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RIP William F. Buckley, Jr.
February 27, 2008 8:36 AM   Subscribe

RIP William F. Buckley, Jr. Like him or hate him, agree or disagree, there's no doubt that he was articulate, entertaining, and influential.
posted by Class Goat (227 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Saw him when he spoke at the Univ. of Chicago 20 years ago. While I disagreed on most of his ideas, I had nothing but respect, awe and envy for his remarkable talent language. If I turned off the analytical portion of my brain, then it was a treat to revel in the mellifluousness of his speech.
posted by scblackman at 8:39 AM on February 27, 2008


Well, now the "conservatives" at NRO and such places won't have to worry about him contradicting them when they spout off with truly unconservative ideas, in his name.
posted by notsnot at 8:41 AM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


.
posted by brevator at 8:43 AM on February 27, 2008


Ah, William F. Buckley. Seems like only 22 years ago he was calling for AIDS victims to be tattooed on the ass. Goodnight funnyman, goodnight.
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:43 AM on February 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


My father was president of the College Democrats at Loyola University in Chicago in the late '50's. His best friend was president of the College Republicans. They jointly invited him to speak before their assembled groups. When Buckley got there, my dad (a VERY articulate man) tried to engage him in some political argument. My dad said he had never been so quickly and effectively shot down in his entire life.

Dude was wrong on most things, but still the smartest guy in the wrong. He did disagree with the people on the Corner (NRO's blog) more and more of late and relatively early on he said Iraq was a mistake.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:46 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


RIP, Mr. Buckley. I hope it doesn't bother you too much that they let black people into Heaven too.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:49 AM on February 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


*
posted by jtron at 8:49 AM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


People are literally dying to distance themselves from Bush.
posted by DU at 8:49 AM on February 27, 2008 [21 favorites]


I'm going to resist the temptation to speak ill of the dead, as he was a neighbor.

RIP
posted by sfts2 at 8:50 AM on February 27, 2008


If McCain gets skunked in the 2008 election, I can't help but wondering if the death of William F. Buckley will be interpreted as a harbinger of the end of an old era in conservatism.

.
posted by jonp72 at 8:51 AM on February 27, 2008


He may have been a bad person and a very wrong person, but you can say this much for him: he wasn't a neocon.
posted by ND¢ at 8:54 AM on February 27, 2008


I will give he was articulated, but he was also an asshole.

There's a number of debates of his, especially with liberals, where he threatened physical violence to the other person.

Gee, I wonder where O'Reilly learned it from.
posted by Chocomog at 8:57 AM on February 27, 2008


I suppose he'll never again have to worry about being called a crypto-fascist.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:57 AM on February 27, 2008


The central question... is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes.... National Review believes that the South's premises are correct...
- WFB in the National Review, 1957
posted by jtron at 9:01 AM on February 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


Blackford Oakes rides off into the sunset.
posted by OmieWise at 9:02 AM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


William F. Buckley, Jr.
1925 -2008
"He wasn't the worst human being working for the magazine he founded."
posted by dersins at 9:09 AM on February 27, 2008 [9 favorites]


William F. Buckley, Sr - a Texas oilman who sent his son to Yale where he joined the Skull & Bones - sounds familiar.
posted by stbalbach at 9:10 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


In 1965, he ran for mayor of New York City as the candidate for the young Conservative Party, because of his dissatisfaction with the very liberal Republican candidate and fellow Yale alumnus John V. Lindsay, who later became a Democrat. When asked what he would do if he won the race, Buckley issued his classic response, "I'd demand a recount."

He was kind of funny too.
posted by ND¢ at 9:11 AM on February 27, 2008


., *.
posted by tzikeh at 9:11 AM on February 27, 2008


.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 9:16 AM on February 27, 2008


R.I.H.
posted by dbiedny at 9:19 AM on February 27, 2008


My final word on the matter, and inspired by dersins:

William F. Buckley, Jr.
1925 -2008
"He wasn't the worst human being in the world. In fact he had some kind of redeeming qualities. He was pretty bad though."
posted by ND¢ at 9:22 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Person reading this thread and contemplating an outraged meta post about respect for the dead: please don't bother. we've been there, we've done that, there's nothing new to discuss.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:23 AM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I will give he was articulated


He was consisting of segments held together by joints? Hey, me too!

jokes aside- I didn't agree with all of Mr. Buckley's viewpoints. I do think that his passing is yet another milestone on the road away from reasoned political conversation in the US.
posted by dubold at 9:24 AM on February 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Wonkette's nice funny headline...

Elegant, Witty Conservative Writer William F. Buckley Jr. Dies, Leaving No Intellectual Heirs
posted by R. Mutt at 9:26 AM on February 27, 2008 [11 favorites]


This thread seems remarkably respectful, actually, when you consider that Buckley was a walking bag of feces with a put-on New England accent that could make Robin Leach cringe.

Rot in hell Buckley! If only you had died of face cancer!
posted by serazin at 9:27 AM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Im so glad he lived long enough to witness the monsters he's created:

Reagan administration
GOP controlled congress under Clinton
The Bush presidencies.

So long. You honestly wont be missed, but your legacy will continue to hurt Americans and the world for quite some time.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:30 AM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


"I won't insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said."
-- William F. Buckley, Jr.

I've disagreed with a lot of what he stood for, but I've always admired his ability to turn a phrase.
posted by quin at 9:33 AM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, hell. I'll miss him. O'Reilly and Coulter are the Idiocracy version. Buckley was someone I could respect, even when he was someone who was also completely full of shit, which was most of the time he wasn't talking about sailing.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:33 AM on February 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


Interesting NY Time Magazine article on his 1965 mayoral race, published in 2005.
posted by Snyder at 9:35 AM on February 27, 2008


Everyone detected with AIDS should be tatooed in the upper forearm, to protect common-needle users, and on the buttocks, to prevent the victimization of other homosexuals.

I hope one day to be lucky enough to stop past his grave, if only to piss on it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:36 AM on February 27, 2008


What if it was on fire?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:39 AM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Light it on fire, put it out. Light it on fire, put it out...
posted by R. Mutt at 9:40 AM on February 27, 2008


I'm just mad Gore Vidal thought he needed to turn to violence.....
posted by lattiboy at 9:42 AM on February 27, 2008


Dude was a fucking cock. Good riddance.
posted by Aquaman at 9:45 AM on February 27, 2008


I don't get why so many people were conned that Buckley was intelligent simply because he spoke with a highly affected Mid-Atlantic English accent. If you really tried to listen to his arguments he would ramble on and on with no particular direction or insight. He reminds me of those crazy evangelists on late night TV who talk for 30 minutes scribbling on a whiteboard making no logical sense at all. He was just a simple racist -- a pompous, mellifluous racist.
posted by JackFlash at 9:47 AM on February 27, 2008 [10 favorites]


He helped me in my early intellectual development because he was so obviously intelligent and articulate yet his ideas were so wrong-headed.

It served as a warning, in the area of discourse at least, to take greater care in distinguishing content from form.
posted by vacapinta at 9:49 AM on February 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


Here's the celebrated Vidal-Buckley "Now listen you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I'll sock you in the goddamned face".

The fact that the diction's so civilised throughout makes it seem like a sketch.
posted by rhymer at 9:50 AM on February 27, 2008 [13 favorites]


...there's no doubt that he was articulate...

He was very well-spoken, for a white male conservative.
posted by TedW at 9:50 AM on February 27, 2008 [12 favorites]


Give me Buckley over Limbaugh and Coulter any day.
posted by malaprohibita at 9:50 AM on February 27, 2008


Ha! From Wonkette:

Your editor remembers Buckley as one of the most entertaining talk show guests of the 1970s and early 1980s, always on programs such as Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show and his own Firing Line, which makes today’s political talk shows look like security-camera video of a special-ed playground.
posted by lattiboy at 9:53 AM on February 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


He helped me in my early intellectual development because he was so obviously intelligent and articulate yet his ideas were so wrong-headed.
It served as a warning, in the area of discourse at least, to take greater care in distinguishing content from form.


Me, too. A boyfriend of my mother's got me a subscription to the National Review when I was just starting HS, during Reagan's second term, even though he found the content abhorent. It was an important early foil for me.
posted by OmieWise at 9:53 AM on February 27, 2008


William F Buckley, Jr is an important figure in American History if only for inspiring the character, to say nothing of the viewpoint and accent, of Thurston J Howell, III.
posted by DU at 9:55 AM on February 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


The Buckley - Chomsky debate: his patrician ass getting handed to him.
posted by Rumple at 9:57 AM on February 27, 2008 [18 favorites]


Adios, you preening, pompous, pedantic crypto-fascist asshole. You couldn't be taken even slightly seriously, but you were occasionally entertaining, if unintentionally...
posted by stenseng at 9:58 AM on February 27, 2008


Hey Class Goat, you see all these other links that people are posting in your thread? They're the things you should have linked to, rather than a two-graph death notice.

You know, if you wanted to make a decent FPP.
posted by klangklangston at 9:59 AM on February 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


He may have been a crypto-Nazi but at least he was our crypto-Nazi.
posted by grounded at 9:59 AM on February 27, 2008


Chomsky is really demolishing Buckley. His wink at 2:55 made me want to punch him.
posted by DU at 10:04 AM on February 27, 2008


Off topic, the Chomsky: Ali G debate.
posted by Rumple at 10:04 AM on February 27, 2008


I disagreed with him about pretty much everything, but he was fiercely intelligent and erudite, and really came by his convictions honestly, even if they were completely wrong. He was a fascinating character and one of the last of a dying breed. I'll take him over the bombastic bloviating that passes for mainstream political discourse.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:08 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


He represents an interesting transition in American culture: that accent is a total anachronism now. No one would speak that way today except as a joke. Even as a joke, I doubt many people under 30 would get it. It would just get weird looks and perhaps prompt the question "Are you English?"
posted by mr_roboto at 10:08 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I knew him personally (a little), he was a great guy, and a lot of fun to hang out with.
posted by cell divide at 10:10 AM on February 27, 2008


I wonder how Jeff is taking the news?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:13 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


*
posted by dawson at 10:13 AM on February 27, 2008


From Wonkette:

He was a man of fine character, and nothing proved that more than the fact that Ayn Rand would melodramatically stomp out of the room if she saw Buckley.


*snert* HA!
posted by louche mustachio at 10:13 AM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is not the thread I expected when I walked in. Color me impressed. He was a wrong, wrong guy, but way better than his ideological "heirs."
posted by absalom at 10:14 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know who else was articulate, entertaining, and influential?
posted by Schmucko at 10:17 AM on February 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


No one would speak that way today except as a joke.

First George Plimpton, now Buckley. I can't think of a public figure who still has that Boston Brahmin accent (other than Major Charles Emerson Winchester on reruns).

Joe Flaherty did a great Buckley impersonation on SCTV.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:18 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'll add to the chorus. I disagreed with him on most things, but he was an incredibly smart, interesting guy, and smart, interesting guys are increasingly rare in public life.

.
posted by brundlefly at 10:35 AM on February 27, 2008


That Chomsky video was great. Thanks for the link.

Buckley was in his prime far before I became politically aware. Thanks to this thread, I can remember him for the dolt he was.

