I suppose it might be unseemly to praise one’s own magazine, but I am proud to be associated with a publication responsible for David Frum’s magnificent and necessary essay. I’ve never paid much attention to the paleocons, to be honest. I find the interest many of them have in traditional forms of Christianity to be appealing at some level, and I share too their concern over the loss of certain aspects of traditional culture, particularly in light of the role the free market plays in exacerbating and accelerating this destructive dynamic.
Since 9/11, however, I’ve been increasingly disturbed by anti-American and racialist rhetoric emanating from the paleos. I suppose it may have been there all along, but not paying close attention to them, I never saw it. Not long after the 9/11 attacks, I investigated what I came to believe were credible reports that paleocon students at a conservative Catholic college were going around saying the terrorist assaults were a good thing, because wicked America deserved it — and that there were professors at this college encouraging students, from a rightist perspective, to see the American founding as illegitimate. I found it hard to believe that there were actually people on the Right saying these kinds of things, but as Frum details, this vile sentiment is now something some leading paleocon writers are willing to say publicly. I met a traditionalist Catholic at a party who, upon learning that I worked for NR, said cheerily, “Well, I’m anti-American.” He himself was born and raised in America, a country which, for all its problems, is still a land where the Catholic faith is practiced to a degree no longer known in the European countries he and his sort revere. I’ve heard some of this same crowd, who have been untiring in their declaration that Pope John Paul II has been a disaster for the Church, now talking of the Holy Father as a prophet because the pontiff has set himself against America in the cause of war on Iraq.
I am in no way a “my country, right or wrong” man, but neither do I understand irrational hatred of this country, one’s native land, and its institutions as a virtue, particularly a conservative virtue. And Jew-hatred is a sin and a disgrace. National Review has acted in the past to rescue conservatism from this lot, and has done so again.