that he wouldn’t have used that language), but some on the conservative side of the aisle have cried “double standard” because Ed Schultz was only mildly criticized (and suspended for a week) for characterizing Laura Ingraham as a “right-wing slut,” and Bill Maher emerged relatively unscathed after he referred to Michele Bachmann as a “bimbo” and labeled Sarah Palin with words I can’t mention in this newspaper. If you are going to get on your high horse when Limbaugh says something inappropriate, shouldn’t you also mount the steed when commentators on your team say the same kind of thing? Isn’t what’s good for the goose good for the gander?These questions come naturally to those who have been schooled in the political philosophy of enlightenment liberalism.
If we think about the Rush Limbaugh dust-up from the non-liberal — that is, non-formal — perspective, the similarity between what he did and what Schultz and Maher did disappears. Schultz and Maher are the good guys; they are on the side of truth and justice. Limbaugh is the bad guy; he is on the side of every nefarious force that threatens our democracy. Why should he get an even break?
There is no answer to that question once you step outside of the liberal calculus in which all persons, no matter what their moral status as you see it, are weighed in an equal balance. Rather than relaxing or soft-pedaling your convictions about what is right and wrong, stay with them, and treat people you see as morally different differently. Condemn Limbaugh and say that Schultz and Maher may have gone a bit too far but that they’re basically O.K. If you do that you will not be displaying a double standard; you will be affirming a single standard, and moreover it will be a moral one because you will be going with what you think is good rather than what you think is fair. “Fair” is a weak virtue; it is not even a virtue at all because it insists on a withdrawal from moral judgment.
I know the objections to what I have said here. It amounts to an apology for identity politics. It elevates tribal obligations over the universal obligations we owe to each other as citizens. It licenses differential and discriminatory treatment on the basis of contested points of view. It substitutes for the rule “don’t do it to them if you don’t want it done to you” the rule “be sure to do it to them first and more effectively.” It implies finally that might makes right. I can live with that. [my bolding]
Fish can live with abandoning liberalism as "fair rules for losers." He thinks the Nietzschean will-to-power is just swell; might makes right. Western civilization from Plato on has been predicated on the conviction that might does not make right, that justice is above us and not merely a matter of human will. Fish is not just throwing out Christianity and he is not just trashing the Enlightenment and the liberalism that emerged from it. It goes even deeper than that. He is giving up on the rule of law: that which separated the Roman Empire from the barbarian tribes. He looks at barbarianism and says: "I can live with that."
Jonah Goldberg wrote a book entitled "Liberal Fascism." This is what he was talking about. It is as ugly as any other sort of fascism and just as morally depraved. Fish might just as well have put on his jackboots and joined a march of Brownshirts down Pennsylvania Avenue. He has made it clear that he stands on the side of those who had to be killed in World War II in order for the freedom of the West to be preserved.
This is what the culture wars have come to. Remember when they accuse us of wanting a theocracy, what they want instead is fascist dictatorship. We did not start this war any more than Britain and America started World War II. But if God is gracious, we will finish it.