Monday, April 03, 2006

"Dismissive" indeed

I just LOVE this from Dreher's letter to NRO complaining about Jonah Goldberg: "But the fact that he [Goldberg] dismisses a neo-traditionalist critique of the contemporary Right and of American life as mere 'popular liberal-Left assumptions' and even 'narcissism' says more about him [Goldberg] than it does about my book." Umm, who was dismissing whom here? Talk about dismissive - here is the sum and substance of Dreher's response to Goldberg, as published for all to read on the Crunchy con blog:

3/20: I’m not going to open up that “debate” here again.

3/9 The last thing I want to do is start another endless round of back-and-forth with those determined not to take any of this neotraditionalism seriously.

3/3: I’m just not interested in debating whether or not this sensibility exists, at least not in the few weeks this blog is going to be up on NRO....Just count me out. I’m not mad about it, just bored with it.

3/1: Jonah, honestly... I don’t want to get sidetracked into an endless discussion of right-wing tribal politics.

In other words, Dreher picked up his marbles and said, "I not playing!" Newsflash to Dreher: real, substantive critiques are meant to be challenged. Those who claim to have formulated such critiques are meant to respond directly to such challenges. If the formulator is incapable of such a response, such failure demonstrates the critique is so flawed as to be entirely without substance.


Blogger Harrison said...

I knew you guys really weren't gonna' close down shop. Not with Rod on the loose and Jonah twittin' him every chance he can.

11:08 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

They seem to have a real problem with honest debate and moderate challenges. I've learned this both from reading the CC blog and personally in my very brief email dialogue with a member of that blog. If they can't answer something, they get "bored with it" and drop the discussion.

In the crunchier times of the medieval villages debates were welcomed and objections were met with replies. Dreher missed his chance this time around, but maybe his next work could be a Summa Cruncilogica in the style of Aquinas' great work. Should sell well.

6:08 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

For those who are interested, here is a link to a post by Jonah Goldberg where he posts Rod's letter in full and replies.

It's perhaps worth noting that Rod's letter was to NRODT (Nat'l Review On Dead Tree) and was published in the most recent (April 10th) issue. It's a little bigger than their normal sparring in the Corner.

It was in response to an article Jonah wrote for the March 27th issue. The gist of the article is that conservatism isn't as popular as we would like, and we should not let idealogical purity override the need to make progress politically: "Living in a powerless ghetto with no loaf is surely not preferable to living in the real world with half of one."

His comments about crunchy conservatism were practically a digression. Since the passage is (relatively) short, I'm reposting it here in its entirety.

In the last half-decade, a slew of writers have devised new conservative-sounding programs and fads to make popular or progressive ideas and sentiments sound authentically conservative. From South Park Republicans, to whatever “movement” Andrew Sullivan claims to be leading this month, to Rod Dreher’s “crunchy cons,” the impulse seems to be to take any “good” thing and call it “conservative.” Part of this is the naturally seductive appeal of populism. If “the people” are for it, well, it must be good. And if it’s good, there must be some way to make it “conservative.” So, for example, Dreher embraces a smorgasbord of popular liberal-Left assumptions about the environment, organic foods, and whatnot and says that, since he is a good conservative, these things must be conservative too. This narcissism caused him to support a pro-choice liberal Democrat over Joe Barton, the incumbent pro-life conservative in his congressional district, because Barton is “soft” on pollution. “I wonder,” writes Dreher, “why it doesn’t occur to these voters — and their pastors — that the fact that their children suffer from asthma and respiratory diseases is a family-values issue.”

Jonah doesn't merely accuse Rod of narcissism; he backs up the accusation with the evidence of Rod's support of a pro-choice liberal Democrat because of his position on air pollution.

In what was published as his reply, Rod doesn't actually address this apparent example of contorting conservatism.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Hypothetical Jurist said...

As a side note, Jonah's article was an expansion of a recent talk with Peter Schramm, which is available as a podcast or mp3 here.

11:38 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Thanks, HJ, that was definitely worth a listen. I understand Jonah's point and about narcissism better now. He goes a good ways toward explaining why purist ideologues on both sides get so pessimistic about their parties.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Jonah just pointed out this critique of Crunchy Conservatism by Joseph Rago on the New Criterion website.

12:04 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

pshaw. New Criterion -- another bunch of "mindless slobs". right Rovira/Neal Liszt?

1:49 PM  
Blogger The Contra Crunchy said...

Damn! That was such a beatdown Dreher's grandchildren are gonna have bruises.

6:31 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Yeah - I feel mild in my criticisms of CC compared to comments like this latest one at the Right Reason post from a commentor named Dave:

My guess is that in 20 years, Rod will look at CRUNCHY CONS and say, "What the hell was I thinking?" Either that, or he'll be known as L. Rod Dreher, head of the Church of Crunchology.

Ooooooooooooh! and Tom Cruise's grandson will be on "Good Morning America" touting Granola as a cure for mental illness.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Pauli, pauli, pauli: you're glib.

5:51 AM  

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