.
posted by thebigdeadwaltz at 10:36 AM on February 27, 2008


Yup he was articulate and entertaining. An articulate and highly entertaining racist homophobic pompous ass. There is no way around the truth of it. And in a way it makes me depressed that he is gone becuase sadly he really was better than his ideological "heirs." What are we gonna say when they die?
posted by tkchrist at 10:39 AM on February 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


I hope you don't wind up in hell, Bill. They're free and easy with the grocer's apostrophe's down there.

.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 10:41 AM on February 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


He may have been a bad person and a very wrong person, but you can say this much for him: he wasn't a neocon.

Of course he wasn't, he was an anti-Semite!
posted by psmealey at 10:41 AM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


First George Plimpton, now Buckley. I can't think of a public figure who still has that Boston Brahmin accent (other than Major Charles Emerson Winchester on reruns).

Joe Flaherty did a great Buckley impersonation on SCTV.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:18 PM on February 27


It's called the Mid-Atlantic accent, though Buckley's was skewed a little more British. Watch any 50's film. I believe they still teach it to aspiring actors at Julliard.

And Frasier spoke with that accent as well, as does Robin Williams in some of his comedy routines.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:43 AM on February 27, 2008


Of course he wasn't, he was an anti-Semite!
posted by psmealey at 1:41 PM on February 27


And yet he inexplicably hired a number of jewish editors to replace him at NR.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:45 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hope Gore Vidal gives a eulogy.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:50 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Let's see your dad's money buy you out of this one, Bill.
posted by uri at 10:52 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Of course he wasn't, he was an anti-Semite!
posted by psmealey at 1:41 PM on February 27

And yet he inexplicably hired a number of jewish editors to replace him at NR.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:45 PM on February 27


You've obviously never heard the whispers about the Goldbergs' secret baptisms.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:53 AM on February 27, 2008


I'm bouncing my 11 month old son on my knee while reading this thread and find myself surprised that he is going to grow up in a world without William F. Buckley - I always thought he was an extremely evil, yet charming, immortal. Like Dracula or Kieth Richards.

What are we gonna say when they die?
Here's hoping we don't have too long to wonder.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:54 AM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


truth is he became culturally and politically irrelevant years before he died - which would be a sort of justice if only his replacements weren't such thoughtless goons
posted by pyramid termite at 10:55 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Say what you will about the man, but he was opposed to the war in Iraq, he was critical of the current Bush administration, he favored the legalization of marijuana, and he had more brains in his little pinkie toe than almost all of you goons put together.
posted by Dave Faris at 10:56 AM on February 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


Trivia: Dustin Hoffman's portrayal of Captain James Hook in the film 'Hook' (1991) was based on Buckley's voice and mannerisms. [video- video]
posted by ericb at 10:58 AM on February 27, 2008


Dave Faris: All true. It's a shame he didn't have any of those brains in his head, where they'd have done some good.

However, this does prove that even someone with brains only in their smallest toe would be smart enough to oppose the Iraq war and the Bush administration and support marijuana legalization.

As when Reagan died, I say again: I wish there was a hell, so you could rot in it. But there isn't, so rot in dirt, Buckley. We didn't need you, I'm glad you're gone, and I hope your legacy fades quickly.
posted by rusty at 11:02 AM on February 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Dustin Hoffman: "What interested me was (Captain Hook's) combination of violence and effeteness, and Buckley came to mind -- in a nice way. He's bright and educated, but there's something scary there." *
posted by ericb at 11:05 AM on February 27, 2008


&pagewanteIt's called the Mid-Atlantic accent, though Buckley's was skewed a little more British.

Hmmm, I just learned the term Locust Valley Lockjaw.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:10 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


However, this does prove that even someone with brains only in their smallest toe would be smart enough to oppose the Iraq war and the Bush administration and support marijuana legalization.

That doesn't follow logically at all. I guess it follows non sequiturially, though.
posted by 1 at 11:19 AM on February 27, 2008


What are we gonna say when they die?

I'm guessing Blazecock Pileon will hope to one day happen upon their graves so he can shit on them.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 11:21 AM on February 27, 2008


Buckley was a giant among ants. The world is a much better place for his presence.

Oh, and all you f**king idiots who are pissing on him and hoping that he rots in hell: FWIW, I hope that YOUR icons are pissed on and rot in hell. So there. *spits*
posted by davidmsc at 11:39 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


davidmsc: what precisely about the world is "much better" for his presence? Really, I am curious. And I agree, spitting on graves even metaphorically is boorish.
posted by Rumple at 11:43 AM on February 27, 2008


"
Oh, and all you f**king idiots who are pissing on him and hoping that he rots in hell: FWIW, I hope that YOUR icons are pissed on and rot in hell. So there. *spits*"


Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaart.
posted by stenseng at 11:56 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


My favourite line about him so far: "He was a douchebag, but the current crop of conservatives are colostomy bags."
posted by AccordionGuy at 12:01 PM on February 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


a long-time pal of Max Weinberg, Buckley's column about his experience of a Springsteen concert altered my perception of him favorably forever. Buckley was not the dick you thought he was.

.
posted by quonsar at 12:22 PM on February 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


I hope he's buried mid-atlantic.
posted by limon at 12:25 PM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


But he was certainly the cunt I thought he was. An intelligent, well-spoken cunt with a great sense of humor, but a cunt nonetheless.
posted by not_on_display at 12:27 PM on February 27, 2008


That Buckley vs. Chomsky video is a trip. It's strange to see a conservative argue their points without resorting to blowhard tactics or running around screaming "9/11! 9/11!" It's amazing that such well-informed discourse was once a part of our political landscape.

It's also rather bizarre to see someone defending the Vietnam war. I guess this is one of those generational things - to people of my generation (20s-30s), Vietnam was never anything other than a sad and costly mistake. Dollars to donuts that the same will go for Iraq 30 years from now.

In any case, Buckley is an intriguing individual. I don't think I'd have agreed with him about very much, but I would have enjoyed arguing with him.

I'll go ahead and give him a reluctant

.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:34 PM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Can't take the man seriously. I know a kid - Harvard '02, convert Republican - who told me that when he was on one of his boats with a bunch of the Harvard kids, he suggested they all go skinny dipping.

Yeeeah.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 12:35 PM on February 27, 2008


my sentiments.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:37 PM on February 27, 2008


I remember his interview with Pat Robertson. Robertson was warning against having the antichrist in the White House. Although I don't think Robertson picked it up, Buckley took on a mocking tone. His mouth puckered to a little "o." "Oh, no, we wouldn't want to have a diabolist as President!"
It's amazing how one little good thing can make me forgive him for so much bad. I'm still waiting for one little good thing from Russert or O'Reilly.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:38 PM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm still waiting for one little good thing from Russert or O'Reilly.

unlike Russert or O'Reilly or Hannity or Kristol or Coulter or the rest of the gang, Buckley had the innate, massive advantage of being an intelligent person. the fact that he may have occasionally been, if rarely, appalled by the stupidity of his partners in crime (crime against tolerance and compassion), may be due to his not being a caveman like those other heroes of the American Right.

intelligence does not of course excuse Buckley's obvious and public hate for gays, blacks, and other famously subhuman categories. if anything, his brains make his hate even uglier, in a way.
posted by matteo at 12:50 PM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's a longer obit from AP.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:56 PM on February 27, 2008


I had nothing but respect, awe and envy for his remarkable talent language.

Some people have a way with words. Others, not have way.
posted by anazgnos at 12:57 PM on February 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


He doesn't deserve a period

He was an evil man responsible for most of the bad in politics today, by making conservatism acceptable.

Rot in hell.
posted by mike3k at 1:03 PM on February 27, 2008


"I can't think of a public figure who still has that Boston Brahmin accent"

Maybe Christopher Plummer? I think he's actually from Canada, but speaks kinda like Buckley did.
posted by Bizurke at 1:09 PM on February 27, 2008


Give me Buckley over Limbaugh and Coulter any day.

Nah. Give me the unfettered partisanship, stripped of pretenses of intellect or poetry. An arch turn of phrase makes multitudes of evils palatable.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:10 PM on February 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


I wish I had the ability to speak and write like Buckley (minus the Mid-Atlantic accent). Indeed, I wish I had the intellectual rigor and self-discipline to think through my positions half as well as he did.

Like many folks here, I did not agree with many of Buckley's positions. Indeed, I find some of them (particularly the ones regarding race and sexual orientation) shameful. However, in so much as his death represents one more nail in the coffin of reasoned, intelligent discourse in this country, I can't help but mourn his passing.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:14 PM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


William F. Buckley does not deserve our attention, even in death. He was a despicable person and only seems less so because his intellectual progeny have surpassed him in infamy.

His death, like his life, was not noteworthy, and it is my dearest hope that he will be soon forgotten. As a politically-minded writer myself, that's the worst curse I can wish upon him.
posted by BrianBoyko at 1:24 PM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm going to disagree with some of my fellow Mefites. I'm not of the opinion that intellectual bullying is the same thing as reasoned discourse. There's very little distance between a sneering dismissal and just shouting for somebody to show up.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:25 PM on February 27, 2008


My two cents.
Generally speaking it continually amazes me how folks will not only speak ill of the dead at the presentation of the news of their demise, but actually take some trouble and time to write it down, post it, etc.
Even Saddam Hussein. Odious that anyone would celebrate a hanging.
It’s not a matter of respect really. But forgiveness for one’s enemies isn’t so much (IMHO) a matter of clemency, but a sort of psychic self-defense against being too attached.
Good. Evil. Anyone who’s dead, is dead. Any angst or waves raised after their gone is your own thing. It’s a kind of idolatry, albeit a negative form. Never had much need for icons either way m’self.

Their ideas, whole other thing. Still open to criticism or praise. And that’s where the effort should be directed.
But hell, makes no sense to kick a dead body. Not worth the effort. Says a lot more about the kicker.

Not as much of it here as I might have expected.

I agreed with some of the ideas he had. Some I thought he was wrong about.

In high school for creative writing class I wrote a “letter to Penthouse” from William F. Buckley trying to pretend he wasn’t William F. Buckley, but using the same vast vocabulary and obvious depth of erudition within the facile and formulaic “letter to Penthouse” style. Broke everyone up. Our teacher nearly pissed herself. (My five minutes of fame)
I didn’t use any obscene language, but I got into trouble, simply because of the iconic association (OMG Penthouse!?)

Interesting how the slightest hint of something antithetical (porn) to a given context (school) or identity (student/child) can have such a volatile effect whether that is the intent of an idea, or how it is expressed, or there is anything of worth there or whether it is actually at all related to the work or not.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:26 PM on February 27, 2008 [11 favorites]


Shut up, rather.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:29 PM on February 27, 2008


See, how you talk counts for an awful lot. Have the right accent and you get respect, even if people disagree with you. If he was so smart then it was a tragic self-absorbed smartness, just because you can construct internally consistent belief systems doesn't make you worthy of respect. I won't explicitly Godwin the thread, but it doesn't take much intellectual fortitude to come to the conclusion that "smartness" does not a great person make. Some of the best people I know would be taken to the cleaners by Buckley in a debate, but I would still value time with them more highly, and feel they offered more to the human race then a wanker such as he.
posted by edgeways at 1:29 PM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


And I second Armitage Shanks' opinion of SCTV's Buckley imitation. It does not appear to be on Youtube (gasp)
posted by edgeways at 1:30 PM on February 27, 2008


Dear Smedleyman:

Please please please post that letter.

