Sohrab and the Chocolate Factory

 

If you’re a regular listener to the Commentary Podcast, you probably came to know Sohrab Ahmari in his capacity as a contributor to that enterprise. Sohrab’s immigration to America from Iran and subsequent conversion to Catholicism have also produced a much-discussed memoir – From Fire by Water – and another outgrowth; the curious creation of an entirely new branch of conservatism, which he calls “David French-ism.” Setting aside for a moment that nascent political movements love to identify heretics and then place them on trial in order to better indulge the narcissism of small differences (this gets the juices of the true believers flowing), what is this thing and why should we care?

The definition he gives of this philosophy is that it essentially consists of a “polite, (David French-ian) third way around the cultural civil war.” That’s it. The notion of “liberalism” itself is called into question as liberalism is inherently agnostic about ends, and cares considerably more about the means by which cultural and political questions are sorted out. This is clearly seen by Ahmari and those at First Things as some type of bug, not a feature. David has done a better job of defending himself from this spurious straw-man than I likely can, but I’m more interested in the other side… in what French-ism’s flip side “Ahmari-ism” consists of.

What is its goal? Again, Ahmari: “[T]o fight the culture war with the aim of defeating the enemy and enjoying the spoils in the form of a public square re-ordered to the common good and ultimately the Highest Good.”

What is it that Sohrab really wants out of politics? An Everlasting Gobstopper, obviously. (Record Scratch…) Whaaat? Follow me for just a moment while we go on a wee side journey.

The fundamental unreality of the whole situation baffled me until I began to contemplate this contretemps from a different perspective – that of a morality play. In this play, Sohrab takes on the role of Charlie Bucket, from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in which the titular hero is a poverty-stricken yet well-meaning urchin living in a Dickensian hellscape. Eating candy seems to be the primary obsession of this wasted and evil society; indeed, the consumption of Wonka treats provides the only meaningful release from the suffering induced by the grinding poverty afflicting the Bucket family, and Charlie in particular. The Wonka Company itself essentially forms the confines of the public square around which everybody gathers in the Wonka-verse.

In the story, other vices which bedevil the world are also put on display such as avarice, sloth, and gluttony. Note how cleverly this ties into the crises of morality which supposedly inflict America? Obesity, opioids, pornography, and divorce… Tell us, Sohrab:

How do we promote the good of the family against the deracinating forces arrayed against it, some of them arising out of the free market (pornography) and others from the logic of maximal autonomy (no-fault divorce)? “We should reverse cultural messages that for too long have denigrated the fundamental place of marriage in public life.” Oh, OK. How do we combat the destruction wrought by drugs (licit and illicit), by automation and globalization and other forces of the kind?

Hm. This sounds very similar to the Dahl’s-eye view of society that Ahmari holds up as being the natural outcome of the “Liberal” order: a culture which appeals primarily to the basest instincts and leaves people in a Bucket-like spiritual penury, constantly looking to inhale the next treat and forget the searing pain of their miserable existence.

The ill-considered conflation Ahmari engages in is to equate “Liberty” with “License.” This linguistic sleight of hand intentionally divorces liberty from its necessary counterpart: responsibility.

But as you know, the story moves on. In the midst of this hedonism and debauchery, a great light appears on the horizon: Wonka himself is offering Golden Tickets contained within his sweets representing an opportunity to tour the facility where the candy is made. For the Buckets, the ticket means salvation; to be raised from the slough of despond into a kind of secular heaven.

For those with less pure motives, the ticket turns out to be poison. As Charlie and the assembled crew of heathens are ushered through Wonka’s factory, they are picked off one by one by the various temptations contained therein… not because Wonka is a sadist, mind you, but by their own intemperance. (I will leave you, gentle reader, to decipher the meaning of that particular allegory.)

Be that as it may, Ahmari advances the argument that the indulgence made possible by liberal values (the temptations of the factory) will ultimately get you sucked up a chocolate pipe, dropped down the trash chute (you’re a rotten egg, Veruca!) or generally waylaid because those same liberal values “failed to retard, much less reverse, the eclipse of permanent truths, family stability, communal solidarity, and much else.” But what are those permanent truths? Who gets to decide them and more importantly: who gets to enforce them? Ahmari is coy about this part, but if you read between the lines, the plot becomes clear.

