We Are Not What We Were

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On
the National Review web site, David
Frum
boasts about the 350 or so email responses he has received
to his diatribe against paleo-conservatives, with less than 10 being
negative. The one negative email he chose to print was of the vile
anti-Semitic sort, which is, by implication, evidence of the nature
of the anti-war right.

As
a newspaper columnist myself, I strain mightily to resist the temptation,
on a day when no good ideas are coming to mind, to write that predictable
column quoting from the week’s nastiest emails. We all get the hate
stuff, from left, right and center, but it’s too easy to pick out
the worst and suggest that such ideas represent our foes.

Easy,
but unfair. This is a clear strain throughout Frum’s writings, as
well as from comments made by NROnline editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg.
Gosh, even the mere mention of his Jewish-sounding last name (as
in Goldberg Review) is proof that one is an anti-Semite.

I
hate doing this. But, as one reader told me, “the map of Israel
is written all over your mug shot.” Greenhut is an Americanized
version of my father’s original last name – the version he received
when he emigrated to the United States via a Nazi concentration
camp. Others may have noticed that Mises and Rothbard, and some
of the other names appearing on this web site, are Jewish also.

Opposing
US overreach abroad, and criticizing the war’s biggest cheerleaders,
has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. It has to do with fundamental
views about American policy, and the nature of America’s centralized
national government. Men like Frum love war and have few problems
with the current regime; the paleos and libertarians hate war and
oppressive government.

Frankly,
Frum and Goldberg are the right’s version of Jesse Jackson – political
activists who see racism or, in this case, anti-Semitism lurking
in the hearts of their foes.

To
see what the laughable attempted purge of the anti-war right by
Frum is all about, one needs to wade deeply into his extremely long
article about “Unpatriotic Conservatives.” Go past the many quotations
(some of which are quite delightful) and vicious attacks, to page
17 of the 18-page document.
This is Frum in a nutshell: “Suddenly, many conservatives found
they could look past the rancor of the Clinton years, past the psychobabble
of the New Age gurus, past the politically correct professors, to
see an America that remained, in every important way, the America
of 1941 and 1917 and 1861 and 1776. As Tennyson could have said:
‘What we were, we are.'”

That’s
it. The neoconservatives look around us and see the spirit of 1776.
The paleos (conservative and libertarian varieties) see a government
that has become enormous, despotic, centralized, amoral, militaristic,
socialistic, imperialistic. That’s quite a gulf.

Any
thoughtful analysis would show that the paleos are far closer to
the truth. But rather than engage in a thoughtful debate about the
nature of our government, and the future of our free society, the
neoconservatives would rather throw a whole lot of different people
with different views in a
fever-swamp of conspiratorialism and anti-Semitism, and hope that
we are silenced from criticizing every neocon’s true passion: war.

Sorry,
David and Jonah, but have you checked Alexa lately? Maybe Lew Rockwell
and company should be the ones purging you.

March
28, 2003

Steven
Greenhut (send him mail)
is a senior editorial writer and columnist for the Orange County
Register in Santa Ana, Calif.


     

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