I will totally PayPal you a dollar.
posted by jtron at 1:45 PM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I dunno, Astro Zombie. Shouting for someone to show up during a debate would confuse the hell out of them.
“...therefore the guest worker program would give illegal workers civil rights protections that...”
“Show up!”
“...they currently don’t...uh, I’m sorry?”
“Show up! Why don’t you show up!?”
“I’m afraid I don’t see...”
“Just show up.”

jtron - I’m going to see my mom later in the week. I can rummage through the house, see if I can find it.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:56 PM on February 27, 2008


Like him or hate him, agree or disagree, there's no doubt that he was articulate, entertaining, and influential.

Stephen King just rolled over in his grave.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:05 PM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


And I second Armitage Shanks' opinion of SCTV's Buckley imitation. It does not appear to be on Youtube (gasp)

Aha!
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:08 PM on February 27, 2008


Buckley played Bach beautifully on the piano. Not many neo-cons could do that.

There was a great disconnect between the conservatives of Buckley's era - slavish Britophiles who valued posh and snobbish meritocracy - and the original neo-cons of the Reagan era. He was a intellectual, a man who valued learning. It made him realize he was on his way out of the new American right-wing loop.
posted by zaelic at 2:12 PM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


He was a intellectual
posted by Dave Faris at 2:38 PM on February 27, 2008


Just pondering how WFB got to where he did, and watching the WFB-Choamsky thing... He seems to have been first and foremost a debater, and that was to him more important than the actual argument. It seems he took the unpopular position to demonstrate that he was masterful enough to make the position tenable, and eventually he maybe talked himself into believing most of that crap...?

On a tangent, I hope that sometime in the near future we can rehabilitate the word "conservative". It didn't always mean "self-deluding imperialist", "rabid capitalist", "unapologetic torturer". Once it meant someone who favoured less action as opposed to more action, consideration as opposed to reaction, frugality as opposed to excess, status quo vs fucking shit up.
posted by Artful Codger at 2:49 PM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I hope that sometime in the near future we can rehabilitate the word "conservative"

Right around the time I can start calling myself a 'liberal' again.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 2:59 PM on February 27, 2008


Such anger! Racist, fascist - I get suspicious when I hear a lot of name calling, especially those terms. Certainly he had a sense of humor, not least of all about himself, which is not something I'm sure I would say about, say, Chomsky. But then, I've never met either of the gentlemen.

I do recall seeing Mr Buckley interviewing either Mr Butler and Mr Johnson in jail on Firing Line. He thought they had been railroaded and deserved new trials. Make of that what you will.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:21 PM on February 27, 2008


FWIW, I hope that YOUR icons are pissed on and rot in hell. So there. *spits*

Earthman, your Mickey Mouse is one big stupid DOPE!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:22 PM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Enemy Mine reference!

Foul! 15 yard penalty!
posted by tkchrist at 3:42 PM on February 27, 2008


I know I'm not supposed to like him, but heck ... anyone who can work the word "eleemosynary" into a casual conversation with Bob Kerrey deserves a :

.

RIP, sir.
posted by RavinDave at 4:01 PM on February 27, 2008


I second Jtron, Smedleyman. Please, show us the letter!
posted by Iridic at 4:07 PM on February 27, 2008


Joe Flaherty did a great Buckley impersonation on SCTV.

That's how I learned of his existence.
posted by juiceCake at 4:16 PM on February 27, 2008


I had the lyrics to TSOL's Code Blue all ready to post, but then I remembered that Bill was an outspoken opponent of the War on Drugs. Too bad Mr. Buckley's "true conservatism" never really took root.

.
posted by telstar at 4:22 PM on February 27, 2008


On a tangent, I hope that sometime in the near future we can rehabilitate the word "conservative". It didn't always mean "self-deluding imperialist", "rabid capitalist", "unapologetic torturer". Once it meant someone who favoured less action as opposed to more action, consideration as opposed to reaction, frugality as opposed to excess, status quo vs fucking shit up.

You mean modern-day centrist Democrats, right?
posted by Afroblanco at 4:23 PM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Stephen King just rolled over in his grave.

The "still alive" Stephen King rolled over in his metaphorical grave! FTFY.
posted by ericb at 4:30 PM on February 27, 2008


* for being entertaining.

Chomsky really handed it to him, but he still had that shit-eating grin/wink at the end. Smug bastard, but then again, when you control the vast majority of the conservative movement's brains, you can get a little smug.
posted by schyler523 at 4:38 PM on February 27, 2008


> We didn't need you, I'm glad you're gone, and I hope your legacy fades quickly.

Only takes one of you can cancel his vote with your vote (presuming that you vote) but the mob of you assembled and summed are unlikely to match the influence of just one of Buckley's books, for the title alone.

P.S., interesting--Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought... Edmund Burke. Any of you folks have any Burke on your bedside table? I doubt it, said the Walrus.
posted by jfuller at 4:43 PM on February 27, 2008


.
posted by gyc at 4:57 PM on February 27, 2008


.
posted by Ranucci at 4:59 PM on February 27, 2008


Be realistic people. Bill Buckley wasn't better than modern "conservatives". He was worse.

That's like saying Hitler, with his charisma, talent with language, and charm, was better than Mussolini.

We should all be grateful that today's "conservatives" lack Buckley's skills.

Hate doesn't need better salesmen.
posted by markkraft at 5:05 PM on February 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


The Buckley - Chomsky debate: his patrician ass getting handed to him.

Wow. Just wow. Good with words? This is an excellent actor having his ass handed to him by a real intellectual. One's engaging in a debate, and the other is playing someone engaging in a debate. The reason this is so damn good is because Chomsky refuses to believe the act, and Buckley is responding by massively overplaying his part.
posted by Tehanu at 5:38 PM on February 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


It is quite a phenomena to witness people who can hardly write a complete sentence or in some cases even find the shift key trashing William F. Buckley Jr.

Just sayin'.
posted by LarryC at 5:53 PM on February 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


"P.S., interesting--Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought... Edmund Burke. Any of you folks have any Burke on your bedside table? I doubt it, said the Walrus."

Bedside table? No. Bookcase? Of course. Buckley's book? No way.
posted by klangklangston at 5:58 PM on February 27, 2008


I always thought the . was intended as a moment of silence. Do we have to pass moral judgment with every word we type?

Anyway, .
posted by JHarris at 6:03 PM on February 27, 2008


Any of you folks have any Burke on your bedside table? I doubt it, said the Walrus.

of course not, liberals have only the Koran, an aborted fetus -- no, sorry, an "unborn child" -- and a witchcraft manual on their bedsides. when, in fact, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Roy Moore and Lynndie England, ie your own leaders in the well-read American Right, give you guys the good example by reading a few pages of Burke every night before they go to sleep. GWB has many Burke passages commited to memory, I heard somebody at my mosque say the other day.

deep, deep readers of 18th Century political theory, those Bushies.
posted by matteo at 6:13 PM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's a shame that there aren't two nickles of intellectual nuance to rub together around here.
posted by Dave Faris at 6:18 PM on February 27, 2008


It's a shame that there aren't two nickles of intellectual nuance to rub together around here.


Be fair; you're painting with too broad a brush. Plenty of people have expressed nuanced views. It's just that the views without nuance are so much louder.

Such is the tragedy of American political discourse, no?
posted by mr_roboto at 6:24 PM on February 27, 2008


His sailing books are great reads, and for whatever reason, I choose to remember him for the best of what he was, not the worst.
.
posted by vrakatar at 6:33 PM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


davidmsc: Buckley was a giant among ants. The world is a much better place for his presence.

"The central question that emerges... is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas where it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes--the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race." --William F. Buckley, National Review, August 24, 1957.

This is Buckley's defense of Jim Crow laws preventing blacks from voting. You must be very proud of how he made the world a better place.
posted by JackFlash at 6:34 PM on February 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


On the one hand he was well spoken and had a truly impressive command of the English language.

On the other hand he used all his skills, talent, etc to advance a truly evil agenda.

On the gripping hand, he was one of the very few conservatives to publically disagree with Bush.

Overall, I still say he was an evil thug, but I truly did enjoy listening to him speak, and reading his writing.
posted by sotonohito at 6:45 PM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's a shame that there aren't two nickles of intellectual nuance to rub together around here.

I think you mean "nickels", Einstein.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:58 PM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Get a dictionary.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:11 PM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


people who can hardly write a complete sentence or in some cases even find the shift key trashing William F. Buckley Jr.

you're right -- buckley was, if nothing else, a master at finding the shift key.
posted by Hat Maui at 7:12 PM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


It is quite a phenomena to witness people who can hardly write a complete sentence or in some cases even find the shift key trashing William F. Buckley Jr.

Phenomenon.

But I agree, the comments in this thread are quite something.
posted by iconjack at 7:14 PM on February 27, 2008


Get a dictionary.

yeah, get the dickshunary of mispelings.
posted by Hat Maui at 7:22 PM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sorry I can't cite this but I remember reading about Buckley on the Jack Parr Show:

I don't think these African countries are ready for democracy.

When do you think they will be.?

When they stop eating each other.

There's just a whole lack of humanity in that statement .!
posted by lemuel at 7:34 PM on February 27, 2008


Idi Amin would have agreed with him. And I'd bet that if someone posted that little joke here, it'd get two dozen favorites, easily.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:39 PM on February 27, 2008


btw, his books on sailing are good. not what most of us here could probably afford but good reads.
posted by lemuel at 7:41 PM on February 27, 2008


Get a dictionary.

What do you mean, Dave Faris? It looks like nickle is, at best, a rare alternate spelling of nickel. The OED only has one citation of the spelling for nickel, although it gives nickle as a type of woodpecker.
posted by dd42 at 7:53 PM on February 27, 2008


Newsflash, kids: people aren't "evil" merely for the fact of their conservatism. That's the sort of half-witted, ridiculously categorical thinking I'm sure you'd all relish to criticize when exhibited by some of today's most asinine spokesmen of the right. So watch yourselves that you don't fall into the same mindless traps.

If you think he's "evil," or a "douchebag," actually do the hard work of, you know, defending such bold claims, rather than simply pointing to the views he held (and typically espoused with grace, eloquence, and good humor) as evidence of innate character flaws.

I've always disagreed with most of what he wrote and said. Still, I've always respected the man tremendously. It's possible to do both.
posted by decoherence at 7:58 PM on February 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


It's interesting that people keep focusing on his views on segregation; troubling, but generally consistent with his anti-statist philosophy, and something he repudiated in the '60s, as opposed to his views on, say, AIDS victims, which he did not waver on, so far as I remember.
posted by klangklangston at 8:11 PM on February 27, 2008


Class Goat thanks for the post, it is a fine post,and a post that has inspired others to create links and engage others in discussion. I have learned a lot about Wind Bag Buckley in this thread. Imagine Billy F Buckley laying in a casket masturbating to the grunts and queries of his brotherhood initiation within the tomb.
posted by hortense at 8:13 PM on February 27, 2008


Get a dictionary.

