"premature antifascist" is a phrase much like the words "grue" or "bleen" (e.g., and in this case adequately correct, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grue_(color)). 

E.g., anti-Nazis in the Soviet Union and elsewhere in Europe were "premature antifascists" between August 23rd, 1939 and June 22nd, 1941.

The phrase was used as an honorific for themselves by the International Brigades and sympathizers of the Brigades during the Spanish Civil War.

Prematurely anti-fascist Russians and Poles opposed to Nazi aggression during this "grue period" often ended up dead.

There are disputed rumors (i.e., no-documentary evidence, just statements by people who claimed the honorific) that the FBI used the term (in acronymic form as "PAF") to prevent leftists from commissioning as officers during WWII.  The poet and Loyalist sympathizer John Ciardi is an example of this.  Ciardi notes that being classified in his terms as a "PAF" led to his survival, since none of the other, non-PAF members of his class survived.

There doesn't seem to be any evidence of the term being used as part of armory of the McCarthyite period.

In other words, "premature antifascist" is fully as useful (and I'm not judging a binary "useful" versus "useless" here, but rather the need for measure) as "postmodernism" was noted to be in an earlier post.  That is to say, equally problematic and rich of meanings, which can be unpacked and used only with great care and checking, or perhaps simply avoided as too likely not to participate in any shared meaning in a conversation.


At 3:13 PM +0000 7/23/07, Diana Manister wrote:
Peter, we have a grocery store in our neighborhood called The Superette. Another oxymoron. I always liked "premature anti-fascist" myself. It's something other than an oxymoron but I'm not sure what. McCarthy's gang used it as a euphemism for Commie I think.  Diana
Has anyone noted that the word postmodernism is an oxymoron?