I've gotten a couple of responses to my Buckley piece. One good friend wishes me to stress that an important factor here is Buckley's "evenhandedness." That is, he tries to be nice to all sides, in fine English boarding school tradition, and as the State Department does so often. Of course, he has a definite point, and this is a big problem. However, I find it ironic that at this moment, the bloggers on National Review's own site are pointing out how "traditional" conservatives, such as themselves (and me, I suppose), have always felt that ideology and morals should play a part in foreign policy. (It was alleged that this was the exclusive domain of the "neoconservatives.") For example, they were never isolationist, they believed in rolling back Soviet advances, not just containing it, and so on. So why does Buckley not have a similar standard when dealing with Israel? (Of course, he might, but he's approaching it from a different angle.)
Of course, Buckley's successors all do apply that standard. I have the feeling he's somewhat tolerated by the younger folk at the magazine and website. (More on that in a bit.)
Another writer expanded on my point about Catholicism. Allow me to quote from my response to him:
"This is something I think I alluded to a while back,
but only got around to mentioning now. I'll take it a
step further: I once attended a dinner of the Heritage
Foundation. They were having a series of these in
honor of their anniversary (25th, I think). Each
featured a speaker on a particular theme (capitalism,
trade, etc.) and the one in New York was on "Faith."
Buckley was the speaker- and chose to devote his
speech to the topic of how he converted many of
National Review's Jewish (but, raised communist, with
no religious knowledge whatsoever, and seeking any
sort of spirituality) founders to Catholicism- some,
it seems, posthumously (and considering their
background, all quite deceitfully). All right, he
didn't come out and use the word 'Jew,' but I had just
read an article on the topic, and knew full well what
was going on.
"Then there was the time John DiIlulio (later the head
of President Bush's Faith-initiative team before he
famously resigned) wrote the National Review review of
David Klinghoffer's autobiography. He actually posed
the question to Buckley, in the review itself, why no
one at National Review had tried harder to convert
Klinghoffer to Catholicism. That got them an angry
letter from me.
"Still, I remain an avid reader. Overall it's a great
magazine (and better website), what can I say? And
like you point out, there's this strange mix of
philo-Semitism and even pro-Israel feelings even among
those whose attitudes at time seem different. Work for
Let me finish by saying this: All in all, I'll take Buckley any day over most others. When people start screaming "anti-semitism," I take it down to the bare elements: Will he put us into concentration camps? Avi Weiss did a disgusting thing (on a number of levels) by dressing in camp uniforms to protest Mel Gibson. But religious Christians in America are not about to do anything to Jews; in fact, they're the last people Jews should fear, and perhaps their best friends.
And on Israel: I'm not one who complains when the US "pressures" Israel. Israel is an independent country run by grown-ups; if they didn't want to be pressured, it wouldn't happen. End of story. And if Sharon comes to Bush with this wacko Gaza plan (On his own terms [that is, not my Kahanist religious ones]: Essentially, he's not leaving Gaza, but is just pulling out the settlers- for what?), I can't blame Bush for going along.