On Nov. 14, Bill O’Reilly and former House Speaker Newt Gingirch cited very limited incidents of thuggery by those protesting Proposition 8. Though the demonstrations — such as throwing leaflets in a church — were in no way the “violence” or “really nasty stuff” they decried, Gingrich declared the protests evidence of “a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us.”
New Yorker writer and editor Hendrik Hertzberg cited Gingrich’s comments in his Dec. 1 “Comment” as an example of “anti-gay bigotry [that] is likely to get thicker and more toxic as it dries up.” He added, “This sort of sludge may or may not prove to be of some slight utility in the 2012 Republican primaries, but it is, increasingly, history.”
After O’Reilly sent producers to accost Hertzberg on the street — while lying about inviting him to appear on the show — Gingrich also piled on the New Yorker writer, calling him “a total jerk” to Politico:
I thought the fact that O’Reilly played unedited the entire walking interview with Hertzberg—who is a total jerk—was just funny. If you go back and look at what I said, it was a very narrowly focused reference to people who were invading churches and in one case surrounding a 65-year-old person and harassing her about wearing a cross. Now, in my judgment, people who do that are fascists. And whether they are fascists on the right or fascists on the left, they’re fascists, because they believe in imposing their views on you, outside the law, or they believe in using the law to force you to change who you are. And I’m opposed to fascism of any kind.
Gingrich’s condemnation of “a gay and secular facism” that “is prepared to use violence” was hardly targeted. Jumping off only the most minimal prompt by O’Reilly, who cited protesters “getting out of control very few days after the election,” Gingrich painted the entire anti-Prop 8 and pro-gay marriage movements with one single “fascist” brush.
It’s ironic, moreover, that Gingrich is upset at those “using the law to force you to change who you are.” Yet Gingrich seems to have no objection to anti-gay laws that prohibit people from adopting or marrying solely because of who they are.
Writing on his New Yorker blog about the O’Reilly attack, Hertzberg defended his original column: “I don’t think it was at all unreasonable for me to infer that the targets of Mr. Gingrich’s ‘fascism’ remarks were the mainstream gay-rights movement in general and the opponents of Proposition 8 in particular.” Of course it wasn’t. Gingrich’s own half-sister — an out lesbian — told him to “stop being a hater.” “This is a movement of the people that you most fear. It’s a movement of progress,” she said.