How Political Correctness and Multiculturalism Have Transformed the Right
The mayhem that engulfed New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina has produced a peculiarly predictable pattern of analysis and commentary in the mass media, especially from the pundits and scribes that inhabit the conservative establishment.
What is missing from this conservative assessment is any sustained scrutiny of how race factored into the thuggish behavior that erupted in New Orleans. Survivors described a harrowing inhuman ordeal at the Superdome, which is home to the New Orleans Saints football team, but became eerily reminiscent of the teeming boatloads of Hindu interlopers who overrun France in Jean Raspail’s prophetic doomsday novel The Camp of the Saints.
What troubles, and disgusts, about the conservative response is its utter refusal to acknowledge the elephant in the room: the pachyderm-sized differences in behavior between black and white communities in the face of civic or civil disaster, and the violence that blacks unleash when law and order breakdown. The front-page coverage in the September 5 issue of Human Events typifies the reluctance of conservatives to address the issue. The headline in the conservative weekly, “Fix New Orleans, Then Drill for Oil” betrays the mindset of the Human Events editors: Focus exclusively on the nation’s “energy policy” and avoid any mention of the lawlessness—murder, rapes, assaults, pillaging and looting—that flourished in New Orleans, precisely because of the racial component of that widespread lawlessness.
The New Guinean expression Mokita (truth that is widely known but rarely spoken) captures the conservatives’ apprehension to discuss contemporary racial taboos. Certain truths are internalized— accepted as fact but not to be publicly mentioned. Rational minds know that the type of reaction to a natural disaster would differ vastly depending on the location (surrogate for population). Would disaster victims in Salt Lake City, Utah or Portland, Maine, loot, pillage, murder and rape their fellow residents in a Katrina-like tragedy? Or would these communities, rich and poor alike, pull together under extremely dire situations when all is lost but the determination to persevere and rebuild their neighborhoods from ground zero? Despite the reluctance to admit it, everyone knows there’s a difference and that race is a major factor which explains the difference.
Conservatives who refuse to confront underlying racial factors can more easily dwell upon politically correct prerequisites. Radical egalitarianism—the belief that there are no natural differences between human groups—reigns as supreme in the salons of the conservative establishment as it does elsewhere in society’s political and social elites.
The failure of conservatives to capture the cultural foundations of contemporary Western societies explains only part of it. The rise of political correctness and multiculturalism also play a major factor in making race and racial differences inappropriate topics for civil discussion. From the public schoolroom and university classroom to pop culture and the media to pulpits and pews throughout the country, we are conditioned to believe that one should not question the concept of racial equality or seriously consider the idea that race actually matters.
The Education of a Conservative
As the former managing editor of Human Events, I can recall several instances in private discussions and editorial meetings in which the subject of race was simmering just below the surface of another issue—whether crime rates in the nation’s capital, immigration, or educational disparities in student achievement.
When the conversation became increasingly awkward in tiptoeing around the subject of race, one of the other top editor’s would caution: “I suppose we shouldn’t discuss that” and then would quickly move on to a safer subject. Mind you this is from a group of conservative editors who would frequently boast of taking brave stands on other topics.
However, it wasn’t that long ago when conservatives actually displayed some backbone when confronting racial matters. As an intern during the fall 1988 session of the National Journalism Center, a program for young conservative journalists founded by former newspaper editor and author M. Stanton Evans, I remember one of the Friday afternoon lectures when conservative columnist Robert Novak explained the various types of leaks that journalists frequently encountered in covering political stories during a presidential campaign. Novak clarified the divisions across the conservative spectrum, noting that there were “neoconservatives,” “social conservatives,” “cultural conservatives,” and even “racial conservatives.” His point seemed to stir a mix of curiosity and bewilderment among my fellow interns. Although Novak didn’t elaborate on what he meant by “racial conservatives,” I had an idea of what he had in mind.
Since the mid-1950s, the activist political left has been the driving force for “social justice” and the overall leveling of ethnic, race, and class-based differences in American society. The results of this political activism spawned the Brown v. Board of Education decisions, “civil rights” laws (including the “Open Housing” and “Voting Rights Acts”), affirmative action policies, court- ordered busing to achieve racial desegregation, the outlawing of merit-based employment testing in the private sector as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Griggs, and to a large extent, the current immigration crisis that has followed in the wake of the Immigration Act of 1965.