Via OED, as of February 27, in the Year of our Lord two thousand and ought eight:

nickle, n.
Eng. regional (north midl.).
Brit. /nkl/, U.S. /nk()l/ Forms: 18- nickle, 19- nickill. [App. alteration of NICK-HOLE n. Cf. slightly later NICKER n.7
Eng. Dial. Dict. s.v. nickle records a form nickol from Denbighshire, applied to the goldfinch.]

1885 C. SWAINSON Provinc. Names Brit. Birds 100 Green Woodpecker... Pick a tree (North). Nicker pecker; Nickle (Notts).
a1903 E. PEACOCK in Eng. Dial. Dict. (1903) IV. 266/1 [Lincolnshire] Nickill.


I am so dreadfully sorry, yer bloody Lordship. I had not the faintest clue that thou had referrest to the generation of friction betwixt two avian specimens of the species Picus viridis. Clearly I am in thy debt, for the repayment of nothing less than a cup of tea and a scone.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:23 PM on February 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


It is quite a phenomena to witness people who can hardly write a complete sentence or in some cases even find the shift key trashing William F. Buckley Jr.

C'mon, you guys are doing this on purpose, right?
posted by granted at 8:28 PM on February 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


people aren't "evil" merely for the fact of their conservatism

Except that conservatism is an evil ideology, a political philosophy that seeks to maintain or impose class-based heirarchies. People who support modern conservatism are evil in proportion to the degree that they help conservatism triumph over democratic progress.

Buckley was charming: he was able to present horrible ideas - racism, misogyny, homophobia - in a superficially charming manner. He made it seem like 'conservatism' was intellectually something more than the reflexive opposition to progress that it is.

And by making conservatism once again acceptable in America, he bears a great deal of responsibility for a great deal of human suffering over the the last half-century.

America will still be paying the price a century from now.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 8:28 PM on February 27, 2008 [9 favorites]


I've always disagreed with most of what he wrote and said. Still, I've always respected the man tremendously. It's possible to do both.

I'm quite curious about this dichotomy and am baffled by it. Please explain it to me. We know that Buckley has a history of virulent racism and homosexual bigotry. What is it you respect about him? Is this sort of like Mussolini making the trains run on time or Hitler bringing Germany out of a depression?
posted by JackFlash at 8:31 PM on February 27, 2008


Is this sort of like Mussolini making the trains run on time or Hitler bringing Germany out of a depression?

Well, now it's about you insulting the suffering of millions by conflating the actions of brutal dictators with those of a media personality. But please, go on...what were you saying about Hitler?
posted by dhammond at 8:47 PM on February 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


The reptilian face, I kept expecting a forked tongue to dart out that slice of a mouth. His style was to ooze contempt, jazz up his sneering eviscerations with fancy vocab, accuse, slip and slide all over the place and to try and win by belittling. This was a man who wrote a book defending Joe McCarthy.

He went fresh from Yale into the CIA in 1951. He was in the CIA under Howard Hunt (interesting aside, now reading the WP entry: In 2007 his son released audio tape of Hunt naming President Lyndon B. Johnson and others as the orchestrators of the John F. Kennedy assassination), where he worked to undermine the President of Mexico, Miguel Alemán Valdés, who gained fame defending workers against corporations.

WFB on segregation in the South: "The central question that emerges…is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas where it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes—the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.”

His son, also a Skull and Bones frat boy, Christopher Buckley, chief speechwriter for Vice President George H. W. Bush.

William Buckley/Gore Vidal Debate, the one with Gore calling Buckley a crytpo-Nazi.

And to think all that intellect was to get dufuses like Reagan and GW in the white House. What a waste and what harm he contributed to creating in the world.

May the world now experience greater peace.
posted by nickyskye at 8:52 PM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Except that conservatism is an evil ideology, a political philosophy that seeks to maintain or impose class-based heirarchies.

Conservatism is a belief that the current order of things is imperfect, but that attempts to radically reorganize society will result in worse conditions for most people/society. You can agree or disagree with that view, but your characterization of it just makes you sound like an ignorant jackass. (Sorry!!)

Also we (you) should remember the era that he comes from. The fusionistic conservatism that Buckley pioneered was a reaction against totalitarian ostensibly communist systems, and his fear was that American policy was lurching in that direction. Now, again, you can totally disagree with his analysis that he was fighting totalitarianism at home, but his motivations certainly were not evil.

Anyway, all our great old timey heroes were racist homophobes. Suck it up. (No, Buckley is not a hero of mine, and yes he could be a douchebag. But what a charmer!)
posted by 1 at 8:52 PM on February 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


I am so dreadfully sorry, yer bloody Lordship.

oh, big girl's blouse

I had not the faintest clue that thou had referrest to the generation of friction betwixt two avian specimens of the species Picus viridis.

it's all me mates' favorite fantasy to see two birds having a go

Clearly I am in thy debt, for the repayment of nothing less than a cup of tea and a scone.

right - that'll be 3 quid or 50 bloody dollars, please
posted by pyramid termite at 8:58 PM on February 27, 2008


Conservatism is a belief that the current order of things is imperfect, but that attempts to radically reorganize society will result in worse conditions for most people/society

i repaired your statement to improve its accuracy for your benefit. no thanks needed.
posted by Hat Maui at 9:02 PM on February 27, 2008


it's all me mates' favorite fantasy to see two birds having a go

See? People on Metafilter can rub nickles, after all.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:03 PM on February 27, 2008


antidisestablishmentarianst comment
posted by longsleeves at 9:22 PM on February 27, 2008


i repaired your statement to improve its accuracy for your benefit. no thanks needed.

Oh snap. You totally changed my statement of "some people think that conservatism benefits society and some think it does not" to "I don't think that conservatism benefits society." That's pretty insightful.
posted by 1 at 9:33 PM on February 27, 2008


nope. it was a goof on "fixed that for you." sorry it was over your head.
posted by Hat Maui at 9:53 PM on February 27, 2008


Nickles.
posted by item at 10:32 PM on February 27, 2008


This thread is a classic example of how a charming facade and an eloquent tongue can make anything acceptable to some people.

Woe be to the society that judges its members on the face they turn to the world, rather than on their actions.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:42 PM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Drunk driving with WFB: a remembrance.
posted by IcyJuly at 10:52 PM on February 27, 2008


It's why I favor plain-talking! Speak straight what's on your mind, without hiding it behind big words! Because grandiloquence is oft the music that masks vituperation!
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:00 PM on February 27, 2008


.

When I was a very young and earnestly liberal kid, I used to hang out with a conservative friend who delighted in Buckley, to the point of co-co-copying Buckley's affected stammer and patrician a-a-ac-accent. (The same stammer, I later realized, that the fictional Anthony Blanche employs in Brideshead Revisited.) My friend and I (or as he once cut me, in faux Buckelian mode, "I'm not your friend, I'm your acquaintance") enjoyed many hours re-enacting Crossfire and insulting each other in imitation of William FuhBuckley.

When I learned today of Buckley's death, it hit me harder than I wold have expected it to. Perhaps that's because there are so few real and intellectual and really intellectually honest conservatives left, but perhaps it's just because their are so few public intellectuals of any stripe these days,

The (more or less) last intellectual conservative, the final heir of Irving Babbitt if not Edmund Burke, Bill Buckley will be missed both ideologically and sentimentally by this "liberal".
posted by orthogonality at 12:44 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think I had more respect for the concept of William F. Buckley, Jr., than the actual implementation--represented fairly well in the Chomsky dialogue/debate. For some reason I got it in my head that he was an "intellectual," yet all I saw in that video was heaping sides of logical fallacy smothered with pretension.

Just because someone interrupts you with their best Robert Frost impersonation doesn't mean they aren't still being an ass. And, like more familiar gaping asses such as Limbaugh, he has to resort to the same feeble argumentative tactics to stop his opponent from gaining the upper hand. Specifically, changing the subject, redefining the argument, and my all-time favorite, character assassination (15:45 in the video linked above).

Fuck Buckley. Conservatives everywhere have been using his faux-intellectualism for years as a kind of legitimacy to their failed theories. I'm glad he's dead.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:41 AM on February 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Oh, damn me. s/Crossfire/Firing Line. I'm getting too old.
posted by orthogonality at 1:54 AM on February 28, 2008


Q&A on William F. Buckley:
Q: Did he ever recant his opposition to the civil rights movement? —Chris

A: Yes, he did. He said it was a mistake for National Review not to have supported the civil rights legislation of 1964-65, and later supported a national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom he grew to admire a good deal, above all for combining spiritual and political values.
posted by chillmost at 2:12 AM on February 28, 2008


William F. Buckley Jr. was significantly responsible for my "conversion" to an independent, more left leaning mindset. Not because I found his views abhorrent, but because his public criticism of marijuana laws made me realize that intellectual and (at least in this case) ethical honesty is far more important than stubbornly clutching traditional values and beliefs just because you're "supposed to" believe in those things.

To lump in Buckley with idiot, non-thinking, factory-wrapped douches like O'Reilly, Coulter and Hannity is exactly the same level of demagoguery that the aforementioned FWD's have made careers out of.
posted by melorama at 2:33 AM on February 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


,
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:43 AM on February 28, 2008


This thread makes me think of Tim & Jeff Buckley. Buckley's that are truly worth mourning. I use this time to remember them since I could care less about this pompous prick.
posted by dawiz at 3:37 AM on February 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Blazecock... if the best you can do to counter my assertions is to point out that I spelled a word with the colloquial, Americanized variant, instead of trying to prove that there's more to Metafilter than a bunch of juvenile meat heads who paint the world in black and white, then maybe you might try to study Buckley for examples of debate and forming a more convincing argument.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:59 AM on February 28, 2008


who paint the world in black and white

yes, yes, black and white -- like the blacks that Buckley happily wanted to remain third class citizens of an apartheid state and the (rich) whites he constantly carried water for during his career (how gracious of him to kind of backtrack, 50 years after his endorsement of the Dixiecrats positions, and nobly afford to African American some sort of vague membership in what Buckley saw as his whites-only club, the United States of America).

a more convincing argument

"convincing" is the key word here: from voting rights for blacks to equal for women in the workplace, to some at least vague acceptance of gays as human beings (as opposed to homosexuality as the unmentionable sin of a few decades ago) , from McCarthyism to Vietnam to AIDS, Buckley has been proven wrong, let me repeat this, wrong, by history. he might as well have written that earth is flat -- that wouldn't get his batting average much worse than it actually is.

if anything, readers from the future -- nevermind the Burke nonsense stated above -- will remember Buckley, if at all, as some writer who was consistently wrong about everything.

history has already proven him wrong. and the moral stature of a racist gay hater is there to be judged by future generations.
posted by matteo at 7:56 AM on February 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


to equal rights for women in the workplace
posted by matteo at 7:58 AM on February 28, 2008


I'm confused about the constant demand that we "respect" Mr. Buckley. What, exactly, did he do that is worthy of respect in general?

I respect his impressive command of the English language, but that has nothing to do with respecting him personally.

I described Buckley as evil, and I stand by that description. He was a racist, a homophobe, and a misogynist. When public opinion turned against racism he suddenly claimed that his prior commitment to racist ideology was wrong, to me that indicates merely that he sensed a shift in what had become publically acceptable. I fail to see why I should respect that, or the man who did it.

And, perhaps more tellingly, he never even gave the faintest hint that his homophobic and misogynist views shifted in the slightest. He went to his grave convinced that all homosexuals should be tatooed with warning labels.