The MacGuffin of the 1971 adaption of the book Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is that Everlasting Gobstopper I mentioned above. Getting that Gobstopper is the point of the Moral Journey that Ahmari thinks “David French-ism” isn’t up to handling.

His goal it seems is nothing short of gaining control of the factory to start churning out those Gobstoppers. What if you don’t like Gobstoppers? It is known that the Gobstopper is the ultimate truth of the candy universe, and all who deny it are wrong at least, and fools or evil at worst.

What do you think “a public square re-ordered to the common good and ultimately the Highest Good” means? Gobstoppers for all whether you like hard candy or not.

But there’s a little hitch at the end of the tale we all need to know:

Do you see what happened there? It seems in the end that even Charlie Bucket is more of a French-ite than an Ahmari-ite.

Not to get our pop culture metaphors hopelessly tangled, but if we’ve learned nothing else this year perhaps it is that we ought to be skeptical of placing those in power who would ruthlessly enforce their own judgment over what ultimate good consists of?

Remember: “They don’t get to choose.” Enjoy your Gobstoppers.

Published in Journalism
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There are 183 comments.

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  1. The Cloaked Gaijin Member

    When it comes to David French, I think of Bob Dole’s old joke about Christopher Dodd. Dodd’s name was just in front of Dole’s name in the roll call. If Senator Dole ever accidentally forgot what the issue was, he would just vote the opposite way as Dodd.

    That’s sort how I feel about David French. The conservatives who got completely consumed by the Trump madness should probably have left the stage until Trump passed or commented about other things. I would say that I miss The Editors podcast here on Ricochet, but when NR called up French to replace Reihan Salam that sort of made that podcast unlistenable. Flagship conservative podcast rendered unlistenable. Way to go geniuses!

    I hardly even heard of David French before Bill Kristol tried to get him to run for president. From nobody to possible presidential candidate to reliable cultural conservative Trump hater. You can complain about the cultural conservative Trump lovers, but I think the cultural conservative Trump haters now acting as the Puritan scolds against other conservatives are even worse.

    • #1
    • June 4, 2019, at 5:30 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  2. Drusus Coolidge

    The Cloaked Gaijin (View Comment):

    When it comes to David French…

    So…did you read the article? 

     

     

    • #2
    • June 4, 2019, at 5:35 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. Stina Member

    Ultimately, Ahmari’s anti-liberal philosophy is found in an exchange of essays given by a group of First Things guys. I linked to one in Mr. Watts’ post on the member feed and mentioned it in another post on this debate.

    These essays have also partially fueled my own essays here against “radical individualism”, what I guess is extreme autonomy.

    I find the essays to be pertinent when addressing how conservatism has failed our cultural demise and you can’t read the essay without admitting a great deal has been lost:

    In this world, gratitude to the past and obligations to the future are replaced by a near-universal pursuit of immediate gratification: Culture, rather than imparting the wisdom and experience of the past toward the end of cultivating virtues of self-restraint and civility, instead becomes synonymous with hedonic titillation, visceral crudeness, and distraction, all oriented toward promoting a culture of consumption, appetite, and detachment. As a result, seemingly self-maximizing but socially destructive behaviors begin to predominate in society.

    https://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/08/unsustainable-liberalism

     

    • #3
    • June 4, 2019, at 5:41 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  4. Drusus Coolidge

    I agree with you completely. One of the greatest virtues of the liberal order is that it is humble. It holds out at least the possibility that it is wrong, and creates the space in which to learn and grow. Compelled morality is no virtue. 

    I thought David hit the nail on the head in his podcast “Ordered Liberty” today when he finally expressed (out-loud) that perhaps he and those like Ahmari are no longer on the same side. Statism is statism regardless of how moral and just. And since we like to mock the socialist wannabes’ ahistoricism, can we admit that history isn’t kind to the notion that statism is ever moral and just? 

