Earlier this year I compiled a list of some typical “hate Lincoln” headlines from that charming paleo-libertarian website lewrockwell.com, but the author of a website called Punch the Bag has just sent me an even better list he’s gathered from the same source, part of which I’ve reproduced below. My favorite is “Heil Abe.” To see the the entire article, click on this link to “LewRockwell.com and the Annoying Paleocons.”

The writers at lewrockwell.com are bad news not just because they’re brutal and coarse, but because they create clones of themselves, young men who are unable to engage in political discourse except to spew forth mindless ad hominem slogans. To paraphrase Falstaff’s comment about his own wittiness, the Rockwellites are not only vicious in themselves, but the cause of viciousness in others. Patrick Buchanan and Scott McConnell, though not Rockwell-type hate mongers, nevertheless engage in the same intellectually debasing technique, with their incantatory repetition of phrases like “The War Party” serving as an all-purpose substitute for critical thought.

Anyway, here’s some of the hate-Lincolniana. There’s a lot more where this came from.

Heil, Abe

No King But Lincoln
The nationalist, neo-Unionist argument is a rope of sand.

The Trouble With the Constitution
It was a nationalist-Federalist trick.

Did Lincoln Do It?
Was the dictator incorrectly charged with plotting a crime?

Phony Lincoln
Joseph Sobran on Harry Jaffa’s deification of the Great Tyrant.

The Real Churchill
Joseph Sobran agrees with Ralph Raico: “Winston Churchill was a man of blood and a politico without principle.”

Lincoln’s Savagery
Joseph Sobran on why the Confederate flag is demonized, and the US has become a rogue nation.

Lincoln with Fangs

Lincoln’s Culture of Death

In Search of the Real Abe
He was one slippery character.

The Jefferson Davis Legacy
Joseph Sobran on our last president.

Who Killed the Iceman?
And how he relates to the murderous Abe.

Listen to Lincoln
Pay attention to his words, and to his monstrous deeds, says Joseph Sobran, and not the embalmed cliche he’s become.

Hitler Was a Lincolnite

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 26, 2002 10:18 AM | Send


Joe Sobran shows up on this list four times and Ralph Raico once. These are “young men who are unable to engage in political discourse?”

Posted by: Alex Sleighback on September 26, 2002 12:48 PM

Yeah. Auster’s strategy towards those who disagree with him and can write circles around him is to portray them as adolescent, infantile, irrational, mean-spirited, etc. It’s the typical neocon approach.

Posted by: William on September 26, 2002 1:06 PM

Alex Sleighback writes: “Joe Sobran shows up on this list four times and Ralph Raico once. These are ‘young men who are unable to engage in political discourse?’”

By “clones” I obviously did not mean that the cohort of young men whose intellects have been deformed by the writers at lewrockwell.com are identical human copies of their mentors; I meant that they slavishly follow their mentors, so that all they are capable of doing is mindlessly to repeat the same ad hominem phrases and cheap slogans that they have heard from their mentors, and that therefore they are unable to engage in political discourse.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 26, 2002 1:12 PM

Oh come now… Anybody who writes an piece entitled “Heil, Abe” or “Lincoln with Fangs” isn’t writing circles around anybody.

Posted by: Owen Courrčges on September 26, 2002 1:45 PM

If you burn your bridges with the paleos, who will stick up for you when the witch hunters decide to smear you?

Posted by: Alex Sleighback on September 26, 2002 1:50 PM

Not the most clever of titles, I agree, but they certainly got someone’s attention. And that’s the point, isn’t it? Bitching and moaning about article headings, not to mention complaining about how “brutal and coarse” your opponents are, seems to me to be an obvious diversion, a clear case of beating around the bush. The neocons, like their allies the liberals, are masters at avoiding the debate.

Posted by: William on September 26, 2002 2:01 PM

Gosh, I guess one would have to figure out some way to survive Norman Podhortetz’s possible smears without the help of Lew Rockwell and Company (which would hardly have been forthcoming in any case). How WILL one manage?