As I said before, I truly enjoyed his style of writing. But the fact that he used his skills and talents to advance an actively evil agenda wipes out any good feeling that I have due to his skills.
posted by sotonohito at 7:59 AM on February 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


So… George Will just moved up in the ranks, didn't he?
posted by klangklangston at 8:09 AM on February 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


You don't cut him any slack at all that he was a product of his time, and that it was common for people to hold those views in the 1950's? Surely you don't suppose he still held those views when he nodded off yesterday, do you? And maybe you should ponder what norms and societal givens that we're currently deluded by that, 50 years hence, you'll be embarrassed to admit that you might have accepted something as fact. And when you die, you'll likely suffer his fate, where some schmuck on whatever will be the equivalent of a message board spits on you, and points out what a backward, evil anachronism you were because of some message you left here.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:44 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Q: Did he ever recant his opposition to the civil rights movement? —Chris

A: Yes, he did. He said it was a mistake for National Review not to have supported the civil rights legislation of 1964-65, and later supported a national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom he grew to admire a good deal, above all for combining spiritual and political values.


So once he realised his team lost, suddenly the winners were right all along? Gotcha.

You don't cut him any slack at all that he was a product of his time, and that it was common for people to hold those views in the 1950's?

Absolutely not. There have been anti-racists, liberals, feminists, and anti-homophobes for hundreds of years, and he was exposed to every single one of those ideologies. He conciously rejected them in favor of racism, conservatism, misogyny, and homophobia. Hell, given his exposure to people like, say, Noam Chomsky, he had even less excuse than most people.

And maybe you should ponder what norms and societal givens that we're currently deluded by that, 50 years hence, you'll be embarrassed to admit that you might have accepted something as fact.

You know, I hear this all the time from people demanding that we not judge people for their beliefs, and it always strikes me as dishonest because, with two exceptions (vegetarians and pro-lifers) the speaker almost never explains which views the liberal/progressive/other non-asshole political position holder will be regretting. Care to share?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:52 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


“Mr. Buckley,” one non-fan wrote in 1967, “you are the mouthpiece of that evil rabble that depends on fraud, perjury, dirty tricks, anything at all that suits their purposes. I would trust a snake before I would trust you or anybody you support.”

Responded Buckley: “What would you do if I supported the snake?”
great to see no one has been so immature as to go godwin on this...wait. oh shit. how classy.
posted by dawson at 9:10 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


great to see no one has been so immature as to go godwin on this...wait. oh shit. how classy.

Dude, Gore Vidal went Godwin on him on network television. A truly spectacular Godwinning.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:14 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sorry, Pope. My crystal ball is at the cleaners, I'm afraid. And someone has absconded with all my tarot cards.

Besides, I wasn't suggesting that I knew of some particular liberal/progressive viewpoint that might be fallacy. In fact, my whole point has that life is not black and white. It's not always about us versus them. There's no such thing as a red state or a blue state. Those are just stupid little categories for you to aim your rage at the amorphous "other," and blame all the woes in your life on.

Look, Buckley was a human. He had kids. He had grandkids. He had ideas that you perhaps don't agree with. He said little witticisms, like the one about cannibalism in Africa, probably more for effect than for accuracy -- something many people here on Metafilter can certainly relate to. He wrote and said some things 50 years ago that I'm sure he regretted later in life. And he had an audience and some measure of fame, which counts for quite a lot.

I wish I could be so confident in my world view as some of you guys seem to be -- so confident that you're unafraid of any chinks in your armor of self-righteousness. I can tell you this much -- William Buckley didn't give a rat's ass what you thought of him or how he lived his life.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:20 AM on February 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Vidal said to Buckley: "As far as I am concerned, the only crypto Nazi I can think of is yourself."

Buckley replied: "Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto Nazi, or I'll sock you in your goddamn face and you'll stay plastered."

Years later, in 1985, Buckley said of the incident: "We both acted irresponsibly. I'm not a Nazi, but he is, I suppose, a fag."
yeah. Vidal pwned Bill there.
I'm fine with being called a fag, just don't call me a crypto Nazi.
posted by dawson at 9:21 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's not always about us versus them. There's no such thing as a red state or a blue state. Those are just stupid little categories for you to aim your rage at the amorphous "other," and blame all the woes in your life on.

What a contemptible strawman. Nobody is making the argument that Buckley is a conservative, therefore we hate him. People are making the argument that his words and actions made him a reprehensible human being. You can either respond to that argument or continue to whale on your strawman.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:57 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry. I was going on the assumption that you actually read the 180 previous comments before yours.
posted by Dave Faris at 10:01 AM on February 28, 2008


I'm sorry. I was going on the assumption that you actually read the 180 previous comments before yours.

Your comments indicate that you haven't, but nice try.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:03 AM on February 28, 2008


You don't cut him any slack at all that he was a product of his time

Dave Faris, I'm certainly not going to cut you any slack for insulting everyone for not meeting your incredibly high intellectual standards, when you not only misspell a word but take umbrage when your mistake is pointed out to you.

Most honest intellectuals would note the error and laugh it off, but you have to dig in your heels and defend your damned sense of honor until the very end.

In any case, your stubborn stupidity wouldn't be so hilariously ironic if we weren't otherwise discussing a man who made a career of maintaining being wrong about, well, everything he's thought about for the last eight decades.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:08 AM on February 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


"And when you die, you'll likely suffer his fate, where some schmuck on whatever will be the equivalent of a message board spits on you, and points out what a backward, evil anachronism you were because of some message you left here."

Oh, God, I'll never be that famous.

But I will say that some here taking such a hard line against stupid things said 50 years ago and recanted does seem to be demagoguery. I mean, c'mon, all this "Well, he only changed his mind when his side lost" seems to be ignoring the fact that he did change his mind—what, would you rather he didn't? In high school, I thought I was a libertarian.
posted by klangklangston at 10:14 AM on February 28, 2008


But I will say that some here taking such a hard line against stupid things said 50 years ago and recanted does seem to be demagoguery

He was pretty hateful to the end.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:19 AM on February 28, 2008


In any case, your stubborn stupidity wouldn't be so hilariously ironic if we weren't otherwise discussing a man who made a career of maintaining being wrong about, well, everything he's thought about for the last eight decades.

THIS is the important point. If the man was so great an intellectual why couldn't he see this? he was wrong about Vietnam. He was wrong about interventionist policies in Central and South America. He was DEAD fucking wrong about the rights of homosexuals and our response to the AIDS crisis.

With Buckley intellect is second to class position. It's better to be comfortable and wrong than smart and right. This has become the default marker of conservative thought. Notice the only time Buckley admits he was wrong was on the issue of civil rights for blacks (and on that he was WAAAY behind the curve) but only becuase the momentum of society overtook him... not becuase of any intellectual evaluation. If he still held openly to segregationists views it would have effected his social position and thus his comfort and his class position.

Modern conservatives use inverted intellectual sparring to maintain a bias and a class position not to advance principles or to aid society. I won't go so far as to say they are evil becuase that instinct is a natural human reaction. Yes. If progress for humanity is to be made they WILL have to give up some class standing— hell— all of us will. But the more we sacrifice now the less we will later.

The sad part is that the dishonest shenanigans and outright atrocities (YES atrocities... under Buckley's CIA there was over throwing and brutal suppression of democratic regimes, the fostering of bloody civil wars...on and on) they commit in the name of preserving the system have cost them MORE.

Look where we are. We, as a society, are advocating torture in 2008. When in 1946 we had a complete consensus that the practice was barbaric and we KILLED mother fuckers who did it.

Sorry. Buckley is no god damned hero. And if was such a powerful intellectual he would have seen where he was wrong and gone against the mouth breathing conservative grain as to what has been happening the last three decades. Goldwater Did!
posted by tkchrist at 10:33 AM on February 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Oh. And I will also say that yes he was excellent at articulating his arguments. But he was even better at obfuscating them. Such huge amounts of energy spent doing what? Holding up tradition? What tradition? The tradition of a white aristocratic patritician class getting to shit on anybody they want when every they feel like it? Maybe occasionally building a museum?

And before the conservatives here roll their eyes.

Look I got no problem with rich people. Righ people do amazing things when they are properly responsible. I am a capitalist and a business owner. And I am somewhat rich.

I have no problem with class hierarchies and strata as long as the legitimate opportunity exists to transcend those barriers. Those opportunities have not only be economic— which was the traditional conservative position— but they HAVE to be political. And Buckley spend the first 60 years of his life helping put policy roadblocks up for 50% of American Citizens to go anywhere but down.

And here we are with the largest income and class disparities in the western world— by orders of magnitude. And people moving down the class ladder at the highest rates since before WWII. And yet we have moved more and more to the right. The right has executive, judiciary and legislative branches of government as well as dominating the corporate boards of most corporations. And. All of our major institutions have failed us. THIS is the conservative victory? (Oh. Yes according to conservative radio this is because of of the few crazes Bolshevik obstructionist Liberals left clinging to their gay porn ideology).

THIS is the conservative victory? This is the net result of conservative intellectual policies? War. Erosion of civil rights. Torture. The world hates us. And. All of our major institutions have failed us.

Oh. That's right. We "won" the Cold War? Really. The (ex)KGB (the FCB) is now firmly in charge of post Soviet Russia and Moscow has more billionaires than any city on the planet. But we "won" the Cold War.
posted by tkchrist at 11:00 AM on February 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


And when you die, you'll likely suffer his fate, where some schmuck on whatever will be the equivalent of a message board spits on you, and points out what a backward, evil anachronism you were because of some message you left here.

You mean Metatalk, right?
posted by Afroblanco at 11:32 AM on February 28, 2008


Dave Faris I doubt very much that I will ever be famous enough that my death merit even a comment on Metafilter, much less an FPP.

As for Buckley, I see no evidence that he actually changed his mind about racism. Did he ever employ his famed wit and linguistic skills to condemn racism? No, the best anyone can come up with is a quote from a third party claiming that Buckley, after his side lost, quietly recanted his vile positions. Even if it were true, it isn't enough.

Moreover, that his position was not merely wrong, but evil, is hardly something one has to be a modern liberal to grasp. The majority of Americans, by the time of the Civil Rights Act, had come to recognize the evils of racism, and of course people opposed racism prior to that time.

But Buckley stood staunchly in the ranks of evil. He argued, articulately, passionately, and convincingly, that Jim Crow was not merely morally justifiable, but necessary. He did not use his intellect to question evil nor merely to defend it, but to actively and aggressively strengthen it.

So again, tell me why I should respect him?
posted by sotonohito at 11:54 AM on February 28, 2008


So again, tell me why I should respect him?

Because he put on the ersatz of a fake British accent.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:20 PM on February 28, 2008


.

Am I too late for the fighting?
posted by rush at 12:51 PM on February 28, 2008


Also, as I don't see it linked here, National Review Online (the online version of the magazine Buckley started) has a great deal of commentary on Buckley from their writers, as well as some other notable folks:

Michael Knox Beran
Norman Podhoretz
David Freddoso
Mark Hemingway
George Nash
John O'Sullivan
A whole gaggle of folks
The NRO Editors
Some staff favorite excerpts
Marc A. Thiessen
Joseph Lieberman - my favorite, so far
Charles Murray
John Derbyshire
John McCain
Ramesh Ponnuru
Andy McCarthy
Larry Kudlow
Mark Steyn
Pete Wehner
Jonah Goldberg
Kathryn Jean Lopez
There's also a readers' forum

WSJ Op-Ed

I'd be interested to see some coverage in the more left-leaning press, if folks have it handy.
posted by rush at 1:27 PM on February 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


"He was pretty hateful to the end."

