absolute evil of what passes for today's conservative
movement may not shock my more liberal readers, but those
of us on the Right who were brought up in a more salubrious
time remember when things were quite different. Believe it
or not, conservatives didn't always resort to smears instead
of arguments indeed, they were the most frequent recipients
of smears (let
the shade of Barry Goldwater testify on my behalf!). As
a tiny minority during the 1950s and 60s, the organized right-wing
in America was an ideologically diverse and intellectually
exciting crowd a far cry from the lockstep party-lining
one-dimensional movement of war-bots we see today.
I'm so old that I can remember when National Review
was interesting. How I looked forward to its bi-weekly appearance
at our well-stocked high school library. Frank
S. Meyer! Russell
Kirk! A non-senile William F. Buckley, Jr.! What more
could a teen-aged right-winger want? Some 35 years later,
their places have been usurped by Jonah Goldberg, Ramesh Ponnuru,
and, worst of all, the faux-Kirkean pseudo-classicist "gentleman
Davis Hanson. Not to mention the living ghost of WFB,
who must surely howl on certain nights at the sight of his
Lilliputian epigones, lightweights all.
Jonah Goldberg's facile punditry masks a truly nasty nature
seems beyond dispute: after all, here is someone who made
his reputation, such as it is, retailing sex tapes surreptitiously
recorded, "leaking" a trail of slime that eventually
slipped up a President. A more fitting symbol of the Clinton
era conservative movement a gaggle of remarkably unattractive
character assassins, bereft of ideas and fixated on filth
would be hard to imagine. Now, in his syndicated column,
little twerp takes out after Pat Buchanan for his now
famous remark about "Soviet
Canuckistan" but not directly. Instead, Goldberg
make reference to Buchanan's remark solely because I am positive
99 percent of you didn't know he said it. Pat made the comment
on the unwatched program Buchanan and Press on America's Most
unwatched network, MSNBC."
this turns out to be not quite true. Goldberg admits "a
quick Nexis search reveals that Buchanan's remark has been
mentioned or discussed in over 100 newspaper articles."
Gee, it looks like somebody is watching, even if it's
only a bunch of Canadians. But the whole point of Goldberg's
little riff is to not only repeat the litany of canards flung
by our touchy northern neighbors, but to relay the news that:
Canadian newspapers tried to link the phrase 'Soviet Canuckistan'
to a website run by a racist and Holocaust-denier."
regularly freeloads off his "blogger"
friends, cadging material without acknowledgement, and in
this case he's
stealing from one Damien Penny, a Canadian whose "blog"
is a compendium of reasons to hate Arabs and love Israel.
Penny references this
piece in the Canadian Press, in which one Nancy
reference to Canada as a 'Soviet Canuckistan' apparently has
some sinister origins. It's a term frequently used by American
Holocaust-denier Eric Thomson on his Web site thirdworldplanet.com,
a virulently racist and anti-Semitic site."
sinister is this ridiculous smear, which Goldberg passes along
as if it were credible. Actually, the term "Canuckistan"
has been used
by the Quebec nationalists as a term of contempt for the
unitary state of Canada, as well as by American
right-wingers not to mention alternative
music reviewers, stock
traders, lovers of absinthe,
traders in silver,
and self-described "geek-chicks,"
all before Buchanan's dust-up with our neighbors to the north.
can be dangerous when it falls into the
wrong hands. But in the right hands, it can be used to
show that first dibs on "Soviet Canuckistan" must
go, not to some obscure neo-Nazi, but to the dreadlocked 23-year-old
"Tar/Giant" on FaceTheJury.com a personal "chat
room" and meat market whose
user profile (dated January 29, 2001) gives his location as
"Soviet Canuckistan," and his sexual orientation
as "heterosexual." Under "About Me," Tar/Giant
could never resist glorifying despair well now it's coming
to you and i don't really care..."
well, we all have days like that. But apparently "I don't
really care" pretty much describes the moral credibility
of Ms. Carr, and those who, like Goldberg, are a transmission
belt for the clumsy smears of clueless character assassins.
It's disgusting, really, to contemplate the depths to which
the conservative movement of today has fallen. The Clinton
era crowd, brought up on the salacious details of one of the
most corrupt administrations since that of Ulysses S. Grant
(or, perhaps, Caligula), has only a single arrow in its quiver:
smearing, rather than arguing, is all they know how to do.
for another example, all the brouhaha over the Washington
sniper and his young accomplice. Not only Goldberg
but also a number of his colleagues at the neoconized National
Review were absolutely
certain that John Williams-Muhammad and young Malvo were
part of an Al Qaeda plot even before the deadly duo were
caught. According to young Goldberg, "this is part of
the Fall offensive, along with the attacks in Kuwait and off
the coast of Yemen."
