Saturday, April 7, 2018

“A Scoop Of What?”

     A couple of years ago, James Delingpole wrote an exceptional piece that expressed the tactical importance of standing on principle:

     In the Spectator recently, my old friend Toby Young described a dilemma which all those of us right-wing persuasion must face up to in the end: should you soften your position in order to find some common ground with people whose stupid political ideology you loathe and despise? Or should you stay true to your principles and risk being marginalised as, at best, unreasonable and, at worst, as a fruitcake, a crank, a dangerous extremist?

     Young was talking in particular about his battles with the hard-left educationalists who were trying to sabotage free schools like the one he helped set up in West London. Some parents urged him to take a more emollient line with his attackers. And for a moment Young was tempted:

     “Shouldn’t I offer to meet with the school’s opponents, such as the shop steward of the Ealing branch of the NUT [National Union of Teachers], and see if there were any concessions we could make that might secure their support?”

     If you’re cursed with a memory like mine, and if the title of this piece has piqued it, you might remember that article. If not, please read (or reread) it. It was unusually pungent and clear-sighted, especially for Delingpole. I’ll wait here until you’ve finished.

     What, so soon? My, my. Well, I’m sure any Gentle Reader of Liberty’s Torch would get the idea swiftly, so I’m not all that surprised. I’ve been in the habit of expressing the core idea this way:

If you pour a cup of wine into a barrel of sewage, it remains a barrel of sewage.
If you pour a cup of sewage into a barrel of wine, it becomes a barrel of sewage.

     Filth can contaminate purity. Purity cannot contaminate filth.

     Take a moment to consider that before we proceed.

     It’s in the nature of things that people seek to do better tomorrow than today. They look for opportunities to “move up.” This is especially the case when “moving up” involves in increase in one’s income and prestige, or an improvement in the conditions that conduce to high income and high prestige. For a writer, the critical consideration is audience: “Who is reading me, how numerous are they, and how much influence do they have on others who might be persuaded to read me as well?”

     So when writer X, currently laboring for peanuts at periodical publication Y, receives a solicitation from richer and more prestigious periodical publication Z, he’s likely to be strongly tempted. Few writers for periodicals make a lot of money. Thus, they tend to be easily seduced by such an offer. This is especially the case among op-ed writers for “think” magazines. Apparently something like that happened to Kevin Williamson, formerly of National Review Online and now formerly of The Atlantic.

     In case you don’t already know, the gig didn’t last. Williamson’s past “caught up with him,” in particular his rather strident views about abortion and the legal penalties he’d like to see visited upon unhappy mothers-to-be who have recourse to it. A number of his (former) colleagues at NRO and other conservative “think” periodicals are agog over his summary firing by The Atlantic.

     As is so often the case, Ace has the best take on it. The whole thing is worth your time, but here’s my favorite bit:

     Sacred Principles are, definitionally, Sacred.


     But now comes another company, The Atlantic, and it fires one of their Cocktail Circuit buddies, and suddenly not only is it okay to furiously wail about a corporate decision to squelch someone's free speech, but it is in fact now a Sacred Principle that we do so.

     Huh? How did that happen?

     How did pressuring and criticizing a corporation for its cavalier attitude towards the spirit of free speech (and yes, idiots, i know the First Amendment only applies to government action, which is why I'm referring to free speech generally) go from "thuggish" to "absolutely necessary"?

     Was it just that a buddy of the Corporate Cons got hit by leftist pressure tactics and corporate cowardice this time?

     Is that it all it takes to render a Sacred Principle non-operational? One of your Twitter Palz gets dinged?

     Or did you just get alarmed that rather than a company firing some Deplorable -- someone you don't know and wouldn't shake hands with if you could avoid doing so -- now you and your class was potentially at risk from corporations acting as catspaws for the left?

     Is that all it takes to rubbish your Sacred Principles?

     Are they really Sacred, then?

     That’s the meat of the matter, as far as the protests from the Right go. But I wouldn’t have decided to address this tempest in a teapot were it not for a much larger question, one that bears upon the Right’s approach to the institutions from which its ideological adversaries launch their salvoes.

     Purity cannot contaminate filth.