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 26, 2002 2:21 PM

I visited that neocon website Auster mentioned: Punchthebag.com. What a hoot! If you think those Lincoln headlines Auster complains about are bad, check out all that cheap, nasty invective the Punchthebag.com hack vomits forth on the paleos. Obviously a graduate of the James Carville School of Political Discourse. There’s also a thread of snobbery running through the website. You know, the usual “All Southerners are Rednecks!” political analysis our liberal opponents excel at. It’s usually a dead giveaway that the writer is a vulgar parvenu, but that’s beside the point. This is probably a guy who thinks parting his thinning hair on the left, wearing khakis and a bow tie, sporting horn-rimmed glasses, and cultivating a taste for Rush Limbaugh, Bach, and cigars make him a conservative. Faux-sophistication at its worst. Another sycophantic Buckleyite clone. A George Will wannabe with a grievance.

Posted by: William on September 26, 2002 2:28 PM

Mr. Courreges: maybe the circles are in crayola? (Sorry. Couldn’t resist. Self congratulation always invites mockery, and laughter is one of my chief vices).

Mr. Sleighback: I can’t speak for anyone else, but there is no need for neoconfederates to take any custodial interest in me. The very thought would be more than a little amusing if that custodial attitude had not already caused so much harm.

William, as much as I respect his voice in other areas, and indeed I do, continues to use the label-and-slur tactic to avoid debate while in delicious irony accusing Mr. Auster of avoiding debate. The existence of a burglar in the kitchen (traitorous levels of domestic immigration) doesn’t preclude the existence of a different one in the den (WMD in the hands of Islamofascists); but William insists that anyone who wants to talk about the burglar in the den is a “neocon”, without further explanation of exactly what (to him) that entails.

I’ve mentioned before that if being in favor of an Iraq invasion is sufficient to make one a neocon then the Iraqi Kurds are neocons. I guess Norman Podhoretz and Bill Buckley will be surprised. Whenever I label someone as liberal, or paleo, or whatever, and I am challenged on that label, I attempt to explain why I think it applies. William refuses to do so when he applies the label “neocon” to everyone with whom he has a specific disagreement about a specific issue, as far as I can tell. But if everyone who disagrees with William is a liberal or a neocon then his intellectual world must not be very free.

So, who exactly is it that is refusing to talk about exactly what, and how does that refusal make that party a form of liberal or neocon? (I agree, by the way, that this refusal to talk about things is commonplace amongst liberals of all varieties).

Posted by: Matt on September 26, 2002 2:40 PM

By the way, I think the substantive disagreement between Mr. Auster and William boils down to a burden of proof on the WMD question. Mr. Auster thinks there is enough evidence to support going to the burglar’s house and arresting him now, for past crimes and because of the danger of future crimes. William thinks there is not enough evidence to do so, that we need to wait until the burglar comes over, kills the wife, and steals the jewels. I am sure that I have mischaracterized the positions of both men, but in general I think it is a “what evidence is necessary to justify what action” question. I would think that it would be possible to discuss this difference among gentlemen without name calling as a necessary component of such discussion (By “name calling” I simply mean the use of a label followed by a refusal to justify its use when challenged).

Posted by: Matt on September 26, 2002 3:12 PM

To add to Matt’s excellent points, if it’s true that sufficient evidence would convince the Buchananites and Paleos that we must arrest the burglar now, and if they were in fact so convinced, would that mean that the Buchananites and Paleos had become the “War Party”? Or, better, would it mean that they had become “neocons”? Of course not. At that point, the Buchananites and Paleos would simply say that arresting the burglar is the right and necessary thing to do. This points to the absurdity and injustice of using ideological labels such as “War Party.” Unless the paleos and Buchananites are simply against all war, period, for them to label as “War Party” those who are favoring war under a particular set of circumstances makes no sense, since they themselves might be the “War Party” (and thus, by their own previous definition, “neocons”) under slightly different circumstances.

“War Party” falsely suggests a permanent difference of principle between those who want peace and those who want war, when in fact what the phrase is really expressing is a difference of opinion concerning evidentiary fact.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 26, 2002 4:25 PM

“War Party” seems an apt decription for Kristol, Podhoretz and their ilk. Has anybody ever seen a war that Weekly Standard and Commentary didn’t like? Wait a second here’s one:


Peace in Chechnya. Ha! Should be www.neoconsunitedforislamicterroraslongasyoukillafewdamnrussians.org

Neocons do hate Russians, don’t they?

Posted by: Jason Eubanks on September 26, 2002 5:01 PM

Yeah, sure, not every writer at LRC is the next Westbrook Pegler. Someimes the site can be loud or downright strange (such as the guy who wants DUI laws repealed). But so what? They publish plenry of useful stuff that would unavailable elsewhere, so I can handle the good and the bad.