Steadfast conservatives once vigorously opposed radical egalitarian changes that the left has forced on American society and, in many instances, unabashedly represented the interests of their core constituents: white, middle-class voters—what Howard Dean has accurately identified as the base of the GOP. In another era, this constituency was known as the “Silent Majority.” Today, it is euphemistically referred to as “redstate America,” “soccer moms” and “NASCAR dads.” Hard-line conservatives of a previous generation staunchly opposed subversive left-wing activists who were determined to change society racially by transforming the culture, customs, and traditions (what the eminent sociologist William Graham Sumner coined “Folkways”) of America’s national character.
Politically, this conservative continuum included Republican and southern Democratic politicians. Coalitions led by Sen. Barry Goldwater, who opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Ohio Rep. John M. Ashbrook, and Senators Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, and James Eastland stymied radical egalitarian reforms to American society. Grassroots, patriotic activists to the right of the emerging conservative establishment formed patriotic organizations such as the John Birch Society and the Citizen’s Council. Medford Evans, a longtime contributor to National Review and Human Events (and M. Stanton Evans’s father), edited the Council’s monthly magazine The Citizen, a pro-segregationist publication. Broad coalitions of conservatives were politically savvy enough to usher-in the Reagan era just twelve years after the Great Society programs swept the nation.
Novak most likely had in mind these conservative stalwarts of another era, when no dependable conservative would have embraced Martin Luther King, Jr. as their role model. In this day and age it is difficult to imagine that prominent conservatives and congressional leaders vigorously contested legislation in the early 1980s that would enshrine Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday as a national holiday.
In 1983, Human Events led the charge among grassroots conservative activists against the passage of King’s birthday as a national holiday. In fact, Human Events led the conservative opposition to the radicalism of the civil rights movement, frequently exposing the communist affiliations and Marxist sympathies of the movement’s leadership, including King. Times have certainly changed indeed!
All it takes is a little common- sense and some fortitude to admit that race is a fact of human affairs and that racial differences are embedded in human nature. Although taboo by today’s politically correct dogma, conservatives once recognized these truths—even if they didn’t dwell on them. However, simply admitting the realities of race in our increasingly “diverse” and politically correct society has become for some tantamount to advocating genocide.
Race has replaced Social Security as the “third rail” in American politics and civic life. (Consider the uproar a few years ago when Trent Lott was taken to task and forced to resign as Senate Majority Leader for reminiscing about the hypothetical prospects of the late Strom Thurmond’s success as a Dixiecrat presidential candidate in 1948.) Rest assured this didn’t occur by happenstance. Today, whenever someone raises the possibility that racial differences may explain racial disparities in society, establishment conservatives simply collapse from anxiety or, worse, respond in a knee-jerk reaction. Acknowledging uncomfortable racial truths is a career-ending risk that I know all too well.
Last January I had to leave my job at Eagle Publishing (home of the Conservative Book Club, Human Events, and Regnery Publishing) after serving nearly three years as managing editor of Human Events. The reason: editing, entirely on my own free time, another publication, The Occidental Quarterly (TOQ), that addressed important cultural, racial, ethnic, and political issues facing the future of Western civilization. My work performance was never questioned. I enjoyed my work, got along well with the editors, valued the camaraderie and good will of my colleagues at Eagle, and always put forth my best effort to meet my employer’s expectations to produce a solid, informative conservative weekly newspaper.
However, one afternoon last January, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a fanatical left-wing organization, called my office supervisors to inquire about my work for Human Events, the Evans and Novak Political Report (an Eagle newsletter), and a “white supremacist” publication (TOQ) that I had been editing in my spare time. To my boss, Heidi Beirich of the SPLC was a faceless, nameless individual. Nevertheless, without hesitation or reservation, my superiors at Eagle accepted at face value her accusations and descriptions about my avocational work. Three years of collegial respect simply vanished instantaneously over accusations that were never questioned.
