Monday, July 13, 2015

Joseph Hunter ― William F. Buckley, Jr. and African Americans

Josepeh Hunter,  a writer for makes the compelling argument that William F. Buckley, the founder of  National Review, did little to attract blacks to the GOP, and the effect of that neglect remains with us till this very day.


The black conservative writer, writes: "William F. Buckley Jr. stares down at me from a giant poster I made to add a little conservative life to the bone white walls of my office. Beside him, in the poster, reads a quote from “The Conscience of a Conservative,” the book that he ghostwrote with L. Brent Bozell Jr. in 1960. When co-workers and visitors confront the 3 by 5 foot image; they crane their necks back, read the quote, look at Buckley’s wrinkled face and ask, “Who is that?”
“That’s Bill Buckley,” I say. “My hero.”
Intrigued that I profess to having a hero in a time when deconstruction reduces great men and women to irredeemable monsters, I’m often asked why I so revere Mr. Buckley. I always relish the opportunity  to rattle off the short list of Buckley’s impressive works:
In 1955, when conservative media did not exist, Buckley started National Review magazine, a publication that still exists as one of, if not the, most influential among conservatives. Eleven years later, Buckley started “Firing Line,” the longest running public affairs television program with a single host in American history. Both endeavors codified conservative ideology and brought it into the mainstream political conversation. During this time, too, Buckley courted libertarians and fused them with traditional conservatives, hinging the union on a shared commitment to free market economics and a mutual disdain for communism. A profound and prolific author, Buckley’s polysyllabic writings intellectualized a movement largely defined by its populist appeal. In effect, Buckley made space for intellectuals within political conservatism, so that affirming conservative ideology did not affect one’s respectability.
He continues: Intellectualizing conservatism represented an important move, because it added authority to the movement and to its ideas. This became important when Buckley worked to marginalize the John Birch Society and anti-Semites, expelling them from conservatism. After this purge, one could not be a respected conservative and either hate Jews or traffic in wild communist conspiracy theories. Today, the conservative movement benefits from the many Jewish voices that Buckley’s efforts welcomed. Jennifer Rubin, Michael Medved, Charles Krauthammer and many others enrich political debate and make conservatism stronger.
Understanding that these accomplishments make up only part of Buckley’s short list of accomplishments makes it easier to believe his tongue in cheek claim that his singular lacuna was baseball. Indeed, however, there was another, much more important, blind spot in Buckley’s construction of the conservative movement. What he had done for Jews, Buckley did not for blacks."

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