Muhammad's alleged links to the Nation of Islam came out,
they whooped for joy aha! Never mind that NOI had
no connection to even the Wahabist brand of radical Islam,
which is theologically closer to Judaism and Christianity.
And now that we are learning about the long history of Muhammad's
criminality, it is becoming abundantly clear that his motivation
can hardly be called ideological. As an editorial in the Atlanta
discovery that the weapon used in the Washington-area sniper
attacks was also used to kill an Atlanta man on Sept. 21 --
11 days before the spree began up North has brought a frightening
story much closer to home. It also confirms the absurdity
of efforts by some to link those tragic attacks to Islamic
the main adult suspect in the killings is a man named John
Muhammad. But robbery and mayhem, not politics, seem to have
been his motivation. If that makes him an Islamic terrorist,
then Timothy McVeigh was a Christian terrorist and David Berkowitz,
the Son of Sam killer, was a Jewish terrorist."
that Jonah Goldberg, boy detective, will ever admit that he
and his fellow neocons were dead wrong. William Safire, as
the AJC editorialist points out, "tried to depict
Muhammad as part of the great Islamic dagger aimed at the
heart and soul of America." According to Daniel
Pipes, the news media "shut their eyes" to the
Al Qaeda connection. "When Muslims engage in terrorism
against Americans," Pipes wrote, "the guiding presumption
must be that they see themselves as warriors in a jihad against
the 'Great Satan.' " Canada's noted Muslim-baiter Mark
Steyn averred "It doesn't matter whether they were
acting on orders or simply improvising." If a Muslim
holds up a gas station, it's a "jihad."
reality, truth these, what Russell Kirk called "the
Permanent Things," have all been abandoned by a neoconservative
movement in power. Without acknowledging any error, Goldberg
and the gang will just go on to the next propaganda campaign,
with the neocon party line filtering out inconvenient information.
They are always "on message," and the message is
this: war, war, eternal war, and the
alleged benefits of "democratic" Caesarism.
the neoconservative world-conquerors in the front ranks of
the War Party, Professor Kirk had
this to say:
legs good, two legs bad' such is the ideology of the pigs
in Animal Farm. 'Democracy good, all else bad' such is the
democratist ideology. A politicized American army operating
abroad would be no more popular soon than the Red Army has
been. An imposed or induced abstract democracy thrust upon
peoples unprepared for it would produce at first anarchy,
and then-as in nearly all of 'emergent' Africa, over the past
four decades-rule by force and a master."
neoconservatives of today have no arguments, except fearmongering,
and no respect for the traditions of a movement they usurped
from the inside. They are immune to the warnings of Kirk,
and the Old Right, against the emulation of the liberal original
sin of hubris.
As Kirk pointed out shortly before his death:
demands nowadays that all the world be thoroughly democratized
overnight remind me strongly of a similar enthusiasm not long
after the end of the Second World War. Gentlemen such as Chester
Bowles then proclaimed that Africa, liberated from European
domination, promptly would rejoice in an array of democracies
on the American model. The United States took measures, then
and later, to accelerate this happy progress economic restraints
upon trade of one sort or another with Portugal, Rhodesia,
and latterly the Republic of South Africa. We all know, of
course, how blissfully democratic Angola, Mozambique, Guinea,
and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) are today
Marx, we might say that history repeats itself, the first
time as a liberal conceit, the second as a neo-conservative
axiom. But what is most striking is the vast gulf that separates
the conservatives of Kirk's sort with the hacks that claim
that title today. What neoconservative scribbler for National
Review would entertain seriously the term "Caesarism,"
as Kirk did?:
slipped into the White House constitutionally, if not naturally,
with the murder of President Kennedy in 1963. The plebiscitary
democracy would elect Lyndon Johnson President in 1964; but
Johnson's military failure would undo him, despite his panem
et circenses; and a rebellious senator would strip
him of the purple. If Caesars do not win their battles, they
fall. In this, although not in much else, perhaps it was as
well that the war in Vietnam was lost."
of his unlikely visit to the White House of Lyndon Baines
Johnson, Kirk exhibits open contempt not only for the occupant
but for the degradation of the office, from the Oval Office
of America's chief executive to the throne-room of a global
a wall of my library hangs a photograph of myself with President
Johnson; both of us are smiling; it is well to be civil to
Caesar. It might be thought that Russell Kirk would not have
been eager to visit Caesar in the Oval office of the Imperial
Mansion; indeed I was not."
occasion for the visit was a ceremony at which Kirk delivered
a copy of his latest book, a biography of Senator Taft, to
the President who had eulogized Taft on the Senator's death.
