Saturday, April 21, 2007

Conservatism and Dishonesty

Is dishonesty a core value of modern conservatism? Mark Kleinman calls attention to Ross Douhthat:

1. Professional racist Steve Sailer writes a dishonest, bigoted anti-Obama screed for The American Conservative, in which he grossly misrepresents Obama's Dreams from My Father.

2. Assistant editor Alex Koznetski, having failed to convince his bosses not to print a piece of lying trash, quits The American Conservative in protest.

3. Ross Douthat makes fun of Koznetski:

If you're not at least somewhat conservative, you probably shouldn't go to work for a magazine called, um, The American Conservative. And if you do, you probably shouldn't get all outraged and resign in protest when they turned out to be, um, conservative.

So telling racist lies is a natural and expected part of being, "um, conservative"? (Douthat doesn't challenge Konetski's careful account of the falsehood of Sailer's review, or Sailer's own solidly racist credentials as a contributor to the VDare website.)

Douthat is not alone. Via The Cheerful Iconoclast, we get a link to Steve Sailer's response to Konetski, and Sailor quotes James Antle writing on the American Spectator blog:

This kind of groundbreaking investigative reporting is why I read the Washington Monthly. I confess: When I went to work for the American Conservative, I was shocked to discover it was a conservative magazine. Then I came to The American Spectator and quickly learned that by some strange coincidence, it too was a conservative magazine!

Douthat makes it very clear that, for him, conservativism implies dishonesty. James Antle's writing is slightly more ambiguous, but if he's not saying that conservativism implies dishonesty, it's not clear what his point is. Koznetski was willing to work for a magazine that espoused conservative opinions, but not one that lied to its readers.

It's hard for an outsider to tell whether dishonesty is a core value of modern conservatism, but when Douthat, a former intern at the National Review, or Antle, who works for the conservative magazine The American Spectator, say it is, that has to carry some weight.


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