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Conscience of an Ex-Conservative: Max Boot’s Journey

It is painful in the extreme to witness a person going through so public a mid-life crisis, tormented to the depths of his soul and seeking a new path forward. Such is the saga of Max Boot, author and foreign policy expert, who now writes an opinion column for the Washington Post. Boot’s latest book, The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right, is a wrenching account of his recent political evolution, post Donald Trump, from his place as a solid conservative to somewhere in the political center. In the course of this change, Boot has forsaken many of his friends and connections on the Right while failing to win many sincere supporters on the Left. Whatever Boot’s considerable intellectual talents, he must surely know that he is prized today from the liberal side for being that most useful of all commodities: a former right-winger who stands resolutely opposed to the 45th President of the United States.

Boot’s story is as surprising as it is disheartening. Since Trump’s advent, he became and has steadfastly remained a convinced Never Trumper. Among the right-of-center intellectuals who have gone this way, no one has been so unsparing in opposition to the President unless it be his fellow Post columnist, the Bush II speechwriter Michael Gerson. As for Boot, he devotes column after column and tweet after tweet to warning of Trump’s failures and the dangers he poses to American democracy. He has exhausted the English language in condemning his adversary for “demagoguery,” “narcissism,” “bigotry,” “xenophobia,” “racism,” “sexism,” and “authoritarianism.” The President is a “charlatan,” an “ignoramus,” and a “fascist.”

Boot compares Trump to Josef Stalin, to Benito Mussolini, and, for the instruction of his classically inclined readers, to the Roman emperors Caligula and Nero. And Hitler? Him too, by the technique of denial: “It does a disservice to the victims of Nazism to suggest that Trump is the second coming of the Führer, even if there are some disturbing parallels.”

Thankfully, the President is also chaotic, so that the few things he does well may be attributed to volatility.

Trump does not, however, get us to the bottom of Max Boot’s existential crisis. Boot is ashamed not just of what conservatism has become under Trump, but of what he now realizes it has always been. Yes, Trump’s emergence on the political stage was the precipitating event that awakened Boot to his “naïve faith in the conservative movement and the American political system”; but the deeper truth is that the corrosion of conservativism has always been there. Max Boot, in reassessing his whole political outlook, is seeing his “consciousness raised.” He has just discovered that “modern conservatism is permeated with racism, extremism, conspiracy-mongering, ignorance, isolationism, and know-nothingism.” Like Irving Kristol, who once defined a neoconservative as “a liberal who has been mugged by reality,” Boot is experiencing his own reawakening, albeit in the opposite direction: “My ideology has come into conflict with reality—and reality is winning.”

A Rapid, and Apparently Unthinking, Ascent

To help explain his evolution, Boot provides a full autobiographical account of his life. Coming to America from the Soviet Union in 1976 at the age of six, he and his mother settled in Southern California. (Today he favors something close to unlimited immigration to the United States.) As a youngster Boot began to be attracted to the conservative movement, and he was a precocious reader of National Review. William F. Buckley, Jr. was his intellectual role model, Ronald Reagan his political hero. By the 1990s, he was off to Berkeley, where he became a rare conservative opinion columnist for the university newspaper.

Switching coasts after graduation, he earned a master’s degree in history at Yale. About to enter the doctoral program at Harvard, he once again felt the pull of journalism. Still in his twenties, Boot wrote for the Christian Science Monitor and then the Wall Street Journal, rising impressively in the ranks of the latter’s editorial staff. He spent six years at the Journal before taking a position at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he authored a noteworthy book on military history and went on to serve as a foreign policy adviser to the presidential campaigns of John McCain in 2008 and Marco Rubio in 2016.

Max Boot was a bright light of conservatism, with contacts throughout the entire movement. Perhaps owing to the rapidity of his ascent, he never thought through his political position to its roots. A year short of 50, he is now going through a thorough reeducation, full of remorse. He here recants his support for the Iraq War, which he now counts as “a chastening lesson in the limits of American power.”

