Dreher goes off the rails

19 Aug

I’ve long been of two minds about Rod Dreher.

On the one hand, he is a Christian who is solidly traditionalist conservative as regards social issues, and is a keen observer of the scene, and has demonstrated a decent grasp of the big picture, the implications of current events, as regards such matters. His ‘Benedict Option’ seems, from all I’ve read about it, to be a well-thought out analysis of and response to the culture war status quo. His Law of Merited Impossibility predicts and explains the usual prog pattern of pooh-poohing notions of ‘slippery slope’, till they come true: “That will never happen, and when it does, you bigots will deserve it!” We’ve seen this time and time again, if anyone has paid any attention to the culture war from the early 1990s onwards…

But on the other hand, he’s also the wannabe hippie who invented the ‘crunchy con’ term, and promoted it heavily a decade and a half or so ago, embracing the notion of granola-eating, organic off-the-grid conservatives who homeschool and embrace homeopathic remedies, etc. In other words, who have much in common with alternative lifestyle (heterosexual, monogamous) progs. And today, he’s known as a bearded, craft-brew-swilling, Eastern Orthodox (but anti-Putin) hipster-wannabe, who feels the need to police the right for the slightest trace of anything that progs might consider ‘racism’, and condemn it fiercely. He desperately wants to be accepted by progs, and this makes him go over the top frequently, esp. with regards to Trump.

Now he’s attacking the founder of his own magazine, Pat Buchanan, accusing him of a ‘shameful’, ‘disgusting’ ‘defence of white supremacism’:

I was stunned just now to read the disgusting, racist, indefensible thing that Pat Buchanan has written in his syndicated column in response to the Confederate statue controversy:

Looking back over the history of a Western Civilization, which we call great, were not the explorers who came out of Spain, Portugal, France, Holland and England all white supremacists?

They conquered in the name of the mother countries all the lands they discovered, imposed their rule upon the indigenous peoples, and vanquished and eradicated the native-born who stood in their way.

Who, during the centuries-long discovery and conquest of the New World, really believed that the lives of the indigenous peoples were of equal worth with those of the colonizers?


“All men are created equal” is an ideological statement. Where is the scientific or historic proof for it? Are we building our utopia on a sandpile of ideology and hope?

I don’t see what’s racist about any of that. Surely nobody thinks that the explorers of yesteryear were racial egalitarians, and ‘all men are created equal’ is indeed an ideological statement. You don’t find that taught in Scripture, for one thing – but that’s precisely where Dreher goes completely off the rails:

With that, Buchanan repudiates not only the founding principle of our Constitutional order, but also a core teaching of the Christian faith, which holds that all men are created in the image of God. It is fine to disbelieve in egalitarianism as an ideology and as a basis for policy. Most conservatives do, and most conservatives rightly reject the idea that all cultures are equally good. And it is reasonable to argue against the puritan iconoclasts who would destroy monuments and historical memory in the name of a mindless, ideological dogmatism.

Ah, no; just because Scripture teaches that all men bear the Imago Dei does not mean that Scripture teaches that all men are equal in anything other than all possessing souls, and all equally needing to repent and be saved. It does NOT mean that all men are equal in intelligence, strength, character, morality, ability. No; all men remain individuals, yet members of groups simultaneously, and so it’s not unfair to judge people as members of groups; in fact, Scripture has Paul repeating and endorsing an ethnic stereotype, about Cretans, thus giving Biblical sanction for making broad generalizations about groups of people; whether it is ‘racist’ in modern eyes or not, the Bible is okay with such, so long as of course one doesn’t treat people unfairly and unjustly.

Dreher continues ranting and raving:

But that’s not what this is. Buchanan is not meditating on the tragic nature of history, as any conservative worth the name must do. No, in this column, Buchanan is defending white supremacy, straight up.

It is abhorrent, and must be rejected in the strongest terms by conservatives. If this is where the Right is going, it can go right off that racist cliff without me.

Oh please, settle down. Have a craft brew and relax. Pat Buchanan is just shrewdly acknowledging history, and correctly noting a paradox at the heart of America’s ideological commitment to classical liberalism; that it holds to an ideological principle which is demonstrably false. We could say that, because all men are equally sinners in God’s eyes but also equally made in God’s image, that all men deserve to be treated the same with no special privileges or partiality shown to some over others; indeed, Scripture especially emphasizes this in many different contexts, both socioeconomic and ethnic. Nothing wrong and everything right with that. But that doesn’t mean that all men are actually equal in anything other than their position relative to our common Creator. The phrase ‘all men are created equal’ is just classical liberal ideological cant. Buchanan is right.

The comments on his post are interesting. You have the usual progs he lets bloviate on his blog (while barring comments from the likes of even me, a mixed-race reactionary), agreeing with him and commending him for his stance, though some castigating him for it having took so long, etc. But there are also several commenters who think he’s gone off the deep end, which he clearly has, IMO.

