May 24, 2014
Maybe because unlike most leftists I actually went through the experience of being a conservative, the prospect of a right-left convergence leaves me cold. This project has been around for a long time, exemplified by Justin Raimondo’s antiwar.com. Since I remember all too well what an asshole I was back in 1960 as a 15-year-old member of the Young Americans for Freedom, my tendency is to avoid anybody with even a glancing similarity to what I once was, starting with the creepy Raimondo. There, but for the grace of god and immense peer pressure from Bard College classmates, go I.
A couple of days ago I found out that David Bromwich, a big-time literature professor at Yale, has decided that he has lots in common with the right—at least what used to be called the isolationist wing of it. You got a glimpse of what that was about when Rush Limbaugh, who always puts a minus where Obama puts a plus, told his listeners that the USA had no interest in supporting the Islamic radicals in Syria. Guess what website he cited in support of this? Global Research. What strange bedfellows…
People are probably aware that Bromwich has been one of the more vocal defenders of the Bashar al-Assad dictatorship in snooty venues such as the NY Review of Books and the London Review of Books. Here’s an excerpt from an interview that might put that into context:
Q: Who, specifically, are the "right-wing libertarians" you just mentioned and whose intellectual and political company you’re finding increasingly congenial?
A: Some of the political commentators you find in The American Conservative—for example, Daniel Larison. Some of the sharpest critiques of American imperialism under Bush-Cheney and now under Obama have come from Patrick Buchanan. In some ways he’s a very bad man, but he’s a consistent anti-imperialist. When I say this to liberal friends, they say, "How dare you read this man!"
The aforementioned American Conservative is a big favorite with those favoring a left-right convergence including Ralph Nader who reached out to its editor for a conference in Washington 3 days from now. Both Bromwich and Nader are infatuated with a libertarian right that at least on some issues is to the "left" of Obama even as its economics are pure Ayn Rand and its racial views White Citizens Council.
Unstoppable Right/Left Convergence Event on May 27th
Join us Tuesday (May 27, 2014) for an unprecedented one day gathering that will convene leading experts from the Left and Right (such as Jim Hightower, Judson Phillips, Medea Benjamin, Bruce Fein, Ron Unz and more) to find common ground on many of the key issues of our time.
In his new book Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State, Ralph Nader explores the emerging political alignment of the Left and the Right against converging corporate-government autocracy and crony capitalism.
The purpose of the gathering is to convene unlikely allies to tackle the bold ideas of convergence presented in Unstoppable and turn them operational.
Call me dogmatic or something but I would not have anything to do with the likes of the Cato Institute or the Tea Party, whose representatives will be speaking there. Again, unlike most people on the left, I pay close attention to what these people are saying on AM Talk Radio and it is truly toxic. A close look at some of the speakers from the right at Nader’s conference should persuade you why it is dead wrong in its approach.
I am sure that Nader invited Daniel McCarthy, the editor of the American Conservative magazine, to speak on a panel about the defense budget because he is for shrinking it and for staying out overseas wars. The magazine extols Edward Snowden and opposes torture, so what’s not to like? At first blush, their praise of Walter Jones, a Republican Congressman from North Carolina might make sense since Jones is "antiwar" in the approved manner.
But somehow there’s some disgruntled Black people in his state that are unhappy with his appearance on a white nationalist radio show as Mother Jones reporter Tim Murphy pointed out:
A North Carolina Republican congressman appeared on a notorious white nationalist radio program on Saturday to talk up legislation he coauthored accusing President Barack Obama of committing impeachable offenses. Rep. Walter Jones, a fiercely anti-war congressman who often breaks with his party on key votes, appeared on the Political Cesspool, a Memphis-based program hosted by ardent white nationalists James Edwards and Eddie Miller.
An avowed white nationalist who says David Duke is "above reproach," Edwards has referred to African Americans as "heathen savages" and "subhuman" and suggested that slavery was "the greatest thing that ever happened" to blacks. The show’s mission statement is blunt: "We represent a philosophy that is pro-White and are against political centralization," it declares. It then outlines a series of issues the show exists to promote. "We wish to revive the White birthrate above replacement level fertility and beyond to grow the percentage of Whites in the world relative to other races," reads one plank. Another bullet point endorses the Confederacy: "Secession is a right of all people and individuals. It was successful in 1776 and this show honors those who tried to make it successful in 1865."
Maybe the fact that there is not a single panel on race issues or a single Black speaker at Nader’s confab is related to the fact that Daniel McCarthy’s nod to a slug like Walter Jones gets overlooked.
Moving down the line, we see that Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips was invited to speak at a panel on trade that is moderated by Nader. I wonder if Nader will be motivated to ask Phillips some questions not exactly about trade during the Q&A. Or if anybody would, for that matter?
Phillips is on record as favoring the vote for property owners exclusively, a key weapon of the Jim Crow south. He also urged a vote against Keith Ellison because he is a Muslim. Finally his website publishes articles like "Cliven Bundy Racist? So What?" that asserts "there is no institutionalized racism in the United States." Oh, right. But I guess this is outweighed by his opposition to NAFTA. This, of course, is old news with Nader. Ten years ago he courted the Right over their shared protectionist views.
Bruce Fein is probably the most prestigious rightwinger invited to speak there. On the final panel, he shares his views on Empire that are about the same as you can find on antiwar.com or American Conservative. Fein was Ronald Reagan’s Assistant Attorney General and now works with the Future for Freedom Foundation, among other libertarian-oriented causes.
It takes a little bit of digging to find out more about Fein’s opinions on different matters that require some consideration by the left beyond his "antiwar" views. Going through the NY Times archives, I discovered:
Right wingers? You can keep 'em as far as I am concerned.