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What Happened to Respect For Thought?

October 16, 2008

Respect for intelligent thought has taken yet another blow in the last few days. For those who haven’t kept up on this one, I’ll recount the events that have brought me to this conclusion. Christopher Buckley has been forced to resign from the magazine his father, William F. Buckley, started – the National Review. The reason? He gave a reasoned, intelligent statement about why he is supporting Obama as President of the United States. For this, he has been called a traitor, a communist, and accused of denigrating the memory of his father, and was forced to resign from the NR. Buckley has posted a follow up to this, describing the fallout.

This is truly a sad day for all who respect thoughtful discourse in this country. I’m not going to suggest for a moment that I am someone who reads the National Review. I tend to not agree with the tenets that it purveys, and therefore tend only to read NR articles when there is something of interest or relating to something I’m researching at the moment. But the one thing I have always respected about the NR under Buckley was the amazing amount of respect given to intelligence. Agree with him or not, no one can say that William F. Buckley Jr. didn’t place a very high value on intelligence and free thought. In fact, William Buckley Jr. himself, towards the end of his life, was quite dismayed by the policies of GW Bush, and had made many statements that he feared the evangelical takeover of the party he spent his life supporting.

While I will not agree with Buckley’s endorsement on this site (who I vote for will remain an unknown, in order to remain as unbiased as possible), I will defend his endorsement for its thoughtful tone. It is obvious that Buckley did not come to his conclusion easily, and without much internal debate. For him to be forced to resign from the NR is nothing short of hypocrisy, and places a giant stain on the publication for any who once saw it as a repository for thoughtful conservatism. But to add insult to injury, not only has Buckley been forced to resign, but his name has been removed from the NRs list of authors online, and I can find no archived articles from him. This kind of purging of the record takes that stain, adds a bit more to the top of it, and then irons it in. I can think of no reason for purging the articles of a journalist who has been forced to resign because he has come into disfavor over a current political opinion. The National Review should be ashamed of themselves. William Buckley is most likely rolling over in his grave right now, wishing that his name, too, would be purged from the frankensteinian creation his magazine has become.

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