To be a conservative who writes about culture is to exist in hostile occupied territory. I belong to a couple of film critics’ associations and when I meet with fellow film critics I’m nearly always the only conservative in the room. I’m in the same kind of underdog situation when I’m writing about theater, television, music, books, whatever. Like academia, the popular culture is a battlefield that conservatives have largely ceded to the enemy. Why bother to fight against overwhelming odds? Our founder, William F. Buckley Jr., knew this would be a never-ending struggle — which is why he founded a magazine of politics and culture. It’s vitally important to attend to the culture and maintain conservative commentary on it: offer critique when needed and celebrate what is good and great in music, literature, and the arts. This is why the Books, Arts & Manners section of NR has been there since the premiere issue back in 1955. Today, sponsored by National Review Institute, it is more robust than ever, with an expanded online section.
Our voices may get drowned out, mocked, ignored. But we must never be silent. Their half of America runs all the major Hollywood studios and the TV networks and the book publishers and the performing-arts institutions and the museums. They are pushing a hard-left cultural agenda on Americans — deriding capitalism, insisting that sex is determined by attitude rather than genetics, browbeating America with Oberlin College–style identity politics, and relabeling the Founding as defined by racism. Our half of America is represented by a few lonely voices of sanity. I’ve been tearing apart the faulty assumptions, logical holes, shaky grasp of facts, and anti-American values of progressive culture for many years, and I’ll continue to do it for many more. Colleagues such as Jay Nordlinger, Armond White, Ross Douthat, and Brian T. Allen are doing the same. But those of us who cover culture for National Review need your help. Our power comes from you, the readers who provide the financial resources for us to do what we do best: fight back against the Left and powerfully make the case for our shared principles. We don’t have a billionaire picking up the bills for us and wouldn’t want one, because we don’t want to be beholden to any one person — neither to his business interests nor to his personal tastes. Instead, each year we reach out to our thousands of donors — patriotic Americans, like you — to ask them to join our cause by giving an end-of-year tax-deductible contribution to National Review Institute.
National Review Institute (NRI) is the nonprofit 501(c)(3) journalistic think tank that complements the NR mission by supporting and promoting National Review’s top talent and the Buckley Legacy — and I’m thrilled to have become an NRI fellow this year. With a donation to NRI, you can support both the overarching mission — to preserve and promote William F. Buckley Jr.’s legacy and advance conservative ideas in the face of overwhelming hostility — and help sustain the magazine and website’s influential writers. Bill Buckley famously said, “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” We need your help to make sure those other views get their hearing.
We at NRI realize there are other worthy causes that command your attention, but as the many donors who have visited our offices for social functions can attest, we really are a small operation. You could fit all of our staffers in a single medium-sized room. Our world headquarters is a single office suite. Our budget is smaller than that of some obscure small-market newspapers. Your financial support is meaningful and goes a long way in these parts. NRI seeks to raise over $200,000 by midnight on December 31 to help fund its programs and NRI fellows in 2020. We are almost there, having raised nearly $150,000 as part of our online End-of-Year Fund Appeal. Will you help us get across the finish line and reach our goal?
Together, we’ll keep calling out the lies, distortions, and flawed values of our cultural adversaries, and we’ll do so con gusto. It’s great fun to know that you’re playing a role in some of the central cultural disputes of our time — and to know that you’re on the right side of them.