Note: we use that lead-in whenever we observe that someone prominent is making the same point, or points, that we’ve been making for some time, right here at our small, but increasingly influential think tank. We’re making a funny(1).
The great Jonah Goldberg at the still great National Review penned a flurry of paragraphs that all reiterated things that we’ve been saying right along. Goldberg is one of the most respected pundits in the world today, and one reason is that he is a great listener. As a result he actually hears a great deal. His arguments are generally deeper, more reasonable and more reasoned, and they carry greater weight, because he takes the necessary time and effort to find out what those who are arguing against him are actually saying. Then he takes the time to do the research necessary to understand what it means.
Needless to say, that is not the modus operandi of the left. They’ve found it way too easy to fall back on “You’re a racist! or: “You’re a sexist!” etc., because the media allow them to get away with it.
The other great thing about Goldberg: he very rarely resorts to tearing down another person. Unless, that is, the other person truly deserves a good tearing down. Then he does so with the best of them.
In this piece here,(2) Goldberg is talking about the American left — Progressives, as they like to refer to themselves — and their one-time fascination with Eugenics, that is, the pseudo-science concerned with “improving” the human race by weeding out “undesirables,” using various means.
Adolf Hitler, for example, was a big believer in Eugenics. So were most, if not all, the big-name leftists of the first two-thirds of the Twentieth Century. You’re quite familiar with one such believer — Robert (KKK) Byrd was a eugenicist, as were many if not most other members of the Ku Klux Klan. Many “progressive” eugenicists achieved high elective office in America, including one, Woodrow Wilson, who was elected, then re-elected President.
Let’s pick up some highlights of Goldberg’s essay. In one spot, Goldberg is responding to one Kevin Drum, who published an objection to Goldberg’s having brought up the left’s, and particularly the Democrat Party’s, historical fascination with Eugenics. Drum said the equivalent of “Hey! No fair! We don’t believe any of that stuff anymore!”
Goldberg responded with the following passages. We’ve added our own comments at the end of each (Note: the numbers before each of the Goldberg citations are taken directly from the text. Goldberg numbered his responses to Drum.):
5. Drum’s claim rings particularly odd considering that today’s progressives routinely invoke the very same original progressives as their inspiration. When Barack Obama clinched the Democratic nomination in 2008, he held a rally at the University of Wisconsin, where he proclaimed, “Where better to affirm our ideals than here in Wisconsin, where a century ago the Progressive movement was born?” Is it really so ridiculous to point out that those very same original Wisconsin progressives wanted to keep people like Barack Obama out of the country, never mind the Oval Office? [red emphasis added]
Nicely said, Mr. Goldberg! Be sure to read that last line. Goldberg is absolutely right about those long ago “Wisconsin progressives,” whom today’s Democrats so admire. The only thing I might add to that is: most progressives throughout the country — not just in Wisconsin — and for most of the Twentieth Century, would have kept Barack Obama out of this country if they could have.
For a very long time, we’ve been pointing out that the true home of racism — as traditionally understood in America: white animosity toward brown or black people, due to a perception of actual inferiority — is on the political left, not on the right.
America’s Conservatives and the Republican Party have a very long tradition of having accepted others of any kind of difference as actual equals, not just equals before the law. All real Civil Rights initiatives had their origins on the political right. All strenuous opposition to all Civil Rights initiatives came from the political left; Democrats.
This just makes sense, since the right political wing is the one largely concerned with not regulating people’s lives and affairs.
If you’re busy controlling others, as is the left’s primary impulse, you’re constantly making judgments as to the relative merits, the rightness or wrongness, the goodness or badness, the superiority or inferiority of this person or that one, of this group or that.
Before it became socially taboo to demonstrate one’s racism — well before political correctness, I might add — it was leftists, and their political wing, the Democrat Party, loudly and publicly proclaiming their belief in the inferiority of blacks, and it was Republicans working to give black Americans the rights and privileges as Americans-in-full that they were.
I shouldn’t have to say it, but there is so much historical ignorance in America today — even of the somewhat recent past — that I guess I need to: the major resistance to all Civil Rights initiatives came from the Democrat Party. All the most infamous segregationists were Democrats: Alabama Governor George Wallace, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, Sen. Byrd(3), Sen. John Sparkman, Sen. William Fullbright, Sen. Al Gore, Sr., and on, and on, and drearily, tiresomely on.
There has not been one single, solitary prominent Republican segregationist in the history of the country. There have been hundreds of prominent Democrat segregationists.
