The Sloth of a Conservative
George H. Nash, in his definitive history of American conservatism, captures the conservative anti-communist resolve. “In this struggle, there were, according to [Frank S.] Meyer and other conservative cold warriors only two choices: ‘the destruction of Communism or the destruction of the United States and of Western civilization.’” 9 “Liberals might prefer to hope – serenely, pathetically, endlessly, futilely – that maybe now, maybe this time, maybe soon, the Communists would change their spots, cease to be committed revolutionaries, and settle down. Perhaps we could then have peaceful coexistence at last. Meanwhile let us negotiate, “build bridges,’ engage in cultural exchanges, climb to the summit. Come let us reason together.” “The Communist system is a conflict system; its ideology is an ideology of conflict and war …” says Robert Strausz-Hupe 10 Frank S. Meyer argued, the Communist “’is different. He thinks differently.’ He is not ‘a mirror image of ourselves’ Communism is a ‘secular and messianic quasi-religion’ which ceaselessly conditions its converts until they become new men totally dedicated to one mission: ‘the conquest of the world for Communism.’” Gerhart Niemeyer writes, “It was totally unrealistic to expect that Americans could ’communicate’ with a Communist mind that ‘shares neither truth nor logic nor morality with the rest of mankind.’” 11That was the way conservatives spoke: clear, uncompromising, hard-hitting, passionate, and without apologies. Today, we rarely hear conservatives talk in this manner, now that communism is defeated. Mr. Buckley opines “… for that reason I think conservatism has become a little bit slothful. It could be very decisive when the alternative was the apocalyptic reordering presented by the Soviet Union. . . . But in the absence of those challenges, there were attenuations.”
But, Mr. Buckley, what about the Islamic threat? We’ve had an attack on America as deadly as Pearl Harbor! The enemy is motivated by an ideology as pernicious as communism, hateful as Nazism, and dedicated as a Kamikaze. The Islamist Holy Grail is the nuclear destruction of an American city. Once again, what about the Islamic threat?
"Well," he says, "it lacks the formal face. It's detached from national dimensions. As such, it legitimately inquires into two things. No. 1: To what extent does this society elect to fight it? Because if it doesn't care that much about it then to hell with it. No. 2: Is this society pliant enough to come up with a formula to defend itself that nevertheless acknowledges the ancient restrictions on ideas? If I'm correct, there hasn't been an act of terrorism in the U.S. for four years, and that bespeaks not the absence of will by terrorists to damage but a lack of resources.”
Unfortunately, Mr. Buckley is not alone among conservatives. Too many conservatives are in denial. Yes, some conservatives (and a few non-conservatives) understand the Islamic threat. But most need to wake-up and face the danger in the world today: Islam. For an introduction to the problem, here are some references. Antiquated conservatives, like Mr. Buckley, are blind to a threat that dresses itself in religious garb, fails to wage conventional wars, and is, well, conservative in the sense that it looks back to the original practice of what appears (to some) to be just another monotheistic religion. Apparently, Mr. Buckley was a one-shot conservative unable to retool for the coming war. We will have to move forward without him.
Update: Glad to see I’m not alone on this!
Update 2: Here's another.