The Old Right Is Back

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by Paul Gottfried by Paul Gottfried


On Monday night, David Horowitz, in the process of responding to puffball questions on the Glenn Beck program, opined that " is in bed with Islamofascists." This statement seemed so remarkable that when I heard about it the next morning (no, I did not hear it directly) I sent a congratulatory note to Lew. The reason is obviously not that this website could perform the unlikely feat of having carnal relations with "Islamofascism"; nor is the reason that "Islamofascism" is something other than the hallucination of the neocons’ Hitler-obsessed minds and their militant secularist allies like Christopher Hitchens. What nonetheless made Horowitz’s attack noteworthy is that he at last recognized what he and his neocon sponsors have tried to ignore, namely that they face a real and growing enemy on the right.

As I have stressed in the past, it is an essential part of the neoconservative strategy to dehumanize their rightwing opposition, while maintaining good relations with their talking partners on the left. Our enemies have been doing this for decades, even if neoconservative journalists will occasionally denounce some of us as anti-Semites or self-hating Jews, without giving any sense of the size or intelligence of the "extreme Right" that they and their leftist friends wish to keep out of public attention. Thus we find David Frum in hit pieces in National Review blasting the supposedly isolated extremists who had become "unpatriotic" in addition to being addled like me or Nazophiles like most of Frum’s other targets. The point of this exercise is to underline that we were all quarantined somewhere — and therefore not at all able to affect "democratic" (read neocon) political discussion.

Now all of this has begun to change. The antiwar, anti-neocon Right is gaining power on the internet and backing a presidential candidate who looks as if he may go somewhere. Therefore our status as an enemy is on the rise. We’ve gone from being subhuman extremists into our opponents’ worst nightmare. And because of this altered status, our opponents now mention us as the allies of international terrorists and as the foes of global democracy. Furthermore, they are calling us names that the public can hear on the TV channels and on the talk shows they control.

This certainly does not mean that Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck will have us on his program or that Rich Lowry will ask us to write for his tiresome neocon fortnightly. Nothing will likely change in terms of the efforts of the "conservative movement" to marginalize paleos of all kinds. This will continue until the end of time, if the neocons and our side would survive until then. But what has changed is that neoconservatives have conferred on us the dignity of calling us their enemies. We are no longer scattered bands of extremists but a force to be reckoned with. Horowitz and his patrons may rage against us, as Norman Podhoretz has done in his latest book but they can no longer plausibly pretend that we’re not around and exerting influence. This marks a genuine advance for those of us who were once marginalized.

November 15, 2007

Paul Gottfried [send him mail] is Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College and author of Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt, The Strange Death of Marxism, and Conservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right.

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