His more telling shifts, however, are in domestic politics. Influenced by the writings of E.J. Dionne and others, Boot now believes that his conservative political heroes from the past were guilty of campaigning by “dog whistling” to racism, even if they did not fully govern that way. Boot now appreciates the deep injustices and defects of the conservative movement on questions of race, gender, and police brutality: “I am perceiving ugly truths about America and about conservatism that other people had long seen.” Previous to this realization, Boot lived in a fantasy world: “I saw America as a land of opportunity, not a bastion of racism or sexism.” But no more. To make amends for his intellectual blindness, he issues a general kind of apology: “I have benefitted from my skin color and gender—and those of a different gender or sexuality or skin color have suffered because of it.”

Difficult as it may be to fathom how a person of his stature could have been so heedless of these ills—neglectful of the full depth of President Clinton’s abuse and possible rape of other women (dismissed by Mrs. Clinton), of the racial problems that were evident from the O.J. Simpson trial, and of the controversies over law enforcement brought home by Rodney King—Max Boot’s sincerity should not be doubted. As he excuses himself, “It’s amazing how little you can see when your eyes are closed!”

Going forward, the author has set his sights on achieving two goals: contributing to a new bipartisan movement that will bring greater civility to American political life, and “registering my dissent in the strongest terms I know.” His need to demonstrate moral probity seems to be the reason for his loss of so many friends, a sad sub-theme that runs through much of the book. Virtually all of Boot’s intellectual colleagues opposed the Republicans’ nomination of Trump but went on, with varying degrees of reluctance, to support his White House bid. Boot would not—he could not—do this.

“I plead guilty to being angry,” he writes, and “I am angry with all those people who are not angry.”

He believes he learned a fundamental lesson from Election 2016: that being a conservative does not change human nature. From once thinking that movement conservatives stand by their principles, he came to see that many of them backed Trump out of moral weakness and a wish to promote what was best for themselves. Disgusted by this betrayal, Boot turns on them all and devotes a whole chapter to decrying what he calls “Trump Toadies.” Included in this group are his former candidate, Senator Rubio, and other Republicans, like former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who do not at every moment proclaim their opposition to Trump.

Still Making Some Dubious Assumptions

There is a different way, however, to view the world. Politics is a constantly moving activity in which difficult decisions need to be made at each point along the way. Though Trump was unacceptable to conservative thinkers for the nomination, does it follow that he had to be an impossible choice for the presidency? Considering the options available, many intellectuals chose to support Trump, and they continue to assess and reassess their decision as time goes on.

True, this is not the morality of Molière’s Alceste, nor of Max Boot; but it surely does not a “toady” make.

As for many Trump voters, whom Boot often characterizes as “unsophisticated,” it is not so clear that they were as duped in their decision as Boot contends. Disparaging them for pinning their hopes on achieving “miniscule policy victories,” like adding a few more judges, Boot never sees, for example, that more judges could be the key—and the last chance—to alter the legal status of life over “choice.” Ensconced in his Manhattan enclave, he still does not seem to understand the political movement that he has now abandoned.

Beyond the circle of insiders, pundits, and political junkies, not all that many readers will ever have heard of Max Boot, and fewer still will have much interest in his life story, which takes up nearly a third of this work. Yet for all that, The Corrosion of Conservativism is a book well worth considering. One can only hope that the author, like Dante, will find his way through the dark forest in which he is now lost and emerge once more to see the stars.

Reader Discussion

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on June 10, 2019 at 10:57:38 am

Boot is no different that the rest of the so-called "conservative" #NeverTrump of National Review and WklyStd., etc. They, like him, in their wildest dreams never believed POTUS Trump would govern conservatively. They cannot see and they cannot admit their MISTAKE.
More importantly, they are NOT fighters. They are the sucking-at-teat elitists, tin-cups extended, who make their living pencil-pushing with lofty ideas, without a bit of FIGHT contained within them. They are frauds and cowards. No more, no less.
With the advent of POTUS Trump, theirs is a pathetic downward spiral, augering into the ground, never to be heard from RATIONALLY again. R.I.P., Jerks Jerking

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David Kane
on June 10, 2019 at 11:09:09 am

Influenced by Dionne? Pathetic.

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Jack Tracy
on June 10, 2019 at 11:13:17 am

"He believes he learned a fundamental lesson from Election 2016: that being a conservative does not change human nature."

If he didn't learn that human nature doesn't change until 2016 then Boot was NEVER a conservative.

