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Rule or ruin in all events


This is a brilliant essay by Serwer:

Ahmari’s demands here outline the United States that illiberals would like to see: one that resembles Orbán’s Hungary, where rigged electoral systems ensure that political competition is minimal, the press is tightly controlled by an alliance between corporations and the state on behalf of the ruling party, national identity is defined in religious and ethnic terms, and cultural expressions are closely policed by the state to ensure compliance with that identity. It is no surprise that the vast majority of black and Latino Christians see a secular but pluralist left as more trustworthy allies than conservatives who rail against “poisonous and censorious multiculturalism,” and darkly warn of a plot to “displace American citizens.”


The question of whether the Republican Party would abandon liberal democracy for sectarian ethno-nationalism was decided in the 2016 primary, and all French and Ahmari are doing is arguing about it after the fact. The commercial and social incentives for conservative writers to succumb to Trumpism are vast. Some, like French, have had the integrity to stick to their stated principles. Others, like Ahmari, have already fallen. Today’s skirmishes among conservatives resemble the irregulars in 1865 shooting at one another because they had not yet heard of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. And the support Ahmari has drawn suggests that the conservative intelligentsia will offer less resistance to authoritarianism than it did in 2015 and 2016.


Black Americans did not abandon liberal democracy because of slavery, Jim Crow, and the systematic destruction of whatever wealth they managed to accumulate; instead they took up arms in two world wars to defend it. Japanese Americans did not reject liberal democracy because of internment or the racist humiliation of Asian exclusion; they risked life and limb to preserve it. Latinos did not abandon liberal democracy because of “Operation Wetback,” or Proposition 187, or because of a man who won a presidential election on the strength of his hostility toward Latino immigrants. Gay, lesbian, and trans Americans did not abandon liberal democracy over decades of discrimination and abandonment in the face of an epidemic. This is, in part, because doing so would be tantamount to giving the state permission to destroy them, a thought so foreign to these defenders of the supposedly endangered religious right that the possibility has not even occurred to them. But it is also because of a peculiar irony of American history: The American creed has no more devoted adherents than those who have been historically denied its promises, and no more fair-weather friends than those who have taken them for granted.

Again, it says it all that a guy declaring war on liberalism because…drag queens were doing readings at a public library could drive discussion on the right that would last for weeks.

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