Much of the day passed on a routine schedule when late that afternoon, Tom Winter, the editor in chief of Human Events, sternly demanded that I follow him to the office conference room. I sensed at that point we were not going to discuss a raise or promotion. Near the end of a ten-minute interrogation about my work with TOQ, the vice president of the company said, “How do you think we should handle this?” I was given a few seconds to decide to either resign or be fired. For personal reasons, I decided to resign and we filed out of the conference room as people would leave a wake at a funeral.
As I was packing up my possessions in my office, Winter showed up and complimented me for my work as managing editor. One could sense a degree of unease about what had transpired. He didn’t seem to know much about the SPLC and their aggressive agenda to undermine any threat to egalitarianism; for conservatives of his generation, the embodiment of evil liberalism had always been the ACLU. We talked briefly as I scrambled to find empty spare boxes around the office corridors for my family photos and personal mementos. He tried to smooth things out, but his own admission that I was a “good” managing editor was only a kick in the teeth. It was then that I fully realized the full force and pressure of political correctness, as decreed by the far left to a prominent conservative publication. My departure from Eagle was a politically expedient way to avoid the likely negative publicity that the SPLC could stoke if Eagle ignored their claims.
Breaking the news to my wife later that evening, awaking her after our two daughters were asleep, was one of the most difficult experiences I’ve had to face. How do you explain to your wife that you lost your job— not for some work-related grievance—but for exercising your first-amendment rights and, as a freelancer, expressing a point of view? Other staff members freelanced regularly on the side without losing their job as a result. A few coworkers emailed me the next day shocked to discover my vacant office.
During the course of my interrogation with Eagle’s vice president and the top two Human Events editors, I asked why I had to either resign or get fired. The response was, “we think you know why.” Mind you, this is an employer whose owner boasts about upholding “traditional American values of free enterprise, limited government, and individual liberty”— and presumably the U.S. Constitution. The SPLC couldn’t care less about the conservative values that my employer cherished. They were blind to the fact that the SPLC’s agenda actively tried to undermine the individual liberty and limited government of traditional patriotic Americans.
Although I had made it a point not to discuss my freelance work around the office, out of respect for my colleagues who might have strong opinions and disagreements on controversial subjects, I suspected that questions would eventually surface about the journal. However, since four individuals around the office had some knowledge of my involvement with TOQ—three Eagle employees, including a senior editor at my sister company Regnery publishing and a former co-owner of the paper—I figured that since little was said and the reaction seemed to be one of indifference, perhaps nothing would come of my moonlighting work. If no one at Eagle had raised any complaints, which I suspect no one did, what would there be to complain about? Not to mention I thought it would be ironic that sharing a collegial working arrangement with two members of the Regnery family (cousins by relation)—the one a member of Eagle’s corporate board and former publisher of Regnery, the other a friend and publisher of TOQ—would be a career-ending juxtaposition.
Nevertheless, the way Eagle abruptly dealt with my severance from the company was more callous than I could ever have anticipated. The reaction was swift, cold, and harsh. (I received a few days pay and compensation for sick leave, vacation time and benefits.) As the father of two precious daughters and a wonderful wife, I couldn’t imagine how a so-called “family oriented” employer could react so ruthlessly. It would have been one thing to say, “We see a conflict of interest, we don’t like how you spend your time outside the office, but in appreciation of your valued work for the company, here’s a few months compensation. We wish you the best of luck.” Nothing doing—I had to evacuate that evening and leave my access card to the building, as if I couldn’t be trusted to return and pack up my personal possessions.
The late syndicated columnist Sam Francis once said that when he was fired from The Washington Times the experience was comparable psychologically to what a rape victim encounters after a violent rape. As Sam perceptively put it, you feel personally violated, as if you needed to disinfect yourself by taking a thorough shower. I felt the same way .
The fact that a radical left-wing organization like the SPLC could generate such a swift response out of not just any conservative employer, but historically the flagship publication of social conservatives, who politically remain entirely at odds with the SPLC’s outlook, is mind-boggling. Human Events selected Judge Roy Moore for their man-of-the-year award in 2003 for his principled stand in his fight to keep the Ten Commandments monument in his courtroom. The SPLC filed the suit against Judge Moore that resulted in the removal of the monument. Furthermore, SPLC’s founder Morris Dees said in March 2004, “The most dangerous threat in America today is not from the Ku Klux Klan and it's not from the Neo Nazis, it's from the religious right.” Dees added, “I think of Judge Roy Moore in Montgomery, Alabama. . . . We took that case because it was a case of extreme religious intolerance.”
