Category Archive 'Andrew Sullivan'
03 Dec 2022
Andrew Sullivan writes:
In 1971, the proportion of Londoners who were “White British” was 86.2 percent. Fifty years later, it’s 36.8 percent. That’s not a population change; it’s an entire paradigm shift.
Some of the friends I saw last week love this. “I cannot tell you how happy it makes me,” one told me, “that I can go around London and never hear English spoken!” And there are times I see her point: London is far more dynamic, diverse, and prosperous than it was in my childhood. I love much of it too — I’d much rather live in the London of 2021 than 1971 — and feel pride in my native land’s capacity to be so inclusive. But this is little short of a cultural revolution in a tiny, already densely packed island, which knew minimal immigration for centuries until the 1950s and 1960s.
Philip Larkin wrote a poem in 1972, “Going, Going,” about the pace of change in his native land:
It seems, just now,
To be happening so very fast;
Despite all the land left free
For the first time I feel somehow
That it isn’t going to last
He was talking about putting economic and population growth before cultural and environmental stability, and not specifically about demographic change (though his views on the latter were similar, if not downright reactionary).
And that will be England gone,
The shadows, the meadows, the lanes,
The guildhalls, the carved choirs.
But the change he lamented was utterly trivial compared with what is happening now, let alone what is now baked in for the next few decades. The phrase “great replacement” is rightly abhorred for its racist, anti-Semitic inspirations. Larkin eschewed any idea of a conspiracy of some kind:
Most things are never meant.
This won’t be, most likely;
But an accidental revolution is still a revolution. And I would just ask those who rightly denigrate the term “great replacement” to provide an alternative phrase to describe a city which was 87 percent “White British” a half-century ago and 36 percent today? It’s the kind of demographic change only previously seen in other parts of the world in times of plague, invasion, or campaigns of ethnic cleansing.
And then I think of George Orwell’s passionate defense of Englishness, his fusion of that patriotism with socialism, his detestation of the kind of left elites who now foment not just demographic but cultural revolution out of hatred of the past, performative virtue-signaling and thinly veiled contempt for so many of their stodgier countrymen. I think of his conviction that “it needs some very great disaster, such as prolonged subjugation by a foreign enemy, to destroy a national culture.”
Orwell backed huge structural changes in British society in 1941 and yet insisted that a nation could retain its cultural integrity:
The Stock Exchange will be pulled down, the horse plough will give way to the tractor, the country houses will be turned into children’s holiday camps, the Eton and Harrow match will be forgotten, but England will still be England, an everlasting animal stretching into the future and the past, and, like all living things, having the power to change out of recognition and yet remain the same.
I hover between these two visions of pessimism and optimism as I watch the English-speaking world transform.
Let me offer a quotation of my own.
“Practically, What have you to recommend? I answer at once, Nothing. The whole current of thought and feeling, the whole stream of human affairs, is setting with irresistible force in that direction. The old ways of living… are breaking down all over Europe, and are floating this way and that like haycocks in a flood. Nor do I see why any wise man should expend much thought or trouble on trying to save their wrecks. The waters are out and no human force can turn them back, but I do not see why as we go with the stream we need sing Hallelujah to the river god.”
–James FitzJames Drephen, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” 1874.
Andrew says that he hovers between pessimism and optimism, but that’s complete malarkey.
When today’s Trans-Atlantic Community of Fashion runs off the tracks, effects another atrocity, delivers “un autre jolie cadeau de la Révolution française,” you will always find Andrew in the front row of the media choir warbling Hallelujahs to the river god.
Andrew was once, long ago, professionally conservative, but he had another, deeper affiliation, and between Conservatism and Sodomy there was ultimately no contest. Going over to the other side was de rigeur for affiliates of Andrew’s subculture, and Andrew will never ever be found dying in defense of any hill assailed by what Curtiss Yarvon likes to call “the Cathedral.”
Andrew is glib. Andrew is clever. But Andrew is not tough.
It is enormously ironic that even timid little Andrew, with his fondness for performing ceremonial nods in the direction of his long-discarded conservatism was unfortunate enough to provoke the Woke Inquisition which brutally liquidated him from New York Magazine despite his in-the-end invariably reliable Gleichshaltung.
It just goes to show that the Revolution/”the river god” is a jealous and unkind deity.
11 Sep 2022
Apart from the gratuitous (and blindly partisan) dumping on Trump, Andrew was in his best form, doing a fine job of eulogizing Queen Elizabeth that even we rebellious colonials can appreciate.
Elizabeth Windsor was tasked as a twenty-something with a job that required her to say or do nothing that could be misconstrued, controversial, or even interestingly human — for the rest of her life.
