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Wednesday, March 19, 2003

A Half-Century of Bigotry?-David Frum has a opus of a smackdown of paleoconservatives this morning; go grab a big beverage of choice and commence to reading. This didn't stay untouched for long, Davie D and Peter Sean Bradley have already added four cents to the collection. One of the interesting things is the overlapping of paleolibertarian and paleoconservative movements. Paleolibs like Llewellyn Rockwell (did Mr. Frum used Lew's full name to make him sound like some aristocrat of questionable sexual preference) and Justin Raimondo (I hadn't heard of him before I started blogging and he did one of the great trolls of all time) get put in with the paleocons. I'm not sure if the entire paleo endeavor is quite as bigoted as the piece makes them out to be, for Frum's got a half-century of the paleo's most distasteful quotes. Davie seems to have a good framework for discussion, comparing the paleo's Racial Nationalism with Civic Nationalism. There is always a temptation to look towards a small we, and paleocons have a tight definition of American that covers Western European Christianity; people from outside that area are grudgingly welcomed as individuals but not as groups. Civic Nationalism goes for the bigger we, looking at America as a set of ideas rather than an ethnic group. [update 5AM 3/20- What follows is talking about paleocons in general and not any one of Frums targets in particular] Not every paleocon is a bigot; they don't mind the Pakistani doctor or the Hispanic mechanic as individuals, but they're often distrustful of groups outside of standard Euro-American groups. However, they're not comfortable with people from outside their culture. My grandma would say of an well-spoken black "He's not a nig--r." Non-Europeans have to earn their status as American to these old-school folks. Jews get the same treatment; the individual Jew's OK, but the group's not quite trusted. It's more ethnocentrism than racism that seems to be driving the paleos; they don't have a problem with racial and ethnic minorities as long as the blend into the larger culture and don't rock the boat. It's more a culture than the "white race" that they're defending. They may be taken aback if their daughter brings home a black guy from college to meet her parents, but it's a comfort with the known and a discomfort of the foreign (I coined xenoskeptic last year to cover this) that seems to drive them. I can't bash paleocons too much, for my Grandpa Kraenzlein would have qualified as one; I could have easily seen him voting for Buchanan in the '92 primaries (but not in 2000). People are raised with various bigotries; you have to teach people how to be racists, for little kids will see past skin tone until their taught that those other kids are badly different. A lot of paleocons want to get rid of those bigotries, but old habits die hard. Those bigotries seem to be gradually going away, but not as quickly as we'd like.

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