Justin Raimondo died yesterday at age 67 after struggling with cancer. His obituary is a must read just for the eye-popping detail about his boyhood confrontation with a Communist psychotherapist. Raimondo was a young radical libertarian, a gay-liberation activist, and an indefatigable supporter of Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaigns. Yes, you read that right. His two great passions were preserving the memory of the pre–World War II American right, and his activist news portal, Antiwar.com, which has opposed every U.S. war and military intervention since its founding in 1995.
Raimondo could be a dogged nuisance to anyone he disagreed with. He was absolutely unbearable to Jonah Goldberg. Like his political idol, the radical libertarian Murray Rothbard, Raimondo always had some new cockamamie left–right alliance against the respectable people in mind. He did not care about the reputation of his allies, or his own reputation. He was proud to be a “deplorable” long before Clinton injected that phrase into our consciousness. In his hatred of the “war party” he would embrace conspiracy theories and indulge any number of kooks. He was irresponsible and he frequently exhibited bad judgement. He could also be extraordinarily sweet.
And I couldn’t help but love him. From roughly 2002 to 2006, I would refresh his website at midnight three nights a week waiting for his link-filled columns on the Iraq War. He gave me a thorough-but-wildly-biased introduction to the history of the American Right. One that got me interested in Alcove 1 on one side, or Albert Jay Nock on the other. In those columns he introduced me to America’s Californian poet Robinson Jeffers, who was something like an environmentalist, an isolationist, and a misanthrope. An acquired taste for sure, but for that alone I’m eternally grateful. Maybe it’s an odd thing, but it was this radical gay libertarian who led me, column by column, to the Russell Kirks, Whitaker Chambers, Irving Kristols. I learned to hate Woodrow Wilson from Justin. Being entertained, appalled, and darkly thrilled by his columns set me on the road to becoming a journalist, to taking ideas seriously. We are not alike at all, and yet I owe him so much. I will always retain his libertarian-flavored hatred of war, which grows government, is destructive of our liberties, and tears families apart. An unjust war is organized mass murder. Period.
Raimondo was contradictory, cussed, wild, and irrepressible in a deeply American way. He argued fiercely against the domestication of gay men in the straight institution of marriage, which he insisted was about children. And then he wed his long time partner. His anti-war stance impelled him to the Cold Warrior and former Nixonista, Pat Buchanan. I was staggered tonight by the news of his death. I pray that his search for peace in this world brought him to peace eternal in the next; and to hell with war.