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Scott
on June 10, 2019 at 11:29:42 am

Boot is a nincompoop. Being well regarded for a narrow field of expertise does not bestow an authoritative credential as a moralist, political theorist or social thinker. Boot's effortless, mindless picking up of the standard vocabulary of grievance suggests he is in the grip of a kind of Stockholm Syndrome. A need to be esteemed by his immediate society has, it appears, overwhelmed his reason.

It is irrational to be more, or even just equally, NeverTrump today than in 2016-17. The intellectual class let itself be carried away by its own phantasms, choosing to believe, as intellectuals always do, the constructions of their own imaginations over the reality in front of them. But back then Trump was all possibility. Today, he is actuality. And while one may in good faith dispute the wisdom of his actions--tariffs, attempted vigorous enforcement of immigration laws, e.g.--these actions are radical only in comparison with the utter pusillanimity of recent GOP presidents. And as for the tax cuts, well that is straight ordinary course GOP. His "unpresidential" rhetorical style and general mien constitute an aesthetic subconsciously reviled by Boot & Co., who, as intellectuals, desperately feel they must bring their revulsion to articulation, which they can do, in Boot's case, only by grasping at the grievance idiom du jour and wearing it like a rainbow flag at a pride parade for all to see.

Boot might well have stayed in his lane, lambasting Trump for his confrontational posture on foreign policy matters. No issues there, it is as justly subject to critique as was/is Obama's efforts at active de-hegemonization. But being reduced in one's intellectual life to gutteral cries of "bigot," "sexist" and "xenophobe" tell of a disrupted and unmastered psychic state. To that degree I concur that Boot's ravings are certainly sincere.

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QET
on June 10, 2019 at 11:41:12 am
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Will Raper
on June 10, 2019 at 11:56:13 am

I thought the same thing. Like a jilted lover, Mr. Boot is in the gutter looking for love.

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Mark J Anderson
on June 10, 2019 at 12:16:44 pm

Boot's biography of Lansdale is a good work of history. I don't know if his theory that Lansdale could have helped win the Vietnam War has any validity. That is the only book of Boot's I have read. His insane TDS matches that of some wounded intellectuals and might be less opportunistic than someone like Kristol who seems to be for sale.

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Michael K
on June 10, 2019 at 12:23:23 pm

I think Boot's biggest gripe (and I think it no more than that) is that his candidate did not win the Republican nomination for the 2016 election . He despised Trump and , acting on the widely held belief that Hillary would win , staked out such a hateful position on Trump that with Hillary's election , Boot could claim that he was prescient and entitled to a preferred place at the Conservative table. When Trump won , Boot had already boxed himself . Now ,like whatshername who used to be a Newt acolyte but now lends her name to some Lefty site ,Boot is looking for a Lefty landing site. It's pure ego. And anyone who relies on EJ Dionne for political inspiration is swimming in shallow water indeed.

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Russ Falconer
on June 10, 2019 at 12:39:48 pm

"His “unpresidential” rhetorical style and general mien constitute an aesthetic subconsciously reviled by Boot & Co., who, as intellectuals, desperately feel they must bring their revulsion to articulation,..."

Proof of that assertion is made evident when one simply views the accompanying photo of Boot, who assumes the "civilian" dress of a certain Clark Kent, newsreporter for the Daily Planet.

What a pompous jackass!

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gabe
on June 10, 2019 at 12:49:07 pm

So Boot supported Marco Rubio - fine. But... would Rubio have withstood the onslaught of Democrats, especially Hillary? Or would he have buckled like the rest of Republicans?
This is what many "establishment" Republicans will never understand, ever: Trump fights, fights back with heft, while John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, they all bend down and accomodate.
And the Republican base got tired of that defeatist attitude (now personified in Romney).
In 2008 they nominated Grandpa McCain, who simply could not fight; in 2012 they nominated cooked spaghetti spined Romney, who did not fight.
And the Republican base had enough. In Trump they saw somebody who *finally* fought back, with heft.

Would Paul Ryan ever have behaved like Jerrold Nadler? Why not? Would any of the Republican committee chairmen have behaved like Pelosi, or Neal, or Nadler? No, they wouldn't. And the Republican base is tired of cooked spaghetti spined Republicans who simply do not fight.
And Max Boot simply does not get this.

