It has been a while since we have heard about the “far right” threat from the shrinking bastions of True Conservatism. In the Joe Biden era, conservatives spend most of their time these days bitterly complaining about the issues which White Nationalists were sounding the alarm about decades ago.
“Cancel culture” is really a tautology. All cultures involve the “cancellation” of certain behaviors and viewpoints, the public enactment or profession of which results in the social ostracization of the perpetrator. Without these taboos, there can be no social regulation of behavior and mores and hence no real culture at all. In the modern West, for instance, we cancel people who insist on being naked in public spaces. We also cancel racists and men who beat their wives, and our culture is all the better for it. …
We tolerate the legal First Amendment rights of white-nationalist groups because we know we can crush them with overwhelming social stigma and geld them of all influence using cultural force. But no one in their right mind believes that because white-nationalist groups can avail legally of viewpoint-neutrality jurisprudence that we should therefore refrain from attempting to turn them into social pariahs as best we can. …”
What exactly were the “racists” wrong about?
I haven’t changed my fundamental beliefs and worldview much since the 2000s. I’m still very much the same person who I was back then. Can the same be said of mainstream conservatism?
In the early 2000s:
- If memory serves, National Review was a George W. Bush cheerleading squad and was leading the charge into Iraq and Afghanistan and ostracized Pat Buchanan as an anti-Semite and an “unpatriotic conservative.” At the time, I was reading Buchanan’s books and was being persuaded by his arguments on immigration, free trade, foreign policy and demographic change. The vast majority of people on the Right have moved away from National Review‘s position on foreign policy and have moved toward my position which is staying out of stupid wars.
- If memory serves, National Review was a huge proponent of free trade and globalization in the George W. Bush years. In the early 2000s, I was reading books like Pat Buchanan’s The Great Betrayal and the historian Correlli Barnett’s The Collapse of British Power and Clyde Prestowitz’s The Betrayal of American Prosperity. Once again, the vast majority of people on the Right have moved away from National Review‘s position on trade policy and toward my position.
- If memory serves, Peter Brimelow used to write for National Review about immigration before leaving to found VDARE. In the early 2000s, I read Pat Buchanan’s book The Death of the West, which is the reason why I initially became concerned about immigration and changing demographics. David Duke was drawing attention to illegal immigration and the collapse of the border in the 1970s. Once again, the vast majority of people on the Right have moved away from National Review‘s position on immigration and toward our position, which is the nationalist and populist position on the issue, which we were hammering a decade before Trump.
- If memory serves, National Review cancelled John Derbyshire for his infamous article The Talk: Non-Black Version. Derb was a little too honest about the persistence of racial differences in crime rates which is a talking point which is now commonplace in conservative media when pushing back against claims that the criminal justice system is institutionally racist. Nothing has changed on that front in twenty years except that the Left has embraced the systematic racism conspiracy theory to explain the stubborn persistence of racial differences and “equity” as the necessary remedy. Meanwhile, Derb has been vindicated by the quiet progress that has been made in genomics.
- If memory serves, National Review used to work with the SPLC and ADL to police the Right for anyone who tripped and fell afoul of the reigning -isms and -phobias. In the early 2000s, no one who was accused by progressive activists of being an -ist or a -phobe could be a respectable conservative, which is the origin of the Alt-Right. Today, the Left simply says the entire system is “racist” and everyone on the Right is a “white supremacist.” Today, the very same people who used to punish anyone who stepped out of line and who elevated non-entities and spent a generation cancelling anyone who was proven right now decry wokeness and cancel culture.
- If memory serves, Rich Lowry was a big fan of toppling Confederate monuments. The Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville was organized to support the Confederate monuments there and to push back against those on the Left who wanted to wipe out and destroy our heritage in general. The infamous torch march in Charlottesville was a march to the Thomas Jefferson monument at the University of Virginia. Today, it is clear who has been vindicated by subsequent events.
- If memory serves, political correctness run wild was a major “far right” cause twenty years ago. Millennials were being exposed to this “social justice” garbage in the early 2000s and started rebelling against it online way back then. In contrast, mainstream conservatism was asleep at the wheel for decades as progressive activists took over the public schools and college campuses and did nothing about the problem because it was one of the many “blessings of liberty.”
- If memory serves, White Nationalists were the first target of Antifa in the 1990s and 2000s. In the wake of Charlottesville, Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney said that Antifa were the good guys and there was no “moral equivalence” between the two sides. Public opinion on the Right has moved away from the Republican establishment and toward our position on the issue.
- If memory serves, White Nationalists were always skeptical of colorblindness, antiracism and changing demographics while conservatives naively assumed that America was “progressing” toward Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream. In the early 2000s, White Nationalists looked ahead and saw a slow boiling frog and an emerging anti-White dystopia with the United States going the way of South Africa and Whites becoming a degraded and persecuted minority. As often happens, the vast majority of people on the Right have moved away National Review‘s position on that issue and toward our position as we have steadily been vindicated by subsequent events.
- If memory serves, White Nationalists were alarmed by anti-whiteness decades ago while mainstream conservatives only discovered CRT last September. National Review now covers the kind of stories which were covered by the CofCC twenty years ago.
- If memory serves, White Nationalists were the first targets of Big Tech censorship and people who wanted to “punch Nazis” in 2017. Those of us who warned that censorship and leftwing street violence was a slippery slope at the time have been vindicated.
- If memory serves, it used to be the White Nationalists on the Right who loudly complained about unchecked corporate power and greed and the growth of monopolies while mainstream conservatives romanticized the free market. Public opinion on the Right has shifted away from National Review and toward our position.
- If memory serves, White Nationalists have always complained about OUR GREATEST ALLY and how it treats the Palestinians and the influence of the Israel Lobby and wealthy Jewish donors like Sheldon Adelson over American foreign policy. David Duke has long championed the Palestinian cause. Even in this area, public opinion on the Right is slowly trending away from Christian Zionism.
This is why it is so important for the Right to socially ostracize and cancel White Nationalists. They are a potent threat to mainstream conservatism. They have been proven right time and time again. The mainstream Right can’t debate White Nationalists because their whole worldview rests on a foundation of quicksand which is too easily exposed. They would end up losing the argument. By pushing White Nationalists beyond the pale, all the interesting and inquisitive people ended up there while all the grifters, careerist hacks and conformists populated the ranks of mainstream conservatism.
Note: There are plenty of cranks and grifters in the independent and non-mainstream Right, but there is also far more intellectual freedom and less groupthink. The lack of an orthodoxy enforced by corrupted institutions funded by wealthy donors is a key advantage.