The immense difficulty of this is proven by the failure of almost every other member of her family — including her husband — to pull it off. We know her son King Charles III’s views on a host of different subjects, many admirable, some cringe-inducing. We know so much of the psychological struggles of Diana; the reactionary outbursts of Philip; the trauma of Harry; the depravity of Andrew; the agonies of Margaret. We still know nothing like that about the Queen. Because whatever else her life was about, it was not about her.
Part of the hard-to-explain grief I feel today is related to how staggeringly rare that level of self-restraint is today. Narcissism is everywhere. Every feeling we have is bound to be expressed. Self-revelation, transparency, authenticity — these are our values. The idea that we are firstly humans with duties to others that will require and demand the suppression of our own needs and feelings seems archaic. Elizabeth kept it alive simply by example.
With her death, it’s hard not to fear that so much she exemplified — restraint, duty, grace, reticence, persistence — are disappearing from the world. As long as she was there, they were at the center of an idea of Britishness that helped define the culture at its best. Perhaps the most famous woman in the world, she remained a sphinx, hard to decipher, impossible to label. She was not particularly beautiful or dashing or inspiring. She said nothing surprising. She was simply the Queen. She showed up. She got on with it. She was there. She was always there.
Whatever else happened to the other royals, she stayed the same. And whatever else happened in Britain — from the end of Empire to Brexit — she stayed the same. This is an achievement of nearly inhuman proportions, requiring discipline beyond most mortals. Think of a year, 1992, in which one son, Andrew, divorced, a daughter-in-law, Sarah Ferguson was seen cavorting nude in the tabloids, a daughter, Anne, separated, another son’s famously failed marriage, Charles’, dominated the headlines, and your house burns down. Here is how Her Majesty “vented”:
1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis.’
Dry, understated, with the only vivid phrase ascribed to a correspondent. Flawless.
She was an icon, but not an idol. An idol requires the vivid expression of virtues, personality, style. Diana was an idol — fusing a compelling and vulnerable temperament with Hollywood glamor. And Diana, of course, was in her time loved far more intensely than her mother-in-law; connected emotionally with ordinary people like a rockstar; only eventually to face the longterm consequences of that exposure and crumble under the murderous spotlight of it all.
Elizabeth never rode those tides of acclaim or celebrity. She never pressed the easy buttons of conventional popularity. She didn’t even become known for her caustic wit like the Queen Mother, or her compulsively social sorties like Margaret. The gays of Britain could turn both of these queens into camp divas. But not her. In private as in public, she had the kind of integrity no one can mock successfully.
You can make all sorts of solid arguments against a constitutional monarchy — but the point of monarchy is precisely that it is not the fruit of an argument. It is emphatically not an Enlightenment institution. It’s a primordial institution smuggled into a democratic system. It has nothing to do with merit and logic and everything to do with authority and mystery — two deeply human needs our modern world has trouble satisfying without danger.
17 Dec 2021
Andrew Sullivan goes back and forth between being a totally dishonest noisy shill for the Community of Fashion Left (Homintern Division) and being a fair-minded and accurate editorialist and acute observer.
[I]nterest rates are headed back up — just as the massive debt incurred by the federal government is compounding. In this climate, the idea that you can pass a big Covid stimulus, a huge infrastructure bill and a massive new spending bill with a 50-50 balance in the Senate seems, to put it mildly, overly-ambitious. And all along, Biden has shown himself unable to sell what he was proposing even to his own party, let alone the country. He even stepped on his sole bipartisan triumph. At the very moment he could have declared he’d done what Trump couldn’t on infrastructure — Trump’s core issue — Biden bungled it. I’ve never witnessed a president announce a breakthrough in a major bill and then, in the presser for it, swear he wouldn’t sign it any time soon.
The source of this drift, in my view, is that the administration made a huge miscalculation at the very beginning. They somehow interpreted a modest victory in the Electoral College, shocking losses in the House, and a fluke tie in the Senate as a remit for a big government revolution. And in their media cocoon, no one was going to tell them otherwise. Over-promising and under-delivering is bad politics. That may be one reason support for Biden among the young has plummeted 13 percent since the spring to below 50, and his support among Independents has cratered as well. He has the lowest ratings of any new president since polling began — apart from Trump.
We need also to be frank about Biden. He’s too old to be president, and most people sense this. He was elected because he was someone clearly not as toxic to the electorate as most of the other more radical Dems. But in office, this has been shown to be a chimera. There is nothing to distinguish him in policy from the far left.