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Manfred
on June 10, 2019 at 13:18:38 pm

Being a fiscal conservative does not necessarily correspond with being a social conservative:

https://study.com/academy/lesson/social-conservatism-vs-fiscal-conservatism.html

This does not change the fact that a Social Conservative recognizes Natural Law, while a Social Progressive, desires to reorder man according to sexual desire/inclination/orientation, which necessarily sexually objectifies the human person, and denies their inherent Dignity as a beloved son or daughter, in order to justify the engaging in of demeaning sexual acts, that regardless of the actors, due to their pornographic nature, are physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually harmful, including if engaged in between a man and woman, united in marriage as husband and wife. The desire to engage in a demeaning sexual act of any nature, does not change the nature of the act.

In fact, whether you believe in The Sacrament Of Holy Matrimony, or you view marriage to be a contract, the Good Faith element found in both The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony and In The Marriage Contract, would certainly preclude one from the desire to do harm to oneself or one’s beloved.

Based upon this information:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ej-dionne-can-same-sex-couples-help-save-the-family/2013/07/31/a814a0fc-f9ef-11e2-a369-d1954abcb7e3_story.html

,https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/02-102.ZD.html

And the fact that slavery, abortion, and reordering man according to sexual desire/inclination/orientation, all objectify the human person, while denying the inherent Dignity of being a beloved son or daughter, I am going to take an educated guess that Mr. Boot was never a Social Conservative to begin with, and thus he fails to recognize the source of danger he is about to encounter as he continues along that Way that leads onto Way:

“The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love, and in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all from continual lying to other men and to himself.  Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Oh! What a tangled web is weaved by those who desire to Render onto Caesar, what belongs to God. God Is The Author Of Love, Of Life, And Of Marriage.

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Nancy
on June 10, 2019 at 14:25:18 pm

It's really not necessary to be so 'collegial' that you fail to have any critical engagement with his contentions. What's baffling is that this man - who is the issue of two selective research universities - hasn't a thought in his head that isn't jejune. No clue why the purveyors of opinion journalism found him so useful to employ.

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Art Deco
on June 10, 2019 at 15:29:42 pm

Is it a bird? is it a plane? No, it is Super[Boot} come to rescue American conservatism from the fiendish Trumpster! - or so he fancies his "fancy' self.

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gabe
on June 10, 2019 at 16:23:59 pm

Normally I could have some measure of respect for a person willing to re-evaluate their political beliefs, but to retreat into identity politics - No.

He supports a political establishment status quo, where conservatives just bent over and took their punishment from the enlightened ones. Trump makes himself an easy target, but make no mistake, a similar uproar would have come against any person with an R after their name who had the temerity to get elected and challenge the wisdom of those who Thomas Sowell refers to as “the anointed”. Think of Bush/Hitler and the demonization of Mitt Romney, a man who with his Mormon mission has performed more charitable acts in his life than the last half dozen or so presidents combined. The difference is a Trump fights back and yanks their chains until they go completely bonkers. Sorry, but there’s nothing funnier than a pissed off liberal.

Boot got tired of the battle and decided that if you can’t beat them you should join them. Good riddance, they can have him.

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CulperJr
on June 10, 2019 at 17:15:52 pm

The way he wears that Humphrey Bogart film noir hat of his tells the whole story. No doubt as a pimply adolescent he dreamed of being an 'intrepid news hound' chasing down rain-slickened, dim lit city streets shouting 'STOP THE PRESSES!' and never lost the dream. His hat is as corny and melodramatic as Jim Acosta's John Belushi eyebrow lift.

What a horse's ass.

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jbspry
on June 10, 2019 at 17:24:23 pm

Not really getting the “subconscious” part here fellas. He seems pretty plain spoken about his thoughts.

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Donald
on June 10, 2019 at 17:26:04 pm

You don’t think Max Boot is for sale? Really?