The nation was then embarked on a two front war, against
"poverty" at home and for "democracy"
in Vietnam and on a world scale. Kirk was obviously not impressed
with the imperial pomp and circumstance of Johnson's wartime
White House. Indeed, it disgusted him. To the neocons, of
course, this is nothing less than treason, and the truth of
it doesn't matter. Their allegiance is to Caesar, not truth;
they don't want to be right, just in power.
why the emergence of The
American Conservative is such an important, indeed
an earthshaking, phenomenon. Somewhere, one can feel certain,
the spirit of Russell Kirk that prolific writer of ghost
stories, as well as such classics as The
Conservative Mind is applauding.
represents an enormous challenge to the neocons. They have
controlled the institutions of the Right mainly through their
influence with major donors, and more recently an
alliance with "dispensationalist" Protestant fundamentalists
on the linked questions of Israel and war in the Middle East.
TAC represents the views of northeastern Catholics
and old-fashioned midwestern "isolationists" who,
together, have generally gone unrepresented in conservative
neocons hate and fear this new phenomenon, a peace movement
developing on the Right. And that is precisely why the neocons
are lashing out with increased attacks not only on Buchanan,
and his new magazine, but on yours truly. Ronald
Radosh's recent screed, published in the
supposedly toney "Ideas" section of the Sunday Boston
Globe, retails the neocon party line: the Buchanan-Taki-Raimondo
Axis of Evil is intent on reviving a "red-brown"
alliance in a reborn America
First movement against U.S. intervention abroad. In what
was supposed to be a critique of the first issue of TAC,
what I wrote therein is not quoted, but my alleged sex life
is trotted out as exhibit number one. So what's up with that?
has been made of the lack of civility in public discourse,
noted especially during the Clinton years, but no one has
recently made the point that the public debates of a republican
order differ qualitatively from politics in the age of Empire.
In his 1992 lecture to the Heritage Foundation, Kirk cited
de Riencourt, the author of a prophetic book entitled
Coming Caesars, published in 1957, widely discussed
at the time and now forgotten:
measures of restraint should be taken, Riencourt wrote and
taken promptly the United States would fall under the domination
of 20th century Caesars."
went on to cite this passage from the text:
Caesarism and Civilization, the great struggles between political
parties are no longer concerned with principles, programs
and ideologies, but with men. Marius, Sulla, Cato, Brutus
still fought for principles. But now, everything became personalized.
Under Augustus, parties still existed, but there were no more
Optimates or Populares. No more conservatives or democrats.
Men campaigned for or against Tiberius or Drusus or Caius
Caesar. No one believed any more in the efficacy of ideas,
political panaceas, doctrines, or systems, just as the Greeks
had given up building great philosophic systems generations
before. Abstractions, ideas, and philosophies were rejected
to the periphery of their lives and of the empire, to the
East where Jews, agnostics, Christians, and Mithraists attempted
to conquer the world of souls and minds while the Caesars
ruled their material existence."
money sentence: Everything becomes personalized. This
is the substance and the style of the post-Clinton
conservatives, whose polemics are reduced to drive-by smearing.
Formerly obsessed with the sexual antics of the Arkansas Caesar,
they are now employing the same tactics against their enemies
on the Right witness the really nasty and quite personal
assaults launched on Taki, Buchanan, and myself. The drive-by
smear technique, as perfected by Radosh, Goldberg, the National
Review-Weekly Standard crowd and their enablers in the
Establishment liberal media complex, such as Howard Kurtz
Star is their only weapon. Ideas don't matter, truth
is irrelevant if only they can have war in the Middle East,
the ends will have justified the means.
not so fast, guys, because even your Great Leader seems to
be having doubts. The projected invasion of Iraq, which some
were predicting would come wrapped as a Christmas present
this year, has been postponed by the recently-passed UN resolution
well into next year and perhaps beyond. The last deadline
in the UN resolution comes at the end of February, and already
the UN Security Council principals are claiming
that the U.S. will have to make a return trip to the UN for
final approval of military action. In any case, the emphasis
now is on "disarmament" as opposed to "regime
change" and who knows but that Iraq just might embrace
the former in order to avoid the latter. A lot can happen
between now and the Ides of March, 2003.
the Republican recapture of the Congress, the War Party has
just experienced a major setback. So expect the neocons to
get even nastier, with more frequent and ever more vicious
attempts to smear those they rightly regard as their enemies.
Well, bring it on, I say. The ugliness of their methods reveals
all we need to know about their goals and motives. As we say
out here in California: it's all good.
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