Every now and then an acquaintance who reads what I write will ask me: “Boyd, why are you so critical of writers and commentators—Neoconservatives—like Victor Davis Hanson, Ben Shapiro, Brian Kilmeade, and those who appear on Fox News? Why do you seem so condemnatory of articles and essays that show up in, say, National Review or The Wall Street Journal? Aren’t there some good and worthy items there…aren’t there some good things coming from those folks and from those publications?”
My answer is short and in the form of an analogy: Suppose you had a cantaloupe. It appeared to be just fine and pleasing. But a considerable portion of it—a large interior portion you could not really see or determine—was rotten. Just as you say to yourself, “Yum, this is a tasty cantaloupe,” and continue munching away, before long and before you realize it, you are getting into parts of the fruit that maybe at first didn’t seem so bad. But, in fact, you have begun to digest decaying fruit. And then it is too late….
Certainly, this analogy is imperfect. Nevertheless, that is what happens when you embrace such personalities as Hanson and Shapiro and Guy Benson, or immerse yourself in such journals as National Review or in the courses of study in American history at Prager University. Every isolated nugget of truth is mixed in with historical and philosophical rot and falsehood…and for far too many people, the meagre “good” gotten by such involvement is more than counter-balanced by the gradual acceptance and infection of what is erroneous and not good.
Just recently I heard Congressman Dan Crenshaw (Republican-Texas) tell his Fox News audience—once again— that America, its foundation, is based on the proposition of “equality for all” and “spreading the Gospel of Democracy” to all the rest of the world. Just like for his far less intelligent compatriot in Congress, Adam Kinzinger (Republican-Illinois), who never saw a war that he did not want this nation to be in, and most members of the establishment “Conservative Movement, Inc.,” Crenshaw partakes of a discernible philosophical foundation which is essentially inimical to the designs and thinking of the Framers of our Constitution and the Founders of this country. Although he and Kinzinger would undoubtedly and strongly deny it, in fact, their view owes far more to the febrile mental extrapolations and interpretations of Trotskyite publicists of the 1930s and 1940s than to the resolutely anti-egalitarian and anti-democratic vision of most of the men who cobbled together an American confederation in 1787, and who led that confederation in large part until 1861.
In effect, such enterprises as Prager U, National Review, and most of Fox (except for Tucker Carlson) are in far too many ways just a more recent, maybe less noxious branch of the Progressivist revolution which has been eating away at and infecting Western civilization for well over 100 years.
Harsh words? Yes. But let me offer just two examples to illustrate. And, as I have done in past installments in this series in essays about Hanson and Shapiro, I believe these examples are not only dispositive but highly symbolic of an ingrained—and very dangerous—mindset about our history. And it is a mindset that says much about the philosophical foundations of those who mouth such convictions.
As the old saying goes: A word to the wise is sufficient. Every “good” item you might read in a magazine like National Review, or insight that you might pick up in one of Hillsdale College’s “American heritage courses,” also contains, eventually, a slow mental infection, a “hook” which if allowed to fester will pervert and distort. (Hillsdale President Larry Arnn is a zealous follower of the late Harry Jaffa who debated Professor Mel Bradford over the disastrous role of Abraham Lincoln in American history. See my essay at Abbeville, “Mel Bradford and the Defense of Southern Conservatism,” July 17, 2014.)
Two examples, then, and both are significant and both bracket the major offensive of unfolding, progressive “conservative movement thought.”
First, Dennis Prager is seen regularly on Fox, and just recently he appeared on the Mark Levin program. Levin, characterized by his brash and seemingly uncontrollable histrionics, lapped up Prager’s insights. Prager is currently featuring a certain Professor Allen Guelzo (Professor of History, Princeton University) to discuss the War Between the States and Reconstruction. (See his online lecture: “Reconstruction: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” September 9.)
And like Victor Davis Hanson—and, ironically, like out-and-out Communist Eric Foner—his argument is that: (1) the War was all about slavery and the fulfilling (by force of arms) of our “national destiny” of “equality for all,” and (2) the Yankee armies should have remained as brutal occupiers in the defeated South for a far longer time after the war “until a newer generation learned a newer lesson about race and rights other than white supremacy.”
The question immediately arises: how does this revisionist historicism differ from the Marxist vision of a Foner or maybe Eric Hobsbawn?
And the answer is: not much.
Yet this narrative is pushed, and pushed hard by the Neoconservatives and the Establishment Conservative Movement. So, my question back to my interrogators is: “Why do you continue soaking up these noxious nostrums, even if there might be an occasional bit of reason or truth discovered therein, when you can go elsewhere, to other journals and online sites, to find something which will provide the same information but that is far less infectious?” [I would offer here as alternatives: Chronicles magazine, The Abbeville Institute, Reckonin.com, The Agonist, New English Review, Takimag.com, VDare.com, Big League Politics, and several others.]
My second example, the second major offensive involves the ferocious attack on a major and essentially defining characteristic and historic quality of Western civilization: our inherited Christian moral tradition, a tradition and belief system that is inextricably bound up with the very existence of our culture. It has, thus, been a primary target of the unrelenting post-Marxist social justice warriors—beginning with divorce-on-demand, paid for abortion for all women, the destruction of the bonds of matrimony and same sex marriage, full acceptance of transgenderism and “gender-fluidity” (i.e., on Monday I “feel” like a woman, but on Tuesday I “feel” like a man), and now even pedophilia. And its effect is to both deny the laws of nature and the Divine Positive Law. Without those foundations, our civilization cannot continue, and our enemies know that full well.
So why do figures such as Jonah Goldberg, George Will, and National Review’s David French (and many other “conservative” spokesmen) not only accept such aberrations, but actively support and advance them in our society?
And here it is very instructive to read what major National Review contributor David French has to say about “Drag Queen Story Hour,” a program now present in some of our public libraries, and aimed at “grooming” young impressionable pre-schoolers across the country.
French thinks it’s not only fine, but a wonderful expression of “the blessings of liberty,” indeed, he thinks such activities should be widespread. Or, as he says: “There’s this idea that victory is the natural state of affairs and defeat is the intolerable intrusion,”demonstrating the mindset that has caused mainstream conservatism to conserve nothing throughout the decades. “What I’ve been trying to tell people is that none of this stuff is fixed. There is not necessarily an arc to history….”
Just two examples, but two of an increasing number which illustrate the utter corruption of the Establishment Conservative Movement, and its Fifth Column use by those on the further Left. Such luminaries as David French and Dennis Prager, and their ilk rationalize, then normalize and make acceptable the aberrant behavior and anti-Christian beliefs which are destroying what remains of our civilization.
They propound a toxic mix which, in the end like every toxic mix, will be fatal to its recipients. That cantaloupe may seem okay, but in the end rot and decay will spoil it…and make you sick.