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Donald
on June 10, 2019 at 17:49:23 pm

The problem with the Never Trumpers across the political spectrum—especially the Republican ones—is they argue against a caricature of Trump that is a figment of the left-wing media's (but I repeat myself) imagination. Despite all their accusations of xenophobia, racism, sexism, authoritarianism, etc. he has proven himself to be none of those things. What it really boils down to—I was guilty of this myself in 2016—is that they just don't like him. Frankly, I'm impressed with what Trump has accomplished to promote American ideals and a conservative agenda; far more than most of his predecessors from the Republican Party. I've come to like and admire Trump very much.

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Lauren Anderson
on June 10, 2019 at 18:01:00 pm

Good post but you get one thing wrong. The #neverTrump fight harder against Trump than they ever did against our enemies.

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Kenneth Felton
on June 10, 2019 at 18:15:25 pm

A benefit of the Trump presidency has been not only the revelation of just how deeply the left hates but also the flushing out of pretenders on the right. These pseudo-cons object to boorish qualities of the goal achieving Trump, preferring the character of a polished politician, artful in deception and who accomplishes little or even facilitates the left's agenda. They'll besmirch Trump but remain untroubled by the rise of the hateful, uncivil, anti-constitutional left, ascendant before Trump came along. Trump is exactly the type needed to push back. Brash and unafraid and who does not simply endure the media's death by a thousand cuts tactic

Conservatism will be much better off without their like, who are more pleased by their own musings than advancing conservative issues. In sports, there's an adage, "Better to win ugly than to lose well. Guys like Boot and Kristol prefer to lose

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David135
on June 10, 2019 at 19:11:13 pm

May I (highly) recommend The Savage Wars of Peace."

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Steven W
on June 10, 2019 at 19:27:55 pm

Great post .. thanks

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demet
on June 10, 2019 at 21:25:15 pm

Sounds like Norman Podhoretz' "Breaking Ranks", only in the opposite direction.

But while Podhoretz took a lot of heat and suffered professionally and intellectually for his choice, I think Boot (like David Brock before him) profited handsomely from his.

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a bee ee?
on June 10, 2019 at 21:45:26 pm

Max Boot turns 50 in September (thank you, Wikipedia). Apparently we are supposed to respect this "mid-life crisis" from someone who now rejects many of the views he held well into the at more the age of maturity. If he believes he was wrong then, why even consider the possibility that he's right now.

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George
on June 10, 2019 at 22:44:55 pm

This Boot guy seems awfully impressed with himself for someone so cluelessly wrong about really basic things. It's a not uncommon characteristic of his type.

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Scott
on June 11, 2019 at 00:16:05 am

Weak, very weak. Good riddance to this puffball.

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George Rockers
on June 11, 2019 at 07:58:15 am

Perhaps off-topic; perhaps not: Do people have an opinion on "David French-ism"?

I sense a growing tendency for people to embrace the idea of a "culture war," in which they define themselves largely in terms of who they regard as their enemies and treat with contempt.

Ever fewer people regard public policy as a good-faith effort at problem-solving, where evidence and reason--not loyalty and tribalism--are the relevant considerations. And the idea of loving your neighbor, turning the other cheek, or praying for those who persecute you seems to have fallen out of fashion.

Don't know anything about Max Boot, but I can certainly identify with his sense of disillusionment with a lot of contemporary political discourse.

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nobody.really
on June 11, 2019 at 09:10:45 am

My point is that Boot's and every other NT intellectual's source of their NT-ism is a deeply subconscious emotional reaction to Trump's aesthetic (i.e., it is irrational), but which, being intellectuals and all, they feel the urge to give voice to early, often and loudly, and many of them--including Boot--simply reach for the most convenient vocabulary at hand, which today is the incoherent sequence of simple pejorative non sequiturs peddled by addled child minds, like bigot, sexist and xenophobe.

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QET
on June 11, 2019 at 09:14:00 am

I sense a growing tendency for people to embrace the idea of a “culture war,” in which they define themselves largely in terms of who they regard as their enemies and treat with contempt.

You are only just now sensing this??? Boy have I got some news for you: the Red Sox finally won a World Series after 86 years!

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QET
on June 11, 2019 at 09:48:50 am

Understood. However, both Frenchie and the would be Clark Kent known as Boot, in attempting to establish their ideological bona fides, have contributed to this "coarsening' of political discourse.

