Some conservatives would have us believe that once upon a time, conservatism was dominated by wise and moderate realists who make the neocons of today look like crazed radicals. Of course, that’s simply a myth perpetuated by apologists for modern conservatism, which is no worse than the conservatism of old. Below, one reader recounts William F. Buckley’s call for pre-emptive strikes against China so they wouldn’t become armed with nuclear weapons. Simply insert the word “Iran” for “China” and you find that little has changed for conservatives in 50 years.
Writes DB in reaction to this post on Gore Vidal and Bill Buckley:
10:50 am on January 25, 2014 Email Ryan McMaken
Having grown up–sort of–in that armpit of conservatism, Orange County, California, it was quite an event when WFB, Jr. delivered a speech to a capacity crowd at Chapman College in 1965. Most of us dressed up for the occasion, even the relatively few students in attendance, as was customary when a distinguished lecturer appeared on the stage of the auditorium. There were no doubt some flower children who were there as instructed by their professors, but they would have been very conspicuous in their everyday garb. I don’t recall seeing anyone in tie-dyes or halter tops that evening.
Here was one of the most visible faces of the resurgent conservative movement, an intellectual, a musician (he played the harpsichord, having studied it with a renowned instructor) and, in my judgement at the time, a person who could bridge the western and eastern branches of Republican conservatives with his pro-business, anti-centralization-of-power rhetoric, a writer of columns favoring local control and an end to federal aid to “education.” Buckley touched on a number of subjects in his hour-long speech, getting much applause and occasional laughter along the way. My dad and I thoroughly enjoyed his jibes at Lyndon and his pals in the liberal media, and how the Republican Party underwent a tidal change in nominating Goldwater. Yes, a person needed a pocket dictionary to fully comprehend what he was saying. At least he didn’t talk down to his audience as is common these days.
What I remember most from that evening, and will for the rest of my life, came near the end of the hour when William F. Buckley, Jr. told his audience that he, along with Steve Allen, had proposed a near-term solution to the imminent Red Chinese menace. The danger of a nuclear-armed China was too great to even contemplate, so it was necessary for the Strategic Air Command to launch a pre-emptive strike against China’s weapons plants before they could go into full production and deliver a bomb by whatever means (a junk?) into a population center of the United States. My first thoughts were San Francisco Bay, but I don’t think Buckley was that specific.The audience reaction was mixed applause, some cheers, no booing. It did get people to thinking outside the box, that’s for sure.