    • #4
    • June 4, 2019, at 5:41 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  5. Western Chauvinist Member

    Roger Kimball responds to the controversy:

    https://amgreatness.com/2019/06/01/sohrab-ahmari-and-our-existential-struggle/

    What Roger said.

    • #5
    • June 4, 2019, at 5:44 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. HeavyWater Coolidge

    I don’t agree with David French on every political issue. But I like the fact that he has been willing to stand up to the tendency of some to enforce a rigid Trumpist orthodoxy. 

    When Emperor Trump is wearing no clothes, French won’t blow smoke in your face and tell you that Trump is dressed for success.

    • #6
    • June 4, 2019, at 5:45 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  7. Drusus Coolidge

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Roger Kimball responds to the controversy:

    https://amgreatness.com/2019/06/01/sohrab-ahmari-and-our-existential-struggle/

    What Roger said.

    Goes ad hominem in the 2nd paragraph. Literally in the third sentence of the essay. Pathetic. I went in with an open mind, and couldn’t get past the first few paragraphs. 

    Whether you agree with the sentiments or not, are you pleased with this type of argumentation? 

    • #7
    • June 4, 2019, at 5:55 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. DrewInWisconsin Member

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    I don’t agree with David French on every political issue. But I like the fact that he has been willing to stand up to the tendency of some to enforce a rigid Trumpist orthodoxy.

    When Emperor Trump is wearing no clothes, French won’t blow smoke in your face and tell you that Trump is dressed for success.

    Goes ad hominem from the first sentence.

    • #8
    • June 4, 2019, at 5:59 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. Drusus Coolidge

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    I don’t agree with David French on every political issue. But I like the fact that he has been willing to stand up to the tendency of some to enforce a rigid Trumpist orthodoxy.

    When Emperor Trump is wearing no clothes, French won’t blow smoke in your face and tell you that Trump is dressed for success.

    Goes ad hominem from the first sentence.

    Your threshold must be lower than mine. 

    • #9
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:04 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. DrewInWisconsin Member

    Drusus (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    I don’t agree with David French on every political issue. But I like the fact that he has been willing to stand up to the tendency of some to enforce a rigid Trumpist orthodoxy.

    When Emperor Trump is wearing no clothes, French won’t blow smoke in your face and tell you that Trump is dressed for success.

    Goes ad hominem from the first sentence.

    Your threshold must be lower than mine.

    People tend not to notice the ad hominems when they agree with them.

    • #10
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:06 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. Drusus Coolidge

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Drusus (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    I don’t agree with David French on every political issue. But I like the fact that he has been willing to stand up to the tendency of some to enforce a rigid Trumpist orthodoxy.

    When Emperor Trump is wearing no clothes, French won’t blow smoke in your face and tell you that Trump is dressed for success.

    Goes ad hominem from the first sentence.

    Your threshold must be lower than mine.

    People tend not to notice the ad hominems when they agree with them.

    Probably why Kimbal’s doesn’t bother you. But I’m not seeing an ad hominem in what you quoted. Especially considering the post is generally supportive of the man the argument is supposedly to.

    Kimball, on the other hand, slaps French with a dismissive nickname and then disputes his capacity for intellectual rigor right up front.

    • #11
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:10 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. Western Chauvinist Member

    Drusus (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Roger Kimball responds to the controversy:

    https://amgreatness.com/2019/06/01/sohrab-ahmari-and-our-existential-struggle/

    What Roger said.

    Goes ad hominem in the 2nd paragraph. Literally in the third sentence of the essay. Pathetic. I went in with an open mind, and couldn’t get past the first few paragraphs.

    Whether you agree with the sentiments or not, are you pleased with this type of argumentation?

    Couldn’t even make it past the first sentence of the fourth paragraph, wherein he basically stops talking about French?

    “As I read it, Sohrab’s essay involved David French only incidentally.”

    <shrug> What can I say?

    • #12
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:11 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. Western Chauvinist Member

    Drusus (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Drusus (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    I don’t agree with David French on every political issue. But I like the fact that he has been willing to stand up to the tendency of some to enforce a rigid Trumpist orthodoxy.