I side with you on this - as I would prefer criticism to be of a humorous variety. I always thought that Ronald Rayguns performed quite admirably in this respect - a little homespun (if corny) humor here and there did seem to get his point across without pissing folks off.
You may recall from First things, cicrca 2016 election, I had advocated for a humor infused campaign. Once again, my *brilliance* was as welcomed as the "gifted" field mouse deposited by one's cat on your doorstep.

Oh, the shame of it all! _Ha!

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gabe
on June 11, 2019 at 10:30:38 am

Glad to see we recognize a similar phenomenon.

How should we respond to this tendency?

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nobody.really
on June 11, 2019 at 12:10:48 pm

How did we respond to Pearl Harbor? To the British march on Concord?

You can remain aloof, I suppose, if the values of neither side command your esteem or if the behavior of neither side alarms you. And really it is not a 2-sided thing but more like 6 sides of a socio-political dodecahedron facing the other 6 sides at more or less oblique angles. Still, one Side is currently like the German Panzer divisions in blitzkrieg and the other is like the French foolishly sitting in the Maginot fortresses. I, for one, think all persons of good will must resist the establishment of the Thousand Year Progressive Reich.

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QET
on June 11, 2019 at 13:51:28 pm

nobody.really: “I sense a growing tendency for people to embrace the idea of a “culture war,” in which they define themselves largely in terms of who they regard as their enemies and treat with contempt.

Ever fewer people regard public policy as a good-faith effort at problem-solving, where evidence and reason–not loyalty and tribalism–are the relevant considerations. And the idea of loving your neighbor, turning the other cheek, or praying for those who persecute you seems to have fallen out of fashion.
* * *
How should we respond to this tendency?”

QET: “How did we respond to Pearl Harbor? To the British march on Concord?”

So you embrace the war thesis--and throw in your lot with the Thousand Year Christian Conservative Reich?

I guess that’s one approach. But there have been countervailing views over the years. Such as mine. And David French’s. And his friends:

“Indeed men too often take upon themselves in the prosecution of their revenge to set the example of doing away with those general laws to which all can look for salvation in adversity, instead of allowing them to subsist against the day of danger when their aid may be required.” Thucydides

“It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.” Thomas Jefferson

“People who govern in the name of God attribute their own personal preferences to God, and therefore recognize no limit in imposing those preferences on other people.” Alabama Supreme Court Justice Douglas Johnstone

“[I]f there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought—not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.” United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U.S. 644 (1929) (Holmes, dissenting).

“We can have intellectual individualism and the rich cultural diversities that we owe to exceptional minds only at the price of occasional eccentricity and abnormal attitudes. When they are so harmless to others or to the state as those we deal with here, the price is not too great. But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order. If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.” West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).

DAUGHTER: Father, that man's bad.

MORE: There's no law against that.

ROBERT: There is. God's law.

MORE: Then God can arrest him.

WIFE: While you talk he's gone.

MORE: And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law.

ROBERT: So, now you would give the Devil benefit of law?

MORE: Yes. What would you do, cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

ROBERT: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that.

MORE: Oh? And when the last law was down and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Robert, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast. Man's laws, not God's. And if you cut them down - and you're just the man to do it - do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law - for my own safety’s sake.

Sir Thomas More, A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt.

“I want people to take thought about their condition and to recognize that the maintenance of a free society is a very difficult and complicated thing and it requires a self-denying ordinance of the most extreme kind. It requires a willingness to put up with temporary evils on the basis of the subtle and sophisticated understanding that if you step in to do something about them you not only may make them worse, you will spread your tentacles and get bad results elsewhere.” Milton Friedman, on The Open Mind (7 December 1975)

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nobody.really
on June 11, 2019 at 14:25:12 pm

I am not a conservative Christian. And that is not the alternative to a Progressive Reich anyway. I suppose it is an alternative, and were it to appear on the horizon I would resist it as well. However not since the Massachusetts Bay Colony has a a conservative Christian regime--political or cultural--reigned in this country or any significant region of it (except for perhaps Mormon Utah but I'm not so sure), whereas the history of the last 150 years has been one of almost unbroken advancement, more or less overtly militant and hostile to all other than itself, of progressive left-liberalism everywhere, punctuated by a John Birch Society here and a Moral Majority there. And far from resting content with the changes it has wrought, some of which even I consider to be good, it unstintingly raises the hue and cry. In no sense can progressivism be called a "temporary evil" per your Friedman quote. To hear modern progressives tell it, America in 2019 is more racist, more sexist, more oppressive to and violent against persons of color, the marginalized, the vulnerable etc etc etc etc, than ever before! Since this is so obviously a falsehood, one is justified in disregarding it as ulterior motive and investigating the true motivation.