If you think these young upstarts are a problem, go look at various sites hosted by Blogspot and other services. Tou find sophomore after sophomore who wants to copy Jonah Goldberg, Andrew Sullivan and David Brooks.

These people have never read Burke nor Kirk nor even Gertrude Himmelfarb, yet they presume to spout the latest chatter as official conservative line. These hollow minds are the sort that use “WMD” and “regime change” in every other sentence.

Posted by: Alex Sleighback on September 26, 2002 5:18 PM

Concerning what he admits is the objectionable nature of much of the material at lewrockwell.com, Mr. Sleighback writes: “But so what?”

Perhaps I’m misunderstanding him, but what is the essential difference between his “So what?” and the Clinton defenders’ “Everybody does it”? Or what is the difference between his “So what” and Sen. John Edwards’s reply a couple of years ago when asked by Tim Russert what thought about President Clinton’s astounding abuses of his presidential pardon power: “I’ve been travelling around my state talking to literally hundreds of people, Tim, and not one of them raised the issue of these pardons. They’re concerned about health care, social security, jobs,” etc. etc.

The premise of “Everybody does it” is that if enough people violate the moral law, the moral law doesn’t matter any more and we’ll forget about it.

The premise of Edwards’s comment that people care about health care, not about the President massively abusing his power, is that the moral law and public duty are rendered moot by material interests and advantage.

The premise of Mr. Sleighback’s “So what?” is that if he finds other things at a website that are worthwhile, then the admittedly bad things don’t matter and are not to be judged.

On the basis of that premise, any moral evil could be justified or shrugged off.

Clearly, moral relativism affects the right in this country as well as the left.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 26, 2002 5:52 PM

Sure. For every policy question I guarantee that I can find you a gaggle of idiots who support any particular option — even if it happens by random chance to be an appropriate or even in some sense optimal option. That basic observation about the state of humanity is not helpful in terms of making an objective evaluation of a particular policy, though. It *is* an important factor in terms of side effects, because there is nothing quite like an idiot who feels his position has been confirmed by events, and many of our friends in the blogs and on NRO are no exception. Success has many fathers while failure is an orphan; and I think it is legitimate to argue as one factor against an Iraq invasion that those who favor empire will see it as validation.

But I would hope that we would be able to keep these distinctions in mind, in a gentlemanly fashion, in our own little VFR comment box community.

Posted by: Matt on September 26, 2002 6:00 PM

My comment beginning in “sure” was addressed to Mr. Sleighback, just to clarify. I need to start remembering to put in a preface in these non-threaded attribution-impaired comment systems.

On Mr. Auster’s comment about the moral law, I agree on one interpretation; but we don’t have to take Mr. Sleighback’s “so what” to be any more than a flip comment that you’ve got to take the bad with the good. If what he actually meant was that LRC is beyond criticism in general just because other sites are worse then that would be a problem, so maybe he can clarify that. If all he means is that perfection is an unrealistic standard then that isn’t a problem in principle and it is not a bad thing to be reminded of in general; but it doesn’t have any startling implications that I can see. For example, it wouldn’t have any implications for a critic of a generally awful site, so it is sort of a non-statement that just kind of takes up space as if it said something.

Posted by: Matt on September 26, 2002 6:12 PM

Lighten up, Auster! You attack paleos and you defeat yourself.

I said “So what?” I meant “So what?” In any forum, you see things you may or may not agree with. Yet you aren’t supposed to start yelling at some deviance from an imagined script. If you go into business as a contrarian, you will attract other contrarians.

Now, I don’t really care that some guy (who happens to be an ex-public defender) wants the DUI law repealed. In a libertarian society, no one would be handing out driver’s licenses in the first place.

I don’t bother about this because liberals and managerialists run our society and libertarianism exists today as an intellectual curiousity. There’s no points picking fights with powerless people, unless you wish to feel powerful yourself.

I don’t care if you think Lincoln a saint, Lee a Devil and want to nuke Mecca. What bugs me is the idea that anyone who disagrees with you on the cause du jour is an irrational nut.

As far as the Right goes, either we hang together or we hang separately. No one needs another Native New Yorker who abuses the South. So be nice to Lew Rockwell.

