Thursday, February 28, 2008

Buckley's Legacy: We're Soaking In It

Years ago I taught math in a small college. I could tell you lots of stories about that. But today: just one.

There was a time when I used to meet some of my math students every week in the library, to help them with their physics. I helped them because I liked them, but I really didn't understand why they needed the help. These were my brightest students, the material wasn't very difficult, and their physics teacher had been the college's "Teacher of the Year" twice in the previous three years. But none of them knew what they were doing. Very strange.

One day I couldn't stand the mystery anymore and I asked, "What can you tell me about your physics teacher?"

"He's very brilliant," one of them said, and all the others nodded.

"How do you know he's brilliant?" I asked, and the answer came back right away:

"Because nobody understands anything he says."

I didn't ask them any more questions. I was thinking, "If he's really a brilliant teacher, why can't he explain these simple concepts in terms everybody can understand?" But I knew that was a wrong question -- nobody could have answered it.

Human nature: if somebody says something incomprehensible, if he's confident and glib, and especially if he's being paid to say it, most of us won't question him. We just assume he must be brilliant and we must be stupid; otherwise surely we would understand him. And quite often -- unless somebody comes along to intervene -- the charlatan is regarded as a prophet, and the nonsense he's spewing becomes accepted as revealed wisdom.

So it's almost but not quite astonishing to see the allegedly liberal media and some very supposedly dissident journalists fawning over the rotting corpse of William F. Buckley Jr.

How quickly they have forgotten ... or never noticed ... or never dared to mention ... the essential fact of his career (not to mention his life): Buckley was an astonishingly gifted man who devoted his considerable intellect to the toughest challenge known to literate man.

"He made conservatism respectable", the obituaries say. Think of what that means.

The "conservatism" in question is a transparent fiction: at its core is an essential denial of humanity. The motto of this "respectable" conservatism was made famous in a song:
I'm all right, Jack, keep your hands off my stack!
In more concrete terms, Buckley's "respectable conservatism" strives to give more wealth to the wealthy, and more power to the powerful, and a big fat middle finger to everybody else.

This agenda is obviously and completely at odds with the desires and needs of at least 99% of the population, so back when America was a democracy, there was no tougher job than making this agenda of greed seem like a "respectable" political "philosophy".

And William F. Buckley was better at that job than anyone.

He used his enormous vocabulary to intimidate people, and to hide more truth than he revealed. He sold his readers and listeners a pack of lies, most of which they didn't even understand. And he made them think he was brilliant.

In a sense, he was. He helped convince a generation or three of American "intellectuals" that policies leading to the death and destruction of millions of people were somehow humane and righteous.

These very useful idiots in turn helped to brainwash Americans by the tens of millions. Everywhere in America -- not only in so-called "red states" -- you can find otherwise intelligent people who regularly vote for the politicians most inimical to their interests, and the interests of their children.

This is the brilliant legacy of William F. Buckley.

He baffled our fathers with bullshit, and now look -- we're soaking in it!