The Corner

“Crunchy Contretemps”

If you subscribed, you’d also find this letter to the editor from Rod Dreher regarding a piece I wrote in the mag about the state of conservatism:

I understand that what I call “crunchy conservatism” is not Jonah Goldberg’s cup of tea, but I can’t let his cheap and unjust description of my work go unchallenged (“Living in the Real World,” March 27). In my book, Crunchy Cons, I go to great lengths to tie the views I hold on a wide variety of cultural and political issues — including, among others, agriculture, the environment, education, religion, and architecture — to the kind of traditionalism that was espoused by Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver, and other conservative intellectuals. Readers of Mr. Goldberg’s essay who are not familiar with either my book or my related commentary on National Review Online would assume that, willy-nilly, I choose to baptize things I happen to like as conservative, simply because I happen to like them. This is untrue, as any fair-minded reader of my book will recognize, even if he finds the kind of neo-traditionalism Crunchy Cons celebrates and endorses unconvincing. If Mr. Goldberg considers my kind of traditionalism distasteful, that’s his business. But the fact that he dismisses a neo-traditionalist critique of the contemporary Right and of American life as mere “popular liberal-Left assumptions” and even “narcissism” says more about him than it does about my book.

Rod Dreher

Dallas, Texas

Me: I see no need to argue this out any further. But, since the implication here is that I’m not a fair-minded reader of Rod’s book, I would at least like to point out that I offered what I thought was a very fair-minded and detailed critique of Crunchy Cons which, to my knowledge, has remained almost entirely unchallenged by Rod and other self-described Crunchies. I am content to leave it to readers of both his book and my piece to decide whether it is me or Rod who is being unfair.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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