Posted by: Alex Sleighback on September 26, 2002 7:28 PM

My perception of this recent theme on VFR isn’t that Mr. Auster attacked paleos. My perception is that certain commenters have insisted on using ad hominem labels in referring to both (1) Abraham Lincoln and all who refuse to immediately denounce him as a demon, and (2) all individuals who see any possibility of any sort of merit in an attack on Iraq. (Personally I couldn’t care less about trying to morally evaluate Lincoln’s soul, but apparently me not giving a damn about that specific question constitutes hero worship of Lincoln, at least according to my interlocutors in that discussion).

I find it rather funny, actually. A number of individuals insisted on ad hominem rather than dispassionate discussion, and went so far as to claim that this insistence was just a matter of speaking plainly. Then, when Mr. Auster criticized them for so doing (e.g. how about dropping “Bloody Abe” and just saying “Lincoln”, just as we normally say “Hitler” rather than “Demonic Adolf”) he ended up accused of ad hominem himself by all the clanging black pots. It is as if labeling those who engage in ad hominem as such were itself ad hominem. Nonsense. Pointing out that certain individuals lack dispassionate rationality is not an ad hominem attack. It is true that name-calling inherently causes discussion to degenerate, and in that sense Mr. Auster is either generous or foolish to engage with ungentlemanly mudslingers at all. But pointing out that name calling is not constructive is not itself a form of name calling.

Finally, the fact that the web site Mr. Auster linked to is run by an idiot doesn’t matter. The relevant data was the headlines from LRC, which did indeed suggest rather convincingly that LRC was writing circles around others in crayon. If Mr. Auster had claimed that the site was a good comprehensive critique of some sort all of the “but punchthebag.com is written by a moron too” chatter might have some relevance. As it is, it does not.

That is just my perception, of course. I am sure nobody including myself is completely and perfectly dispassionate and objective. All the more reason to behave generously, like gentlemen. The “bloody Abe” and “War Party” and “nah-nah-nah-nah-neocon” tar-and-featherers need to get over themselves if they are interested in having any sort of real conversation. I’m not sure how much we can expect, though, and at some point with some people generosity gives way to foolishness.

Posted by: Matt on September 26, 2002 9:23 PM

The phrase “Bloody Abe” turns up no hits on either Google, AltaVista or Yahoo. Searching just LRC strikes out too. So I fail to see Matt’s point.

In addition, digging through LRC turns up a trove of articles by established, published critics. I’m thinking of Clyde Wilson, Thomas J. DiLorenzo and Walter E. Williams. These are not men who write in crayon.

In fact, top hits on the keyword “Lincoln” turn up bland titles like “Was Lincoln a Tyrant?” “The Unknown Lincoln,” “The Mythical Lincoln” and “Getting Lincoln Right.” While these show up in the top of search results, none of them are mentioned in previous list.

Also, I did another search and the “Lincoln” and “Demon” combo strikes out. Thirty seconds of research could have spared us a lot of misleading rhetoric.

Posted by: Alex Sleighback on September 26, 2002 10:27 PM

I am not particuarly familiar with, nor do I care much about, the LRC site (nor have I ever claimed to). My familiarity is with the specific discussion on VFR, how it unfolded, and how I was personally (along with Mr. Auster) demonized as a neocon and a Lincoln idolizer even though I (quite obviously for anyone reading the thread and actually attempting to make sense of what was said) am neither.

Mr. Auster, in his generosity in discussing Iraq and the Civil War with some particular paleowhatever-Americans on VFR, may or may not have crossed some line of civility at some point. He is more than capable of defending himself in that regard, and in any case it isn’t my concern. I have no doubt as to the origins of this particular scuffle, the rhetorical behavior of some particular neoconfederates in it, and the silence of other neoconfederates in the face of their ungentlemanly conduct (resembling in many respects the current silence of “moderate Islam”):


Anyone who thinks I particuarly care what is to be found specifically on LRC or Google about neoconfederates is mistaken, although the headlines were interesting an a roadkill sort of way. I don’t care because I think attempting to assign moral blame for the Civil War to long dead skeletons is pointless and, as I mentioned in that other thread, resembles modern liberal politics-of-moral-superiority-and-blame in a number of significant ways that I also detailed.

I don’t think I have any particular beef with Mr. Sleighback. I just find it quite ironic that some neoconfederate attack dogs rabidly slobbered all over VFR in one thread, Mr. Auster responded in a way that was no doubt imperfect but certainly made a legitimate attempt to be civilized, and now the paleos who didn’t help him maintain a civilized tenor there are criticizing him now. Islamofascists who smirk in dark corners and stay silent while their brothers murder innocents have forfeited any right to claim that Islam means Peace, and while incivility isn’t murder the same sort of basic template applies.