     There are several well-known media outlets that employ a great many left-liberal / “progressive” / social-fascist op-ed writers and one lonely kinda-sorta “conservative.” Perhaps the best known is the New York Times, which has followed that pattern since 1946, when Henry Hazlitt retired as its economics columnist. It is noteworthy that those token “conservatives” trend further to the left than any op-ed writer for a predominantly conservative outlet. Among their other signal characteristics, they frequently deride (usually gently) their more conservative colleagues and those colleagues’ views.

     It’s possible that leaning leftward and twitting their rightward colleagues are conditions of employment. At any rate, it wouldn’t surprise me. Why would a hard-left staff like that of the Times tolerate an unabashed, strongly principled conservative or libertarian among its ranks? He might corrupt the others! At best, he’d “lower the tone” in the op-ed boiler room.

     So when a leftist rag like The Atlantic solicits the interest of a Kevin Williamson, it’s more than likely that it will place limits on what he may say and how he may say it as a condition of employment. And indeed, Williamson’s first efforts for that publication were quite a distance from what his NRO audience would expect from him. Not that that was enough to save his gig when his previously emitted opinions about the criminality of abortion were discovered.

     Seriously, could anyone familiar with The Atlantic’s op-ed positions, tone, and readership have reasonably expected anything else? Could Williamson have expected anything else? Attempts by the Right to counter-infiltrate Leftist institutions always work out the same way: the infiltrator is hauled up and hanged with a maximum of fanfare. Kevin Williamson was no exception, nor should he have expected to be one.

     Leftist institutions such as The Atlantic are the ideological supreme commands of the enemy. They respect only power. They formulate and emit the General Orders to which the second and third-tier activists of the Left subsequently conform. When they seduce a conservative into their ranks, it’s with the intention of corrupting him, not debating or learning from him. We’ve known that for a long time. Since before the Journolist scandal, at any rate.

     Purity cannot contaminate filth.

     Not long ago, I wrote that thoroughly Left-corrupted institutions such as the government-run schools must be destroyed. They cannot be “saved;” their inherent dynamics are too powerful to reverse. I was serious then and I still am today. The Williamson / Atlantic foofaurauw provides a nice example.

     But this is equally a lesson for conservatives who, charmed by a solicitation from such an institution, hope to counter-infiltrate it and “turn it around.” You’re cruisin’ for a bruisin’, friends. You’ll come away scarred, embittered, and much the worse for wear. Those who run such a snake pit are far more likely to corrupt you.

     Purity cannot contaminate filth.


jb said...

Only one "Man" could have pentrated hell and come away unscathed, But He did not change the nature of hell, for hell won't permit it. It's perpetual, eternal hateful nature cannot permit any change.

The parallel is likewise even beyond He Who was, is and is to come. The nature of communism.marxism/socialism - whatever one chooses to call it, is the rejection of "the good."

Unfortunately, Williamson could not make a clear distinction. Being a neoconish, NRO #NeverTrumper'er, he had already made his bed.

His sort of "being released" from the Atlantic was of little surprise - even the commie left has some principles to which they adhere. He will find a gig somewhere . . . hopefully by then he will have learned something.

One sure thing about sewerage - another cup strengthens the whole mess. The Atlantic just did not desire cross-contamination in their pot of sewerage.



My quote is currently the top-of-the-page quote at A Herd of Turtles:

I do not compromise with cancer; I do not find common ground with gangrene. The Left must be fought and destroyed, or America dies.

The CEO of Twitter basically called for a civil war to seize power electorally. They've got a LONG GAME and are - without question - MISSIONARIES for their cause. Like the Terminator, they can't be bargained with, they can't be reasoned with... they absolutely will not stop, EVER, until the country has been turned Socialist.

Emmett Fitz-Hume said...

I have a hard time finding any sympathy for a man who thought the crocodiles weren't going to eat him, because he was ready to throw his fellows on the right into their jaws. The analogy presupposes that Kevin Williamson is Wine and not Vinegar. Or worse.

He is, after all, the man who wrote this:

"The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs. Forget your goddamned gypsum, and, if he has a problem with that, forget Ed Burke, too. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul."

Good riddance to him.