How the mighty are fallen! National Review, once a respectable conservative publication which had editors at writers like Joe Sobran, Paul Gottfried, and Mel Bradford, is now a worth-nothing rag. The proud writers at National Review who came out as forceful #NeverTrumpers, backed off to tacit support for the 45th President of the United States, now an impetuous bunch who rush to publish pieces with content as if its from The Atlantic or New Republic, have fallen hard.
The Covington High School students have been vindicated from the rush of condemning that poured forth over their heads like hot coals. The local Kentucky bishop has apologized for his premature condemnation of fellow co-religionists and claimed he was pressured into making a statement. He better make it to confession for breaking eighth commandment in his apology letter. Many other journalists and celebrities have followed course in withdrawing their angry tweets and vitriol as extended video releases showing that the maligned high school students were, in the facts, the one aggressively pursued to which they simply held their ground and refused to be bullied by the bullies. From the New York Times to National Review, all the major media organs which condemned the students and also presented a false portrait of Nathan Philips—he is not a Vietnam veteran for one and has a history of political disruption—have been busily retracting their statements and trying to put out the flames they created. The more insistently annoying outlets, like CNN, try to spin their mistakes into a patronizing moral story about “what we’ve learned” to keep the conversation of “civility” and the need for “moral growth” to keep going. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
In December 2018, the Weekly Standard—a flagship of neoconservative thought and criticism for two decades—shuttered. The Standard had never been profitable, but in the culture and media wars of the 1990s and early 2000s, it was an important voice for a select elite cabal of liberally-minded intellectuals and writers who believed, unlike the more mainstream liberals at the Times, New Republic, or Atlantic during those days, that liberalism needed a strong dose of traditional morality and high culture to prevent falling into disarray and anarchistic sadism. During the Bush Administration it reached the height of its influence and credibility before rapidly nosediving with the disintegration of the neoconservative establishment under Trump’s ascendency to the Republican Party nomination and 2016 Presidential victory.
Founded in 1955, National Review was the arm of the fusionist movement led by William F. Buckley Jr. From the late 1950s into the 1980s, National Review was a peculiar but important publication. It may have purged openly anti-Israel and isolationist writers like those common at The Mercury, then one of the few publications of paleoconservative thought and criticism in the United States, but it kept on many traditionalists who opposed the civil rights’ movement, were suspicious of growing American-Israeli foreign policy relations, affirmed traditional Christian morality, and opposed mass migration and immigration into the United States. A hybrid publication that brought together intellectuals, professors, writers, libertarians, traditionalists, and anti-Communist/anti-Stalinist liberals, National Review became the public arm and face of what historian George P. Nash called “movement conservatism” in his book The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945. I have a review of that book available via way of Amazon.
When the Covington story broke National Review ran a piece claiming that the Covington students “might have well spit on the Cross.” The piece has since been pulled given all the new details which have emerged since the incident, and that hit-job piece, was run. But the rush by National Review to publish the piece condemning the actions of young, white, Christian males, also Trump supporters, put National Review on the same team as the anti-white, anti-Christian, anti-male, anti-Trump media which is just about every media institution in the country which is backing a full-blown anti-white, anti-Christian, anti-male, and anti-Trump progressivism. What gives?
In the 1980s there was a seismic shift in American political culture. No, America was not getting more conservative as many people will claim. Rather, Reagan’s revolution and the movement of anti-communist liberals into the Republican Party realigned conservative bloc politics. While Buckley was on the CIA payroll and pushed a vigorous anti-communism to contain the Soviet Union during the Cold War, the voices of traditionalist, agrarian, and Christian conservatism in the United States were not yet wholly shuttered from organs of media prominence. As mentioned, traditionalists like Joe Sobran and Mel Bradford were editors and regular columnists for National Review. Sovereignists and isolationists like Paul Gottfried also wrote for them. After the Democratic Party’s leftward tilt following the defeat of Jimmy Carter in 1980, paving the way for the rearguard of pro-life Christians and Democrats who upheld traditional standards of morality to be expunged by progressive, free-sex, pro-abortion, activists, those liberals—and they were liberals: believers in democratic polity, free trade, market economics, and civil rights—were worried that communism was infiltrating the Democratic Party. They moved into the seemingly more reliable anti-communist party now being led by that cowboy actor and former governor of California. These folks were given cover by National Review. And what they found at Buckley’s magazine were a cohort of traditionalists whom they despised and purged upon their arrival. One by one, Sobran, Bradford, Gottfried, and others, fell; by 1988 their revolution had been complete and a broadly secular, liberal, anti-communist alliance had forced the traditionalists out of their media foxholes and became the face of the “new conservatism.” Their “conservatism” rested simply in believing that some degree of traditional morality was necessary for liberal polities to defeat the Soviet Union and not fall into internal disintegration and fragmentation.
