Half a cheer for freedom,
By HENRY GALLAGHER FIELDS
The American Conservative was the new journal of the Right that would reject the PC thinking that had so infected mainstream conservatism or so we thought. With "lock and load" Pat Buchanan on board, such surrender would be unthinkable or so we thought. But now we have to think again.
Taki Theodoracopulos, the moneybags behind TAC, is currently being "investigated" by Scotland Yard's "Diversity Division" and threatened with jail, for having the audacity to write that black Jamaicans run British drug gangs. (In today's Cool Britain, truth is no defense, and, needless to say, freedom of expression is uncool.) So how did the intrepid paleocon journal come to the defense of its major benefactor?
In the February 24 issue, TAC's editorial ("Free Taki," p. 6) starts off on high ground "The freedom of political speech is one of the bedrock institutions of the West, one of the irreducible elements of a free society" but then goes sniveling straight toward Political Correctness. The trouble is, supporting freedom of all types of political speech could imply that people should be allowed to say things that they are not supposed to say. "We have not paid close attention to the proliferation of laws against certain kinds of speech in Europe," the editorial cringingly stipulates. "Perhaps laws prohibiting Holocaust denial constitute a special case."
Yes, we certainly can't have people questioning the death toll at Auschwitz; trying to figure out how all the physical evidence simply vanished; wondering how a mass extermination left a million survivors still living more than 50 years after said extermination took place. No, we certainly can't allow such heinous thoughts to see the light of day. We must refute them in the progressive humanitarian manner, which is to say with handcuffs and iron bars, putting those who express such views in jail for five years, as the progressive humanitarian courts do in Germany. (Also jailworthy, of course, are those reactionaries who question why Auschwitz death-toll questioners are jailed but not Flat Earthers and people who question the historical existence of Jesus.)
In light of TAC's present policy, it is interesting to recall that, in a March 1990 column, The Pat himself courageously defended the innocent John Demyanyuk, questioning along the way whether the carbon monoxide from the alleged diesel tank engine at Treblinka could actually have killed hundreds of thousands of Jews, as the official story had it (before some later modifications). But we know that the mainstream keeps moving toward more and better progressivism even, so it seems, the paleocon mainstream so TAC had better do its darnedest to keep Pat's article down in the memory hole. (Unfortunately, in our Age of the Net, you can easily find mention of it on the Web.)
What about racial IQ differences? By mentioning only one "special case," is The American Conservative implying that it is perfectly all right to allow people to express the view that blacks tend to be less adept at mathematics than Chinese? Heck, maybe even less adept than white folk? All progressive humanitarians will want to know why that caveat wasn't included. We can only hope that the omission will be rectified in the next issue.
After all, groveling before the gods of Political Correctness never really hurts anyone. At least not if knee pads are worn. And as the (self-proclaimed) champion of individual liberty Ed Crane, of the Cato Institute, put it in 1990, "Sometimes taboos serve a legitimate social function." (Quoted in Paul Gottfried, The Conservative Movement, rev. ed. [New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993], p. 136) Certainly the Establishment-sanctioned Cato Institute has done very well by respecting existing taboos, managing to make "libertarianism" (of the more-efficient-welfare-state variety) palatable to Washington politicos.
In its editorial, the American Conservative goes on to explain the undoubtedly good intentions behind the British crackdown: "We recognize that the laws now threatening Britain's liberty were put in place to preserve her harmony." But we already knew that the elimination of liberty must be for a good cause indeed, rulers always act for the common good when they oppress their subjects. Progressive humanitarians understand that Stalin, for example, was simply trying to protect the hard-won rights of the workers and peasants when he sent millions of said workers and peasants to labor camps in Siberia. And what's the loss of a little liberty when you can achieve harmony? Stalin achieved near-perfect harmony. He always won nearly 100 percent of the vote in the elections he ran.
Then the TAC editorial hits rock bottom: "That the country felt compelled to make these choices of her own free will" ... STOP RIGHT THERE! "that the country felt"? Does that mean that every person unanimously agreed and participated in the decision to suspend his own individual freedom? And "compelled"? Was the alleged Borg-like collective forced to make the decision by circumstances beyond its control? But what sense can we make out of the phrase "compelled ... of her own free will"? Come, come, TAC, let's allow a glimmer of truth to shine through once in a while, as unprogressive and inhumane as that may be. It was the ruling class that gleefully deprived its subjects of liberty in order to augment its own power.
Unfortunately, the editorial doesn't get better: "That the country felt compelled to make these choices of her own free will suggests a conclusion that we are uncomfortable to reach: there may be an inherent incompatibility between multiculturalism and freedom." "Incompatibility between multiculturalism and freedom"? Perish the thought!
But TAC assures us that those negative (though understandable) developments are taking place in faraway Britain. In the good old U.S. of A., TAC says, "there has been resistance to such trends," i.e., it can't happen here. (Dissenter Ernst Zündel is now in jail in the United States awaiting deportation to face a permanent jail sentence in Germany, but then he violated that "special case.") "Ethnic diversity," TAC warbles on, "need not be the purchase of a one-way ticket towards an unfree society." Then again, "the troubling example of contemporary Britain puts [sic] certainly puts the question on the table."
Well, there you have it. TAC has bent the knee to the High Sheriffs of Political Correctness. Soon it will probably move on to actual kowtowing. And when in the fullness of time Joshua Muravchik is asked to serve as editor, The American Conservative will differ little from The Weekly Standard and pose just as little threat to the System.
February 22, 2003
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