In Defense of Right-Wing Intellectual Honesty

Max Blumenthal’s Blog, Dec. 7

. . . I have a bone to pick with David Brock over his letter to Creators’ Syndicate protesting its publication of the white nationalist writer Sam Francis. Here’s an excerpt of Brock’s letter:

. . .Francis concluded:

Breaking down the sexual barriers between the races is a major weapon of cultural destruction because it means the dissolution of the cultural boundaries that define breeding and the family, and ultimately, the transmission and survival of the culture itself.

We strongly condemn the clear bigotry in this column and assume that newspaper editors across the country feel the same way, as a search of newspapers available on Nexis revealed that none have chosen to run the column. Regardless, Creators’ willingness to distribute such abhorrent views calls into question the syndicate’s ethical and editorial standards . . .

Obviously, I despise almost everything Francis stands for (I wholeheartedly agree with his anti-war position, though). But that doesn’t mean I don’t have an enormous amount of respect for his intellectual prowess or his unflinching honesty. It’s so rare these days to hear such unalloyed views on race and culture on the right as Francis’s; most right-wing pundits are cowards like Bill O’Reilly, relying on codes and insinuation to cloak their real views on blacks, Jews, immigrants, etc. But Francis never minces words. So while Rush Limbaugh used coded language to denounce Monday Night Football’s Nicolette Sheridan/Terrell Owens segment, comparing it to the Kobe Bryant rape case, Francis attacked it head on:

“The message of the ad was that the white women are eager to have sex with black men, that they should be eager, and that black men should take them up on it.”

As I wrote in a previous post, the moral outrage over the Monday Night Football segment was so transparently rooted in middle-American discomfort with images of racial miscegenation. What was even more outrageous, though, was that no one on the right or the left had the courage to point out the true source of outrage. Except Francis. And though he expressed the outrage in abhorrent terms, he at least helped shatter the pretentious “moral values” veneer of the debate. It’s too bad the only answer to Francis’s column I’ve seen from the left is Brock’s letter demanding his silence. Where is the liberal op-ed blasting the Jim Crow racial attitude America exhibited after the Sheridan/Owens segment? Why did Frank Rich cower from the racial dimension of the incident? (“Let’s not go there,” he wrote).

Go ahead, Creators’ Syndicate, dump Francis. I won’t shed any tears. But no matter how many jobs he loses because of his white nationalist views—he was fired by the Washington Times for defending slavery—he will have an audience. People will find his columns online no matter what. And that is the true crux of the biscuit: as hard as it is to believe, many Americans agree with Francis. The more liberals indulge their persecution complex, the more emboldened they get.

Reactionary ideas need to be examined, debated and discredited, not forced into some dark, moldy basement where they can germinate and grow away from the view of polite middle-class society. Media Matters’ post on O’Reilly is a model for how to discredit the right. Demanding the silencing of someone who is simply more honest than O’Reilly is counterproductive, though. As disgusting as the New Republic’s attack on Edward Said as the “professor of terror” was, for instance, I don’t remember them ever demanding that Columbia University remove him from his post. Indeed, without Said engaged in debate over the Israeli occupation, Leon Wieseltier wouldn’t have had anyone to argue with. Attempting to silence controversial intellectuals should be left to the conservative apostles of McCarthy.

I read Francis because he has his finger on the pulse of the anti-immigrant movement, the paleoconservative intellectual movement and the neo-Confederate movement and he disseminates their views in an articulate fashion. And I spend endless hours researching these movements in order to expose their influence on American politics and discredit them. With more resources than me, there’s no reason Media Matters shouldn’t do the same.

One last thing: I find it incredibly ironic that Francis, this corpulent, old white guy from rural Virginia, is one of the only prominent columnists in America who writes about race and manages to rattle anybody’s cage. When was the last time the Times published an op-ed about race that was any more stimulating than some claptrap about poverty in the inner city? What happened to race as a political issue? It exists, it’s palpable, I can feel it in the air. It was a major factor in the presidential election—Bush won because he was the White Man’s candidate and everybody knows it. It is why Alabamans voted to keep segregation-era language in their state constitution. But it seems the punditocracy is too cowed to even touch race with a ten foot pole. “Mainstream” conservatives like O’Reilly encode their racial views while white liberals generally pretend racism died when Rosa Parks got a seat on the bus. And all we’re left with is Francis, which is bad, but better than nothing.

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