His administration has embraced race and sex discrimination in every part of the federal government; he has endorsed the subordination of biological sex to gender identity in the law; his goal in immigration policy is to enable mass migration, not stop it. His administration routinely deploys the hideous acronyms of woke language — “equity,” “Latinx,” “BIPOC,” “LGBTQIA+” — and any return to plain English and common sense violates their commitment to “social justice.” Just watch Biden repeat the nonsense word “LatinX” in public. It’s pitiable.
Just yesterday it was reported that his administration will offer bonuses to Medicare doctors who “create and implement an anti-racism plan.” An “anti-racism plan” means doctors must now view “systemic racism” as a health issue, and deny any biological differences in health between human genetic sub-populations. This is ideology, not science. Biden views people as groups first, individuals second. That’s why he decided on the racial and gender identity of his vice-president and his top Supreme Court nominee before he even considered the individual pick.
The Democrats are a party fronted by an exhausted generation in their 70s and 80s — intimidated by an elite class of indoctrinated twenty-somethings. The idea that Biden can run again in 2024, when he would be 82, and be able to run the country even when he turns 86, is a non-starter. This is Andropov territory. The idea that Kamala Harris could succeed him and win is more preposterous yet. And this is a major problem.
A first-term administration with no credible candidate for a second term is the lamest of ducks. It quacks and flaps and flails and never gets off the ground. If the Dems lose the 2022 midterms in a landslide, as seems more than a little likely, the duck will have expired completely. In my view, the Democrats need to start looking frantically for a standard bearer who stands a chance in 2024. Biden doesn’t. Harris has lower approval ratings as veep than anyone in 30 years.
The Biden administration is weakest, it seems to me, on the issue of competence. This was one central reason people voted for him — to move past the improvised chaos of the previous four years. But in several key areas, incompetence seems more accurate a description. Inflation has emerged as a big issue, and Biden just keeps saying it isn’t happening, is the fault of greedy oil companies, or will soon go away. The chaos of the Afghanistan withdrawal — however defensible — self-evidently caught the administration off-guard. The Southern border — where almost two million migrants tried to enter this past year — is a shit-show. The pandemic remains a wild card.
Well, there’s no denying it. The democrats have screwed the pooch and even Andrew admits as much.
21 Mar 2021
Ed Driscoll calls it precisely: WE’VE DESCENDED INTO SOME SORT OF BIZARRE HELL-WORLD IN WHICH ANDREW SULLIVAN IS A VOICE OF SANITY.
[The Atlanta massage parlor shootings] story has… been deeply instructive about our national discourse and the state of the American mainstream and elite media. This story’s coverage is proof, it seems to me, that American journalists have officially abandoned the habit of attempting any kind of “objectivity” in reporting these stories. We are now in the enlightened social justice world of “moral clarity” and “narrative-shaping.”
Here’s the truth: We don’t yet know why this man did these horrible things. It’s probably complicated, or, as my therapist used to say, “multi-determined.” That’s why we have thorough investigations and trials in America. We only have one solid piece of information as to motive, which is the confession by the mass killer to law enforcement: that he was a religious fundamentalist who was determined to live up to chastity and repeatedly failed, as is often the case. Like the 9/11 bombers or the mass murderer at the Pulse nightclub, he took out his angst on the source of what he saw as his temptation, and committed mass murder. This is evil in the classic fundamentalist sense: a perversion of religion and sexual repression into violence.
We should not take the killer’s confession as definitive, of course. But we can probe it — and indeed, his story is backed up by acquaintances and friends and family. The New York Times originally ran one piece reporting this out. The Washington Post also followed up, with one piece citing contemporaneous evidence of the man’s “religious mania” and sexual compulsion. It appears that the man frequented at least two of the spas he attacked. He chose the spas, his ex roommates said, because he thought they were safer than other ways to get easy sex. Just this morning, the NYT ran a second piece which confirms that the killer had indeed been in rehab for sexual impulses, was a religious fanatic, and his next target was going to be “a business tied to the pornography industry.”
We have yet to find any credible evidence of anti-Asian hatred or bigotry in this man’s history. Maybe we will. We can’t rule it out. But we do know that his roommates say they once asked him if he picked the spas for sex because the women were Asian. And they say he denied it, saying he thought those spas were just the safest way to have quick sex. That needs to be checked out more. But the only piece of evidence about possible anti-Asian bias points away, not toward it.
And yet. Well, you know what’s coming. Accompanying one original piece on the known facts, the NYT ran nine — nine! — separate stories about the incident as part of the narrative that this was an anti-Asian hate crime, fueled by white supremacy and/or misogyny. Not to be outdone, the WaPo ran sixteen separate stories on the incident as an anti-Asian white supremacist hate crime. Sixteen! One story for the facts; sixteen stories on how critical race theory would interpret the event regardless of the facts. For good measure, one of their columnists denounced reporting of law enforcement’s version of events in the newspaper, because it distracted attention from the “real” motives. Today, the NYT ran yet another full-on critical theory piece disguised as news on how these murders are proof of structural racism and sexism — because some activists say they are.
