Beating the Neocons at Their Own Game

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Stephen Yates’s touching story about a North Carolina history teacher Jack Perdue, who was professionally ruined and "murdered by the media" for lecturing in a junior college about North Carolina’s "second war of independence," brought to mind a problem that paleo educators are now increasingly facing. What there is of a conservative movement, which by now is coextensive with what used to be the "democratic Left" during my youth, is not likely to care about anyone like poor Jack Perdue.

That movement has its own understanding of who is being denied academic freedom: e.g., Orthodox Jewish students who shout Yiddish insults at rowdy black girls at the University of Pennsylvania, audiences hectored on their way to hearing Linda Chavez lecture on the virtues of American pluralism, or student "conservative" newspapers defending the "real" legacy of Martin Luther King, against its supposed black misinterpreters. In any case there will be no "conservative movement" divisions riding to the rescue of pro-Confederate interpreters of the Civil War being booted out of junior colleges in Randolph County, North Carolina. Absent a powerful support system, teachers like Perdue can expect to endure exactly what was inflicted on him. Indeed the journalist who went after him seems to have taken his script from the leading lights of the current conservative movement.

What can be done to prevent other similar misfortunes, without having to make everyone talk like the New York Times editorial page, is to make sure that two results will occur when the liberal establishment swings into operation against the non-authorized Right. Boycotts should be organized against newspapers that publish the kinds of distortions that Yates and the author Jerry Bledsoe point out. Libelously anti-Southern or anti-white newspapers must be put on notice that they will not enjoy carte blanche any longer when they take apart their favorite targets.

At the very least these bullies should lose paid readers, a price that I have been urging the members of the real Right to impose on publications that have been captured by the neocons. Just boycott them — the way the civil rights movement did with segregated buses in Birmingham, Alabama. The difference of course is that while segregationists allowed blacks to sit in the back of buses, neocons will not allow us to express our views anywhere in their publications, including in the back of them.

Another indispensable tactic for combating the kind of leftist bigotry that Yates explores is by having all columnists on our side highlight the same infuriating incidents. Despite our relative weakness in firepower, we are in a position to create embarrassment if we can reach a critical mass of readers. Let’s say that in a given week Paul Craig Roberts, Lew Rockwell, Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, Charley Reese, Pat Buchanan, and other columnists of a paleolibertarian or paleoconservative bent decide to write on the same incident affecting a North Carolina educator, who had been fired and hounded to death for defending his state’s right to secede from the Union in 1861.

Let’s also say that all of these columnists specifically attack the libeler in question and the paper that incited his work and publicized his libels. Do we honestly think such coordinated efforts would have no effect at all, particularly on the generally conservative white readers of a Southern paper? My own guess is that such well-planned efforts would succeed, once limited resources were effectively coordinated.

Note that the neoconservatives were not more numerous or better heeled than our side when they began their ruthless ascent to power. What they enjoyed, beside tolerably good relations with the rest of the liberal Left, were iron discipline and squeaky tight organization. It is high time we imitate these strengths.

Paul Gottfried [send him mail] is professor of history at Elizabethtown College and author, most recently, of the highly recommended After Liberalism.

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