Fellow Canadian Kathy Shaidle sends her latest Taki’s Magazine column, “Beta Male Suckiness at National Review.” In it I learn that Kathy’s benevolence approaches the saintly; only recently has she terminated her subscription to National Review (NR). I did so about 15 years ago. The Alberta Report, a Canadian paleoconservative publication with libertarian leanings, soon became the subscription of choice in the home of this budget-conscious, coupon-clipping, immigrant. (Scientific American was another guilty pleasure.)
Why, you ask, would a budding libertarian not patronize Reason Magazine? Well, once one becomes familiar with the libertarianism and writings of the American Old Right—Garet Garrett, Frank Chodorov, Felix Morley, James McClellan, Russell Kirk, Clyde Wilson; as well as Murray Rothbard, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand, on and on—Reason rings hollow; its writers ooze a post-graduate cleverness lacking in philosophical depth. Yes (and yawn), we libertarians favor a free market in kidneys and drugs. No, this libertarian has no desire to read desiccated disquisitions on these dry-as-dust topics.
Then there is the delicate matter of my one-off submission to Reason. Here I must pause to apologize to our readers (who’re probably none the wiser) for the frequent use, in this column, of the first person. A difference of opinion exists about this practice, so prevalent nowadays. I (that honestly hurt) consider its overuse a cardinal sin—even by writers who’ve earned the right to use the “Imperial I.” The more frequent the use of “I this; I that” in a column; the crappier the writing. So says I!
With that disclaimer out of the way, I’ll proceed with one of the few chatty columns I’m likely to write.
“How Things Would Work In A Copyright Free Universe” had found favor with the fair-minded, superb editor of Canada’s Financial Post (Larry Solomon). Not so the gatekeeper at Reason! He grumble that my piece fell short of Reason’s standards—so woefully inadequate was my essay; that said editor hastened to use the “inferior” material in his syndicated column that same week. Thus did Reason Magazine become synonymous with pomposity and dishonesty.
Back to Ms. Shaidle from whom I learn that a National Review editor has terminated Mark Steyn’s print-magazine column. I still recall searching frantically for Florence King’s back-page “Misanthrope’s Corner,” which was retired in 2002. That’s how long ago I bid “adios” to NR’s print version (I access Kevin D. Williamson online, as do I appreciate Josh Gelernter’s mention of my work on South Africa).
But why retire the Steyn byline? Steyn is a star. He also supports wars and is extremely talented. To wit, he managed to both defend and diss columnist John Derbyshire, who himself was dismissed from NR (where he freelanced), for writing “The Talk: Nonblack Version,” published, too, at Taki’s.
By the time the “girlie boys” of NR came for Ann Coulter, I was unaware the magazine still appeared in print. Ann’s column was expunged from National Review after 9/11. The reason? Most real people had a 9/11 moment. Miss Coulter’s cri de coeur was particularly memorable. For exhorting, “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity,” she was given the boot. This was a puzzling purge, considering neoconservatives promptly adopted her recommendations, invaded Muslim countries and killed their leaders.
In fact, the neoconservatives at NR supported all Coulter’s recommendations save the peaceful one (Christian conversion). Still do. Clicking through the ENORMOUS icons on the new NR website reveals that Lindsey Graham, John McCain’s evil ideological twin, is touted alongside the Patriot Act, whose “expiration” is mourned. (Fear not, fearless ones, your metadata remains unsafe. The USA Freedom Act, to replace Section 215 of the Patriot Act, is a mere mutation. It privatizes the Patriot Act, by co-opting corporations into the service of the Surveillance State.)
Kathy Shaidle is displeased with NR for different reasons. She floats the possibility that founder William F. Buckley might have, “allegedly,” covered up for “liberal celebrity pedophile” Gore Vidal.
Unlike Buckley, whose prose was impenetrable, Gore Vidal was a brilliant belletrist, who dazzled with his original insights, and was wonderfully unsparing about assorted anal activists and all manner of “vulgar fagism.”
Personally, I’m more inclined to forgive the late Mr. Vidal his “predilections”—”poor choices,” as reality TV’s Duggar dynasty absolves child molestation—than I am to succor the simpering, sanctimonious, fruitfully multiplying Duggars, and their priapic son (Josh), who preyed on his sisters.
As to why talent is vanishing from the TV screens and mastheads of mainstream media (which is what NR is): There’s a reason that everywhere the likes of S. E. Cupp, Kimberly G-string, Juan Williams, Alan Colmes, Judy Miller, Kirsten Powers, Leslie Marhsall, Andrea Tantaros, Jedediah Bilious, Margaret Hoover, Dana Perino, Kathryn Jean Lopez, Rich Lowry, Katherine Timpf (OMG!), Hannity’s Tamara Holder (OMG! again) and their editorial enablers are weighing in on weighty matters: However hard they try—the aforementioned cannot outsmart their hosts and higher-ups.
Indeed, mediocrity strives for conformity. Republicans have their own fellatio machine to maintain. For the GOP political establishment, intellectual equilibrium is optimally maintained when the Cupps outnumber the Coulters, the Malkins and the Steyns; a reality that would remain unaltered were James Burnham, Russell Kirk and H. L. Mencken themselves to materialize before our very eyes.
Ilana Mercer is a paleolibertarian writer, based in the U.S. She is a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. Her latest book is “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South Africa.” Her website is www.IlanaMercer.com. Follow her on Twitter. “Friend” her on Facebook.