One might think that the editors of Human Events would have sneered at the SPLC’s effort to purge one of its employees, given the group’s radical outlook. (The SPLC smears the American Enterprise Institute for having scholars who are indirectly affiliated with a so-called “hate” group.) SPLC’s sister organization’s website, Tolerance.org, has a glowing interview with former Weatherman and radical educator Bill Ayers, an unrepentant advocate of Communism, who as recently as 1995 described himself as “...a radical, Leftist, small ‘c’ communist.” As he candidly admits in a published interview, “the ethics of Communism still appeal to me.” Ayers is married to former Weatherman radical Bernardine Dohrn, who in 1969, according to the Claremont Institute, attended a Weather Underground “war council” in Michigan, in which “Dohrn gave a three-fingered ‘fork salute’ to mass murderer Charles Manson. Calling Manson’s victims the ‘Tate Eight,’ Dohrn gloated over the fact that actress Sharon Tate, who was pregnant at the time, had been stabbed with a fork in her womb. ‘Dig it. First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, they even shoved a fork into a victim's stomach! Wild!’” To think that Human Events, a staunchly anti-Communist periodical that unapologetically defends Joseph McCarthy and Gen. Augusto Pinochet, would force a loyal employee to resign out of fear of the SPLC would have been, until very recently, inconceivable.
The Right’s Leftward Drift
What explains this bizarre spectacle?
Over the years, especially since the 1980s, the right has drifted leftward along with the rest of the political culture, especially on controversial issues involving race, multiculturalism, and “diversity.” A good example is Human Events, which has drifted far from the staunchly conservative views that it once championed not so long ago.
In 1973, Human Events published “A Tale of Two Heretics,” an article by M. Stanton Evans that defended the research of Arthur R. Jensen, then a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the late Richard Herrnstein of Harvard University. Evans described Jensen and Herrnstein as “two respected professors of psychology.” Four years earlier Jensen had published a controversial paper in the Harvard Educational Review in which he argued that the underlying cause of the black/white IQ gap, as measured by valid intelligence tests, was largely genetic in origin. He provided a wealth of material to support his claim and has since published several books to substantiate his thesis. His 1969 paper remains one of the most cited pieces of scholarship in the social science literature. He revisited the controversy and uproar that ensued following his 1969 paper in his 1973 book, Genetics and Education. In the early 70s, Jensen received death threats, students disrupted his classes, and he was eventually assigned a security guard to help him get around the Berkeley campus.
Herrnstein’s 1973 book I.Q. and the Meritocracy received widespread condemnation from the left for claiming that differences in intelligence explained the socioeconomic stratification that existed in American society. Class differences, poverty and economic disparities were not the result of capitalism or oppression, Herrnstein argued, but primarily the result of differences in IQ. He also received similar treatment from the radical left and was the subject of protests on the Harvard campus.
Evans defended the general thrust of their arguments and, in a well-written summary of their books, denounced the liberal attacks and attempted censorship aimed against them in academic circles. In summarizing how both were subjected to treatment that few left- wing academics ever experience, Evans writes, “These parallel stories from our enlightened campuses tell us much about the condition of freedom of speech and publication in America today, as construed by radical activists and certain members of the liberal professoriate. Leftward tolerance of ‘dissent’ will obviously extend just so far and Herrnstein and Jensen have exceeded the limits. Where hereditarian heresies are concerned, the radicals will not permit expression and conventional liberals in many cases will not defend it—although there are various honorable exceptions to both rules.”
The same can be said of today’s conservative establishment (in general) and Human Events (in particular). In June 2002, Ann Coulter, the legal affairs correspondent for Human Events, wrote a first-rate column titled, “Murdering The Bell Curve,” which appeared in Human Events. She lambasted liberals for suddenly discovering the validity of IQ tests—since the results could be used in court to get convicted murderers off death row. I had been away vacationing that week and noticed, after it appeared in the paper, that one of our reporters had inserted the paperback release date (1996) as the initial publication of the book, which actually was first published in the fall of 1994.