    When Emperor Trump is wearing no clothes, French won’t blow smoke in your face and tell you that Trump is dressed for success.

    Goes ad hominem from the first sentence.

    Your threshold must be lower than mine.

    People tend not to notice the ad hominems when they agree with them.

    I’m not seeing an ad hominem. Especially considering the post is generally supportive of the man the argument is supposedly to.

    Kimball, on the other hand, slaps French with a dismissive nickname and then disputes his capacity for intellectual rigor right up front.

    “Pastor French” is a gross ad hominem? You would seem to have a very low threshold.

    • #13
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:13 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. SkipSul Moderator

    I read Ahmari’s First Things essay and I cannot but come away with the sense that Ahmari is wrong, and moreover at times dangerously slow. I don’t quite agree with the way Shawn expressed his own criticisms, but I think that’s down to a difference of world view.

    I have my own annoyances with French, some of which I share with Ahmari. For instance, French’s occasional castigations of “Evangelicals” for “supporting Trump” have generally be horribly ham fisted as he cannot define his target, or what he means by support (much less what he expects them to stop doing). It’s weasely moral scolding without any direction (what does he want them to do? Promise to vote 3rd party in 2020? Primary Trump? If that’s what he wants he should have the courage to say it). I frankly skip over any of French’s commentary on Trump because I think French is well, a bit too close to judge things – he has something of a mild (and I do mean really mild) case of the JPods about Trump. That’s OK, and French is very insightful on many other subjects.

    Ahmari is right in noting that the hard Left really is no longer abiding by the old rules, and is looking for kill shots. I’ve been saying this for ages myself – the hard Left is into its own Jacobin territory now. Ahmari is even kinda right in that he almost gets that that *one* of our current society’s ills is a new cult of radical individualism, but he misses the other ills entirely. And Ahmari misidentifies the source, and like a quack doctor thinks treating the symptoms will somehow rid the disease.

    But it’s not as if French has been wrong on the culture wars from the angles he’s written about, and thus automatically making Ahmari right by contrast. French is much more local and syncretic in addressing matters, correctly starting from the grounds that we need to attend to our own before we can help others. Civility here is not a bad thing at all. I’m all for recognizing, as Ahmari does, that the hard left poses a mortal threat and cheats like hell, but that does not mean we should be positioning ourselves as a mortal threat right back.

    The tell for me is when Ahmari, and where I utterly break with and reject Ahmari is where he begins to speculate about French’s soul – as if Ahmari has any special sort of insight into that, or to judge another man’s soul. That’s rank egotism right there, and it demonstrates that Ahmari is dangerously close to treating French as a non person for “wrongthink”. It is a line of attack utterly beyond the pale, especially when criticizing someone on our own side. Ahmari is apparently a recent convert to Christianity. I would suggest that his conversion is still quite shallow, and quite incomplete if he thinks he’s going to save the movement and the nation by murdering his own. That’s not Christ’s message. I was listening to a discussion this morning where the matter of cultural decline was being hashed out. Specifically the podcasters were discussing the diminishing influence of Christianity, and the nostalgic longing for the past. Their take? You want that more harmonious past back, then go out and make converts, one person at a time; pray for our leaders of both parties, make your church better, make your neighborhood better, build your local community; you cannot fight this war from the top down, so stop trying. Which is pretty much where French has been all along.

    Ahmari, it seems, would impose a theocratic order, foolishly believing that we need to destroy our republic to save it. That’s fool’s bargain.

    • #14
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:14 PM PDT
    • 18 likes
  15. Drusus Coolidge

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Drusus (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Roger Kimball responds to the controversy:

    https://amgreatness.com/2019/06/01/sohrab-ahmari-and-our-existential-struggle/

    What Roger said.

    Goes ad hominem in the 2nd paragraph. Literally in the third sentence of the essay. Pathetic. I went in with an open mind, and couldn’t get past the first few paragraphs.

    Whether you agree with the sentiments or not, are you pleased with this type of argumentation?

