Monday, March 3, 2008

Bill and Andrew; Babe and Truman

Did Andrew Sullivan miss an idea or two about WF Buckley's attitudes towards gays, and, thus, WFB's basic attitude about Andrew, specifically?

Already, Dear Gentle Reader(s), we have explored a specific instance, available in Andrew's own blog, wherein Buckley dismissed the possibility of equality between a non-gay marriage and a gay marriage--Buckley's position is more general, but the marriage issue is within the "penumbra."

Just a little bit of Googling "William F. Buckley Anti-Semite?" leads to a very interesting web site for in which one Tim Fernholz reminds us of the writings of Buckley in which Buckley flirted with anti-semitism ("[Buckley] found that conservative politician Pat Buchanan had said “things about Jews” that were anti-Semitic, but excused it as “[t]he iconoclastic daemon having a night out on the town.”); racism (“The central question… is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes…. National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct…” In other words National Review opposed civil rights legislation. Buckley later characterized that stance regretfully, saying, “I think that the impact of that bill should have been welcomed by us.” [Remember that the Republican Party made good use of racial politics in its rise to prominence in the South.]); and homophobia ([Buckley, in the late 1960s] “the man who in his essays proclaims the normalcy of his affliction [i.e., homosexuality], and in his art the desirability of it, is not to be confused with the man who bears his sorrow quietly. The addict is to be pitied and even respected, not the pusher.”)

Sullivan has been quick to point out that Buckley did manage to change his mind on some important issues "So the most influential conservative of his generation endorsed both the Vietnam and the 2003 Iraq wars, and came to regret doing both." Nowhere, however, does Sullivan indicate that Buckley ever changed his mind about Sullivan's sexual orientation, or his recent marriage in Massachusetts.

Buckley is often described as "patrician." Doubtless he was that; he certainly behaved with the sense of entitlement which inflicts so many who are conscious of their upper class status.

One is mindful of the relationship between the Babe Paley crowd and Truman Capote. As long as he was a metaphorical lap dog, entertaining, and non-threatening, Tru was invited. When he showed the first sign of independence, he was no longer tolerated.

Buckley never gave indication, so far as his current references show, that gays were little more than his own metaphorical lap dogs. He nurtured those whom he found in his company; but then, he never admitted his error about their lives being mere addictions or they, themselves, being pushers.

Surely Sullivan doesn't think his core being makes him an addict, or that his well argued positions on equality for non-gays and gays alike make him a pusher, and Sullivan in no way ever writes about his core "sorrow."

Sullivan is a hero, albeit flawed, to this blog; Sullivan's own hero is far more flawed. Would he could see it.

Trust, Andrew, and mourn, but verify.

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