Friday, March 24, 2017

"Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?" (2011) -- Further note on a book cited in discussion, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United."

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America is disintegrating. The "one Nation under God, indivisible" of the Pledge of Allegiance is passing away. In a few decades, that America will be gone forever. In its place will arise a country unrecognizable to our parents. This is the thrust of Pat Buchanan's Suicide of a Superpower, his most controversial and thought-provoking book to date.

Buchanan traces the disintegration to three historic changes: America's loss of her cradle faith, Christianity; the moral, social, and cultural collapse that have followed from that loss; and the slow death of the people who created and ruled the nation. And as our nation disintegrates, our government is failing in its fundamental duties, unable to defend our borders, balance our budgets, or win our wars.

How Americans are killing the country they profess to love, and the fate that awaits us if we do not turn around, is what Suicide of a Superpower is all about.


Joe Gandelman, The Moderate Voice

I don’t agree with Pat Buchanan says. But I also don’t agree with the way critics of his book “Suicide of a Superpower” has been characterized after having listened to every single word of the audio book version.
Pat Buchanan’s book created quite a stir when it first came out. I turned on a liberal talk show on XM radio to hear a host say the book was proof Buchanan wants to see African-Americans being lynched from trees again. Others likened him to a media blessed KKK member. A caller on one show talked about him being antisemitic and hating Israel.
To be sure, many people (including my late father) feel Buchanan is antisemitic due to his views on the Middle East and comments he made including some where he seemingly defended some aspects Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, and a prominent Nazi war criminal. Some websites have collected his highly controversial comments — and he has certainly given them lots of material due to his comments and some of the fringe talk shows he has appeared on. The Anti-Defamation League has a full page of Buchanan quotes and has denounced this book and some of the highly controversial statements in it.
MSNBC used this book as the basis for firing Buchanan. But here is the truth about his book: There is really little that’s new in it if you’ve followed Buchanan over the years.
Buchanan has merely expanded on what he has argued for years: that changing demographics in the United States and the power of various groups have weakened national unity and undernined an America that he sees as an idealized version of America in the late 40s or early 50s. He believes America is being weakened by forces within the United States and outside of it. His chapter headings and topics probably got him in trouble: the end of white America, the death of Christian America, the crisis in Catholicism etc. He has a long, intellectual argument about how equality conflicts with freedom.
Buchanan’s technique is to argue his position by almost drowning readers in a sea of back up quotes, history and statistics, weaving them into a political quilt, then presenting it as if he’s saying: OK here is my argument. Knock it down. Give me a better argument. I dare you. Buchanan’s book CANNOT be confused with a Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh broadcast. Love him or despise him, he has been an old school conservative pundit who sounds like a former far-right print pundit (which is what he is) versus a gleefully polarizing and demonizing cable or radio talk show host who invents a phrase or assertion and repeats it over and over until is sticks. Buchanan takes facts and spins them his way.
I suspect a serious critic could go and in great detail make mincemeat of the arguments in his book. But it has been easier for his book to be dismissed as a diatribe — which it isn’t. Look at the many reviews on Amazon and you’ll find most are serious and address his frequently flawed, stuck-in-the-1950s arguments.
Reading his book or listening the audio tape gives a much different impression than what you get when you read or hear what critics say about it. Does he make some highly controversial often outrageous statements? Yes. Is he a culture warrior? Yes. Is he someone who can let the phrase “Israeli lobby” easily slip out of his lips? Yes. Does he feel that America’s growing ethnicity, government programs that protect diversity, and the growing clout of ethnic groups and groups such as gays have made America weaker? Yes. Does he feel religion in America is being undermined to the country’s peril? Yes.
Is this new for Buchanan? As Dan Quayle would say: “No. N-o-e. No.”
A Washington Post review by Matthew Continetti of a new book on Buchanan puts the MSNBC firing and Buchanan into into perspective. Here’s part of it:
MSNBC’s recent decision to suspend and then fire Pat Buchanan felt rather anticlimactic. Phil Griffin, the network’s president, told reporters that Buchanan was in trouble for offensive ideas expressed in his latest book, “Suicide of a Superpower.” But nothing contained therein is any different from what Buchanan has written in several other books published over the past decade or from what he said routinely on MSNBC throughout the same period.
Did the scales fall from the network’s eyes one morning, revealing Buchanan’s obsession with the ethnic composition of the United States and his belief that a neocon cabal with divided loyalties manipulates U.S. foreign policy to serve Israel? Did it just uncover his belligerent attitudes toward racial, religious and sexual minorities and his altogether more apologetic feelings toward historical enemies of America’s federal government, from the Southern Confederacy to Nazi Germany?

More likely, Griffin succumbed to pressure from outside groups interested in the suppression of political speech with which they disagree. Here, too, Buchanan’s life has been remarkably consistent: He tends to bring out the worst in people.
Still, the reader of Timothy Stanley’s biography, “The Crusader,” cannot help being impressed by the durability of Buchanan’s career. There is a dual aspect to his public life that is particularly striking. A communications legend whose innovations in punditry, for better or worse, will be mimicked long after he departs from the scene, Buchanan will forever be known for his reactionary, divisive and conspiratorial politics. Distinguishing Buchanan’s style from his substance allows one to appreciate both the man’s talents and the capacity of American democracy to resist demagoguery, scapegoating and isolation.
He gives some background on Buchanan, including his role in the Nixon administration then writes:
[His time as Ronald] Reagan’s communications director between 1985 and ’87 were his only other stint in government. Even as a Reagan adviser, however, he was sailing to the political frontier, where the eccentric and offbeat turn into the ugly fringe. By 1991, when George H.W. Bush warred with Saddam Hussein and global communism was no longer the threat that held various factions of conservatives together, Buchanan was totally at odds with the Republican mainstream.
He was against overseas intervention, free trade, immigration and much else. His frequent criticism of Israel and prominent American Jews prompted William F. Buckley Jr. to examine Buchanan’s record for signs of anti-Semitism. Buckley was unable to acquit him of the charge. As a commentator, Buchanan had mild words for Hitler beginning in the newspaper columns he wrote in the 1970s; he took up the “cause” of Nazi war criminals John Demjanjuk and Karl Linnas; he aggressively defended Reagan’s decision to visit the German war cemetery at Bitburg; and he blamed America’s wars with Iraq on Israel and the pundits who he said served as the Israeli Defense Ministry’s “?‘Amen’ corner in the United States.” Such comments served as an indictment against Buchanan.
So did the company he kept. In each of his three campaigns for the presidency, two as a Republican and one as a Reform Party candidate, Buchanan’s supporters included writers such as anti-Semite Joe Sobran and miscegenation-obsessive Sam Francis, actor Mel Gibson, activists associated with the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review, numerous black-helicopter spotters, and others hot on the trail of the international banking conspiracy. Such was the well from which Buchanan drew strength.
His judgement on Buchanan:
The Buchananite persuasion may sell enough books to keep its namesake comfortable, and it may affect conservatism on the margins; isolationism and xenophobia may be recurrent themes in American political discourse. But in the end, Buchananism is a loser, both substantively and politically. It is a testament to the healthy, free-wheeling dynamism of American democracy that Buchanan can speak his mind and then lose fairly, overwhelmingly and definitively. There was never any need for MSNBC to marginalize Buchanan. He did that to himself.
The bottom line?
If you’re someone who likes to read or watch Buchanan, even if you disagree with him, you’ll like the book.
If you hate Buchanan you won’t like the book.
But an outrageous book breaking new ground? Hardly.
It’s Buchanan being Buchanan and daring critics to prove him wrong, but many of his critics would rather just shut him up.

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