In an article published here some weeks back, I criticised those self-described conservatives who drone on endlessly about the diabolical alt-right, armed only with a couple of New York Times articles and a pathological desire to kiss pinko bunghole.
Many thanks to Mr Ted Lapkin for proving my point.
I don’t really blame Teddy for wanting to broadcast his intellectual squeamishness in these august pages, which have long served as Australia’s first line of offence against the tyranny of political correctness. He was, after all, an advisor to the government of Tony Abbott – as fine a conservative as they come, except for his ‘disagreeable habit’ of virtue-signalling the shit out of every special-interest group in the country. As I’ve been saying for ages now:
While Mr Abbott is unquestionably ‘one of us’, he also revealed himself to be unaccountably susceptible to left-wing identity politics. That a conservative PM should’ve led the push for recognition of Aboriginals in the Constitution is nothing short of a scandal. And his consistent refusal to acknowledge any links between the Islamic State and the Islamic faith – pottily referring only to ‘Daesh’ and the ‘death cult’ – made it clear that he was incapable of truly breaking the Left’s stranglehold on public discourse. (Edwin Dyga writes luminously on this subject for the New Oxford Review.) We slowly came to realize that his great forays against political correctness were simply gaffes. When prime minister Abbott had sufficient presence of mind, he was as beholden to the multiculturalist narrative as Malcolm Turnbull or Bill Shorten. And let’s not even start on paid maternity leave.
What struck me as odd, rather, was his fixation with Joseph Sobran. Why on earth did expend so much energy peddling blatant lies about poor, dead Joe? Then a friend pointed out that Ted had been director of public affairs for the Zionist Federation of Australia, and it all made sense.
In fact, Sobran didn’t, as Ted claims, ‘get the sack from Buckley’s National Review magazine on account of his bizarre penchant for Holocaust-denial.’ Rather, he was fired for using his NR column to complain about ‘a more or less official national obsession with a tiny, faraway socialist ethnocracy,’ i.e. Israel.
For his part, Buckley only managed to call the remark contextually anti-Semitic. ‘If he had been talking, let us say, about the lobbying interests of the Arabs or of the Chinese,’ WFB observed, ‘he would not have raised eyebrows as an anti-Arab or an anti-Chinese.’ What difference does it make that he was talking about Jews? To wit, a more or less official national obsession with a tiny, faraway ethnocracy. (The charge of socialism is, admittedly, unfair.)
It’s true that Sobran did, in his later years, resort to… well, not Holocaust denial, but certainly Holocaust revisionism. It was a sorry end to the career of the twenty-first century’s most brilliant columnist, which began with such preternatural insights as these:
Most of the world is a mystery. Consciousness is a little clearing in a vast forest; every individual has his own special relation to the area of mystery, his own little discoveries to impart. Discovery is by definition unpredictable, and it is absurd for the state to foreclose the process of learning. There are moods when we are too exhausted to imagine that there is still more to be learned; an ideology is a system of ideas that wants to end the explorations we are constantly making at the margin of consciousness, and to declare all the mysteries solved. This is like the congressman who introduced a bill a century ago to close the U.S. Patent Office, on the ground that every possible invention had already been invented.
Yet Sobran died in hard-won ignominy, still banging on about ‘the Jewish-Zionist powers that be in the United States.’
It needn’t have been so. Sobran’s earlier complaints about our beholdenness to Israel were, if not valid, then at least reasonable, and not even ‘contextually’ anti-Semitic. But because he violated the first commandment of right-wing political correctness – thou shalt not criticise the state of Israel – he was branded a heretic, excommunicated from the conservative movement, and expelled from polite society.
Professional ruin and social alienation drove him into the arms of extremist nutters, where his once-brilliant mind became increasingly anti-social and given to absurd conspiracy theories. That’s the story of the alt-right in a nutshell. (The main difference is that the alt-right generally doesn’t believe the nuttier things they say.) Censorious establicons like Mr Lapkin here have been treating reasonable yet heterodox conservatives as a lunatic fringe for decades now, and then complain when they coalesce into a lunatic fringe.
Censorious establicons like Mr Lapkin here have been treating reasonable yet heterodox conservatives as a lunatic fringe for decades now, and then complain when they coalesce into a lunatic fringe.
Oh, and P.S. – A few words regarding the delivery of my farrago of falsehoods without even a flash of panache, which left only a pedestrian exercise in truculent posturing and transparent prevarication, rendering me an inferior peddler of second-hand and second-class intellectual knavery. Sobran, a devotee of Hemingway, took seriously the man’s advice: ‘Remember, anybody who pulls his erudition or education on you hasn’t any.’