24 Feb 2021
Michael Anton (famous for the 2016 “Flight 93 Election” essay) reflects on all the arm-twisting going on anent acceptance of the 2020 Election’s legitimacy and he has plenty of intelligent observations.
Recently, I appeared as a guest on Andrew Sullivan’s podcast. Sullivan is vociferously anti-Trump, so I expected us to disagree—which, naturally, we did. But I was surprised by the extent to which he insisted I assent to his assertion that the 2020 election was totally on the level. That is to say, I wasn’t surprised that Sullivan thinks it was; I was surprised by his evident yearning to hear me say so, too.
Which I could not do.
Sullivan badgered me on this at length before finally accusing me of being fixated on the topic, to which I responded, truthfully, that I was only talking about it because he asked. As far as I’m concerned, the 2020 election is well and truly over. I have, I said, “moved on.”
So I thought. Then I received two emails from a friendly acquaintance who is a recognized Republican expert on elections that suggested he, too, is troubled by my lack of belief. Then came two other data points, which I noticed only after the first draft this essay had been completed. Ramesh Ponnuru snarked (snark seems to be the go-to, indeed the only, device his in literary quiver) that one of the anomalies I cited in my most recent article in the Claremont Review of Books had been “debunked” by the partisan left-wing FactCheck.org. While I appreciate the insight into the sources from which National Review editors get their “facts” these days, the quote provided admits that the statistic I cited is, well, accurate. Ponurru naturally ignores all of the other points raised in my earlier article.
Jonathan Chait wrote yet another (his 12th?) article denouncing me, for this same sin of disbelief. Why did he bother? Is there even a remote chance that a single one of his New York magazine readers either read my article or encountered its argument? Or is he worried that the “narrative” of the election is so fragile that it needs to be shored up?
I wanted to move on, I really did. But when Left (Chait), center (Sullivan), faux-right anti-conservative ankle-biter (Ponnuru), and genuine, if establishment, Right (my correspondent) all agree that my lack of belief is a problem, I wondered why this should be so, and the following observations came to mind. Read the rest of this entry »
17 Jul 2020
Andrew is bending over backwards acrobatically to be nice about it, but he clearly didn’t fall. He was pushed.
What has happened, I think, is relatively simple: A critical mass of the staff and management at New York Magazine and Vox Media no longer want to associate with me, and, in a time of ever tightening budgets, Iâ€™m a luxury item they donâ€™t want to afford. And thatâ€™s entirely their prerogative. They seem to believe, and this is increasingly the orthodoxy in mainstream media, that any writer not actively committed to critical theory in questions of race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity is actively, physically harming co-workers merely by existing in the same virtual space. Actually attacking, and even mocking, critical theoryâ€™s ideas and methods, as I have done continually in this space, is therefore out of sync with the values of Vox Media. That, to the best of my understanding, is why Iâ€™m out of here.
Two years ago, I wrote that we all live on campus now. That is an understatement. In academia, a tiny fraction of professors and administrators have not yet bent the knee to the woke program â€” and those few left are being purged. The latest study of Harvard University faculty, for example, finds that only 1.46 percent call themselves conservative. But thatâ€™s probably higher than the proportion of journalists who call themselves conservative at the New York Times or CNN or New York Magazine. And maybe itâ€™s worth pointing out that â€œconservativeâ€ in my case means that I have passionately opposed Donald J. Trump and pioneered marriage equality, that I support legalized drugs, criminal-justice reform, more redistribution of wealth, aggressive action against climate change, police reform, a realist foreign policy, and laws to protect transgender people from discrimination. I was one of the first journalists in established media to come out. I was a major and early supporter of Barack Obama. I intend to vote for Biden in November.
It seems to me that if this conservatism is so foul that many of my peers are embarrassed to be working at the same magazine, then I have no idea what version of conservatism could ever be tolerated. And thatâ€™s fine. We have freedom of association in this country, and if the mainstream media want to cut ties with even moderate anti-Trump conservatives, because they wonâ€™t bend the knee to critical theoryâ€™s version of reality, thatâ€™s their prerogative. It may even win them more readers, at least temporarily. But this is less of a systemic problem than in the past, because the web has massively eroded the power of gatekeepers to suppress and control speech. I was among the first to recognize this potential for individual freedom of speech, and helped pioneer individual online media, specifically blogging, 20 years ago.
And this is where Iâ€™m now headed.
