REVIEW: Russell's Reviews Volume One # 9

Tom Russell milos_parker at
Sun Mar 2 20:19:06 PST 2008

On Mar 2, 2:23 pm, EDMLite <robroger... at> wrote:

> I have always admired and respected Thomas Jefferson,
> for example, and yet I have had to wrestle with the fact
> that the author of the Declaration of Independence
> owned slaves throughout his lifetime, and that this
> Enlightenment sage had some fairly unenlightened views
> regarding the native tribes of the American West.

All this is true, though Jefferson was also a product of his times
and, for those times, quite progressive.  One couldn't say the same
thing of Buckley, however, who was espousing white supremacy during
the civil rights movement.  As the intelligent product of a more
enlightened age, he should have known better-- a _lot_ better.

> My conclusion is that I respect Jefferson on the whole,
> while acknowledging that I can't agree with everything he
> said or did.  To some degree, I feel that way about
> Buckley, too -- I'm appalled by the opinions Tom credits
> him as having, yet my impression of Buckley was that his
> was a conservative voice in the United States who wasn't
> tied to the religious right, a Republican who wasn't
> afraid to be an intellectual.  I'd like to believe that
> aspect of his legacy will be respected and imitated.

I understand (and agree) with your general point about people being
complex, neither wholly good nor bad.  At the same time, Buckley has a
reputation as "the Good Republican"-- a reputation as simplistic as
"the bad Republican".  I'm not trying to prescribe to him either
label, but to rather say that my earlier characterization of him as
the Good Republican was inaccurate.

I too hope that his intellectual approach will be respected and
imitated-- or, rather, that an intellectual approach be imitated if
not the exact brand of intellecutalism practised by Buckley.

Not to be commiting a reductio ad hitlerum here, but praising Buckley
for his intellectual rigor despite the intellectually indefensible
opinions he espoused with that rigor is a little like praising Dr.
Mengele for his attention to the scientific method.


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