Here’s Goldberg again, to slam home the previous point:
6. As an intellectual matter alone, all this is worth discussing. For instance, the phrase “social Darwinism” continues to be thrown at the Right. But what people mean by social Darwinism was never a right-wing or conservative value. And the Hitlerite connotation of social Darwinism (which is the exact opposite of the libertarian connotation) far better describes a great many of the founding fathers of progressivism. For a more detailed discussion of this point, see my piece from that other magazine. [red emphasis added]
And slam home the point it does! We did a series in this blog (here’s the first installment) entitled: “Adolf Hitler – Right-Winger? Uhhh…No.” Goldberg’s paragraph, above, correctly juxtaposes Hitler with progressivism, aka: “leftism,” in the same thought space.(4)
Still more Goldberg:
8. This is a major personal peeve, but it’s also a serious point: Why are self-described progressives unburdened by their historical baggage but conservatives are shackled by theirs? If a Republican called himself a “modern Confederate,” liberals would rain hatred and scorn down upon him for associating with long-dead racists (and understandably so). But Hillary Clinton can freely call herself a “modern progressive” and she is immune from any charge that she is associating with long-dead racists. If intellectual history matters for the Right, it has to matter for the Left, too. [red emphasis added]
Thank you, Jonah Goldberg! For pointing this out too. Yes, we’ve been saying it for a very long time too! Because it’s a peeve of ours too. I suspect that the double standards and the dishonesty of the media and pop culture — in which this problem manifests itself so prominently — represent a pet peeve of quite a few of us on the right! And, it’s a really important point. Don’t, however, expect the hyper-lazy, reactionary, leftist legacy media to do the necessary work of researching and figuring all this out — or even of reading enough history to come across it! — as Goldberg has done.
Don’t you think that if a prominent candidate for public office calls him or herself a “Progressive” then someone in the dinosaur legacy media would think to take it upon himself to do some research into the term “progressive” itself?
Don’t hold your breath.
Finally, from Goldberg:
9. Relatedly, large swaths of the Left are in a frenzy to catalogue the historical roots of “white privilege.” If that project is only defensible when it inconveniences conservatives, then it is not a serious intellectual project at all. I think the “white privilege” stuff is wildly overdone and is often little more than a b.s. shakedown racket. But to the extent it’s serious, how can you ignore the deep roots the liberal welfare state has in explicit notions of white supremacy? [red emphasis added]
In the red highlighted area: Bingo!
(1) With that said, we do happen to know that, indeed, powerful, influential people do read — and contribute to — this blog. It’s kind of how and why we set it up. So that powerful, influential people could speak their minds with perfect anonymity.
I’ve locked horns with other people who have chided us for the supposedly low readership numbers on our blog. We are very happy with those numbers, because it’s not how many people are reading you, but rather who is reading you, and what they’re saying and doing subsequently. Let’s just say that we’re very happy with how all that is going as well. We purposefully do not publicize this blog in order to keep a low profile. Don’t worry, though: the people we want to read it, are reading it. 🙂
(2) The piece is Jonah Goldberg’s more-or-less weekly feature, called “The G-File.” In it, Goldberg often covers a range of topics, all in different sections. The edition we’re citing begins by talking about Donald Trump (Goldberg is not an admirer) and moves on to the topic on which we’ve focused here.
(3) Here for instance is a passage from a letter that future Senator Robert Byrd wrote to Democrat Senator Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi in 1944:
I shall never fight in the armed forces with a negro by my side … Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.— Robert C. Byrd, in a letter to Sen. Theodore Bilbo (D-MS), 1944Source: Wikipedia: Robert Byrd
It should be mentioned that this letter was written in 1944, well after it was well-known that black Americans had already fought with distinction, and died on the field of battle during World War II.
(4) I struggled with this phrase for a bit. I didn’t want to use the word “intellectual,” because Hilter, and his political co-thinkers on the left, were and are deeply anti-intellectual. Their ideology is all about putting a massive volume of words around the basest emotional urges — revenge, envy, power-lust, acquisitiveness — and calling it “intellectual.” To use the word “intellectual” would have, I think, overly dignified some really primitive thinking. But “thinking” it is — along the lines of “I-Think-I’ll-Slap-My-Neighbor-‘Cause-I’m-Generally-Torqued-Off-Today“-type thinking — but thinking all the same. Hence the hyper-jargony sounding “thought space.”