©2016 BY ILANA MERCER
Paul Gottfried’s essay, “Are Bannon’s Critics For Real?”, dispenses with the no-brainer that Steve Bannon, “Breitbart executive and Donald Trump adviser,” is a white nationalist. After all, argues Gottfried, Bannon “comes from the world of Washington politics and journalism,” not exactly a hotbed of white identity politics. It’s “not at all clear to me that those who write for Bannon’s website publication, some of whom are Orthodox Jews, have much to do with white identitarians who also use the term ‘Altright,'” contends Gottfried.
As co-originator of the Alternative Right concept and phrase, Gottfried is in the know.
His piece appeared on FrontPage Magazine, which openly debates taboo topics—from black-on-white crime (the predominate kind), to slavery (who abolished it; who still practices it), to Islam (it counsels conquest, not co-existence). And now neoconservatism, a deformation of conservatism drastically weakened, inadvertently, by Donald Trump.
Why inadvertently? As Barack Obama remarked recently (“a stopped clock” and all that stuff), President-elect Trump is not an ideologue. It’s a point made in my latest book, “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed”:
“Donald Trump is no ‘visionary’ vis-à-vis government. If anything, he’s practical and pragmatic. He wants a fix for Americans, not a fantasy. A healthy patriotism is associated with Trump’s kind of robust particularism—petty provincialism, if you like—and certainly not with the deracinated globalism of the neoconservative and liberal establishment. The Left calls it fascism; patriots call it nationalism. Donald Trump has the potential to be just the provincial, America Firster the doctor ordered.”
Bannon is also catching hell for some hearsay. He’s alleged to have complained about wealthy Jews raising “whiney brats.” Try this on for antisemitism. It’s a flashback. I’m seated at a café with my father. We’re being served by a rather animated waiter. I can’t recall how the conversation turned to Ashkenazi Jews, but our waiter let rip: “If only Hitler had killed all of them,” he fulminated.
The café was in Israel of my youth. The waiter was a Yemeni Jew. The time: Well before American political correctness had percolated around the world. The hatred our waiter had expressed for his East-European brethren was perfectly understandable to Israelis back then. When they disembarked from the airplanes sent by the Israeli government to airlift the Yemeni Jews to Israel, in 1949—Operation Magic Carpet it was called—these “brown” Jews, a lovely, refined, ancient community, were frequently sprayed with chemical decontaminants and showered with racial contempt by the “white” Jews who ran the country. I know not whether Israelis can get away with such politically improper expression these days, but we laughed mightily at our waiter’s hyperbole. For that’s all it was.
If our waiter is still alive, he’d probably second Steve Bannon’s alleged quip about the spoilt progeny of rich Jews. In heralding “the beginnings of an effective post-neoconservative Right,” Gottfried also singles out for scorn neoconservatives like Glenn Beck, Jonah Goldberg, writers for the Wall Street Journal, Rich Lowry, and “the perpetually pouting Ben Shapiro,” likening their intellectual heft to that of “community college drop-outs.”
Neoconservative historian Max Boot is another “favorite” of Gottfried. Boot has pride-of-place—not in a good way—in “The Trump Revolution”: On March 2, 2016, Boot, stumping for Stalin, told the New York Times he’d “sooner vote for Josef Stalin than vote for Donald Trump.”
Recounted, too, in “The Trump Revolution” is an account of National Review’s new-found tolerance for journalism favorable to the barbarism of Communist leader Leon Trotsky. In the June 3, 2003 issue, contributor Stephen Schwartz held up “Trotsky for special commendation.” Indeed, while maligning millions of Trump-supporting American populists, our “Against Trump” “exemplary conservatives” at National Review continued to make overtures to the Left, not least in embracing the Left’s version of history, herstory and history-from-below.
Faithful to this legacy, these “conservatives” now count among their greatest heroes the minor abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Major abolitionist and mass murderer John Brown is close to making the cut, at least in the eyes of National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson. Williamson “reached peak leftism” when he declared his sympathies were “more with John Brown than John Calhoun,” in an article titled “We Have Officially Reached Peak Leftism” (June 24, 2015).
In 1856, Brown’s free-soil activists snatched five pro-slavery settlers near Pottawatomie Creek, Kansas and split the captives’ skulls with broadswords, in an act of biblical retribution gone mad. In pondering the quality of the decrepit conservative brain trust, as Gottfried does, one has to wonder how smart was this establishment to come out as a collective in an attempt to overthrow a candidate so popular with the Republican base and beyond, as Trump was—still is. Pretty stupid, if you ask me.
One might say National Review has stood athwart historic conservatism, to borrow from magazine founder William F. Buckley’s famous mission statement to stand athwart history.