    Couldn’t even make it past the first sentence of the fourth paragraph, wherein he basically stops talking about French?

    “As I read it, Sohrab’s essay involved David French only incidentally.”

    <shrug> What can I say?

    You don’t coin the phrase “David Frenchism” and then pretend it doesn’t have anything to do with David French. I know Kimball is trying to expand the argument past Ahmari, but come on. 

    • #15
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:14 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  16. SkipSul Moderator

    Drusus (View Comment):
    You don’t coin the phrase “David Frenchism” and then pretend it doesn’t have anything to do with David French

    Bingo.

    Ahmari made it personal right out of the gate.

    • #16
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:16 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  17. Western Chauvinist Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    It is a line of attack utterly beyond the pale, especially when criticizing someone on our own side. Ahmari is apparently a recent convert to Christianity. I would suggest that his conversion is still quite shallow, and quite incomplete if he thinks he’s going to save the movement and the nation by murdering his own.

    Interesting. Replace Ahmari with French and make the target of criticism Trump and I feel exactly the same way. French is unforgiving of Trump and seems to believe he’s irredeemable (mistrusting in God’s grace) in a way I find un-Christian. 

    • #17
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:21 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  18. Western Chauvinist Member

    Drusus (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Drusus (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Roger Kimball responds to the controversy:

    https://amgreatness.com/2019/06/01/sohrab-ahmari-and-our-existential-struggle/

    What Roger said.

    Goes ad hominem in the 2nd paragraph. Literally in the third sentence of the essay. Pathetic. I went in with an open mind, and couldn’t get past the first few paragraphs.

    Whether you agree with the sentiments or not, are you pleased with this type of argumentation?

    Couldn’t even make it past the first sentence of the fourth paragraph, wherein he basically stops talking about French?

    “As I read it, Sohrab’s essay involved David French only incidentally.”

    <shrug> What can I say?

    You don’t coin the phrase “David Frenchism” and then pretend it doesn’t have anything to do with David French. I know Kimball is trying to expand the argument past Ahmari, but come on.

    “Frenchism” is a nasty ad hominem? What do you have against the French? /jk

    As I say, low threshold.

    • #18
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:23 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Drusus Coolidge

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Drusus (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Drusus (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    I don’t agree with David French on every political issue. But I like the fact that he has been willing to stand up to the tendency of some to enforce a rigid Trumpist orthodoxy.

    When Emperor Trump is wearing no clothes, French won’t blow smoke in your face and tell you that Trump is dressed for success.

    Goes ad hominem from the first sentence.

    Your threshold must be lower than mine.

    People tend not to notice the ad hominems when they agree with them.

    I’m not seeing an ad hominem. Especially considering the post is generally supportive of the man the argument is supposedly to.

    Kimball, on the other hand, slaps French with a dismissive nickname and then disputes his capacity for intellectual rigor right up front.

    “Pastor French” is a gross ad hominem? You would seem to have a very low threshold.

    Does it have to be gross? It’s still an ad hominem. It seeks to skirt French’s actual arguments by labeling him a pantywaist moralist and scold. Which is pretty funny, when you think about it, coming from a line of argument that wants to impose morality with the force of government. 

    • #19
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:25 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor
    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Post author

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    Interesting. Replace Ahmari with French and make the target of criticism Trump and I feel exactly the same way. French is unforgiving of Trump and seems to believe he’s irredeemable (mistrusting in God’s grace) in a way I find un-Christian. 

    People are far too quick to assume that the 72 year old zebra’s stripes were actually just some smudges that will wash off with a fresh coat of Presidential paint.

    I think it’s fair to point out that Trump’s rhetoric and Trump’s actions as President have not always aligned seamlessly, and that his performance has been better than even the sunny optimists could have predicted.

    It remains to be seen if Trump will keep to that scheme if placed under the correct stimulus… Or if he will revert to the mean.

    • #20
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:27 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  21. The Cloaked Gaijin Member

    “…taking your kids to a drag reading hour at the public library…”

    “A drag queen who read stories to children at a Houston public library last year is a convicted pedophile considered to be at risk of repeating his offense — a fact uncovered by parents opposed to ‘Drag Queen Storytime,’ not by library officials, law enforcement, or the supposed watchdog news media.”

