Monday, August 21, 2017

Pat Buchanan: White Supremacist?

Rod Dreher condemns "the disgusting, racist, indefensible thing that Pat Buchanan has written in his syndicated column in response to the Confederate statue controversy..."  If Dreher is right in his read of Buchanan, then he's surely right to condemn.  As Dreher puts is, " in this column, Buchanan is defending white supremacy, straight up."  (more...)

I don't see a defense of white supremacy in Buchanan's column.  The line of argument seems clear enough to me.  Buchanan starts with the fact that there is a concerted and aggressive attempt ongoing in our country to purge ourselves of any symbols of the Confederacy.  Statues of Lee or Jackson must be pulled down.  Flags of the Confederacy must be pulled down.  We cannot leave such symbols of "hatred" in place!  

But, Buchanan points out, the sins of the Confederacy are the sins of modern Western Culture: Washington, Madison and Monroe were all slave owners.  And let's not even get started on Jefferson!  So if we must pull down statues of Lee on grounds that they symbolize white supremacy, mustn't we pull down our statues of Washington, as well?  Indeed, wasn't the whole push of Western imperialism--the push that got white people here to North America (and elsewhere, obviously)--premised on white supremacy?  

But, as Buchanan points out, these attitudes aren't confined to white westerners: 

Nor is a belief in the superiority of one's race, religion, tribe and culture unique to the West. What is unique, what is an experiment without precedent, is what we are about today.

We have condemned and renounced the scarlet sins of the men who made America and embraced diversity, inclusivity and equality.

Our new America is to be a land where all races, tribes, creeds and cultures congregate, all are treated equally, and all move ever closer to an equality of results through the regular redistribution of opportunity, wealth and power.

We are going to become "the first universal nation."

And this is Buchanan's point.  Make of it what you will--I'm not defending or attacking it here, just trying to say what it is.  That is: if we topple the Confederate monuments, we might as well toss out all of our history and simply establish a brand new foundation for who and what we are.  We might as well fundamentally transform America.  In other words, this urge to tear down Confederate memorials isn't at heart a rage against white supremacy, it's a rage against modern Western history.  Needless to say, many on the left fully realize this.  And Buchanan realizes they fully realize this.  But he also realizes what perhaps they don't.  (Or perhaps they do.)  That is, that you're likely to throw out the baby with the bathwater.  

The fundamental transformation being sought after is one, as he says, where all are treated equally.  But upon what foundation does any kind of belief in equality rest?  It's not an empirically defensible claim:

"All men are created equal" is an ideological statement. Where is the scientific or historic proof for it? Are we building our utopia on a sandpile of ideology and hope?

This ideological statement comes from the ideology of the modern Western world.  Surely, the people of the modern Western world have consistently failed to live up to it!  But if you throw out our history--if you reject where we come from--then upon what basis do you get to keep this foundational ideal?  

I would have thought this was all pretty obvious, but apparently not.  Dreher is usually pretty sharp, but I think he's aggressively wrong in his read of Buchanan this time.  And I think Bill Vallicella--through whom I learned of this little fracas--gets it wrong, too, saying "For Buchanan to demand "scientific or historic proof" shows deep misunderstanding. For again, the claim is not empirical."

Buchanan isn't demanding scientific or historic proof.  The whole point is that he realizes there isn't such, and hence the claim rests on something else: but those seeking fundamental transformation don't seem to realize it.  

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