Now, if some neoconfederates present would like to review that thread and unequivocally denounce the sort of language that their confederates used there, it may be a day late and a dollar short but it would help with their credibility. Any takers? Mr. Sleighback?

Posted by: Matt on September 26, 2002 11:39 PM

Matt and Mr. Sleighback have both made very good points. Conservatives of whatever stripe should conduct the debate among themselves in a polite, gentlemanly, fashion. With leftist control of nearly all the major institutions of the West, we honestly have much more pressing concerns than the character of the 16th president. Even though I personally think that secession is, in fact, constitutional, I’ve never read a satisfactory explanation from neoconfederates of the South’s failure to take the case to the Supreme Court

Posted by: Carl on September 27, 2002 1:31 AM

(Sorry, I hit the POST button before finishing earlier!) Calling Mr. Auster a ‘neocon’ over his support of action against Iraq is silly and counterproductive. While I am very hesitant about using our vastly weakened military (especially after 10 years of Bush Sr. and Clinton’s feminization programs and downsizing) overseas, there are cases where it might be an absolute necessity. What about the 200 missing nukes from the Ukraine, for example? Besides, there are probably a lot of things we the general public are simply not aware of. As a traditionalist conservative I have areas of disagreement with David Horowitz, I still think that he has done a number of very good and positive things in fighting the poisonous onslaught of the left.

Posted by: Carl on September 27, 2002 1:57 AM

This thread is getting quite nasty. Here’s the problem, Matt, political debates are often not civil in any respect. Right after a long spiel about neoconfederate incivility, you see fit to form a juxtaposition between us and “islamofascists.” (whatever the hell that neologism means). Talk about irony. If you really don’t care about what Southerners think of Lincoln then why do you chime in every time Mr. Auster vents his frustrations our way?

Mr. Auster’s argument about Lew Rockwell is based, in its entirety, on the fallacy of style over substance. Nowhere does he respond to anything that was actually written in the aforementioned articles. He just rails against the language choice of insidious neoconfederate sympathizers such as myself. (A recurring theme in many of his anti-Confederate pieces).

LRC is quite full of vitrolic anti-Lincoln lines and articles, I willingly admit. However, if those articles also happen to be true (which they are, Lincoln did willfully and knowingly order his subordinates to commit violent acts against non-combatants, the very essence of war crimes [I dare anyone to deny this fact]) then I’m afraid his objection escapes me. If the shoe fits …

I don’t find the two man Auster Anti-Confederate Front particularly reasonable or intellectually threatening. If it is their desire to act as self appointed kommisars for the traditionalist movement, then by all means. Just don’t expect me to climb on board.

Posted by: Jason Eubanks on September 27, 2002 3:58 AM

Well, my main quibble with Mr. Eubanks’ comment is that I do not morally juxtapose neoconfederates in general with radical Islam in general. I only claim that my specific interlocutors in the original thread engaged in the sort of blind rage-filled counterproductive unwilling-to-explain-itself name-calling that Mr. Auster originally described as the impediment to dispassionate discussion. I claim that furthermore, no other neoconfederate — not one, mind you, in a few weeks of discussion — has come forward to state unequivocally that such blind name calling is counterproductive. Mr. Eubanks is of course welcome to do so, just as representatives of Islam are welcome to come forward and unequivocally repudiate the terrorists (which is the extent of that comparison), but his statement that political debate isn’t civil makes that possibility seem unpromising.

The intent is not at all to morally compare my interlocutors in this discussion with terrorists. That would truly be insulting and uncalled for, and in any case I don’t find such comparisons of supposed _moral_ qualia terribly useful. The intent is rather to point out the structural similarity in the supposed existence of a supposed silent majority of reasonable men within the category. Right now all I have is presumption to tell me that this silent majority, or any at all for that matter, even exist. But again Mr. Eubanks or anyone else is more than welcome to change that. I had pretty much no opinion at all of southern partisans as a group prior to this recent discussion, other than a vague notion that I could expect gentlemanly conduct.

It isn’t so much that I am part of some global anti-confederate conspiracy as that I am singularly unimpressed with the particular confederates who have done everything possible to avoid engaging in civil discussion with me specifically here, and I am disappointed by the silence of others. I didn’t remain silent when Mr. Auster overreacted (in my opinion) to Mr. Sleighback’s “so what” comment earlier in this thread, so why are the rest of the neoconfederates silent when William and Mr. Williamson label me a Lincoln worshipping neocon bloodthirsty statist and — this is important — refuse to engage in any sort of dialogue on whether or not the shoe fits?

