Against the Radical Right by Scott Shore
28 March 2003
The real battle is between traditional
legitimate conservatives and the insinuation into respectable conservative
circles of the Radical Right.
At a time when conservatives should be developing an agenda for domestic
and foreign policy while the nominally more conservative Republicans control
government, some extremists have chosen to declare a "civil war" within the
conservative movement. The principal occasion for this war is President Bush’s
policy with respect to Iraq.
Often conservative writers describe this as a battle between Paleo-conservatives
and Neo-conservatives. This is a great disservice to the conservative cause.
The real battle is between traditional legitimate conservatives and the insinuation
into respectable conservative circles of the Radical Right.
The Radical Right is precisely that -- Radical. Conservatives believe in
among other things, respect for liberty, property, institutions, customs,
wholesome heterogeneity of interests, people and regions, limited constitutional
government and the belief in a strong national defense. In the spirit of Edmund
Burke, prudent reforms are required form time to time to ensure the vitality
of those policies or institutions guarding our values. The principal values
of America are Freedom and Liberty. When we lived in an isolated world, this
may have meant isolationism or disengagement from the world. In the 20th
and 21st century it means a thoughtful activism in global affairs to ensure
a global rule of law in which America and free countries can ultimately survive.
In an era of terrorism, it means having superior intelligence capabilities
and striking preemptively if that is likely to save American lives. This seems
to be the view whether one reads Buckley since the Cold War, or most major
conservative columnists or listens to most major conservative TV or radio
personalities. It’s been almost twenty years since the dean of modern American
conservatism, William F. Buckley, sadly noted Pat Buchanan’s drift into the
delusional world of anti-Semitism. Whether its Cal Thomas or Pat Robertson
or The National Review or the Weekly Standard, conservative thought is a
fairly coherent body of assumptions and ideas.
The Radical Right is something entirely different. Largely animated by disreputable
emotions seeking respectability, the Radicals wish to turn back the clock
to a time when there was unquestionable White Rule and Jews were kept out
of the better clubs, especially "conservative" clubs. According to their view
this is a white, Nordic or Aryan country whose social fiber is endangered
not so much by leftism but by those orchestrating leftism for their own advantage
-- the Jews, the Masons, the UN and Israel. The fact that trilateralism or
the UN has been generally hostile to Israel is explained by some even more
nefarious plot. To get into the mind of these people is to go to a dark place
where every contradiction is a proof of a greater conspiracy. The Radical
Right which wishes to rid our country of foreign blacks, Mid-Easterners, Asians…etc.,
suddenly become like Amnesty International or the ACLU when Israel fights
Palestinian terrorists. While no other national struggle seems to move these
Radicals, the Palestinians do have a special place in their heart. The answer
is simple. These folks are the political descendants of Tom Watson and his
anti-Semitic prairie populism. They are in the footsteps of William Jennings
Bryan in finding conspiracies of Jewish bankers, Wall Street and London.
They are also creeping up from under the rocks of the KKK, White Aryan Party
under the cover of men like Buchanan or labels like "Paleo." These people
use the term "Neocon" as a code word for Jews. Amusingly they must think
that Gentiles are so stupid that Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle have hoodwinked
the entire Administration!!
To call this a fight between Neocons and Paleos is to give the opponents
of true conservatism too much credit. There are straight-thinking conservatives
who often have legitimate differences of policy amongst themselves on one
side and there are the ugly faces of the Radical Right that reappears under
different flags at different times.
The time has come for conservatives to refuse to give credence to the forces
which, in their most extreme variety, blow up Federal buildings like those
in Oklahoma City. The Radical Right should be marginalized and labeled for
what they are -- the antithesis of the principles upon which this Country
was founded and the nemesis of those conservatives who wish to preserve this