Friday, July 16, 2021

A Warring Visionary

 From Tom Piatak at Chronicles:

British scholar Timothy Stanley  has produced the first significant biography of Patrick J. Buchanan, describing his life from his boyhood in Washington, D.C., up to the present.  Stanley’s book is written in a breezy, informal manner—Buchanan is referred to as “Pat” throughout—and it makes for quick and generally enjoyable reading.  Stanley gets much right in his general narrative of Buchanan’s life, particularly his description of Buchanan’s 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns.

Despite his recognition that Buchanan has been a major figure in American politics, Stanley refuses to commit himself on the nature of Buchanan’s legacy:

He is a controversial figure, so I have avoided passing judgment.  It is better simply to tell his story from beginning to end and let the reader make up his or her mind as to whether [Buchanan] is a visionary or a brute.

No one who reads Stanley’s biography, however, can reasonably conclude that Buchanan is a “brute,” since the book details nothing that can reasonably be described as brutish.  A former aide, Greg Mueller, recounts that, during the 1996 campaign, Buchanan “was incredibly patient and never got angry.”  Indeed, all those who know Buchanan realize that he is a gentleman, a conclusion buttressed in the book by such disparate figures as liberal columnist E.J. Dionne, Andrew Sullivan (to whom Buchanan wrote a supportive private note after Sullivan was diagnosed with AIDS), and Joe Scarborough, who told Stanley that the young interns at MSNBC would balk at working with Buchanan, until they actually met him: “They’d really squirm and say, ‘Isn’t he an awful person?  He’s so right wing.’  But after a couple of days with him, they’d all want to adopt him as their father.”  Scarborough’s interns were repeating the reaction of Peggy Noonan, who was worried about having to work for the hard-right Buchanan in the Reagan White House, yet ended up making him one of the heroes of What I Saw at the Revolution.

Stanley also provides facts that refute some of the attacks made on his subject.  Those who charge Buchanan with antisemitism need to come to grips with the fact that, “Throughout his career, Buchanan had been a cheerleader for Israel.”  Buchanan’s view of America’s relationship with Israel did not change definitively until the end of the Cold War, which caused him to reevaluate his foreign-policy views across the board.  Buchanan opposed George H.W. Bush’s first foreign intervention, the invasion of Panama, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Indeed, as Stanley relates, on Crossfire Buchanan called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops the day after the fall of the Berlin Wall, provided the Russians withdrew their troops from Eastern Europe.  Stanley notes that Buchanan’s concern for Americans charged with complicity in the holocaust, such as John Demjanjuk, grew out of Buchanan’s anticommunism and the fact that the evidence being used against such Americans came from the Soviets.  In a similar vein, Stanley writes that Ronald Reagan’s visit to “Bitburg had nothing to do with Buchanan; the decision to go was made before he was appointed.” (Read more.)

From PJB at Chronicles:

Christian teachings have a pedigree that goes back millennia. But what is the source of moral authority for modernity's doctrine that homosexuality is moral, other than some transient ideology, which Russell Kirk reminded us is political religion? What is the source of the morality that teaches same-sex unions are the equal of traditional marriage and any government that does not agree is a bigoted regime with which we ought not associate?

For the stand the EU takes today—that homosexuality is natural and normal and should be morally and legally the equal to other forms of sexual expression—flatly contradicts those Christian beliefs and values that Europe itself reflected at the EU's infancy. Do values change? Or are people simply converted to new faiths, new beliefs, new ideas, and new "values" that contradict the old ones that were taught and believed for centuries?

If tolerance is, as Michel declares, an EU value, is the canopy of tolerance not wide enough, and the big tent of tolerance not large enough, to include the Christian values Orban espouses, though they contradict the EU values that Rutte and others declare? Is not Hungary being subjected to EU discrimination for the moral offense of holding on to beliefs that differ from the new EU consensus? Is the EU's liberalism so intolerant of dissent it would expel an EU member who does not embrace its 21st-century teachings on LGBT rights?

Not until this century in the USA was homosexuality declared a constitutional right. Justice Antonin Scalia famously dissented from that decision. And if Hungary holds to ideas and beliefs Scalia held, and tens of millions of Americans still hold, but is forced out of the EU for so doing, why would we Americans not stand behind Hungary's right to dissent?

American values, once declared to be freedom, liberty, and independence, have evolved into inclusiveness, diversity, and tolerance. Which brings us to the cancel culture. Where is the tolerance here for differences of belief about whether homosexuality is moral? Cannot those who reject newly established opinion still be included in the company of decent men? Or do the values of inclusion and diversity not extend that far? (Read more.)


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