Brook vs. Buckley
Khatami, former President of Iran, spoke of tolerance at Harvard. Brook comments, “But there can be no “free exchange of ideas” between … between a brutal dictatorship and the free nation it seeks to annihilate.” However, Buckley is smitten with Khatami; he's impressed with the latter’s claim that “there is, actually, an overlap in teachings from the three world religions that descended from Abraham.” Buckley concludes that “What does have to happen is a softening of ideological positions. … We can make our modest demands, to the effect that Jesus, Moses, and Mohamed should co-exist without nuclear weapons in their portfolios.”
Back in the 1950s, here is how Conservatives spoke about the threat to civilization:
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.’” 11
Should we talk like this today given the enemy's ideology and history? Brook is fighting the intellectual and moral battle against today’s threat to civilization. Buckley has joined the appeasement axis and sees no fundamental difference that can’t be smoothed over by recycled platitudes. Some conservatives can’t retool for a theocratic enemy. We'll have to move ahead without them.