And others are proud of their handful of justice and commit outrages against all things for its sake, till the world is drowned in their injustice. Oh, how the word virtue comes out of their mouths! And when they say, “I am just,” it always sounds like “I am just—revenged.” With their virtue they want to scratch out the eyes of their enemies, and they exalt themselves only to humble others.--Nietzsche

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QET
on June 11, 2019 at 14:49:20 pm

nobody would have us continue to turn the other cheek.
Unfortunately, as you rightly point out, the attacks come from 6 sides.
Goodness gracious, even including the "cheeks" of more southerly regions, we find ourselves short two "cheeks."

Better to deny the ability of the "revenge-seekers" to assault one in the first place.

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gabe
on June 11, 2019 at 15:33:26 pm

Some of us are cheekier than others.

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nobody.really
on June 11, 2019 at 15:35:09 pm

I am not absolutely against turning the other cheek. But not to today's Progressive Sturmabteilung, no sir.

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QET
on June 11, 2019 at 15:42:53 pm

Are you saying that you have an extra set of *Southern* cheeks - or just extensive jowls? -Ha!

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gabe
on June 11, 2019 at 16:12:36 pm

[N]ot since the Massachusetts Bay Colony has a conservative Christian regime–political or cultural–reigned in this country or any significant region of it (except for perhaps Mormon Utah but I’m not so sure)….

I’d be interested in hearing your theories about the secular rationales for Protestant prayers in public schools, criminalizing sodomy, discrimination against homosexuals in the military and regarding security clearances, refusing to recognize same-sex marriage, making Christmas a state holiday, barring executions on Sundays, barring liquor sales on Sundays, barring public school events on Sundays (but not on Friday nights or Saturdays, thereby discriminating against Orthodox Jews), etc.

I humbly suggest that a Christian regime has reigned in this country since its founding, and continues to do so—albeit with declining force as liberal efforts have reined in some of its most flagrant excesses.

I am not a conservative Christian. And that is not the alternative to a Progressive Reich anyway. I suppose it is an alternative, and were it to appear on the horizon I would resist it as well.

Glad to hear it. May I suggest you start now—by, say, defending the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment? I suspect you would fend off many of the evils you fear, whether from progressives or conservatives, through these measures.

Note that defending these measures is quite UNLIKE war: I seek for myself only the rights I would grant to others. I seek no status advantages to those who are similarly situated, and oppose government discrimination based on criteria unrelated to bona fide governmental purposes.

…–Nietzsche

Awesome! That’s going in the quote file.

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nobody.really
on June 11, 2019 at 16:22:28 pm
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nobody.really
on June 11, 2019 at 16:55:07 pm

The continued presence of a number of artifacts of the religious tradition of the majority of the inhabitants of this country from 1603 - 1973 (I just needed an end date) do not constitute a political or cultural regime. The continued existence of people whose politics are informed by ancient religious beliefs you find abhorrent does not a regime make. The question of putting in place such artifacts today is not the same as the question of ripping them down, tearing them up and trampling on their remains. No serious person can assert that the continued existence of Xmas Day or Sunday laws oppress anyone. The latter can certainly be inconvenient; I like being able to buy liquor on a Sunday as much as the next guy, but I got along equally well in the bad old days. Xmas long ago mutated into a secular event; wailing over its religious origin and acting as though that makes it an affront to persons of other faiths (or no faith) is bad faith. Sodomy laws were enforced about as often as the still-extant Massachusetts law criminalizing membership in the communist party. Yes, I know, like portraits of old white men hanging in various places they are targets of people with too much time on their hands, but no serious person can feel oppressed or affronted by their existence. Small communities, pockets, of retrograde (to you) people who want their communities to more formally adhere to religion-influenced laws and ordinances do not constitute a regime. One finding oneself in such a place can leave, as I have known many people to do. Basically your argument, at least as I understand it, amounts to sending some US divisions around to all the little atolls in the Pacific to root out each and every last Japanese soldier still holding out and unaware that the war has ended, still believing in the superiority of the Japanese race and that the Emperor is God on Earth. I have no doubt that encountering such a holdout would be unpleasant, but does anyone seriously believe they pose a societal threat?