And he’s right: if an anti-Trump, anti-Bush Quizling ersatz conservative, who additionally plays for the wrong team, is not an acceptable token in Establishment journalism today, things have reached one helluva pass. Andrew, of course, needs to sit back and reflect on his own part, in the role of sell-out, in letting matters proceed so far.
Andrew finds himself rather in the position of the late German pastor Martin NiemÃ¶ller:
“They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
06 Jun 2020
The once-conservative Andrew Sullivan is now paying the turncoat’s price. New York Magazine pays his salary presently, and it has become clear that New York Magazine is keeping Andrew muzzled and on a tight leash.
There is, you see, always some danger that Andrew may reflexively lapse and produce an honest and well-reasoned appraisal of current events. This week’s current events consist of nation-wide violence and looting produced by well-financed and well-organized radical agitation, abetted by the national media, with the death of “Five Felony Convictions” George Floyd while in the hands of the police as the pretext.
Andrew will fight like a tiger for the honor of Sodomy, and he ankle bites real conservatives like a hydrophobic chihuahua but, even Andrew has to live, and he would transgress the Left’s sacred taboos concerning racial grievance at his own peril. That comfortable seat at the Establishment Table comes with a price: his integrity, his soul.
(Cockburn, at the Spectator, is mercilessly derisive.)
What has happened to New York media? Just as the New York Times was experiencing its own Inner Mongolia Moment over the now notorious Sen. Tom Cotton â€˜Send in the Troopsâ€™ op-ed, the Maoists at New York magazine were going after their best columnist, Andrew Sullivan.
Sullivan revealed on Twitter yesterday that his column wouldnâ€™t be appearing. The reason? His editors are not allowing him to write about the riots.
What has happened to New York media? Just as the New York Times was experiencing its own Inner Mongolia Moment over the now notorious Sen. Tom Cotton â€˜Send in the Troopsâ€™ op-ed, the Maoists at New York magazine were going after their best columnist, Andrew Sullivan.
Sullivan revealed on Twitter yesterday that his column wouldnâ€™t be appearing. The reason? His editors are not allowing him to write about the riots.
Presumably Sullivanâ€™s editors are frightened that he might make the radically bourgeois point that looting and violence are wrong.
Cockburn understands that Sullivan is not just forbidden from writing for the New York magazine about the riots; his contract means he cannot write on the topic for another publication. He is therefore legally unable to write anything about the protests without losing his job â€” at the magazine that, in 1970, published Radical Chic, Tom Wolfeâ€™s brilliant and controversial excoriation of progressive piety. Itâ€™s the bonfire of the liberals!
Who cares about the First Amendment? Not the Maoists who are marching through NYCâ€™s media institutions. Safetyism is their creed. Sullivan may be a very small â€˜câ€™ conservative, in some ways, but he is really a committed liberal â€” an Obama-loving gay man who thinks that Trumpâ€™s â€˜dangerous fantasiesâ€™ threaten America. …
Sullivan, a source close to New York magazine reveals, has to have his work vetted by sensitive junior editors to make sure it doesnâ€™t trigger them. If it passes their sniff testing, it can be published.
25 Apr 2020
Andrew can’t take much more of this sitting around at home, reading books, and binge-watching Battlestar Gallactica. It’s all just too stressful for the poor chap.
This Friday’s column begins:
I began to lose it this week.
I know, I have it very easy. Iâ€™m not required to put myself at risk every day as a hospital or essential worker. Iâ€™m still employed. Iâ€™ve got some savings, and donâ€™t have to worry about basic survival. I get food delivered. I havenâ€™t lost any family members or friends from COVID-19 (though I did lose my dad in a horrible accident, and couldnâ€™t get to the burial). My apartment gets plenty of sun and I have two dogs who love me. I get a couple of good walks in a day, and have plenty to read. I donâ€™t have kids. I have direct, personal experience of living through a plague once before in my life.
All of that should make me a prime candidate to hang in, take this period as a disciplinary exercise, and generally be a good citizen. And I have been â€” I havenâ€™t had any physical human contact for two months now, I wear a mask everywhere, I use rubber disposable gloves for groceries, I keep my six-feet distance so far as I can, even though itâ€™s impossible in my neighborhood to walk on a sidewalk or in a park and not be accosted by joggers, who routinely come within inches of my face. I have no intention of breaking any of these rules, although I am tempted by homicide if any of these fit, entitled motherfuckers actually spit on the ground near me.
But I can recognize signs of psychological and physical stress, and Iâ€™m beginning to lose it. This week, for some reason, Wednesday was a bad day. Or at least I think it was Wednesday. What day is it again?
