The Corner

Freedom and Sadness

On a plane ride the other day I dipped into a collection of interviews with various conservative thinkers called Showdown With Evil: Our Struggle Against Tyranny and Terror, by Jamie Glazov. (Glazov recently interviewed me, but I’m not in the book.) Most of Glazov’s interviews focus on the War on Terror. (Here are some folks with nice things to say about the book.)

What struck me most about Showdown With Evil was the autobiographical angle, which the interviews nicely draw out. I was especially taken with the contrast between Andrew Klavan’s laugh-out-loud-funny and stunningly smart account of his path to conservatism, on the one hand, and Glazov’s own biography on the other.

Klaven’s story is a typical American tale of creeping conservatism, just a lot more entertaining than most. Glazov, on the other hand, is the child of Soviet dissidents exiled to the Gulag. His story is shadowed by tragedy and filled with the sort of sad and somber passion notable for its absence in most American life stories. Both Klaven and Glazov end up preoccupied with the puzzle of political correctness and the quasi-religious character of the American left, yet they approach the problem from dramatically different angles.

American conservatives are lucky to have the leaven of people like Glazov, who’ve seen the worst that left-utopianism can do, and luckier still not to have experienced that catastrophe themselves. Klavan’s humor and gentle acceptance of life’s tragedies is the fortunate result. Freedom yields a happier sort of sadness.

Stanley Kurtz — Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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