Friday, February 29, 2008

R.I.P. WFB, Jr.--Obit anus abit onus

William F. Buckley, Jr., died this week, Dear Gentle Reader(s). Almost as distressing as his political views, are some of the encomia which have been heaped on his memory, exemplified, alas, by my hero, Andrew Sullivan.

Sullivan gave space several times over the past week to moments of reflection about Buckley. The one which is most disturbing appeared on February 28, under the title "Buckley and the Gays."

Here are some quotes Sullivan attributes to Buckley, presented in a letter written by Buckley to a colleague who had just come out to him: "I honor your decision to raise publicly the points you raise ... but you too must realize what are the implications of what you ask. Namely, that the Judaeo-Christian tradition, which is aligned with, no less, one way of life, become indifferent to another way of life ...National Review will not be scarred by thoughtless gay bashing, let alone be animated by such practices ... You are absolutely correct in saying that gays should be welcome as partners in efforts to mint sound public policies; not correct, in my judgement, in concluding that such a partnership presupposes the repeal of convictions that are more, much more, than mere accretions of bigotry. You remain, always, my dear friend, and my brother in combat."

Just what ill would befall a particular (Judaeo-Christian) way of life by its indifference is not limned. Nor is it exactly clear what Buckley meant by "much much more than mere accretions of bigotry." What could be so important to convictions of any sort than ridding it of convictions of bigotry?

Sullivan begins this posting with He was much too civilized to have been personally hostile or rude; and ends it with absent Buckley's grace and manners.

In the middle, he reminds us, and himself, that "gayness would bar [a person] from full inclusion as an equal in the conservative movement."

Buckley had grace and manners? Of the sort which is imperious, perhaps. Rather like the attitude celebrated by Rogers and Hammerstein in The King and I: "Don't let us up off our knees, your Majesty/ Give us a kick, if you please, your Majesty/ Give us a kick, if you would, your Majesty/ Oooph! Oh, that was good, your Majesty!"

The man scorned Sullivan's core being--with grace and manners, to be sure.

Schopenhauer's little quip seldom had more meaning than in the case of Mr. Buckley.

R.I.P. William F. Buckley, Junior.

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