Bay Buchanan, who needs no introduction, has selected an heir and a hero. The choice says a lot about how low paleoconservatism has sunk; how traditionalists have adopted a liberal/therapeutic conception of bad character and conduct. If you do bad things, you’re not a rotter lacking in inhibitions and judgment; rather, you are sick, depressed, addicted. If anything, anyone who fails to recognize your heroism for suffering such afflictions–he (or she, in my case) is the real rotter.
This conceptual hangover conservatives share with liberals. Both factions are in the habit of deflecting from what mediates behavior: personality, probity, values, character or lack thereof. If someone goes off the rails, members of both these divisions will refuse to recognize a character flaw; they seldom make the individual the locus of control. More so than in politics, the reasons for the demise of conservatism and its convergence with liberalism ought to be sought in the adoption of this therapeutic conception of behavior—of wrongdoing, morality, and character.
In a tract that could have been written by Oprah Winfrey, Ms. Buchanan dissolves into a puddle of praise and apologetics for a young man who drank habitually, and, in a deluge of liquor “bumped into a black woman, called her a ‘nigger,’ and struck her in the head with an open hand.” Like all good politicians (or actors), Marcus Epstein quickly got religion on AA, “radically changed his life. … swore off drinking and started attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. He started treating the bipolar depression that had gone undiagnosed until that run-in with the law.” (Convenient timing)
Declares Ms. Buchanan: “Marcus Epstein is one of the bravest young people I have ever known.”
Wow! How many youngsters does Ms. Buchanan know? I suggest a visit to one of the country’s VA hospitals. Or to a military cemetery, where, engraved on tombstones Ms. Buchanan may discover a more traditional narrative of heroism.
Character, grit, a bit of a stiffer upper lip in the face of adversity; forget about it! “[A]fter this incident … I came to fully appreciate his finest qualities,” writes Ms. Buchanan. My sentiments exactly.
Ms. Buchanan, there are other traditionalists around with “exceptional minds, and a remarkable talent for writing,” who endured a lifetime of adversity. Some even hail from outside the American cocoon—from lands where real existential issues are confronted daily. Update III (June 16): As un-heroic and boring as it may seem, paleoconservatives such as Brother Buchanan, Peter Brimelow, Robert Stove and Thomas Fleming have never rolled around in the streets soused, swearing and smacking innocents (let alone women) on the head. In fact, whatever the reader may think of their opinions, these men are gentlemen; they embody grace under the tyranny of political correctness. A movement that produces such personalities should not elevate lesser men (or women).
You can tell a movement by its heroes.
As my Afrikaner male friends would say in an expression of disgust, “Sis, man” (Especially with reference to striking a woman.)
Update I: To be clear: My case rests not on the ins-and-outs of the legal spat and its merits, but on the character of the individual, and on the manner in which conservatives have taken to the therapeutic idiom like ducks to water—or like liberals (no need to insult the ducks).
Many of the people I know have held more radical views than Epstein for twice or thrice as long, but have never clashed with the law—not because they revere or even respect it; au contraire, but because of a conservative view of how you conduct yourself. Call it good, old-fashioned discipline.
The idea that you blame your failings on the Other Side or on a substance is … quintessentially liberal.
The left defends its “heroes”; we defend ours. Sadly, we do so based on the same, shared, faulty premise. That’s where we go wrong. The left was always wrong.
Update II: I’m all for forgiveness; but not the instant clemency Christianity offers these days. No sooner has someone offended than he is swept up in a wave of love. I’m not a Christian, so I have no clue as to whether Christian expiation was supposed to be a Federal Express easy ride.
A Jew can’t expect to get to the Pearly Gates if he does bad things. In Judaism, your actions determine your fate on earth and in the hereafter (the first being far more important than the last).
I don’t wish this debate to take on a theological bent; so don’t pursue this except in the narrow sense.
Doing the obligatory stuff to extricate yourself from a legal bind, including going into rehab—this does not count as atonement. Thus, it is wrong for Ms. Buchanan to get huffy over Epstein being dropped from law school, subsequent to the episode, as I understand it. A paleo mother Hen, as she is to Epstein, should accept that adversity will be character-building for her errant protege.