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As long as you adopt a liberal standard of the good–commitment to equality as being the most important moral value–then you will always lose the bidding war with the left.  You’ll say stop at confederate monuments, and then they’ll say you’re defending slaveowners by defending Washington and Jefferson.  We’ve seen this constant moving of the goal posts in many other contexts.

Liberalism is a crucible and it reduces everything in it to a single moral value to the exclusion of all other concerns, including honoring talent, bravery, courage, loyalty, and one’s ancestors.  The narrative on the confederacy has changed from a tragic war of brother against brother and a post-war-consensus where we honored the bravery of the southern soldier as part of national reconciliation, to one where racism=bad=confederates=Nazis=off-to-the-gulag.

Real conservatism must begin by rejecting the liberal equality principle as the principle scale of values.  It’s a false, ideological notion of the good, and it has always and everywhere led to greater extremes.  As a factual matter, men are not equal, these inequalities grow organically, and a healthy society recognizes and channels our different talents, stations, and roles in a healthy direction that supports the common good.

So I really don’t care who was or wasn’t racist back when racism was the basic assumption of most people.  Most people everywhere believe something like everyone else around them.  It’s perfectly normal.  And most people everywhere, then and now, prefer their own kind and want their group to succeed.  I also refuse to care because the left uses it as the camel’s nose under the tent.  We have to reject the excessive concern with this au courant sin. It’s not the most important thing in life.  We live in a country with over a million abortions a year and gay marriage.  Is that somehow better than the generation that fought World War II and also didn’t want school bussing?  I don’t think so.

Political violence is an extreme measure for extreme times.  It is not always to be condemned–we wouldn’t condemn the Boston Tea Party I hope–but in a society with legal means of redress and free speech, it is unnecessary.  Indeed, it is a heckler’s veto often enough, and obviously the costs of open political warfare can be enormous.  The guy in the Dodge Charger appeared to be doing something far more sinister than protecting himself, at least from what I could tell on the widely circulated videos.  I see no reason to defend him.  Let the legal system take its course.

But when people are not allowed to speak and are actively oppressed and harassed, sometimes that’s the only language that is left to them.  The media has painted the Alt Right gathering as a bunch of neo-Nazis. It has a sliver of truth to it, but it is not a description done in the service of truth.  It is a description designed to dehumanize them and to legitimize violence against all of them, Nazis or not.  Remember the whole “punch a Nazi” thing after Richard Spencer, one of the organizers of this march, was punched during the time of the Inauguration.  This is why Trump’s original and legitimate condemnation of both sides led to  media conniption fits.  The critics believe the Antifa violence is somehow morally superior to the counter-violence of its right wing opponents.  But why?  Can’t Americans engage in free speech, even “racist” free speech?  After all, a deliberately provocative decision to take down the statute of the heroic Robert E. Lee, a man who did much to heal a divided nation, unlike so many of those now calling to destroy the memory of him.

Leftist extremists, until now, faced little counter-violence.  They terrorized World Trade Organization meetings, small academic conferences, Charles Murray’s speeches, and many Trump rallies, one of which they shut down in Chicago.

This dominance of public spaces, in which the Black Lives Matter movement also took a role, freaked out the embattled middle class.  The bullying was profoundly un-American.  And anxiety about status, about violence, about open hostility to them and their future had a lot to do with Trump’s rise. Many on the right, including me, are immune to the frequent invocations of the terms “racist” and “Nazi.”  These words mean, for many of us, simply a hate term thrown around against someone you disagree with.

But that does not mean one should actually become a real Nazi and embrace their rather alien symbolism.  The populist or nationalist right has a large, normal constituency.  It wants normal things like to live in a sane, safe country, where their children are not sacrificed on the alter of multiculturalism.  The movement and its leaders should not indulge in deliberate efforts to live up to the caricature that exists in the minds of the far left.

As we saw in Charlottesville, the left still calls the shots, by and large, and that’s why the police stand down when leftist violence occurs.   But, more important, a great many people in the middle find the nationalist message appealing.  They don’t won’t forever wars in the Middle East, jobs outsourced to China, and elites promoting increasingly decadent nonsense to their children.  There are other more effective ways to get the message out to this group–podcasts, small gatherings, subversive humor, the internet–that do not involve deliberately offensive symbolism and people and goals.   In other words, we are better off with more Pepe the Frog, and less Daily Stormer Nazi Larping.

The “Alt Right” started as a nationalist criticism of the “Chamber of Commerce” identity-free version of the GOP which was peddled by the Jebs and Rubios of the world. As an old school Pat Buchanan paleoconservative, it mostly sounded all right to me.  But if it becomes a synonym for neo-Nazis, not just in the minds of critics, but in actuality, complete with torch lit parades, it will run off its natural supporters.  This is why I find Richard Spencer’s whole schtick both weird and counter-productive.  The Alt Right’s natural supporters are legion:  they are the nationalist, embattled middle class.  These are people whose fathers and grandfathers fought actual Nazis.  These are the people that voted for Trump.  But they won’t ever go for a movement that fails to recognize that nationalism in the service of global domination and mass murder, that is Nazism, loses its legitimacy.

