The Corner

McWhorter Vs. Buckley Re Pegler

I don’t know one percent of what Diane McWhorter or (my boss) William F. Buckley Jr. know about Westbrook Pegler, so I’m not going to get in the middle of this dispute. McWhorter’s use of the word “demagogues” in the following passage is, however, a bit rich given what comes before and after it: “At his peak in the 1930s and 1940s, Pegler was a leading popularizer of one of the most concerted antidemocratic crusades in this country’s history: the vicious backlash against the New Deal and the labor movement to which it gave legal protection. This anti-Roosevelt front included the country’s major industrialists, anti-Semitic, red-baiting pamphleteers, Congressman Martin Dies’ Committee on Un-American Activities, and an assortment of Depression-era demagogues (and men on horseback who conspired with Hitler’s agents in this country).

“Although Pegler did not turn against Roosevelt until the president’s second term, he quickly became a shrill cheerleader for the right’s campaign to paint the New Deal’s democratic advances as an internationalist Communist plot.”

On second thought, the use of the word “democratic” may be even better. Diane McWhorter: the Sid Blumenthal of the New Deal.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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