It isn’t that I take any of this personally, mind you. I just take it as confirmation of Mr. Auster’s original point about the apparent impossibility of having a dispassionate discussion on these topics with certain classes of people. It might be interesting to suspend the stereotype and change that, so that contra Mr. Eubanks this particular political debate could be civil in at least some respects, but it takes such an enormous amount of energy that I am really losing interest.

Finally, the idea that I am some traditionalist political leader wannabe is downright silly. I’m just a guy having a conversation, and Mr. Eubanks can ride any ride in the park as far as I am concerned.

Posted by: Matt on September 27, 2002 5:54 AM

Matt, did I really label you a “Lincoln worshipping neocon bloodthirsty statist”? If I did, I apologize. I stand corrected: you’re not bloodthirsty.

As to the alleged impossibility of having a dispassionate debate on these questions with “certain classes” of people (who in the world can you mean?), I would aver that the difficulty lies on the other side, that of the defenders of Lincoln and war on Iraq, which, I would further argue, are two symptoms of the same imperialist — am I allowed to use the term “imperialist” here? — impulse. (I will avoid the useful and totally accurate term “neocon” here since it obviously sends certain individuals through the roof with rage).

To these people, the War Between the States and war on Iraq are beyond question. We are _not_ to question them. Whether this derives from intellectual insecurity or fear of disunity on the right, I don’t know. Any thoughts?

Posted by: William on September 27, 2002 10:37 AM

I can’t think of anyone involved in discussions on VFR who objects to questioning the Iraq war or the 1861-65 unpleasantness. On Iraq see http://www.counterrevolution.net/vfr/archives/000791.html . As to the North/South business Mr. Auster has complained vehemently about what he sees as the fanaticism of many Southern partisans then and now. As to the substance though he’s said “there were TWO sides to the issue … the Southern partisans are going to have to stop using the language of vilification and recognize that the North also had its reasons.” ( http://www.counterrevolution.net/vfr/archives/000728.html#1072 )

Even if you think he’s wrong about the conduct of Southern sympathizers that’s not forbidding the raising of questions. I myself recently presented him with some reasons for thinking that states had the right to secede under the 1787 constitution and he was perfectly civil. I left out everything but a cold discussion of the issues though. Those who try that may find it works.

Posted by: Jim Kalb on September 27, 2002 11:33 AM

Are any self-described southern partisans available to quibble with William’s labeling of me personally as a Lincoln worshipping neocon statist (having now apparently dropped “bloodthirsty”)? It seems to me that there must be some southern partisan who reads VFR who doesn’t want to have all of southern partisanship tainted in my mind and others by the deafening silence. In seems to me that within any self-respecting group it is not the sort of thing I should even have to defend against, since the gentlemen-opposition will police their own.

Posted by: Matt on September 27, 2002 11:52 AM

Of course it is wrong to call Mr. Auster a “neocon” or any other kind of leftist. He is a highly independent and original thinker who cannot easily be lumped into any movement. It is probably safe, however, to say that he consistently views the world from the right.

Elsewhere on the site I’ve taken issue with the particularities of his arguments against LRC and Buchanan but nothing he has written here can fairly be said to come from anything but an informed rightist or conservative perspective. There is plenty of room on the “antimodern, politically incorrect right” for vigorous debate, and no need to accuse anyone of heterodoxy or deviationism.

Posted by: John Carney on September 27, 2002 11:55 AM

Yes, I agree with you as usual. But perhaps “complaining vehemently” was the wrong approach in the first place? A lesson to be heeded, I suppose.

Posted by: William on September 27, 2002 12:00 PM

My thanks to Mr. Carney, at least with respect to Mr. Auster. Anyone in the gentlemen opposition want to quibble with William’s most recent caricature of what I have written in these threads? “Lincoln worshipping neocon statist” is the charge, I believe. Who among my southern partisan friends is going to specifically dress William down so that southern partisanship can be discussed with some sort of dispassionate credibility?