Identity politics are now a fact of life, and it is to be expected certain whites have gotten in the game, but politics are not naturally so.  Identity politics flow from a multicultural society, which in our case is an artificial creation of the 1965 immigration laws.  Most nationalists, including me, favor monocultural societies, where political and national borders are coextensive.  The way to eliminate identity politics and to have a politics of ideas is to have a less diverse and more unified society.  There is minimal identity politics in Japan, China, and Iceland for this reason.  There used to be very minimal identity politics in the US until the 1960s immigration reforms coupled with the rise of Marxist multicultural theory.

The one exception to this unity was the black white racial divide.  But blacks were truly a minority, but 10% of the population as recently as 1960.  There was an appeal to the broad American sense of fair play by the black civil rights movement, and its work was largely completely by the early 1970s.  Voting discrimination ended, formal discrimination was outlawed, and everyone was supposed to be treated the same.  When the reality that no amount of “equality of opportunity” could undo other forms of inborn inequality, as well as extensive social problems, the advocates of fair play split into those who said a fair system of procedures was enough (most Republicans) and those who thought equality of results should have happened automatically and that the failure for that to happen was proof of systemic, hidden racism (most Democrats).

So identity politics, such as we see every day and in high relief in Charlottesville, are regrettable, but to be expected.  It is unreasonable to expect whites to engage in unilateral disarmament when everyone else is tribal and out to hurt our group, sometimes quite explicitly so. If nothing else, calling certain features of the dominant national discourse “anti-white,” when they are objectively so, is a perfectly good thing.  But there is no reason to get weird about it.  We mostly want to be left alone, allowed to flourish, to have things stay roughly the same, and not to have ourselves turned into strangers in the country our ancestors bequeathed to us.

 

 

I’m not too jazzed about the latest dust up regarding North Korea, and I do think a combination of Trump’s bravado and the foreign policy establishment’s desire to save face–or as they would call it, preserve America’s credibility and to keep the faith of our allies–have in combination a lot to do with how we got here.  That is, it’s something of a perfect storm between the Mattis/McMaster desire for stability, the consensus fear of nuclear proliferation, the neoconservatives’ mania for American credibility, and Trump’s loose “Fire and Fury” rhetoric analogous to Obama’s “red line” in Syria.

What is going on exactly?

Well, for starters, our leaders have painted us into a corner with North Korea and have shown little interest in doing something useful prior to their acquisition of game-changing nuclear weapons.  I wrote about  as the problem developed: “We got on the wrong road with Clinton’s bribery deal (brokered by Jimmy Carter) which the North Korean’s promptly ignored. Upon resuming production and other threatening gestures, George W Bush responded by tough talk and little action, putting the Korea problem on the backburner while the war in Iraq spun out of control. Now, seeing a new and apparently even weaker president in office, the North Koreans have made a gambit for bigger payoffs and leverage.”

In addition, as with Syria, there is an increasing problem that the “international community” (i.e., the United States) can’t seem to control events the way it once did.  And this is only a problem if you think the U.S. should maintain a “unipolar” world, that is, to call the shots everywhere and anywhere with little effort at prioritization, a task only realistic if you imagine, wrongly, that we have unlimited resources and extensive intersets in such far flung locales as Crimea, Africa, Yemen, the South China Sea, and Libya.  Iran has thumbed its nose at us, after obtaining literal planeloads of cash from President Obama.  Syria is still run by Assad after a failed U.S. funded rebellion, and the U.S. has sensibly decided to call its regime change plan quits.  Iraq was taken out of business in 2003, but North Korea keeps on trucking, occasionally acting like a rogue nation, and, most important of all, it has bought itself regime change insurance in the form of nuclear weapons.

To state the obvious, this is not a simple problem.  The first Korean War should remind us that even the America that had recently whooped Japan and Germany might find a conflict on that mountainous peninsula difficult and costly.  In my earlier discussion after North Korea’s first apparently successful nuclear test, I wrote:

I don’t think this is a situation where someone can say Obama has an easy move, even if he were not so naive about the limits of diplomacy. There is a serious risk of conventional war on the Korean peninsula. North Korea clearly will not abide by its commitments not to develop nuclear and ballistic missile technology. China may finally snap into action because of concern about North Korea’s volatility, but so far it has done little, and it’s the key to keeping North Korea in line, along with credible nuclear deterrence.

Our toothless response to North Korea should expose to the whole world why war against would-be nuclear powers can only really take place before they go nuclear, and that preemption, for all the flaws of execution in Iraq, still should be part of the tool kit. After a country goes nuclear, most of the options are taken off the table.

Consider this. Blockade? They nuke Japan. Bombing? They nuke Japan and shell Seoul. More bribes? They feign compliance and up the ante.