    I am sick of all of this constant gender-bending nonsense that often marks the end of a healthy civilization. It’s been going on for decades. I used to like Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Doctor Who, Dirk Benedict’s Starbuck, Glorfindel from the Lord of the Rings…  But then all of their penises fell off and rolled away never to return. Grace Park apparently did it twice with Boomer and Kono. In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks was the title of the book written by Adam Carolla in 2010. It certainly didn’t take 50 years…

     

    • #21
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:28 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  22. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor
    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Post author

    Drusus (View Comment):
    It seeks to skirt French’s actual arguments by labeling him a pantywaist moralist and scold.

    Particularly for a man who has taken live fire for this nation.

    • #22
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:28 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  23. SkipSul Moderator

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    It is a line of attack utterly beyond the pale, especially when criticizing someone on our own side. Ahmari is apparently a recent convert to Christianity. I would suggest that his conversion is still quite shallow, and quite incomplete if he thinks he’s going to save the movement and the nation by murdering his own.

    Interesting. Replace Ahmari with French and make the target of criticism Trump and I feel exactly the same way. French is unforgiving of Trump and seems to believe he’s irredeemable (mistrusting in God’s grace) in a way I find un-Christian.

    I agree that French is unreliable about Trump, but Ahamari does not restrict his criticisms of French to French’s criticisms of Trump, instead going after the entire character and moral philosophy of French, coining a strawman philosophy named after French in order to then knock it down, and then declaring that French’s soul is suspect because he doesn’t want to get into a revolution and tear down the entire order.

    Trump is president of the United States. That’s a huge job, and thus every minutia of how that job is done is open for scrutiny. French is one columnist at one magazine. For Ahmari to do to French what he accuses French of doing to Trump is unconscionable for someone ostensibly on his own side, not to mention wildly disproportionate – it’s creating a false bogeyman. Further, it smacks of wanting to purge the impure before turning his wrath on his enemy. Just as I entirely oppose the Never Trumpers banging the drum of purging the party to turn it back to the ever pure worship of his all-holiness and beatitude Reagan*,  I equally oppose Ahmari or his like trying to purge French and others like him so that this mythic and false idol of the all-out culturally warring Trump might be unhindered.*

    *Both extremes are guilty of making false idols of out Reagan or Trump, ascribing to them mythic powers and intentions neither possess. They are presenting false-Reagans and false-Trumps.

    • #23
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:37 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  24. Western Chauvinist Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    It is a line of attack utterly beyond the pale, especially when criticizing someone on our own side. Ahmari is apparently a recent convert to Christianity. I would suggest that his conversion is still quite shallow, and quite incomplete if he thinks he’s going to save the movement and the nation by murdering his own.

    Interesting. Replace Ahmari with French and make the target of criticism Trump and I feel exactly the same way. French is unforgiving of Trump and seems to believe he’s irredeemable (mistrusting in God’s grace) in a way I find un-Christian.

    I agree that French is unreliable about Trump, but Ahamari does not restrict his criticisms of French to French’s criticisms of Trump, instead going after the entire character and moral philosophy of French, coining a strawman philosophy named after French in order to then knock it down, and then declaring that French’s soul is suspect because he doesn’t want to get into a revolution and tear down the entire order.

    Trump is president of the United States. That’s a huge job, and thus every minutia of how that job is done is open for scrutiny. French is one columnist at one magazine. For Ahmari to do to French what he accuses French of doing to Trump is unconscionable for someone ostensibly on his own side, not to mention wildly disproportionate – it’s creating a false bogeyman. Further, it smacks of wanting to purge the impure before turning his wrath on his enemy. Just as I entirely oppose the Never Trumpers banging the drum of purging the party to turn it back to the ever pure worship of his all-holiness and beatitude Reagan*, I equally oppose Ahmari or his like trying to purge French and others like him so that this mythic and false idol of the all-out culturally warring Trump might be unhindered.*

    *Both extremes are guilty of making false idols of out Reagan or Trump, ascribing to them mythic powers and intentions neither possess. They are presenting false-Reagans and false-Trumps.

