I’m taking advantage of the rare treat of being left out a family camping trip this weekend to work on my book revisions, but I came across this delicious review of National Review and its 60-year-long tic of calling everyone on the Left a “Nazi” and everything on the Left “fascist.” Fish, as they say, rot from the head on down:
As John Judis documents in his 1988 biography of [William F.] Buckley, [Jr., founder of National Review] the conservative pundit’s father and namesake, William F. Buckley Sr., was an anti-Semite and fascist sympathizer who tried his best to pass along his ideas to his large brood. In 1937, four of the Buckley kids burned a cross outside a Jewish resort. The eleven-year-old William Buckley Jr. didn’t participate in the cross burning but only because he was deemed too young to participate and by his own account “wept tears of frustration” at being left out of the hate crime. At this point the young Buckley agreed with his father’s worldview, and would argue, in the words of a childhood friend, that “Bolshevik Russia was an infinitely greater threat than Nazi Germany.” The Spanish fascist leader Francisco Franco was a hero in the Buckley household, celebrated as a bulwark against the red menace.
Jeet Heer asks, “so why did William F. Buckley [Jr.] react so badly to [Gore] Vidal’s  jibe about being a crypto-Nazi? Why are National Review writers like Kevin Williamson and Jonah Goldberg so eager to prove that liberals are the real fascists and Nazis?” and concludes, “The most likely answer is that they have a bad conscience. . . and they want to deflect attention from that toxic legacy.”
This article includes a little preview of the movie I’m most excited to see this summer, Best of Enemies, about the Buckley and Gore Vidal smackdown during their political convention coverage in 1968.
Yes, I’m more excited to see this movie than I was Trainwreck, although only a little. I admit this doesn’t speak well for my character, but all I can say in my defense is that I spend all day thinking about the grand and inspiring and also unspeakably cruel and depressing and exhausting early modern period. The last thing I want to do in my free time is read any historical fiction (or non-fiction) set in this period. I want to escape!
My pleasure reading tends towards modern literary fiction and nonfiction–sometimes history–but it’s always twentieth-century history, with a bent towards pop culture and politics. Right now, I’m making my way through everything Joan Didion ever wrote. (What took me so long to pick her up? She’s awesome!!!)