In the meantime, the late political economist and author Jude Wanniski emailed the editors at Human Events, hysterically criticizing Ann’s favorable mention of The Bell Curve, denouncing it as a highly flawed book that rested on faulty social science research, citing Gregg Easterbrook’s critique from The Washington Monthly, and noting that of more than a hundred scholars who defended the book in the Wall Street Journal, no credible biologist or geneticist supported the book’s findings. His error was to assume that no psychologist who supported The Bell Curve’s thesis had any adequate understanding of genetics. (A high school biology student would know that, based merely on his professional credentials as an economist, Wanniski would know even less about genetics than a psychologist.)
Anyone familiar with The Bell Curve or the controversy that engulfed the book upon its publication in 1994 could easily spot these inaccuracies, as well as wild, unsupportable generalizations in Wanniski’s screed, including the number of scholars who signed the statement of support that appeared on the op/ed page of the Wall Street Journal (the actual number was 52), so I thought it would be a good idea to publish his letter, followed by an editor’s note explaining our error in botching the original publication date of The Bell Curve. Plus, it would offer to our readers a point-by-point rebuttal to Wanniski’s blunders. I drafted a note and then provided Winter with a proof of the page to edit. The next morning I noticed Winter downstairs outside the Eagle office building proofing pages on his cigarette break. As I exchanged greetings and headed into the building’s lobby, he said he had one question about my comments on Wanniski’s letter. I figured he would drop by in a few minutes and raise the point. Most of the day had passed when he finally came around to my office, a nervous wreck, leaning over next to me, explaining, “I’m just nervous about being called a ‘racist’,” as he read off some of the scholars I had listed in the editor’s note. When he got to Arthur Jensen’s name, he had asked that I edit it out since he was told that Jensen was a “racist.” Although I knew this wasn’t true, I complied with his request. Other than that, he had no other text changes. As he was leaving the office, I had discovered that Winter had contacted several close friends and former associates throughout the afternoon to check to see if any of them had read The Bell Curve. He had faxed over a copy of the letter to Stan Evans (of all individuals) to see if he had read Herrnstein and Murray’s book, accompanied by an urgent note to get back to him ASAP. I couldn’t help but think to myself: this is (pinch me) Human Events?!? Is this the same publication that on more than one occasion vigorously defended Jensen and Herrnstein? What’s going on? Since Coulter has even mentioned that The Bell Curve is one of her favorite books, how could clarifying misstatements and inaccuracies about the book create so much anxiety?
Airbrushing the Record
Shortly after I had left the paper in January, Tom Winter was quoted in a UPI story as saying, “In its 60- year history, Human Events had never ‘knowingly hired a racist, never published racist articles, and never tolerated racist sympathies...and we never will.’” This may be true, but he had no problem granting The Citizen, the monthly publication of the Citizen’s Council, in August 1979 permission to reprint Stan Evans’ eyewitness account of the Rhodesian election that first appeared in Human Events.
Moreover, this is the same publication that once published detailed critiques of egalitarianism, such as John O’Hara’s 1965 article, “Is There a Brotherhood of Man?” It also published David Brudnoy’s laudatory review of Jared Taylor’s Paved With Good Intentions in 1993. In the full-page review, Brudnoy noted that “Taylor’s analysis of the double standards operating in America and of the overall circumstance of the underclass is unsurpassed in a single volume intended for the general reader.” Brudnoy goes on to point out that “Jared Taylor has produced a document of first-rate significance for analyzing where we are.” The irony of Human Events publishing this glowing review of Taylor’s book is that it was Sam Francis’s affiliation with Taylor’s monthly newsletter American Renaissance that contributed to Francis’s banishment from the pages of Human Events. His biweekly syndicated column frequently appeared in Human Events, occasionally on the cover of the paper, throughout the late 80s and early 90s but after Francis lost his job with The Washington Times his column likewise vanished from the pages of Human Events. Winter would edit his name from the text whenever it mentioned Francis favorably just as the Soviets would airbrush an ex-comrade out of existence.