    See, I think this is unfair to Trump supporters — the false idol thing. Most of us have been pleasantly surprised by his presidency. Almost no one I know is without some criticism of him, but with the volume of criticism already turned up to 11, we don’t feel the need to pile on (to totally mash the metaphors). It’s not about our precious reputations — it’s about knowing the enemy and staying focused.

    Danger on the Left.

    • #24
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:47 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  25. SkipSul Moderator

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    See, I think this is unfair to Trump supporters — the false idol thing. Most of us have been pleasantly surprised by his presidency. Almost no one I know is without some criticism of him, but with the volume of criticism already turned up to 11, we don’t feel the need to pile on (to totally mash the metaphors). It’s not about our precious reputations — it’s about knowing the enemy and staying focused.

    I’m only talking about the extremes, like Ahmari in this case, who are doing this. Remember that I too was and am a Trump supporter, and that’s why I see Ahmari as so wrong. 

    • #25
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:53 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  26. Western Chauvinist Member

    Also, I’ve only read the Ahmari piece once, so I don’t remember where he called for using the force of government to reestablish cultural conservatism. It could be there, but I’d like a quote.

    And politics =/= government. He seems to me to be advocating for us to stop the mistaken isolation of politics (persuasion, argumentation, civil action, civil disobedience…) from moral values.

    Without moral consensus, the fragmenting of society will worsen and the Left will use the openings to acquire more power. Especially if we’re indifferent to wielding it.

    If you’re offended by “Frenchism,” how about “status quoism?” Don’t rock the boatism? Lest anyone find us offensiveism?

    • #26
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:53 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  27. Western Chauvinist Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    See, I think this is unfair to Trump supporters — the false idol thing. Most of us have been pleasantly surprised by his presidency. Almost no one I know is without some criticism of him, but with the volume of criticism already turned up to 11, we don’t feel the need to pile on (to totally mash the metaphors). It’s not about our precious reputations — it’s about knowing the enemy and staying focused.

    I’m only talking about the extremes, like Ahmari in this case, who are doing this. Remember that I too was and am a Trump supporter, and that’s why I see Ahmari as so wrong.

    We’re going to disagree that Ahmari idolizes Trump… I don’t remember him even mentioning him in the First Things piece.

    • #27
    • June 4, 2019, at 6:56 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  28. SkipSul Moderator

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    Without moral consensus, the fragmenting of society will worsen and the Left will use the openings to acquire more power. Especially if we’re indifferent to wielding it. 

    OK, but how do you go about establishing moral consensus? Ahmari’s implications are that it must be imposed somehow (he does not directly say so, but it’s the direction he’s heading, and his attack on French makes no sense otherwise).

    But that’s not how moral consensus works. Moral consensus is the natural outgrowth of a substantial portion of society agreeing on the right order of things. We clearly do not have that right now. How do you get it back? Hard bloody work, one person at a time.

    • #28
    • June 4, 2019, at 7:00 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  29. DrewInWisconsin Member

    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) (View Comment):

    Drusus (View Comment):
    It seeks to skirt French’s actual arguments by labeling him a pantywaist moralist and scold.

    Particularly for a man who has taken live fire for this nation.

    His military service does not absolve him of being a scold.

    • #29
    • June 4, 2019, at 7:03 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  30. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor
    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Post author

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) (View Comment):

    Drusus (View Comment):
    It seeks to skirt French’s actual arguments by labeling him a pantywaist moralist and scold.

    Particularly for a man who has taken live fire for this nation.

    His military service does not absolve him of being a scold.

    This assumes several things:

    That French is a scold; that he is wrong to scold and that he hasn’t done enough to serve the community to justify his criticisms.

    I don’t think David is a scold; he absorbed some truly ugly abuse for daring to criticize Trump (accurately) and he has done far more than the average person to advance the ball of conservatism and religious liberty.

    You just don’t like that he criticizes Trump.

    • #30
    • June 4, 2019, at 7:10 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
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