The movement of the neoconservatives to media prominence tied National Review and Weekly Standard together as sister publications of the neoconservative ascendency. The final split between the traditionalists and liberals masquerading as conservatives came in the leadup to the Iraq War. Stalwart traditionalists like Thomas Fleming, Patrick Buchanan, Joe Sobran, and Paul Gottfried—all luminaries in the old world of 1960s-1980s Movement Conservatism and traditionalist circles—were shirked by David Frum in the pages of National Review. “Unpatriotic Conservatives,” the title ran. “War is a great clarifier. It forces people to take sides. The paleoconservatives have chosen — and the rest of us must choose too. In a time of danger, they have turned their backs on their country. Now we turn our backs on them.” That is how Frum’s eloquent but empty essay ended. And true to form, the “neoconservatives” have turned their backs on the paleoconservatives and have never looked back.
Fast forward to today, the remnant traditionalists and paleoconservatives who are still around became vocal Trump supporters. They had various reasons for it. Few identify, as few would, sound morality and character for the reason they’re supporting Trump. Most see Trump as their instrument of retribution against the establishment which has given us global empire, endless wars, unpayable debts, a bloated federal government and bureaucracy, the destruction of the countryside and the rural way of life, abortion on demand, the legalization of sodomy, a cultural war against Christianity, open borders, mass migration, and cultural suicide. The rupture fissured in the 1980s, but it was sealed by Frum’s infamous words in 2003.
Therefore, it is unsurprising that National Review, which still bills itself—philosophically illiterately—as the stalwart vanguard of conservatism. Hardly. Most of the writers at National Review wouldn’t know conservatism it if smacked them in the face. They say they’re conservative, but, following the epistemological dictum of Aristotle, “To say of something which is that it is not, or to say of something which is not that it is, is false. However, to say of something which is that it is, or of something which is not that it is not, is true.” In other words, to speak falsely of something is to speak falsely of it. To speak truthfully of something is to speak truthfully of it. That is because all things have an ontic nature to them—and conservatism, philosophically and intellectually, does. And it is not what the dictatorship of National Review, Commentary, or the now defunct Weekly Standard, claim it is. They speak falsely of conservatism. But say it loud enough and people will buy it—the writers who keep the anti-Trump and anti-traditionalist loudspeakers going are, as Nash identified, mostly part of the anti-communist liberal stand from movement conservatism. Those more traditionally-minded writers they occasionally publish are on a leash; some of the so-called hipster conservatives, the “crunchy cons” of recent Rod Dreher fame, are shackled to the whims of their liberal masters to maintain a veil of illusions.
National Review is now a great cave of illusions in this regard. They mask their anti-Christianity and anti-conservatism with platitudes to Christianity and conservatism—decrying what they consider unacceptable Christian and conservative behavior but only undercutting genuine Christianity and conservatism in the process. In making a mockery of young Christian men marching for life, they presented themselves as guardians of Christianity but were the ones who spoke in the language and imagery of blasphemy. And this is what the baptizers of the leftward drift of culture do—they baptize the latest leftwing cultural achievements and claim, through their sprinkling of holy water onto sodomy, abortion, and mass immigration, as being conservative causes that conservatives must now defend. From standing athwart history and yelling “Stop!” these guardians accept the drive to suicide and gently say, “it’s the conservative way forward.” To lose, but to lose beautifully, is apparently what acceptable conservatives must do.
The cultural tide is moving leftward fast. America, long the modern Babylon Project from her founding in 1776 and retrenched in the Constitutional Convention is now shedding whatever cloak masqueraded this project. Those ancient forefathers who stood up to this wanton criminal enterprise for a novus ordo secloram: The anti-federalists, the Jeffersonians, the Tertium Quid Republicans, the anti-Masonic activists, the isolationists, the America-First movement in 1940, etc., have all been cast aside like dust in the wind. The modern Babel-builders from Hollywood and Silicon Valley to New York City have shackled their opponents to have a controlled opposition—better, they have turned them into co-conspirators and builders alongside them. The Catholic clerical hierarchy, Protestant evangelicals, “patriots” who claim the highest degree of patriotism is supporting war for global empire, etc., all now serve a master that will lead them to the eighth and ninth circles of Hell.
Recognizing the shifting currents, the writers at National Review seek to capitalize on the growing anti-white, anti-Christian, anti-male, and anti-Trump sentiment. To maintain cultural relevance, National Review publishes a hit-job worthy of having been run by the New York Times, Washington Post, or Jacobin Magazine. Libel and slander are good terms to describe what National Review’s primary business is now. Blasphemy not far behind that.
The denizens of Bill Buckley’s old magazine are the quintessential wolves in sheep’s clothing. They smile with a smirky charm and well-tailored suits putting up a veiled front of Christianity, cultural conservatism, the importance of marriage, community, and friendship, etc. But when the knives come out, they shed their sheep’s skin and reveal themselves to be wolves. They gobble up little children and people whom they called friends for years to save their cultural relevance. To be accepted in this visible Babel project is to brutally consume all those people whom the new Babylon has deemed must be sacrificed on the altar of progress. The writers at National Review have turned their backs on conservatives for the pink currents leading to a globalized Sodom and Gomorrah. Conservatives—real conservatives—should not be afraid of being truly counter-cultural now and drive out the wolves from among the flock. Or keep the flock from being preyed upon by the wolves.