My sleep patterns are totally screwed up, and I find myself waking up tense several times a night, or crashing out for 10 or 12 hours at a time. I wake up and want to go back to sleep. My appetite is waning, and my body longs for some weights to push and pull. My teeth grind all night long and my jaw is tense. I have all the time in the world to read and write, and yet I find myself anesthetized with ennui, procrastinating and distracting myself. Yes, I scan the news every day, often hourly, to discern any seeds of progress.
And hereâ€™s the thing: I canâ€™t see much on the horizon.
On the whole, I think it’s just as well that Andrew missed the plague in London in Pepys’ time, Waterloo, WWI, and the Blitz.
17 Sep 2018
Andrew Sullivan, in last Friday’s weekly editorial, says “America Desperately Needs a Healthy Conservatism,” and tells us what he thinks that consists of.
In todayâ€™s America, this conservatism is completely under siege. The left will increasingly tolerate nothing that gets in the way of what it calls â€œsocial justice,â€ which far too often reduces individuals to their racial or class or gender identities rather than their merits, or character, or talents. The conservative approach to a multicultural and multiracial society is to keep our focus on the individual and do whatâ€™s best to help every individual, regardless of their race, gender, or whatever, to be part of our shared liberal democratic inheritance. Conservatism is about enfolding the new into the old, sustaining a societyâ€™s coherence and cohesion, while being extremely tough on particular injustices against particular individuals, vigilant about corruption, and anguished when the criminal justice system loses legitimacy, because of embedded racism.
But conservatism is more deeply besieged by the Republican Party, its alleged harbor. If you consider the themes Iâ€™ve emphasized above, it becomes clearer that the GOP is not only not conservative, but actually dedicated to destroying that tradition. Republicans pursue the ideology of free markets and lower and lower taxation, regardless of its brutal assault on fiscal solvency, human dignity, social cohesion, and community life. They have nominated and protected a president who assaults the norms that conservatives revere, has contempt for existing institutions and sees the rule of law as a means to advance his own interests, rather than that of the society as a whole.
This is a man and a party that has such disdain for conserving anything that it is actively despoiling our landscape, enabling a climate catastrophe. It is a party that has generated crippling and everlasting debt â€” even in good economic times â€” in a way that makes a mockery of any compact between generations. It is a party that actively endorses cruelty as a policy tool, deploys fear as its prime political weapon, and insists that the opposite party has no legitimate right to govern at all. It is the party of torture, the absolute nemesis of the liberal inheritance, the party of corruption, propaganda, vote suppression, and barely masked bigotry.
I despise it because I am a conservative. I donâ€™t believe that conservatism can be revived on the right (it has been thankfully sustained, by default, by the Democrats in recent decades) until this hateful philistine would-be despot and his know-nothing cult is gone. And by revived, I do not mean a return to neoconservatism abroad or supply side crack-pottery at home. The 1980s and 1990s are over. I mean a conservatism that can tackle soaring social and economic inequality as a way to save capitalism, restore the financial sector as an aid to free markets and not their corrupting parasite, a conservatism that will end our unending wars, rid the criminal justice system of its racial blind spots, defend liberal education and high culture against the barbarians of postmodernism and the well-intentioned toxins of affirmative action, pay down the debt, reform the corruption of religious faith, protect our physical landscape, invest in non-carbon energy, and begin at the local level to rebuild community and the spirit of American civil association.
Andrew’s thesis is summarized perfectly at the point where he writes:
The goal is not to stand athwart history and cry ‘Stop!’, as William F. Buckley put it. Itâ€™s to be part of the stream of history and say: slow it down a bit, will you?”
In essence, Andrew Sullivan is reacting with indignation and hostility to the populism of Donald Trump, but in the course of defining his own position of opposition to Trump, he makes it clear that his version of supposed Conservatism also rejects the Conservatism of William F. Buckley, Jr., Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan.
Andrew’s “Conservatism” is really the “Me, Too, Just a Little Less” style of Republicanism of Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, and all the Establishment, Country Club-style Republicans of the Bad Old Days before the Conservative Movement took over the GOP and equipped it with principles and a backbone.
Andrew’s Conservatism finds its compass, not in the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and the writings and debates of the framers, but in the editorial page of the New York Times.
Andrew’s Conservatism is intellectually uncritical. It accepts in every jot and tittle the consensus of the elite community of fashion. Junk science, Dualism, and the worship of Gaia, immolating billions to drive off this imaginary catastrophe or that? No problem. Andrew is on board.
Andrew’s Conservatism shares with our liberal establishment reliance on the radical hardcore Left as its conscience. Idealism and morality belong to that radical Left. Declining any of its edicts or demands endangers your moral standing and threatens the stability of society. We must wage war continually on intrinsically evil Bankers and Big Business. We must always regulate out of existence any stigmatized compound or element. We must always choose the emotional gesture expressing our love of Nature over energy or productivity, always disregarding crass calculations of costs and benefits.
