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The National Review And Fascism



Jonah et al doth protest too much.  For example:

In 1955, National Review had employed a troubled young right-winger named George Lincoln Rockwell to sell subscriptions. When Rockwell emerged as the leader of the American Nazi movement, Buckley took a two-pronged approach, publicly rebuking him and also privately working to find him psychological and religious counselling. But in 1961 editorial, after Rockwell was met by counter-protesters during a march in New York City, National Review criticized the “mob of Jews who hurled insults at him. Some lunged at him, and were kept from Rockwell’s throat only by a cordon of policemen. Are we ‘against’ the Jews whose pressure kept Rockwell from exercising his constitutional right to speak, and who would, if given the chance, have beat him bloody? Of course.”

It would be a mistake to read this editorial as a defense of free-speech absolutism of the sort that led the ACLU to support the right of Nazis to march in Jewish neighborhoods. For one thing, National Review was adamantly opposed to that sort of free-speech absolutism, and often defended McCarthysim. Moreover, “mob of Jews” wasn’t that editorial’s only target: It lambasted the civil rights movement for their “theatrical” challenge to Jim Crow in the south, a response which was “met, inevitably, by a spastic response. By violence.” During this period, National Review strong opposed the Civil Rights movement and its tactics of civil disobedience. In effect the National Review position was that American Nazis had a right to march in New York, but American blacks should refrain from exercising their first amendment rights in the South.

There were limits to the anti-Nazism of Buckley and National Review, which became ever clearer when Adolf Eichmann, one of the architects of the Nazis’ final solution, was captured by the Israelis in Argentina in 1961 and brought to trial in Israel. In 1961, National Review described the Eichmann trial as a “lurid extravaganza” which would produce such dire results as “bitterness, distrust, the refusal to forgive, the advancement of Communist aims, [and] the cultivation of pacifism.” (The idea that Jews in 1961 had an obligation to forgive Nazis is worth pondering).

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