The Neoconservative Fairy Tale

Last week, “conservative” Michael Anton at American Greatness published a lengthy hit piece on yours truly. He didn’t like my attack on the 1776 Commission in Chronicles magazine, and he was clearly personally insulted that I called out some of the people who wrote the report.

These are his friends, and he circled the wagons. I can respect that. I do the same for my friends when needed.

In the process, however, he personally attacked me and made some outrageous claims.

Neocons are going to neocon, and I normally overlook such nonsense, but because he made it a personal rather than a simple substantive polemic, I had to fire back.

My response will be in a forthcoming issue of Chronicles.

In the meantime, Paul Gottfried came to my defense at American Greatness.

Anton responded with a piece that I found as poorly argued as his first.

This might be “in the weeds” material to a lot of you on this list, but the dispute between Anton and his Claremont/Hillsdale College buddies and the old right has been ongoing for decades.

It centers on one thing, or more accurately, one person: Abraham Lincoln.

You see, to the Claremont people, Lincoln was a conservative who upheld the founding principle that “all men are created equal.” That proposition nation has been used by every leftist group of the last century to advance their agenda, and Anton finds this to be conservative.

He argues that the principle was not incorrect, just the application. But that raises the question, if such a principle can be so distorted, is the principle correct? Or more importantly, what was the original intent of that principle?

I suggested Anton and every other neoconservative has gotten this wrong over the years. Anton doesn’t like being called a neoconservative, but if it walks like a neocon and sounds like a neocon, and if the founder of your “school” is the founder of neconservatism, you might be a neoconservative.

I am not alone in making this point. Willmoore Kendall, Mel Bradford and a host of others pointed out the problem with the “proposition nation” thesis decades ago.

Anton can’t seem to understand that his quest to appease the left, or at least manufacture “the softer side of conservatism” is what’s allowed the progressives to own the field. He still wants to be loved, even if it means lying.

And yes, Anton and the neocons lie. Lincoln was no conservative in his time or in ours. The founders were not “anti-racist” nor were the majority actively “anti-slavery.” Many found fault with the institution but most didn’t do anything about it, even when they could.

They talked about “equality” while passing legislation prohibiting free blacks from voting. This is the problem with their great moral singular republic.

Anton contends that if this is true, we can’t admire the founding generation. I think otherwise. They may not hold the same views or values on some things that we do today, but they were the greatest generation in American history.

It’s not even close for the runner up. No other generation drafted two constitutions for the United States, won two wars against the British, or wrote over a dozen State constitutions. I am fine with their faults. Everyone should be. We wouldn’t be here without them.

As for Anton, he will never concede that his “school” is wrong because that would undermine his entire philosophical position. But by promoting such nonsense, he allows the left to punch holes in his arguments and makes the right look silly and disingenuous. That alone should give anyone pause.

I discuss Anton in Episode 440 of The Brion McClanahan Show.

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