Well, yes. Excoriate him for that. But the racist-in-the-'50s feels like complaining that Ken Lay also didn't return his library books.
posted by klangklangston at 2:51 PM on February 28, 2008


rush, I'm left-leaning and covered it on my blog, if that helps. I make a comparison I haven't seen in any other tributes on the web.
posted by laconic titan at 2:57 PM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


“That's the sort of half-witted, ridiculously categorical thinking I'm sure you'd all relish to criticize when exhibited by some of today's most asinine spokesmen of the right.”

Agreed.

“Except that conservatism is an evil ideology...”

So I am therefore evil. Gosh, thanks. Plan to shit all over me every chance you get as well? (Or maybe you’re not the absolute arbiter of what constitutes “conservativism.”)

“...he was able to present horrible ideas - racism, misogyny, homophobia - in a superficially charming manner.”

You know who else was able to do that?
Thomas Jefferson.
“All men created equal” all that? Meanwhile he owned (and may have raped) slaves. Didn’t think women should vote or run for office ("The appointment of a woman to office is an innovation for which the public is not prepared, nor I." et.al.)

And Jefferson also drafted a bill for Virginia, bit of criminal law, that held the penalty for sodomy should be castration.
Jefferson was a racist, a homophobe, and a misogynist.
Of course, many of his ideas were kick ass. And the ones that weren’t, we don’t much discuss.

Pretty much the same deal I have with Buckley. Absorb what is useful, shitcan the rest.
If I disagree with their principles, I argue them.

I don’t see how “Buckley was an asshole” (to paraphrase much of the criticism here) refutes or validates anything he had to say.

(And certain direct criticism of his positions excepted)

“To lump in Buckley with idiot, non-thinking, factory-wrapped douches like O'Reilly, Coulter and Hannity is exactly the same level of demagoguery that the aforementioned FWD's have made careers out of.”

Well said.

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views” - Buckley



“It's better to be comfortable and wrong than smart and right. This has become the default marker of conservative thought.”

I think it has become the hallmark of the American upper class which has co-opted the term “conservative.” But I otherwise agree. There is a whole methodology of lifestyle there that Buckley bought into - “the good life.”

I’d augment your comment by saying it’s the criticism Fitzgerald had in “The Great Gatsby” for the moneyed American classes.

But I think it is antithetical to a political philosophy - or philosophy of any kind - and is more a reflexive protection of that comfort addiction the right seems to play to (much as the left seems to play to the common man schtick).

But let’s step back a bit.
It wasn’t so long ago that the term “progressive” encapsulated the aims of big business. And the maintainance of that same bias and class position and incoherence of position and principle was in place.

Buckley did speak about that vibe actually - “Radical conservatives in this country have an interesting time of it, for when they are not being suppressed or mutilated by Liberals, they are being ignored or humiliated by a great many of those of the well-fed Right, whose ignorance and amorality have never been exaggerated for the same reason that one cannot exaggerate infinity.”

Buckley and his magazine also, in fact, in the early 60’s, publically split from the John Birch Society, Southern Segragationalists and the anti-Semites. So there were principles there. Maybe not one’s some folks agree with, but principles nevertheless.
(He was a longtime friend with Marvin Liebman (who was gay - they didn’t see eye to eye on it, but “hateful”? I don’t think so. I think Buckley’s idea on tattoos for people with AIDs isn’t homophobic but based in a social philosophy. I absolutely oppose it of course, but that is where he appears to be coming from. He states - “The objective is to identify the carrier, and to warn his victim.”
And indeed Charles Kaiser, (who wroteThe Gay Metropolis) also said - “Gay men should not have the right to spread a debilitating and often fatal disease. A person who is HIV-positive has no more right to unprotected intercourse than he has the right to put a bullet through another person’s head.” But again, I myself emphatically oppose the idea. Education is a far better tool and far far less prone to unintended consequences)

But I will say, again, the major problem, here and in American society in general, is this broad brush labeling and aggregation of ideas into discrete abbreviated terms that we then rail against in this bizarre talk radio dialectic so many people have adopted.
“Liberals” are evil and hate guns, Jesus, and unborn children. “Conservatives” are evil and hate African Americans, the poor, and like to torture.

That is the problem. And whatever Buckley’s flaws (and without question he had them), he brought to the fore the details within major issues. He engaged his ideological opponents, regularly and openly (on public television even) and brought that nuance to the fore.

We don’t see that in discourse much today. No, wait, we don’t see that at all in public discourse today.

I mean, Buckley’s on Firing line debating Jesse Jackson on drug legalization and Jackson is arguing the moral high ground and to keep them illegal - wha?
And that’s 30 - odd years ago.

Still, that’s subject to one’s own perspective on the man. I personally don’t much care other than in general finding it distasteful to speak ill of the dead upon their notice (again - their beliefs, fair game).

But (friends, liberals, mefiers) I come to bury Buckley not to praise him.
And, again like Marcus Antonius, only advise -
"Consider how much more you often suffer from your anger and grief, than from those very things for which you are angry and grieved."

Respect? Respect yourself.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:20 PM on February 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


With Buckley intellect is second to class position.
This is an excellent summary of Buckley's problem. The beginning of his conservative activism was rooted in his experience at Yale and his continued resentment that universities were becoming havens for those, regardless of background, who were dedicated to developing their intellectual and professional selves, rather as a place in which a certain social class outlook was nurtured and promoted.

He decried the fact that God was retreating from public and academic life, but when he listened to Martin Luther King, Jr., he was unmoved when he called upon the Christian west to recapture its "revolutionary spirit." This was specifically the thing that turned him off-- the idea of faith and education as anything other that tools for maintaining and promoting the primacy of his own class position was abhorrent to him. Not coincidentally, when civil rights became a mainstream belief within his own class, then he reconciled himself to their reality.

The problem was that Buckley was never properly ostracized from the public discourse for his abhorrent beliefs about civil rights and segregation. Instead he was treated as part and parcel of the "mainstream dialog" and a "mainstream conservative" even though not too long ago he was publicly espousing deeply egregious views about political and civil rights of American citizens as the extremist he was.

But that said, reading the National Review was part and parcel of my high school intellectual development back in the 90s. I credit it for at least allowing me to go through a stage where I could give conservatism a "fair shake" before becoming the liberal activist I am today.
posted by deanc at 6:05 PM on February 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


So I am therefore evil. Gosh, thanks. Plan to shit all over me every chance you get as well? (Or maybe you’re not the absolute arbiter of what constitutes “conservativism.”)

more and more, when it concerns the eternal battle between "conservatism" and "liberalism", i'm reminded of gibbon's description of the greens and blues in the byzantine empire, whose disputes were enormously destructive and chaotic and had no more significance then that of what chariot team one favored

he was willing to give a platform to people he disagreed with and converse with them on a certain level that today's pundits don't ever seem to consider - as wrong-headed as he was about a lot of things, he did a service to our society by doing that

that's more than i can say for the current crop of talking heads
posted by pyramid termite at 9:17 PM on February 28, 2008


So I am therefore evil.

Yes. According to this group of metafilter progressive troglodytes, it's not ok to judge a person by the color of their skin, but it's perfectly ok to judge them by the color of their state.

He was pretty hateful to the end.

Oh, were you that intimate with him? Can you cite anything in particular that sticks in your craw about the guy? Or are you just going to spout generalities, Mr. OED? Did he attack his toast too viciously the other morning?
posted by Dave Faris at 1:18 AM on February 29, 2008


Dave Faris Why shouldn't I judge a person by their attitudes, opinions, philosophy, and ideology? Can you think of any better basis for judging a person? Skin color, sex, gender, ancestory, etc are inborn, thus judgement on those grounds seems meaningless. But you chose your ideas.

And, given that conservativism is a philosophy rooted in, and indeed dedicated to, the idea of aristocracy, oppositional to individual merit, individual freedom, and constantly the philosophy opposed to granting truly equal rights, why shouldn't one identify conservitivism as evil?

the history of the USA, to a large extent, is the history of conflict between those of us who actually think rights should be extended to all, that "all men are created equal" is not merely an empty phrase, and those who think rights should be denied to some demographic groups. In every single one of those battles it has been conservatives who opposed (and often employed violence in their opposition) granting rights to those not already in possession of them. Seems pretty evil to me.

Hateful? Yup, I'd argue that his never publically recanted racism is pretty hateful. I'd argue that the misogyny he spewed until his dying day was pretty hateful. Then there's his delightfully hateful belief that AIDS victims should be tatooed. He was a vicious, hateful, evil, thug wrapped up in an urbane package and gifted with an astonishing command of the English language.

As for Smedleyman's truly bizarre attempt to compare WFB to Jefferson, I can only shake my head in amazement. The fact that Jefferson was, despite the undeinable evils he participated in and encouraged, a staggeringly liberal person [1] and actively fought to extend participation in government to groups historically excluded from such participation, while Buckley fought to prevent people legally granted the right to participate in government from exercising that right seems to have evaded him entirely.

One must, yes, judge a person by the standards of their time. And by the standards of WFB's time, he was a retrograde thug. Further, his "time" extended to the present, and he never recanted his positions, or did anything to make up for the evils he inflicted during the height of his influence. So, yeah, he was evil.

[1] Remember, at the time of Jefferson the mere concept of democracy, as opposed to monarchy, was considered to be insanely liberal.
posted by sotonohito at 4:34 AM on February 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


And, given that conservativism is a philosophy rooted in, and indeed dedicated to, the idea of aristocracy, oppositional to individual merit, individual freedom, and constantly the philosophy opposed to granting truly equal rights, why shouldn't one identify conservitivism as evil?

that's an absurd definition of conservatism - the funny thing is, there are web boards on which i could change your statement to

"And, given that liberalism is a philosophy rooted in, and indeed dedicated to, the idea of aristocracy, oppositional to individual merit, individual freedom, and constantly the philosophy opposed to granting truly equal rights, why shouldn't one identify liberalism as evil?"

and be roundly applauded for it - not that it would be any less absurd a definition of liberalism
posted by pyramid termite at 7:08 AM on February 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


"And, given that conservativism is a philosophy rooted in, and indeed dedicated to, the idea of aristocracy, oppositional to individual merit, individual freedom, and constantly the philosophy opposed to granting truly equal rights, why shouldn't one identify conservitivism as evil?"

Why, hello, question-begger. Given that you are incapable of making an honest argument, why shouldn't one identify you as evil?
posted by klangklangston at 8:39 AM on February 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


According to this group of metafilter progressive troglodytes, it's not ok to judge a person by the color of their skin, but it's perfectly ok to judge them by the color of their state. - Dave Faris

Dave, I'm all for defending Buckley, but no one is a troglodyte that needs it declared here. Given the tenuous nature of the discussion, let's be extra careful with the ab irato.
posted by rush at 10:36 AM on February 29, 2008


Yeah. I regretted posting that message last night, almost immediately. Everything I've read and heard about Buckley indicate that at least he was civil, and, out of my frustration, my comments here haven't been that at all. So I apologize for that.