Posted by: Matt on September 27, 2002 12:19 PM

I regret commenting on Mr. Sleighback’s “So what” remark. I do believe that to acknowledge that something is bad, and then say “So what,” is the essence of moral relativism. But it was overloading an already overloaded situation to go into that issue here.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 27, 2002 1:27 PM

On August 7 I discussed here some of the reasons I oppose a war on Iraq. Conveniently, the neocon warmongers, including Auster, ignored them at the time. I guess it’s easier to brush off your opponents as “infantile,” “irrational,” “anti-Semitic,” etc., rather than countering their arguments. Here are my comments again (albeit in paraphrased form) for the benefit of the neocons who are still complaining that the non-neocons among us don’t want to debate the facts. I believe an invasion of Iraq would result in, among other things:

1) innumerable unnecessary deaths
2) a strengthening of the American police state at home and more big government
3) an imperiled “war on terrorism”
4) an increase in global anti-American sentiment

Furthermore, should the US win such a war, in my view it would likely result in:

a) a more or less permanent allied peace-keeping presence in the region., i.e. colonialism, probably under the authority of the UN;
b) strife-torn “nation-building” initiatives, particularly those dealing with Kurdish demands (and the inevitable Turkish reactions);
c) efforts to prevent Iranian incursions into a defeated Iraq;
d) involvement in a potential war in Israel.

In short, the war on Iraq is a messy can of worms the US should obviously stay clear of. Let’s not get bogged down in an overseas war when our own nation is in such peril.

As far as I can tell, the only argument the pro-war crowd can muster is that Iraq poses a “threat”. Big deal. So does China, Iran, Libya, Syria, Cuba, North Korea, etc. For instance, a few of these countries are known to have passed along weapons technology to rogue states and terrorist groups. Saudi Arabia is the primary source of Wahhabism, the extremist Islamic sect responsible for the terrorist attacks. China has helped build Algeria’s nuclear reactor. Yet I don’t hear the warmongering neo-cons demanding that we invade these states. Or are they next on the agenda? I wouldn’t be surprised. No doubt the chicken hawks will be out in force demanding that we bomb and invade Libya, Syria, and Iran next. Because that is how the War Party behaves: perpetual war for perpetual peace.

Posted by: William on September 27, 2002 4:58 PM

I don’t know what war mongers specifically William is referring to, and I have no intention of arguing Mr. Auster’s part for him. I haven’t stated a definite position on invading Iraq anywhere on VFR. I know that I have not, because I DON’T HAVE A DEFINITIVE ONE TO STATE. I have not claimed to have pulled a clear answer to that particular question out of my hat. But William insists on applying the label neocon to me personally, and when confronted about it starts talking about Mr. Auster. Who among his more reasonable cohorts is going to take him to task?

Posted by: Matt on September 27, 2002 5:32 PM

Matt, thanks. That’s what I thought.

Posted by: William on September 28, 2002 10:10 AM

It isn’t as though either I or Mr. Auster have ignored all of the substantive points from William’s August 7 post. Agreeing with someone’s specific points and then moving on to other questions isn’t the same thing as ignoring him. I just don’t think William’s synthesis is the entire story, and I object to him vilifying anyone who thinks there are other valid questions in addition to the ones he asks. I could probably build a nuclear bomb sans fissile material all by my little self: the radical level of destructive power we have wrought for the individual has consequences. I acknowledge the possibility that killing Saddam might have a temporary deterrent effect on proliferation, and specifically could keep WMD out of the hands of Al Queda. Other regimes’ terror of American empire might deter them from passing WMD to radical Islamists for a time. But William is right that this is only for a time: the list of nations next up for conquest is long, and it is just a matter of time. I have said as much myself (despite being a raving neocon) in other posts. William is also right that many are motivated by a neocon desire to spread democracy everywhere through force — Hell, I don’t even LIKE modern democracy, I see it as little more than a public ritual affirming the liberal synthesis of equality and choice that produces no substantive benefits. I don’t vote because to me it feels sacreligious to do so. William is in denial about the WMD problem, or recognizes it as such an all purpose scapegoat for the impulse to empire that he thinks it isn’t possible for a reasonable person to consider it as a real problem.

So anyway, I did not rush to Mr. Auster’s defense on any of his substantive positions. As Mr. Carney has pointed out Mr. Auster is an original thinker, deeply insightful in many things with a specific eye for immigration and racial issues, and in any event is more than capable of defending his substantive positions himself.