Trump is in little better position than Obama was.  Now that North Korea has more and better nuclear weapons, along with more advanced missile capability, it has a doomsday option against the U.S., South Korea, and Japan if we try a conventional attack, in addition to its substantial conventional capacity to wreak havoc upon South Korea.

This is a useful time to remind Trump of his campaign mantra: America First.  Does a murderous, unstable, poor, but otherwise isolated North Korea threaten America? Does our continued presence on the South Korean peninsula do the U.S. any good?  Even if North Korea is a threat, is the cost of defanging it worth the cost?  As I wrote during the Bush presidency in 2006:

For conservatives, we must remember our NK policy must be about the US and its interests. Our concern for our allies in the region is about us too, it’s not (or at least should not be) charity. We’re all big boys and girls and can team up when necessary and when we have common interests. South Korea in particular gives the US significant manpower assets in dealing with NK. Japan gives us significant basing capability, plus its high technology capability enhances our military power. We should not abandon these countries, because they help us to address NK and have similar interests. However, we should embrace a longer term commitment to these regimes’ rearmament. It is an anachronism that both spend so little on defense relative to their economies and rely instead on the US military.

We are inundated with Munich analogies.  We’re told we must stand up to bad regimes or the world is a less safe and stable place.  And that is sometimes true.  But it’s also true, as in the First World War, that a desire to punish a bad regime and to follow an earlier commitment mechanically can be more costly than the alternative.  And there are times, as in the Cold War, where strategic patience, containment, and waiting things out is less costly than the alternative, in that case, the destruction of the world in a nuclear holocaust.  

There are not many terribly good options with North Korea.  That nation and its leaders have shown a certain willingness to cooperate with other hostile powers, engage in rhetorical escalation, and impose significant privation on their people so long as the regime leaders are taken care of.

Here, as in Syria, Trump the President has taken on different advisers and a different, more worrisome tone than Trump the candidate.  But this deviation is towards the mainstream of the Republican Party, the foreign policy establishment, and the “Deep State” that he supposedly aimed to fix.   He and his advisors, regardless of this consensus, should be asking as a matter of common sense:  can we do anything useful to North Korea and is that something in America’s interest?

 

This article in Legal Insurrection is an excellent summary of the unprecedented ways the permanent bureaucracy is actively resisting and undermining the elected president of the United States.  Trump has his issues, not least his erratic and unfocused behavior, but his job is not made easier by leaks of confidential communications with foreign leaders by people in the NSC or the White House.  In fact, it’s completely dangerous, both for the country and for Trump, whose efforts are being hobbled by GS-14s who don’t think he should have been elected.

The latest on Donald Trump Jr. suggests a set up to me:  the gratuitous inclusion of “Russian government attorney” in numerous emails to trigger a FISA warrant and the presence of a former FBI translator for starters. The whole thing stinks and, at worst, shows a lack of sophistication by the campaign, though I doubt any campaign anywhere would turn down “oppo research” from other governments or anyone else.

Angelo Codevilla asks who runs the government:  the elected president or the bureaucracy, whose gate-keeping function they seem to think allows them to decide with whom the President can confer.

Finally, also in in American Greatness, what happens if the Russia-haters miscalculate?  Nuclear war, potentially.

Last week I said, “And I think [Trump’s] instincts with the press must be respected, because he keeps landing on his feet and making a fool of them, as in the destruction of the Russia narrative in the last week.  If Trump accomplishes nothing else in office, exposing the press to ridicule for its open corruption and partisan hostility, may well be enough.”

Soon enough, we had the CNN Gif.  And then a whole army of Meme warriors made variations on the theme.  One of my favorites is below.

cnnblackmail

I’m very much with Ann Coulter on this issue.

I don’t like to see Trump distracted.  I’m concerned about us not yet building the wall or getting involved in Syria.  I generally think he has some good instincts and views, along with some traits, such as an excessive concern for what people think of him, that keep him from his proper focus on the agenda.

That said, I’m not concerned too much about the Dignity of the Office or the pretense required of the other institutions in Washington, most of which are completely unprofessional and hostile. And I think his instincts with the press must be respected, because he keeps landing on his feet and making a fool of them, as in the destruction of the Russia narrative in the last week.  If Trump accomplishes nothing else in office, exposing the press to ridicule for its open corruption and partisan hostility, may well be enough.  They need to be treated like an opposition party, because they are.

Ace had a good little blog post about the latest flare up:

A major schism in the party is over the question of how much pretense we’re fighting to keep lying about. A lot of people seem to think that even though we’re plainly in a Cold Civil War, and even thought Joe and Mika spend three hours a day ripping Trump, Trump’s supposed to pretend we’re all (as John McCain says) Good Friends.

I’m not saying Trump scored some tactical victory here. I’m saying, as I usually do- – who gives a wet shit?

How can the flailing old women of the Nominal Right huff themselves up so much to pretend outrage that a guy being attacked by the media everyday decides to occasionally attack them back?