I was listening to the Bob Edwards show this morning where he was interviewing a filmmaker about his recent work on a movie about the Chicago 7 (+1, +2), and he reminded me how the mayor and the police and even the judge in the resulting trial were so bent on stopping the people they felt were destroying society. Many terrible things were done back in '68 ... and there wasn't any room for a nuanced, philosophical point of view then, either.
posted by Dave Faris at 11:17 AM on February 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why shouldn't I judge a person by their attitudes, opinions, philosophy, and ideology?

On Metafilter we are expected to judge people by how "nice" or "civil" they are, not by what they advocate.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:17 PM on February 29, 2008


Dude, fuck your disingenuous rhetoric, OK? I mean, Jesus, nearly no one here is lionizing Buckley. Just because there's a coterie of liberals, fucking liberals, man, saying that they respected Buckley for his erudition doesn't mean they're judging him by his politeness—in fact, noting that his quips were witty but rarely without serious barbs, regarding him as polite or civil misses the fucking point.
posted by klangklangston at 5:18 PM on February 29, 2008


klang wrote "Why, hello, question-begger. Given that you are incapable of making an honest argument, why shouldn't one identify you as evil?"

What in my argument was dishonest? It is hardly a deeply concealed historic fact that conservatives have been at the forefront of opposition to every single progressive movement in US history.

While it is true that conservatives don't, as a rule, go about arguing that we establish a legal class system, I fail to see how identifying them as pro-aristocracy isn't perfectly accurate. That, after all, is what their opposition to expanding various civil rights to previously excluded group is all about. First it was the aristocracy of property ownership, then of color, then of sex.
posted by sotonohito at 5:56 PM on February 29, 2008


It is hardly a deeply concealed historic fact that conservatives have been at the forefront of opposition to every single progressive movement in US history.

Prohibition was a movement embraced by both progressive feminists and religious social conservatives. The passage of the 26th amendment was heavily supported by conservatives; it's hard to see increased suffrage as anything other than progressive.

That's two, off the top of my head, before I head out to the bar.

Your distortion of American history identifies you as evil.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:52 PM on February 29, 2008


Prohibition, from my POV anyway, was not a progressive movement in the same sense that abolition, universal sufferage, etc were. It is true it was a movement embraced by progressives, but that's a different thing.

As for the 26th Amendment, even if we accept (which I don't) that it did represent a truly progressive desire on the part of conservatives, that's one counter example against dozens of examples of conservatives fighting progressive causes. Those same "progressive" conservatives fought tooth and nail to preserve segregation, for example.

What, exactly, is wrong with classifying someone who used all of his skills in an attempt to keep Jim Crow alive and well as "evil"? Do you simply object to the use of the term?

Its time liberal folk got over their qualms at describing evil as evil. Supporting segregation, or seeking to keep homosexuals classified as second class citizens, etc, aren't "just another point of view", they're evil. If that hurts your feelings, or makes you feel bad, well it should.
posted by sotonohito at 4:55 AM on March 1, 2008


I can't begin to explain Buckley's motives for suggesting some of the things pointed out in this thread.

Do you think it's possible that he could have been suggesting such extreme tactics merely to be provocative? Is it evil to be a provocateur? Give it some thought. Can you even conceive why someone might suggest the benefits of tattooing people infected with AIDS? And then taking the extra step of suggesting the tattooing homosexuals on their asses? In these times when step ladders have more warning labels than wood exposed, I think it's pretty easy to see how someone might come to these conclusions. Of course, people are not ladders.

I'm really not an expert on the man. They say he was strongly opposed to extremist groups, including the John Birch Society. So I assume that many of these unforgivable stances that people have cited, taken out of context, were merely intellectually exercises. I could be wrong. Maybe he just had a really sick sense of humor. Had he seriously worked towards legislation to tattoo AIDs patients, I think we could all agree that he'd be guilty of some sort of crime against society, but as it was, he was just guilty of thinking of evil ideas. Thankfully, Buckley never made it into the hallowed halls of legislation, and his admirers and followers don't seem to have taken him as seriously as you have.

But more generally, if you're willing to also realize that people think you're equally evil for such things as supporting gay marriage, allowing the abomination of in vitro murder, and not allowing schools to teach the Word of God, then maybe you can begin to understand the problems with this kind of partisan, scorched earth tactic. It doesn't really do anything but draw deeper and deeper lines in the sand, and won't ever help us get past the issues that divide us.
posted by Dave Faris at 1:32 PM on March 1, 2008


"Prohibition, from my POV anyway, was not a progressive movement in the same sense that abolition, universal sufferage, etc were. It is true it was a movement embraced by progressives, but that's a different thing."

Dude, you're Mars Blackman to the question of political identity's Nola Darling.

I mean, you're defining "progressive" as anything good that you agree with, and "conservative" as anything bad you disagree with, and "progressives" have had plenty of stupid ideas that conservatives were right to oppose (even as I consider myself progressive). See communism for one.
posted by klangklangston at 5:49 PM on March 1, 2008


klang I got sloppy with language, sorry. I should have said "civil rights movements", rather than "progressive movements". I meant civil rights movements. I'll agree that progressives have embraced many stupid ideas, I'll argue that they've embraced fewer than conservatives, but that's a completely different topic.

Dave Faris Nope, I can't agree. There is such a thing as objective good and evil, it isn't (yet) very well defined, but it exists and honest people must admit that fact. Civil rights for blacks vs. segregation and Jim Crow is not merely a difference of opinion, the latter is morally wrong.

Moral relativism is bullshit. There is such a thing as right and wrong, and we call people who fight for wrong things "evil". The fact that a group of religious zealots are attempting to define "morals" to mean "in accordance with the taboos of an early iron age religion" does not negate the existence of real morals anymore than the fact that a group of astrology loonies attempt to define "astronomy" to mean "learning what the stars fortell of your future" negates real astronomy.
posted by sotonohito at 5:35 AM on March 2, 2008


.


Just for the fact he was willing to go on public TV and argue his point with Noam Chomsky.

There are very few republicans lined up to do that today.
posted by verisimilitude at 2:00 PM on March 2, 2008


“The fact that Jefferson was, despite the undeinable evils he participated in and encouraged, a staggeringly liberal person...”

Pretty much says it all - staggeringly liberal participating in and encouraging undeniable evils.

“Moral relativism is bullshit.”

Says the “liberal.”

“I'll agree that progressives have embraced many stupid ideas, I'll argue that they've embraced fewer than conservatives.”

So, “conservatives” embrace something stupid - evil. “Progressives” embrace something stupid - whoops, sorry.
...but...moral relativism...um, isn’t that bullshit?

“Supporting segregation, or seeking to keep homosexuals classified as second class citizens, etc, aren't "just another point of view", they're evil.”

Not every conservative everywhere at all times opposes rights for homosexuals. Is it wrong to deny legal rights for homosexuals? Yes.
(And even then, that’s not the whole of the issue (Is it wrong for the goverment to mandate that churches marry homosexuals?))
But it is just as wrong to say “conservatives are evil” as it is to say “libertarians, liberals, communists, greens, etc. etc. etc. are evil” not because it hurts anyone’s feelings but because it’s just as myopic as when anyone else says it regarding “liberals” or any other group.
Is that not at all clear to you? Do you not understand that people who may have different viewpoints are not necessarially evil just because they don’t agree with you?
Do you not get that this is exactly the criticism levied at Liberals when they say they’re ‘open minded’?

There are ideas that are wrong headed, but a person can hold ideas that are mistaken or just plain wrong without being inherently evil. If we’re talking Nazis, that is the exact same absolutism that they engaged in. That idea, that castigation of anyone who doesn’t agree with your beliefs as evil is itself evil.

Calling someone “evil” means you can not engage in reasonable dialogue and that they are - must be - your enemy.

The question then is what to do about them? What do you suggest? Prevent them (Buckley) from speaking?
Send the conservatives to camps perhaps? To reeducate them?

“There is such a thing as right and wrong, and we call people who fight for wrong things "evil".”

Yeah, uh, who’s “we” kemosabe? I’ve actually put bullets into rapists, torturers and murderous thugs.
(Of course, being in the military is the wrong thing - since all liberals hate the troops. Er, rather, the troops are evil, therefore liberals are right in hating them.)

Serbian cops abducting and raping (for six hours) a 14 year old and her sister on her way to a wedding, making them stand in a the icy water of a frozen lake and beating them with sticks while forcing them to give head and threatening to kill everyone in their familes and burn their houses down if they talk (in light of the fact their organization actually did participate in mass killings in at Racak in the Stimlje municipality) - that’s a bit more “evil” than, y’know, saying some controversial stuff in print.

The former I would, and have, killed men for when absolutely necessary.
The latter, I’d rather uphold and defend the first amendment of the constitution.
Speech you agree with is not free speech, no matter how odious or “evil” in your, my, or anyone else’s opinion.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:19 PM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is it wrong for the goverment to mandate that churches marry homosexuals?

Yep. In my state of Massachusetts same-sex marriage is legal. There is no provision or mandate that requires churches, etc. to "marry homosexuals."
posted by ericb at 2:34 PM on March 2, 2008


Save your fingers, Smedleyman. It's falling on deaf ears with that one.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:08 PM on March 2, 2008


Smedleyman What, in order to be liberal I have to adhere to the idiot notion of moral relativism? I'll agree that most people who identify as liberal would claim to do that, but I've found that most of them when pressed will expose themselves as moral absolutists.

Morality, like all areas of human knowledge, is progressive. We know more about it today than we knew 100 years ago. I can't fault a person who grew up in an era with a less complete understanding of morality for that anymore than I can fault them for not knowing about germ theory.

Which brings us to Jefferson and Buckley, and why I identify Buckley as evil. Jefferson did, no argument at all, engage in acts I classify as evil. He owned, and raped [1] slaves, and that's objectively evil. However, the fact that pretty much the entire planet, at that time, was engaged in similar evil acts due to the fact that their understanding of morality was less advanced is important. Within the limited understanding of morality at that time Jefferson was progressive, he helped found the modern concept of civil rights. The fact that he limited his work for civil rights to property owning white men is unfortunate, but I can't fault a person for failing to be ahead of his time in all areas. Should I castigate the doctors who blead President Washington to death because they were operating within the limited understanding of medicine that existed at their time?

Buckley, on the other hand, lived in the modern era, and therefore benefitted from a more complete understanding of morality. He worked actively to undo the efforts of others to advance the cause of civil rights. He fought to protect and extend a system which resulted in the systematic rape, murder, and torture of black Americans. On a scale of evil, of course he doesn't even register when compared to Pol Pot [2]. The fact that some of those who lived in his time were more evil than he was is irrelevant when it comes to classifying his activity.

"Calling someone “evil” means you can not engage in reasonable dialogue and that they are - must be - your enemy."

Yes, you are absolutely correct. That's the point isn't it? What meaningful dialog can exist between someone (me) who argues that blacks are people and therefore due all civil rights we give to people, and someone (Buckley) who argues that blacks are less-people than whites and therefore not due those rights? Such a person is - must be - my enemy. I work on the assumption that that clearly and unambiguously identifying his cause as evil will help convince others to fight him and his ilk.