By the way, how interesting of Dreher to link to a mirror of Buchanan’s column, rather than the one directly hosted at Dreher’s magazine’s own site, here. I can’t imagine why he would do that…


Posted by on August 19, 2017 in America, race, The Kulturkampf, Theology


16 responses to “Dreher goes off the rails

  1. feeriker

    August 19, 2017 at 12:44 am

    There must be an ongoing contest amongst conservatives to see who can be first to pander themselves to the point of irrelevance while making the biggest possible moron of themselves in the process. The first prize must be really lucrative, as so many cuckservatives are competing for it.

  2. Melampus the Seer

    August 19, 2017 at 9:05 am

    It comes down to what “conservatives” wish to conserve. Dreher wants to conserve something that never existed. He pines for a time when white and black lived in harmony. Basically, Dreher wants to conserve this fantasy.

    But of course he can’t conserve a fantasy. No one can.

    • Will S.

      August 19, 2017 at 9:15 am

      Yes, he is Eastern Orthodox. And they are Christians; I recognize that, even though I differ from them as a confessional Protestant. They are Trinitarians; they hold to the Apostles’ Creed, they consider themselves Christians, and so they are.

      This is a pan-Christian-traditionalist blog: I am Protestant, but ElectricAngel is Catholic. And we not only have both Protestant and Catholic commenters here, but also some Eastern Orthodox.

      And since our focus is not on Christian doctrine as such, we don’t focus on differences between traditions, and we strive to avoid getting into discussions of that kind.

  3. Will S.

    August 19, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Dreher wants to have it both ways; he wants to get the benefits of associating himself with reactionary thinkers, without suffering loss of position in the minds of progs for doing so.

    Case in point: he claims not to know who the tweeter he quotes extensively here is:

    But if he’s any kind of old-school journalist, he must damn well know who Son of Brock Landers is.

    But he pretends he doesn’t, but he wants to associate himself with SOBL’s thinking, so he highlights it while feigning ignorance.


  4. Will S.

    August 22, 2017 at 12:51 pm

  5. bluebird of bitterness

    September 7, 2017 at 11:23 am

    I’ve read all of Rod’s books except for the most recent one, and I’ve read countless articles by him over the years, and while I don’t always agree with everything he says, I’ve always considered him worth reading (obviously, or I wouldn’t keep doing it). But there are times I think he’s just hopelessly naïve about some things — e.g. his inexplicable affection for David Brooks, his belief that Barack Obama was actually a good man who just happened to be misguided, etc. It boggles my mind when someone who seems so intelligent can be so dense about some things.

    • Will S.

      September 7, 2017 at 1:07 pm

      I feel the same way. I don’t get how he belongs to a tradition, Orthodoxy, that rightly, in line with Scripture, only ordains men to ministry, but is friends with a female Protestant minister (Episcopalian IIRC), even cites her in his column sometimes, and sees no contradiction therein.

      Oh well. I still read his AmCon column regularly, because it’s still worth reading, most of the time.

      • bluebird of bitterness

        September 7, 2017 at 2:25 pm

        On the question of women in ministry, I’m actually kind of conflicted — although given that my husband refuses to attend a church with a female minister, it’s not really an issue for me, except in the philosophical sense. 🙂 I’m familiar with all the arguments from Scripture in opposition to it, and equally familiar with the counterarguments of Christians who believe that the case against women’s ordination is based on a faulty understanding of the original texts and their historical context. Even though I’ve heard both sides argue back and forth for years, and I could, if need be, defend either viewpoint using the arguments of that side, I’m not 100% sure where I stand on the issue, although I lean toward the anti side. What I do know is that, purely as a practical matter, it’s a really bad idea unless your goal is to have a church full of nothing but females. The more chickified a church becomes, the more difficult it becomes to persuade men to get involved, or even show up on Sunday morning. Weirdly, the women in the church that I belonged to for many years used to lament the lack of male presence, and wonder how they could get more men involved… and then when our longtime (male) priest left, they hired a priestess to take his place. (I just shake my head in wonder at the density of some people.) I knew the priestess in question quite well, and I knew I had no desire to be part of any church where she was in charge, so I was forced to leave after having been a member there for 37 years. By all reports, the place has gone downhill since then. Imagine my surprise.

        Sorry for rambling on like this, but the chickification of the Christian church is a huge pet peeve of mine. I’m 63 years old, and the churches I attended growing up had no difficulty getting men involved. Lots of men (including my father) taught Sunday school, men sang in the choir, a man directed the choir, etc. Nowadays in most churches it’s like pulling teeth to get men to teach Sunday school. I was a church music director for many years, and I always had a children’s choir at Christmas and Easter, which for most of my tenure ended up being a de facto girls’ choir despite my making it clear (repeatedly) that it was open to kids of both genders. After many years, I did get a couple of unusually brave boys to join in, which I considered a major accomplishment. But back when I was a kid, ALL of the kids sang in the junior choir, boys as well as girls. No one thought it was weird for boys to sing, any more than anyone thought it was weird for men to be Sunday school teachers.

      • Will S.

        September 7, 2017 at 3:34 pm

        Yes, it always happens that way, it seems: once a church starts admitting women into leadership positions, it eventually, sometimes quickly even, becomes all female in leadership – and increasingly in membership, as well.

        The only way to guard against that, is to keep it all male in leadership, elders, deacons.


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