John Derbyshire and Paul Gottfried give the hard facts about soft conservatism


OCALA, Fla., February 21, 2014 — Imaging today’s American conservative movement without Roe v. Wade can be a difficult thing to do.

The 1973 Supreme Court decision which legalized first-trimester abortions nationwide has been a wellspring bar none for the worst sort of controversy. Even forty years after the ruling, our country stands far from widespread acceptance of abortion rights.

In an alternate reality where Roe v. Wade never existed, though, how might American conservatism function these days?

“Not much different,” John Derbyshire says to Communities Digital News. One of America’s more notable conservative commentators for decades, Derbyshire became a virtual household name in early 2012. This is when he was fired from his longtime post at the National Review. To make a long story short, his termination came about after alleged anti-racist activists took issue with one of Derbyshire’s articles. The piece dealt with black race relations and human intelligence. Although it was not published in National Review, the publication’s editors let Derbyshire go all the same.

Such a development prompted extensive criticism, and for many highlighted the increasingly waffling nature of center-right institutions.

Derbyshire continues: “The anti-abortion passion would be channeled to state-level fights.  Other conservative concerns — family, patriotism, small government, 2nd Amendment rights, etc. — would likely be unaffected, although it would be nice to think they might get some of the re-directed anti-abortion passion.”

Whatever the case might have been, it is difficult to deny that antiabortion radicalism costs the Republican Party precious public support. Aside from Roe v. Wade, however, the GOP has no shortage of troubling issues.

“I don’t mean to underestimate the problems of the genuine Right inside or outside the GOP,” Dr. Paul Gottfried tells CDN. An outspoken paleoconservative intellectual who recently retired from Elizabethtown College, his observations of the human condition have generated both accolades and animosity. Having befriended such figures as Richard Nixon and Herbert Marcuse, Dr. Gottfried’s views are not always easy to pin down. Perhaps the only constant is that he calls the shots as he sees them — with no apology.

“There’s litttle chance that my favorite presidential candidate (J.B. Sessions) will be nominated as the party’s choice,” Dr. Gottfried mentions. “But it’s impossible for me to feel sorry in any way for the GOP, as the party of WASPdom in full retreat. It’s the GOP which under Reagan and Bush II became the party of amnesty.”

Illegal immigration may prove an even more quarrelsome matter than abortion rights for future Republican politicos. With an electoral base that strongly opposes amnesty programs, and business-interest groups that want cheaper labor, there seems to be almost no middle ground. As with virtually all other issues, though, amnesty and abortion are defined by conservative-leaning press outlets.

In a broader sense, the contemporary right-wing establishment media have played a large role in churning up national sentiment against freethinking conservatives.

What impact has the rise of talk radio, cable news, and the Internet had on conservative intellectualism?

“The impact has I think been negative,” Derbyshire states. “Before the rise of those things, conservative intellectualism was argued out in books, essays, and conferences.  That kind of milieu is intellectually Darwinian:  the smartest, best-read, most persuasive conservatives become movement stars and leaders.  To engage with them you had to read a book, or a 2,000-word essay in National Review.

“After those things came up there were more opportunities for showmanship, hucksterism, and pedlars of patent medicine.  To engage with **them** you just have to slump in front of the TV, or surf a few blogs.”

Further specifying his views on immigration and the conservative movement, Dr. Gottfried claims that “Obama has been a model of efficiency in stopping unauthorized immigrants from crossing the border in comparison to W. Moreover, there is no civil rights legislation, including the establishment of the national commemoration of Martin Luther King’s birthday, in which the GOP has not been out in front cheering the advancement of the Left. Republican pols have got zilch in return and are even pilloried by black and Latino leaders and the media as racists.”

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