We must become deficit hawks during any Republican Administration and deplore tax cuts. We must embrace Isolationism and Pacifism in our Foreign Policy, unless the Left wants to go after some reactionary regime.
Identifying exactly what is conservative in Andrew’s Conservatism is not easy. The best I can do is to point to Andrew’s implicit conviction that the national establishment inevitably is made up of the wisest and best people and therefore possesses the mandate of Heaven. Opposition to establishment culture and politics is intrinsically revolutionary and just plain bad form. Andrew’s Conservatism is really the Conservatism of the Vicar of Bray.
He tells us in the opening of his essay that he had just read Roger Scruton on Conservatism. If he did, he certainly was not really paying attention.
29 Oct 2017
This week, in his hebdomadal New York magazine piece, Andrew Sullivan was back to pure left-wing democrat partisan flackery. Just one little section, though, I thought, cried out for particular attention, the bit where Andrew sternly rebukes that lawless reprobate Donald Trump:
Almost all our liberal democratic norms and institutions are much weaker today than they were a year ago. Trump has not assaulted the Constitution directly. He has not refused a court order, so far. But he has obstructed justice in his firing of James Comey, and abused the spirit of the pardon power by using it for a public official who violated citizensâ€™ Constitutional rights, before he was even sentenced. In the most worrying case so far, he has refused to enforce the sanctions against Russia that were passed by a veto-proof margin by the Congress. I fear this is because his psyche cannot actually follow the instructions of anyone but himself. This is also why, after failing to repeal, replace or amend Obamacare, he has not faithfully executed the law, but actively sabotaged it. If he does not have his way, he will either sulk and refuse to do his constitutional duty, or he will simply smash whatever institution or law that obstructs his will. At some point, we may come to a more profound test of his ability to operate as just one of three equal branches of government. I think heâ€™ll fail it.
Yes, the forms of the Constitution remain largely intact after nine months. But the norms that make the Constitution work are crumbling. The structure looks the same, but Trump has relentlessly attacked their foundations. Do not therefore keep your eyes on the surface. Put your ear to the ground.
This is pretty rich stuff coming from illegal immigrant Andrew Sullivan who managed to successfully defy for most of two decades the 1987 ban on entry to the United States by HIV-infected persons. Sullivan managed to elude deportation, despite being diagnosed with HIV in 1993 (the same year the ban on immigration was statutorily re-affirmed) using Blat.
Andrew was then editor of The New Republic, a very influential and big deal position, and he was consequently, despite his contagious and potentially fatal, perverse-sex-connected illness, able to swing an indefinitely renewable â€œOâ€ visa, a special status awarded to an alien “who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.”
All our liberal democratic institutions took another very big hit for Andrew in 2009, when the US Attorney working for the Obama Administration declined to pursue a marijuana charge against the British-born journalist because it would have resulted in the (probably permanent) deportation of a prominent commentator passionately devoted to the incumbent administration’s support. So flagrant was the special treatment Andrew Sullivan received that the US Magistrate Judge wrote an 11-page dissenting memorandum protesting what had occurred.
Boston Globe (12 September 2009):
[A] federal judge says Sullivan did not deserve preferential treatment from prosecutors who dropped a marijuana possession charge after the journalist was recently caught smoking a joint on a federally owned beach on Cape Cod.
In a strongly worded memorandum issued Thursday, US Magistrate Judge Robert B. Collings said the decision by Acting US Attorney Michael K. Loucks to dismiss a federal misdemeanor possession charge against Sullivan flouted a â€œcardinal principle of our legal systemâ€™â€™ – that all persons stand equal before the law.
Three other defendants charged with the same offense had to appear before Collings the same day as Sullivan, the judge noted. But Sullivanâ€™s case was the only one prosecutors did not pursue, out of concern that the $125 fine carried by the relatively minor offense could derail his US immigration application.
â€œIt is quite apparent that Mr. Sullivan is being treated differently from others who have been charged with the same crime in similar circumstances,â€™â€™ Collings wrote in the 11-page memorandum, adding that prosecutorsâ€™ rationale for the dismissal was inadequate.
Collings added with obvious irritation that he had no power to order prosecutors to pursue the case, and granted their motion to dismiss it. The fact that he did, however, â€œdoes not require the Court to believe that the end result is a just one,â€™â€™ he wrote.
So, tell us, Andrew, which outrage shakes the foundations of our liberal democratic norms and institutions more violently, the merciful (though obviously partisan) clemency sparing jail time to an 80-something-year-old Sheriff facing a contempt charge from a judicial political adversary (Joe Arpaio) or covert White House intervention to quash a criminal drug possession rap that might deport a useful journalistic ally (you)?