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QET
on June 11, 2019 at 18:26:22 pm

The continued presence of a number of artifacts of the religious tradition of the majority of the inhabitants of this country from 1603 – 1973 (I just needed an end date) do not constitute a political or cultural regime.

To you. People who lost their careers over homosexuality—or were driven to suicide during the Lavender Scare—might feel differently. If your mom had died, and instead of being able to live with your other parent you were shipped off to some unknown relative because the state didn’t recognize your parent’s relationship, perhaps you'd have been totally fine with that. Or perhaps you would get to live with your other parent—but you’d be destitute because your family would lose the house and any survivor benefits, again for lack of state recognition. A lot of folks might think this is a situation worth avoiding. Maybe not you, but other folks.

It’s easy to dismiss other people’s problems. I prefer solving the problems. I think we’ve made great strides. And I certainly would oppose efforts to turn back the clock.

Basically your argument, at least as I understand it, amounts to sending some US divisions around to all the little atolls in the Pacific to root out each and every last Japanese soldier still holding out and unaware that the war has ended…. [D]oes anyone seriously believe they pose a societal threat?

If you mean that we’ve made great strides in freeing people from state-imposed religious discrimination, I agree. If you mean that future achievements may seem relatively minor, I can’t know that. I do not take advances in civil liberties for granted, nor regard them as irreversible. While I regard the war metaphor as unhelpful, I note that the US did not disband the military after WWII. Someone seemed to think that we should plan for contingencies beyond the Japanese threat.

To take an obvious example, how long do you imagine that members of the priesthood have engaged in sex abuse? Yet until quite recently, clergy occupied a privileged position that prosecutors dared not challenge—and countless citizens suffered without hope of resource as a consequence. At long, LONG last, we have again breached a norm that held some people above the law based on religious discrimination.

Doubtless, you’ll once again respond by saying, “Yeah, sure, I concede that that was bad and prosecutors should not have behaved that way—but THAT was in the past, too. So surely NOW we’re safe to conclude that the state no longer discriminates in favor of religion. I don’t know of any other examples—and there can’t be any harm in drawing conclusions based on ignorance, right?”

Again, suffice it to say, there are other points of view.

Xmas long ago mutated into a secular event….

Ok, I’ll concede the point. Indeed, I’d argue that Xmas had secular qualities from the beginning. There is nothing tying Jesus’s birth to December 25. Last I’d heard, this date was picked to enable early Christians to hold an inconspicuous celebration because it would coincide with the Roman Saturnalia (basically a harvest festival). Thus, much of Christmas tradition—taking time off work, giving gifts, special attire/music/meals, emphasis on lights—tracks harvest festival traditions around the world.

So no, I don’t get too uptight about most manifestations of Xmas. Plus, I like Shtollen.

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nobody.really
on June 11, 2019 at 19:04:26 pm

Boot would be impressed at all the discussion his apostasy has generated. Civil discussion at that.

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Culper Jr.
on June 12, 2019 at 12:21:47 pm

It has always been about The Marriage, In Heaven and On Earth.

“It is not possible to have Sacramental Communion without Ecclesial Communion”, due to The Unity Of The Holy Ghost. (Filioque)

In order to remain One Nation, Under God, and thus Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all; It is necessary to answer the question, “ Who do you say that IAm?”

Just as every element of Truth will serve to complement and thus enhance the fullness of Truth, so, too, will every element of Love, serve to complement and thus enhance the fullness of Love. Love and Truth do not divide, they multiply, just as in The Loaves and Fishes.

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/john-paul-iis-warning-on-final-confrontation-with-the-anti-church

“Must Liberalism Destroy Itself?”

It will, eventually, with Time, if we deny The Unity Of The Holy Ghost.

Isn’t that what is ailing The Church, and this Nation founded on Judeo-Christian Principles?

Caritas In Veritate; Veritas In Caritate, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, Amen

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Nancy D.

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