used the word to characterize Huey Longnand Father Coughlin, the figures examinednby Alan Brinkley in Voices of Protest.nOne might therefore suppose thatnthey were right-wing radicals. They werenradicals, certainly, but they were definitelynnot of the right. In his thorough,npainstakingly researched book, Brinkleynnot only attempts to acquit Long andnCoughlin of fascism, but he also (thoughnprobably unintentionally) exposes thenunfairness with which the current liberalnculture applies the charge.nTo be sure, Brinkley does not whitewashnLong or Coughlin. In what appearsnto be an evenhanded, intelligent study,nBrinkley discusses not only the genuinentalents and accomplishments of the two,nbut also their naivete, egotism, and arbitrariness.nThe two men were, of course,nvery different, a fact Brinkley is careful tonmake clear. While Long rose from Louisiana’snimpoverished Winn Parish tonbecome “the Kingfish,” the absoluten”Dictator” of Louisiana’s political lifenthrough a combination of legal acumen,nhard work, fiery rhetoric, and unscrupulousnmanipulating, Father Coughlin’snascent from a modest working-classnneighborhood of Hamilton, Ontario tonbecome America’s “Radio Priest,” thenmost listened-to voice on radio was moreninnocent, deriving simply from a brightnmind and engaging Irish brogue, fortuitousntiming, and a keen personal ambitionnfor national influence. The twonwere similar in a number of ways, however.nMost important of these was anshared disaffection for Roosevelt’s NewnDeal. It was primarily for their unsuccessfulnattempts to substitute their ownnpanaceas for the New Deal that 30’snliberals, progressives, and socialists excoriatednthem as fascist demagogues. Tonthose accustomed to the current usage ofnfascist, the tenor of Long’s and Coughlin’sn”fascist demagoguery” will be surprising:nCoughlin called for dramaticnfederal intervention in the bankingnsystem in a deliberately and radically inflationarynway; Long called for thenfederal government to confiscate andnredistribute the “excess” wealth ofn8nChronicles of CultttrenAmerica’s rich. Both attacked the NewnDeal for what they perceived as its excessivendomestic conservatism, for its failurento intervene sufficiently in the economy,nfor its shortchanging America’s veteransnfor the sake of balancing the budget. In anvery real way, the aim of both men was,nas one of Long’s supporters put it, ton”out-Roosevelt Roosevelt.” True, therenwere, as Brinkley points out, elements innboth men’s ideology which were conservative:nboth denounced communismnand internationalism and both decriednthe evils of intrusive bureaucracy (evennwhile calling for more direct federal economicnintervention). But no one, asnBrinkley observes, could mistake thendecidedly leftist elements of the panaceasnthey offered.nJOrinkley’s critique of both panaceasnas deceptive and overly simplistic isnSemiotics in ActionnSemiotics, the latest rage among thencognoscenti and a branch of the “meaning”nsciences, promotes, among othernthings, the thesis that human beings arenthe products of language, not the othernway around. There’s something to thatnproposition, and the complexities of thensemiotic argument are profound. Simplenillustrations of it, however, can be foundnin our weekly supermarkets for the middlebrows—NewnYork magazine, fornone. NY recently featured an awesomenprofile of Ms. Helen Gurley Btown, theneditof and chief ideologue of CaiTzzo/’o/ztan,na female porno organ. This is hownNew York encapsulates Ms. Gurley’snteachings:nShe believes the years between 18nand, say, 30 are for getting it on withnas many men as a woman can handle.nWhat miracle of linguistics, semantics,nsemiotics, and of language making peo­nLIBERAL CULTUREnnndoubtlessly accurate. Any conservative,neven any New Dealer could see as much.nUnfortunately, Brinkley uses his critiquenas the occasion for setting up a false dilemma:nbecause of the problems creatednby capitalism, Brinkley contends, Americansnmust either embrace panaceas likenLong’s and Coughlin’s or they mustnreplace capitalism with socialism. It isnpainfully disappointing to see a man ofnBrinkley’s talent and intelligence stoopnto the kind of intellectual dishonestynwhich sets up a discredited straw man asnthe only alternative to its position. Fortunately,nmost 30’s Americans knew thatnthey were not faced with any such dilemma:nmost chose neither Long’s ornCoughlin’s panaceas nor socialism, butnrather FDR’s New Deal—or Hoover’snold one. Considering the leftist tendenciesnof their thought, it is hardly surprisingnthat in private both Long andnple. Ms. Gurley is called in the New Yorknpiece a publishet, an editor, and manynother descriptive substantives that pertainnto her personality. Not one singlentime, in any language from Sanskrit onward,ndid they use the word that hasnalways denoted the profession orncharacter of women who share Ms.nGurley’s notions of how a woman shouldnmanage her life. And that word hasnserved us so well for so long. •n