21 Oct 2017
Andrew is a very mixed bag. He can be brilliantly perceptive, hitting the nail right on the head. And he can be an intellectually conformist sheep, swallowing the current leftist spin hook, line, and sinker. And Andrew can go both ways in the very same editorial.
For example, this week, Andrew correctly identifies the democrats’ huge political vulnerability.
For me, as regular readers know, few things seem as ominous as the fate of free speech in the West. In democratic countries without a First Amendment, writers and speakers are now routinely hauled into court for hurting someoneâ€™s feelings or violating some new PC edict. In Canada, it is now a crime to use pronouns that have served the English language well enough for centuries, if you are not careful. You are compelled by law to say â€œzeâ€ or â€œxeâ€ or â€œveâ€ or an endlessly proliferating litany of gobbledygook â€” â€œ(f)aer,â€ â€œe/ey,â€ â€œperselfâ€ â€” invented out of thin air by postmodern transgenderists. Justin Trudeau doesnâ€™t just want you to be criminalized for saying things he regards as â€œhate,â€ he wants to use the criminal law to force you to say things you donâ€™t believe in and canâ€™t even remember.
In Britain, meanwhile, it is now a criminal offense to post something on social media that â€œis perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice.â€ â€œHostilityâ€ is defined thus: â€œill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike.â€ In other words, if you â€œdislikeâ€ some idea, and someone else asserts your view is driven by â€œunfriendlinessâ€ to a member of a minority, you are breaking the law. There is effectively no free speech left in the U.K. that isnâ€™t subject to a criminal veto by someone seeking to make trouble or permanently primed to take offense. And that is not to speak of the chilling effect such laws have on others too intimidated to open their mouths at all.
In America, thanks to Thomas Jefferson et al., such policing of minds and thoughts by the government is forbidden. So the illiberal left and reactionary right find other ways. Our president believes â€œitâ€™s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write.â€ He also thinks he can coerce people into saying â€œMerry Christmasâ€ or standing for the national anthem. (Iâ€™ve decided to reverse my previous custom and always say â€œHappy Holidaysâ€ and always kneel for the anthem.) The GOP candidate for the Senate from Alabama â€” supported by every other GOP senator â€” believes that NFL players are actually breaking the law by using their First Amendment rights, and that Muslims should be barred from public office. And then the worst news on this front all year: â€œNearly half of voters, 46 percent, believe the news media fabricate news stories about President Donald Trump and his administration.â€ That rises to 76 percent of Republicans. Twenty-eight percent of all voters â€” and 46 percent of Republicans â€” believe that the government should be able to remove the licenses from outlets that criticize the president. The First Amendment lives; but the beliefs and practices and norms that buttress it are atrophying very fast.
Many now demand, for example, that young-adult fiction conform to their ideology â€¦ or they will destroy a book before it is even published and before they have even read it. That just happened to a book written by Laura Moriarty, called American Heart, which was subjected to a social-media version of book-burning. Kirkus originally gave the book a glowing review, and then retracted it under pressure, then got the reviewer to rewrite it. Vulture interviewed the editor of Kirkus Reviews about the flap. Money quote:
â€œObviously we donâ€™t like having to make corrections after the publication of a review,â€ [Kirkusâ€™s editor-in-chief Claiborne Smith] adds. â€œThe plan is to beef up our editing of reviews in this section, to have further eyes before it goes to print.â€
In the future, I ask, is the goal that no problematic book will escape un-called-out?
â€œThatâ€™s certainly the goal!â€ Smith says, with the caveat that Kirkusâ€™s critics arenâ€™t infallible. â€œI mean, weâ€™re human beings.â€
Or look at what happened to a speaker from the ACLU at the College of William & Mary in Virginia a couple of weeks back. She came to give a talk about â€” yes! â€” free speech, only to be shouted down by the usual mob, who were at least honest enough to chant: â€œLiberalism Is White Supremacy,â€ and â€œThe Revolution Will Not Uphold Your Constitution.â€ They physically prevented the speaker from even talking one-on-one with those who were interested in a dialogue.
The unity of the far left and the Trump right on this is as striking as it is depressing. What they share is a contempt for liberal democracy. Truth to both of them is merely an instrument of power. Instead of relying on an open exchange of ideas in order to determine the always-provisional truth, both sides (yes, both sides) insist that they already know the truth and need simply to acquire the power to impose it on everyone else. Somewhere, Thomas Jefferson weeps.
And then Andrew proceeds to tell us just how wonderful and enlightening the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick Vietnam War Documentary is. (Sigh!)
Try Mackubin Thomas Owens on that subject.
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