I became involved in this discussion not because of the substantive issues but simply to agree with Mr. Auster about the failure of his interlocutors to engage with him in two ways: 1) in their refusal to discuss the WMD problem and the problem of Iraq-as-existing-enemy; and 2) in their use of labels like “neocon” to silence discussion by implying that all questions have been fully explored and are closed off, sealed up in a freezer bag for the mind, by the labels delimiting different positions.

Both tactics are parallel to what modern liberalism does to silence discussion, and I would rather not see my traditionalist friends fall into the same sort of trap.

Posted by: Matt on September 28, 2002 11:12 AM

So again I ask: if southern partisanship is a reasonable ideological campground, is there one self-identified southern partisan out there in VFR land — any at all — willing to step up to the plate and reassure the rest of us that William, Williamson, et al and their tactics are not representative? Is there someone from the inside who can come out and assure us that Islam means Peace, er, I mean that southern partisanship means reasonable traditionalist men rather than just its own unique form of political correctness? And if so, just where the Hell have you been all this time anyway? To be perfectly honest, the discussion only interests me at all at this point because of the fascinating silence from the “reasonable” contingent.

Posted by: Matt on September 28, 2002 11:38 AM

Matt has issued this apt and reasonable challenge several times now to the supposedly moderate Southern partisans, and I, like him, am fascinated by the lack of positive response. If the “moderate” Southern partisans are not willing to step forth to correct and criticize the rantings of their extreme brethren, why should anyone believe that these “moderate” Southern partisans even exist?

Matt’s analogy to the “moderate” Muslims (remember, it’s an analogy, not a comparison) is entirely appropriate.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 28, 2002 11:50 AM

Yeah. I wouldn’t ask someone to be moderate in the sense of compromising his beliefs as a precursor to discussion, though, and in that sense the parallel to “Islam means Peace” may not hold. All that is necessary is to unequivocally repudiate this peculiar form of paleo-southern political correctness that makes any sort of substantive discussion, let alone civil substantive discussion, impossible. In fact a substantively radical but formally/discursively moderate (translation: civil) southern partisan is exactly the sort I am looking for, and which has not appeared in this set of discussions. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist, but it certainly implies that he doesn’t exist HERE, or for some reason is peculiarly reluctant to speak; and the search must go on.

Posted by: Matt on September 28, 2002 2:35 PM

I just re-read both threads to make sure I wasn’t being unreasonable. There were actually a couple of hopeful signs in the past month of discussion that I should acknowledge as such. Mr. Eubanks acknowledged the vitriolic nature of southern apologetics, but he fell short of acknowledging that it hurts both the traditionalist cause in general and the southern cause specifically. In fact he basically said that being right as to substance gives southern partisans a free pass as to rhetorical conduct: moral superiority as to substance makes the end justify the means. I see that as part and parcel to the modern liberal attitude about the use of language and other conduct, which we normally refer to as “political correctness.” Another was when Carl posted that the South under his constitutional interpretation had a right to secede, but (substantively) that there were precedent nonviolent procedural activities in which it failed to engage; and he clearly repudiates the formal/discursive approach of southern partisans that Mr. Auster originally highlighted.

So if I were to classify Carl as a southern partisan then I have found at least one quite discursively reasonable one in this discussion. It is difficult to tell if the shoe fits substantively based on a few comments though, and Carl would have to tell me whether or not he considers himself a Dixie Confederate. Mr. Carney’s status is similar; it is possible to have a comitted southern partisan New Yorker in principle I suppose, but I doubt very much that it would be appropriate to call Mr. Carney a neoconfederate and I would not trust the classification unless he told me so himself.

So in terms of boundary conditions we still have yet to see any clear southern partisan, e.g. Mr. Eubanks or Mr. Sleighback, unequivocally repudiate this confederate form of political correctness and the harm it does.

Posted by: Matt on September 29, 2002 7:01 PM

I do not consider myself to be a neo-confederate. As stated before, I think the writers of the constitution may well have considered secession (implicitly) as a check on the growth of federal power. I also expect that this nation will be facing that question again once CA (or another border state) becomes 60-70% Mexican and elects to break off and either join Mexico or form a new “Republica del Norte.” Tragically, the issue was never decided in court. I don’t believe all of the Confederate forces behaved honorably. Horrible things were done by both sides. While Liincoln likely violated the constitution, he was certainly not the first (or the last) president to do so. Resorting to terms like ‘bloody Abe’ and the like do nothing to advance the argument.

Posted by: Carl on September 29, 2002 8:20 PM
Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember info?

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):