Contrary to Winter’s professed pronouncements against “racism,” Human Events in fact had a history of publishing provocative commentary on race and politics, and maintained affiliations with segregationist-minded politicians and journalists. It once published the writings of Major Gen. J. F. C. Fuller, a leading historian of military strategy and a former supporter of Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, and Professor Hans Sennholz, an economist and ex-Luftwaffe pilot who was also listed as a contributing editor of American Opinion. There was a time when the editors of Human Events would have defied their radical critics in the face of controversy, but the change in ownership in the mid 1990s ushered in a new era in which the editors would repeatedly buckle under to the pragmatic business and political interests of its owner, Thomas Phillips. Phillips, a mover and shaker in elite GOP circles, understands that in order to sell space to major advertisers (a modern necessity for keeping his publication as far out of the red ink as possible), one must not jeopardize one’s business standing with prospective advertisers. It is simply unacceptable by today’s standards to challenge contemporary egalitarian dogma on race.
The point conservatives fail to understand is that the use of the vacuous word “racist” by groups such as the SPLC, as investigative author Laird Wilcox has noted, is a tactic to smear conservatives and to stifle discussion of controversial issues. What is perceived to be “racist” by today’s standard would have been a perfectly acceptable and legitimate point of view by yesterday’s benchmark. Furthermore, Winter’s point is rather misleading. It is true that over the years Human Events was careful in confronting the issue of race. It never was explicitly a racial publication and it would be inappropriate to characterize it as such, but by the same token it was never a champion of radical egalitarian social policies and routinely opposed forced busing, Head Start, affirmative action, and aggressively exposed the Communist influence within the civil rights movement. The paper’s editors tacitly understood that grassroots cultural conservatives, such as Birchers and members of the Southern Citizen’s Council, formed a considerable core of Human Events’ readership base. As such the paper unapologetically looked up to prominent conservative public officials—including former segregationists, such as Strom Thurmond—without being explicitly racial in outlook.
Consider other recent examples of how this once solidly conservative publication has drifted leftward and embraced politically correct perspectives. Two years ago Human Events’ editor Terry Jeffrey insisted on using for the cover of the paper a color photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. from his historic 1963 speech to accompany Linda Chavez’s column criticizing the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the University of Michigan’s affirmative action policy. Human Events had historically been enormously critical of King and his reported Communist affiliations. The paper in 1983 reprinted in full text Jesse Helms’ speech detailing the full range of conservative objections to making King’s birthday a national holiday, including the infamous photograph of King at the Highlander Folk School run by Marxist Myles Horton, which appeared throughout the South on billboards in the 1960s. By publishing this large, laudatory image of King on the cover of Human Events, the editors must have made a number of older readers scratch their heads wondering if this is the same publication they were reading twenty years ago (hint: it isn’t).
In March 2003, I approached Jeffrey about covering the “Lincoln Reconsidered” conference that was being held later that month in Richmond, Va. I thought it would make for a perfect “Conservative Forum” item in Human Events—just a brief description of the event from someone in attendance. He expressed interest in it so I called and received a press pass from Ron Holland, one of the organizers of the conference, and he was thrilled to have Human Events cover the one- day forum. A number of authors and scholars were scheduled for the event, including Emory University professor Donald Livingstone; Clyde Wilson, a contributor to Chronicles and professor at the University of South Carolina; Thomas DiLorenzo of Loyola College and author of The Real Lincoln (a hot-selling featured selection offered by Human Events’ sister company The Conservative Book Club); and Paul Gottfried of Elizabethtown College.
After writing a brief description of the event and having it proofread shortly before our Thursday press deadline, Jeffrey came around to my office and said that he had second thoughts about publishing it, the event wasn’t exactly what he initially had in mind, and to publicize it would divide conservatives who were split on Lincoln’s legacy. Since he thought it would be “divisive” to publish an uncritical account of the conference, Jeffrey believed that dividing conservatives over contested issues would be counter productive. I complied with his request and replaced the item. I thought at the time, if someone approached Jeffrey and had argued the point that taking a rigid, pro-life position (prohibiting abortion even in cases of rape and incest) is “divisive” among conservatives— splitting social conservatives from libertarian-leaning conservatives— he wouldn’t have cared less. In his mind, conservatives are expected to be pro-life, if they aren’t, that’s their problem, not his. When it comes to politically taboo subjects, such as race, or even criticizing Lincoln or King, conservatives are expected to conform to conventional dogma and agree not to disagree.
