Cowlix Wearing my mind on my sleeve

Sunday, June 02, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Photo of the Day

National Geographic's Photo of the Day archive. [via Medley]

Buchanan's new controversy

Buchanan and His Critics: in an article which is mainly supportive of Pat Buchanan, John O'Sullivan looks at Buchanan's book The Death of the West and the controversy it has sparked among those who see it as racist and xenophobic. I haven't read the book, my first reaction is that life is too short to read one of Buchanan's books. One part of Sullivan's article was interesting, though: where Sullivan compares Buchanan's view of the basis of American society with a couple of other alternatives.

And here Buchanan makes a serious mistake. He accepts the Weekly Standard (and his critics') view that America's choice is between being a "blood and soil" ethnic nation or a "creedal" nation based on certain liberal political principles in the Declaration of Independence, notably liberty and political equality. Once he has done that, he has lost an argument vital to his larger case. For America, being composed of immigrants from all over the world like the other great settler nations, Canada and Australia, is plainly not an ethnic nation rooted in blood and soil. Given enough time, enough intermarriage, and much lower levels of immigration, it might eventually become such a nation. But it is plainly not one now. That being so, America must be a "creedal" nation. And such a nation can assimilate an infinite number of immigrants provided that they can readily assent to the creed.

As the history of religion shows, however, creedal assent does not mean that someone is prepared for martyrdom. Otherwise, intellectuals would be renowned as the most fearless of warriors. If patriotism is to be able to inspire mass self-sacrifice--as it may need to do--it must rest upon deeper and more powerful loyalties than political opinion. A creedal nation that forgets that fact risks blithely admitting millions of potential traitors (or at least disinterested onlookers) without making any serious attempt to convert them into patriots.

(there's more)

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Copyright © 2001-2002 by Wes Cowley