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One More Thing

Whenever I come across people like Dreher and Friedersdorf piously attacking movement types, it miraculously makes me want to stick up for the Dittoheads (quite an accomplishment.) ~Richard Spencer

Let’s suppose for a moment that I understand why Richard wants to do this. In this view, there are the “wishy-washy” and the strong, and Richard seems to define who counts as the “wishy-washy” according to the tendency to criticize members of the conservative movement. That is, they are “wishy-washy” in that they are not always willing to be team players and keep their mouths shut. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t make the critiques Rod and Conor have made any less correct, nor does it actually make “the Dittoheads” deserving of his defense. If the instinct in these instances is to rally to the cause of “the Dittoheads” against their often more-reasonable detractors, it raises the question of what alternative the alternative right is actually offering.

As for the question of proper language, there was a time when conservatives wrote books called The Ethics of Rhetoric. It might not hurt to reacquaint ourselves with the sort of restraint of the tongue that the ancients believed was imperative for bridling the passions and cultivating wisdom and virtue. I think it fair to say that Weaver would have found crude and insulting language directed toward women not only appalling in itself, but would have taken it as evidence of personal moral failure and deep civilizational rot. Those sympathetic to Levin’s better ideas, assuming that he has them, ought to have passed over this episode in an embarrassed silence and tried to limit the damage rather than celebrate his horrendous behavior as if it were an example to be imitated.

P.S. On a related point, I wanted to say something about Richard’s description of a “Jacksonian conservative”:

He might try to make time for the Permanent Things on occasion, but mainly he likes attacking lily-livered liberals.

To which John Lukacs had the answer 25 years ago:

Even though intellectuals of the American conservative movement were often more generous and less narrow-minded than were liberal intellectuals, they seldom hesitated to ally themselves with, and to seek the support of, some of the most uncouth and slovenly minded people and politicians. That was just the trouble. As Jonathan Swift said, certain people “have just enough religion to hate but not enough to love.” Many American conservatives, alas, gave ample evidence that they were just conservative enough to hate liberals but not enough to love liberty.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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