One man’s escape from NRO to VFR
I had mainstream conservative beliefs when I first discovered your site back in 2005-2006. I was a big fan of NRO and the Weekly Standard at the time, and reading your criticisms of those magazines and their writers really irritated me at first. Like Chris K., I thought you were a little crazy, and I avoided your site for a long time. It wasn’t until John Derbyshire (whose writings I had previously enjoyed) came out as an atheist and started writing articles supporting abortion, evolution, and materialism that I began to realize that there was something seriously wrong with the mainstream conservative movement. I couldn’t understand why NRO was still publishing him, or why the other writers at NRO weren’t forcefully criticizing his positions (apart from Ramesh Ponnuru, but only on the abortion issue). I started reading your site more often (because you were criticizing him), and after three or four months I became a convert.
It was difficult, though, and painful. After reading The Path to National Suicide, I fell into a weeks-long despair. [LA replies: Imagine how I felt in the years before I wrote it.] It’s hard for a right-liberal to become a traditionalist. It’s not just a matter of concluding that one policy is more sensible than another policy—accepting true conservatism also means accepting the fact that our country is currently in a desperate, degenerate state from which it may not be able to recover. It means having to hide your beliefs from time to time, in social situations. It means falling out with friends and relatives. My father, from whom I inherited my conservative instincts, remains a mainstream, NRO-reading conservative, and bringing him around to traditionalism has been a slow and difficult process. We’ve had a lot of arguments (though I am making some progress with him).
That said, I’m glad I discovered the truth. Traditionalism has made me a better person. I was a Christian before I started reading your site, but only a nominal one—I had this nagging suspicion in the back of my mind that Christianity was not intellectually defensible. Your writings on transcendence and your critiques of evolution helped me realize that it is defensible, and consequently I’ve become a more serious Christian.
I don’t know where I’d be now, philosophically, without your influence. Your site and your writings have been an important part of my life for several years now. I’ll be praying for you.
To know that there was even one person whom I helped bring from the swamps of NRO to traditionalism makes it all worthwhile. And to know that it was my criticisms of Derbyshire, and of NRO for continuing to publish him, that initially had this effect on you is even better. Thank you.
Also, to learn that my writings had anything to do with helping you become a more serious Christian is very moving. Now I need to become a more serious Christian too.
The day before Rich Lowry dismissed Derbyshire from NRO over his article, “The Talk: Nonblack version,” I wrote:
Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 04, 2012 04:52 PM | Send
This is a supremely ironic development. Going back many years (though I haven’t said much about this in more recent years, as I felt I had exhausted the subject), I have argued that given Derbyshire’s aggressive atheism, materialism, and nihilism, and his liberal views on many specific subjects (though not, of course, on immigration), his presence at the supposed flagship magazine of American conservatism was inappropropriate to say the least. In this I was following William F. Buckley’s dictum that a committed atheist who seeks to destroy religion and regards religious people as mentally defective is, by definition, not a conservative. But Derbyshire was kept on at NR, allowed by NR’s eternal-boy editors to keep on undermining conservatism and its Christian basis from within. But now that Derbyshire has said something true about race,—and said it, not in his usual jocular anecdotal personalistic unserious way which has always protected him in the past, but said it seriously, as a set of general propositions that parents should teach their children—it appears that the chestless wonders at NR want to fire him.
If they do fire him, it will mean that NR had no problem with a contributor who violated fundamental tenets of conservatism, but that they do have a problem with a contributor who violates fundamental tenets of liberalism. Which would confirm what I’ve been saying about that ruined hulk of a once-important magazine for the last ten or 15 years.