I do not advocate censorship. Evil gets free speech, same as everyone else. I am working on the assumption that your implication that I thought otherwise to be little more than an attempt to annoy me. Along with your similarly innane "ugh, liburls hate soldiers" line, I'm simply going to ignore it. [3]

The only effective way to combat speech I disagree with is to speak against it, and to clearly identify why. I disagree with Buckley because he advocates evil, and reasonable people *can't*, in fact, agree to get along anyway despite such beliefs. If you say "well, he loved his wife and kids", I argue that merely indicates that he successfully compartmentalized his mind and was not evil across the board.

The biggest failing of liberals and progressives is our extreme unwillingness to correctly identify evil when we see it. All too often we engage in other, similar, bits of verbal and mental obfucation. It is the result of the memetic poison of moral relativism, and it must be exorsized from liberalism if we are to succeed in our goals. Moral absolutism has acquired a bad reputation due to the religious zealots who think "morality" has something to do with early iron age tribal taboos. But morality has nothing to do with that, and if liberalism is to be a significant force we must acknowledge that moral absolutism is real.

As for me and Buckly, convince me. Explain why you think Buckley wasn't evil. So far all people have done is tell me that I'm wrong, make baseless accusations, and make false comparisons of Buckley to other humans. What, exactly, was morally defensable about Buckley's activity? If you subscribe to the idea that actions can make up for other actions, what did Buckley do that made up for his work to advance an evil agenda?

I'm willing to be convinced that I'm wrong. I can't say I like it, but it has happened in the past and will doubtless happen in the future. But I'm not going to be convinced by what you folks have written so far.

[1] I figure that any sex with a slave is rape because the very concept of "meaningful concent" goes out the window when one party is a slave. Its similar to why we classify all intercourse with minors as rape.

[2] Or pick your favorite evil, I chose Pol Pot becuase he was roughly contemporary, and it doesn't invoke Goodwin.

[3] The same, BTW, goes for your Coulter inspired talking point re: churches and same sex marriage. Marriage != church, and to the best of my knowledge no one has ever proposed that any church ever be forced to perform marriages for anyone homosexual, hetrosexual, or bisexual. Any such attempt is not only morally repugnant, but also would be a violation of the First Amendment here in the USA.
posted by sotonohito at 5:12 AM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Okay, so "face cancer" is considered a proper punishment for WFB but waterboarding the guy who beheaded Daniel Pearl is a no no. I can see a bunch of true humanists in this thread.
posted by falameufilho at 9:41 AM on March 3, 2008


Prohibition, from my POV anyway, was not a progressive movement in the same sense that abolition, universal sufferage, etc were. It is true it was a movement embraced by progressives, but that's a different thing.

As for the 26th Amendment, even if we accept (which I don't) that it did represent a truly progressive desire on the part of conservatives, that's one counter example against dozens of examples of conservatives fighting progressive causes.


We're well into tautology territory, now.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:57 AM on March 3, 2008


“Smedleyman What, in order to be liberal I have to adhere to the idiot notion of moral relativism? I'll agree that most people who identify as liberal would claim to do that, but I've found that....”

See the moon over there?
“Nice finger.”
No, no, the moon, what I’m pointing AT.
“You’ve got hairy knuckles.”
No, look, the big silver sphere in the sky - the moon, the moon, right there.
“...you mean on your fingernail?”

No, you do not have to adhere to the notion of moral relativism to be a liberal. Nor do conservatives have to adhere to every idiot notion conservativism is stereotyped as holding.
See how that works? No? Yes?
Yet you say “all conservatives are evil” because they all believe “x.”
See the similarity in form there?
No? It’s different when the term “liberal” is plugged in, is it? The form of argument just magically changes?

“Explain why you think Buckley wasn't evil.”

Clearly we have different definitions of evil. Also “fight.”
Therefore any discussion on this topic is moot. And indeed, was moot from first principles since I’ve ceded that any pointed discussion of Buckley, here, is not only too broad a topic, but inappropriate.

I find it repugnant to lambast someone within the overall topic of their death. I find copious praise also inappropriate. (A general discussion, I think, is more appropriate to a notice of death.
Of course, that’s just my take and other folks are free to say whatever they wish. I merely don’t have to like it.)

I’ve also stated that it is a matter of perspective, where one’s focus is, that determines an opinion of a given individual. Buckley said some very interesting things (as did Jefferson) and what he said that I find useful, I absorb (as with Jefferson). That which I dislike, I discard or, if necessary, refute.

Similarly - not only have I put aside this point in favor of my other position (which seems to have entirely escaped you) but I’ve actually augmented your position by stating where one disagree’s with an idea, an opinion, and so forth, one should argue against them. That such things are perfectly fair game.

Again, I find it distasteful here, in this specific and singular instance, but that’s the only exception.
And indeed, I would assert that my position - that refutation on a point by point basis without resorting to gainsaying or name calling or other rhetorical tricks - is a more effective a form of communication because it fosters a dialogue with ANYONE.

Evil, to me, is answerable only by force since I find, by experience, communication is impossible once force is initiated and folks who are evil can only be stopped by force. Otherwise they will persist.
Our conceptions of evil are enough alien to each other that I’m willing to let that term pass and attempt to take it as I suspect you mean it.

That being the case, I have, again, augmented that point by previous statements here that ideas one disagrees with can (and must) be refuted, argued, opposed, and so forth.
Of course oppression of African-Americans should be, and should have been, opposed. And in fact, it was. People spoke out about it, against it, and so forth.

But it’s exactly the point that Buckely INVITED such dialogue. It’s exactly the point that Buckley engaged people on his show. His words, his perspective, might have been wrong, but he did not refuse to hear out, engage and dialogue with opposing positions even when - ESPECIALLY WHEN - he lost. Folks here revelled in the fact that “Buckley lost to Chomsky” in a debate. Whether he won or lost, whether he was right or wrong, he was willing to engage in the exchange and exploration of ideas.
Being wrong on a given topic is a far far cry from utilizing the media to extinguish and smother other points of view.
Buckley evoked them. Whatever he said, what he did in form was to extend or accept an invitation to dialogue.
Buckely, castigated by you as a racist hate monger, had Rev. Jesse Jackson on his show. He explored a wide variety of political topics - whether he agreed with them or not.

My misgiving then, with your apparent position is that it is exactly as myopic in form as the position(s) you espouse opposing as “evil”- except they are of a different flavor. “Liberal” instead of “conservative.” “Good” instead of “evil.”

For me, being right, morally or otherwise, does not carry with it the right to condemnation on it’s own merits. An issue must be discussed, facets must be considered, opinions must be weighed and merit and weight must be assigned so that understanding can be reached. Political movement without understanding leads to resistance.

That, then, appears to be our central disagreement. And it is a real conservative vs. “liberal” world view.

I would rather take measured steps and not risk the possibility of unintended consequences by running roughshod over other people - whether they are mistaken, wrong (or “evil”).

You would remove this judicious consideration, skip past argument, reconciliation, understanding and adjustment and move straight to assignation of blame (your position on punishment is unclear) and hold certain parties responsible for failing on a scale set by... well, that’s unclear as well - for me such movements or shifts (in power, politics, weath, et.al) are bound by the form they take, for you, by your own words, assignation of good and evil are not bound by form but by “right” or “wrong.”

Thus, I strongly disagree.

(My disagreement with the real liberal perspective is very mild, and only because I distrust reason not to be clouded by the immediacy of need and/or the expediancy of any given generation.
To use a ham-handed analogy - it is very hard to convince a man that a given position is immoral if that is how he makes his money. Humans can very easily convince themselves something is the right thing to do.)


“The same, BTW, goes for your Coulter inspired talking point re: churches and same sex marriage.”

And herein lies the problem. You insist on interpreting statements through your fanatic black and white world view. (Moral absolutism does not demand exclusivity)

My statement was an example, an illustration of that which exists. People do hold that opinion - that marriage does equal the church, and indeed, there are homosexuals that do wish to get married in church.

That such situations exist and that I illustrate them does not mean I hold any particular view, just that the issue is multifaceted. Not that you, of course, would understand that.

And you don’t understand what I meant - not because you’re ignorant - but because you genuinely desire not to understand my point and refuse to dialogue. By your own admission - I - as a conservative - am not worth genuine engagement because I’m “evil.”
You insist that my statement must be derived from Ann Coulter because it appears to be hateful. My position is not worth a careful read nor is it worth consideration or taking the effort to understand.
I am evil, therefore you are right in insulting me.
And, further, right in not understanding my argument, all the while refuting it, and with the same derivative form you accuse me of using.
(Orwell called this duckspeak)

But the misunderstanding is a simple one - I’m trying to illustrate a point, you’re trying to push your world view.
(And *I’M* the one that’s inspired by Coulter?)

I might be tempted to eludicate further, but, as I said, we’re not arguing the same point.
Yours, I’ve either agreed to or ceded where I’ve allowed for exception in definition - but mine, although very simple, you refuse to engage or address, or even, apparently, understand.

And you’ve exhausted even my patience (and that, truly, is saying something). (Also, Thomas the Tank Engine is on, so....)
posted by Smedleyman at 12:37 PM on March 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


10 Zen Monkeys on Collected Controversies of William F. Buckley.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:14 PM on March 5, 2008


Gore Vidal eulogizes Buckley. "Although [he] was often drunk and out of control, he was always a spontaneous liar on any subject that his dizzy brain might extrude."
posted by Dave Faris at 9:34 AM on March 21, 2008


I rarely like Vidal either, his prose corpulent and his characterizations facile, but that was a fantastic line in a decent, angry exhumation.
posted by klangklangston at 11:23 AM on March 21, 2008


I would actually said that Buckley was anti-articulate, or whatever is the exact opposite of articulate. He mumbled and slurred and used sesquipedalian words where the mot juste should have been one or two syllables. But, he always sounded great, if you accepted his paradigms for a minute or two. Of course you couldn't accept them for any longer than that without taking some type of rhetorical anti-rejection medication, as if premises were either half-truths or complete falsehoods.
posted by psmealey at 11:53 AM on March 21, 2008


While we're comparing him to Vidal, though, I agree with klangklangston. I always found him to be pompous, vain and humorless. Buckley was pompous and vain, but he was not without humor.
posted by psmealey at 11:56 AM on March 21, 2008


Seriously, I find Vidal to be one of the most deeply funny writers around, when he wants to be. One of my all time favorite lines is from Palimpsest, his memoir, where he says: "That was the last time I saw Truman Capote, until I mistook him for an ottoman in Venice years later." There are others, almost all nasty, but many very funny. There's one about an Alsastian and the Sitwells and homosexuality that I can't remember but which I liked enough to have this vague memory of it tens years after reading it. (That was in America, his collected essays.)
posted by OmieWise at 12:03 PM on March 21, 2008


Thanks, OmieWise. I may well have been too hasty a judge. I recently read (in the last three years) "the Last Empire" which covers his essays during the end of the Watergate era through to Ford, Carter and the energy shock years. While these were incredibly prescient, particularly in light of not only the events of the past seven years, but moreover the past SEVEN DAYS (e.g.: Bear Stearns), reading them was about as much fun as sitting through a tax audit.
posted by psmealey at 9:30 PM on March 21, 2008


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