The Frumpurge And Immigration Reform
March 22, 2003, 04:00 AM
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One of many blessings of being liberated from my book on the teacher union is that I get to surf the web more, particularly in response to repeated requests that VDARE.COM establish some sort of weblog. Recently, I actually had enough time to waste a few minutes looking at National Review Online`s The Corner. The girlyboys seem to spend a lot of time congratulating each other there – and, of course, making frequent fawning references to William F. Buckley. The curious overall impression is of a band of baboons combing through each other`s fur for fleas, while gibbering and casting nervous glances at the dozing alpha male.

I don`t think the format would work for us.

The girlybaboons been gibbering most recently about David Frum`s extraordinary attempt to channel the expected patriotic response to the Iraq invasion into a purge of paleoconservatives. (Frum tried exactly the same thing – complete with reference to a "brilliant interview" by Buckley - after helping stir up the Righteous Right lynch mob against Trent Lott in December. But I guess no-one noticed.)

The paleoconservatives are quite capable of defending themselves. (For Gene Callahan on lewrockwell.com, click here; for Justin Raimondo on AntiWar.com, click here; for Tom Fleming in Chronicles, click here.)  I`ve already pointed out that the VDARE.COM letter that apparently excited David`s anti-anti-Semitism and got us included on his purge list was in fact commenting on a review essay of Kevin MacDonald`s work by his own National Review colleague John Derbyshire. (For more from Derbyshire on the legitimacy of discussing MacDonald, click here.)

But another Derbyshire deviation (watch that big baboon, John!) provoked this from Frum on in his NRO column on March 19, which does require a correction:

"John Derbyshire suggests that we owe the paleos a debt of gratitude for keeping the immigration-reform issue alive. I think it`s closer to the truth that they have nearly killed it. Think how amazing it is that not even the revelations that the INS sent posthumous visas to 9/11 killers could make immigration a political issue. That tells you something about how radioactive the paleos have rendered the issue. I think too that the paleos` hostility to the war on terror has inhibited from effectively making a connection between the war and immigration. It`s odd, isn`t it, to say "I want to curb immigration so as to more successfully prosecute a war I oppose?"

(No, it`s not odd. Immigration reform could well be a substitute for war. It is certainly an essential complement.)

I have to make a confession: I once helped David get a job at Forbes Magazine. The knock on him there was that he was an ideologue and not a good reporter. I don`t really believe this – it is the standard media bureaucrat criticism of any conservatives in the newsroom – but he may well be primarily a scholar. His work is always a polished, even brilliant, edifice, but when you get up close you can see the factual gaps, glossed over by ingenious theorizing.

Which is the case here.

  1. Many of the advocates of immigration reform have never taken a position on the war (VDARE.COM) or actually favor it ( Michelle Malkin, Bill O`Reilly, Michael Savage).

  1. Many of the most prominent critics of immigration in the media are not paleoconservatives.  (See most if not all the above.)

  1. Not all paleoconservatives pay much attention to immigration and one of Frum`s favorites, Chronicles Editor Tom Fleming, announced two years ago that "we have lost the immigration battle" and that his magazine`s focus in future would be elsewhere. On Frum`s theory, the issue ought to have become less, not more, "radioactive."

  1. Until the advent of the internet, all of the paleoconservatives together, real and alleged, had less influence than National Review. So the real question is why Buckley chose to fire John O`Sullivan in the summer of 1997 – his departure was not announced until the following year, when Buckley lied about it to his board and even old friends, claiming O`Sullivan was "resigning to write a book" – and to abandon the cause of immigration reform which it had been championing, as noted by the Wall Street Journal`s Bob Bartley and First Things` Richard Neuhaus.

If immigration reform became the exclusive property of the paleos, it was because Buckley handed it to them.

Partly, Buckley was just jealous of O`Sullivan. Partly, he craved the flattery of the immigration-shy Beltway Republicans – a sea-change, given National Review`s origins as a critic of the GOP Establishment, fully justifying our campaign to rename the magazine Goldberg Review, after its most successful Beltway courtier. And partly, he was afraid of…what?

That will take another article.