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I Thought I Understood the American Right.

 
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justintyme



Joined: 08 Jul 2012
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PostPosted: 04/11/17 6:25 pm    ::: I Thought I Understood the American Right. Reply Reply with quote

This is a long but really interesting read from one of the top historians of Conservatism in America, and how the rise of Trumpism has him rexamining the assumptions he and his fellow historians have made over the years, and the conclusions they had previously drawn.

RICK PERLSTEIN: I Thought I Understood the American Right. Trump Proved Me Wrong.

Quote:
After the election, Ribuffo told me that if he were to write a similar response today, he would call it, “Why Is There So Much Scholarship on ‘Conservatism,’ and Why Has It Left the Historical Profession So Obtuse About Trumpism?” One reason, as Ribuffo argues, is the conceptual error of identifying a discrete “modern conservative movement” in the first place. Another reason, though, is that historians of conservatism, like historians in general, tend to be liberal, and are prone to liberalism’s traditions of politesse. It’s no surprise that we are attracted to polite subjects like “colorblind conservatism” or William F. Buckley.

Our work might have been less obtuse had we shared the instincts of a New York University professor named Kim Phillips-Fein. “Historians who write about the right should find ways to do so with a sense of the dignity of their subjects,” she observed in a 2011 review, “but they should not hesitate to keep an eye out for the bizarre, the unusual, or the unsettling.”


Quote:
Anti-Semitism in America declined after World War II. But as Leo Ribuffo points out, the underlying narrative — of a diabolical transnational cabal of aliens plotting to undermine the very foundations of Christian civilization — survived in the anti-Communist diatribes of Joseph McCarthy. The alien narrative continues today in the work of National Review writers like Andrew McCarthy (“How Obama Embraces Islam’s Sharia Agenda”) and Lisa Schiffren (who argued that Obama’s parents could be secret Communists because “for a white woman to marry a black man in 1958, or ’60, there was almost inevitably a connection to explicit Communist politics”). And it found its most potent expression in Donald Trump’s stubborn insistence that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

Trump’s connection to this alternate right-wing genealogy is not just rhetorical.


Quote:
Future historians won’t find all that much of a foundation for Trumpism in the grim essays of William F. Buckley, the scrupulous constitutionalist principles of Barry Goldwater or the bright-eyed optimism of Ronald Reagan. They’ll need instead to study conservative history’s political surrealists and intellectual embarrassments, its con artists and tribunes of white rage. It will not be a pleasant story. But if those historians are to construct new arguments to make sense of Trump, the first step may be to risk being impolite.



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