The leftward drift of Human Events away from bedrock conservative positions isn’t limited to the issue of race. Over the years, Human Events has been the leading pro-family publication among grassroots social conservatives with a well-known editorial view that firmly opposed the agenda of homosexual activists, such as “gay marriage.”
In 1960, Human Events published one of its more popular feature articles, “Homosexual International” by Countess Waldeck. One morning I received a call from one of our readers in Arizona inquiring about how he could obtain copies of the article. I asked Winter and he immediately recounted how popular the article was at the time it was published. He pinpointed the date range and I quickly found it. The article began by noting that the Deputy Undersecretary of State Carlisle Humelstine had ousted 119 homosexuals from the State Department in 1951. I made several photocopies of the article and sent them to our Arizona reader.
In fact, as early as the mid-1980s Human Events published numerous articles critical of the emerging, aggressive homosexual subculture. Articles such as Stan Evans’ “AIDS: Homosexual Plague,” and lengthy reviews of books such as The Homosexual Network by Father Enrique T. Rueda appeared on a regular basis. Allan Brownfeld’s review of Rueda’s book noted, “There was a time in America, in the very recent past, when psychiatry viewed homosexuality as an illness and churches viewed it as a sin. Homosexuals remained ‘in the closet,’ and were as discreet as possible in pursuing their sexual proclivities. . . . Now, however, we no longer speak of homosexuals, but of ‘gay people,’ and instead of thinking of in terms of illness or sin we refer to ‘alternative lifestyles.’”
Again, times have certainly changed. One of the complaints I had to deal with on a regular basis was from one of the editors who wrote hard-hitting copy about outrageous homosexual news items in blunt language—the sort of reporting that had regularly appeared in Human Events. Winter would make it a point to tone down the rhetoric, replacing “homosexual” and “sodomite” with “gay” in proofing the text. Winter was especially concerned that fag- bashing epithets would offend Jeffrey Carneal, the president of Eagle, the parent company of Human Events, who is widely alleged to be homosexual.
A major concern shared by some of the Human Events staff was a perceived need to placate Carneal’s sensitivity to homosexual issues. The editors walked on eggshells in trying to balance the conservative, pro- family values of Human Events readers and Carneal’s whispered homosexuality. For the record, Carneal is listed as a donor to the Whitman-Walker Clinic, a “community-based health organization ... established by and for the gay and lesbian community .” According to Federal Election Commission records, he contributed $500 in June 2003 to the reelection campaign of Rep. Mark Foley (R.- FL.), who has refused to answer questions about his alleged gay lifestyle. Foley also received a $500 contribution in June 2003 from the Log Cabin Republicans Political Action Committee, a gay Republican organization, and has received contributions from the Human Rights Campaign PAC, the leading homosexual organization that endorses candidates who support “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.”
Occasionally Carneal and the editors would butt heads over gay- related issues. He was beside himself after the editors decided to defend Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA.) in a front page piece that supported the senator’s stated opposition to the recklessly promiscuous lifestyle of homosexuals. Carneal confronted the paper’s editor in his office in what was described as a tense and heated exchange. He would always argue his point of view on libertarian grounds, but it seemed clear to the editors what was really behind it all.
On more than one occasion Carneal referred to Human Events as an “ultra-conservative” publication. During one year-end recognition award ceremony, devoted to selecting the “employee of the year” at Eagle Publishing’s annual Christmas party, Carneal introduced a member of the graphics department as someone who had the “misfortune” of having to work with the Human Events staff on deadline. The paper’s editor, sitting right next to me, angrily remarked, “What an a--hole!” and immediately walked out of the party. Some suspected that Carneal’s attitude—his rare compliments to the staff, nitpicking involvement on editorial decisions, and occasional jabs—stemmed quite likely, in part, because of the paper’s editorial view of homosexuality .
Tough on Immigration?
One of the issues that Jeffrey prides himself in leading the charge in Human Events is the problem of illegal immigration. As a former director of Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaign, he is tougher and remains more focused on social and cultural issues. (Winter would frequently describe cultural issues, such as multiculturalism and “diversity,” as “boring.”) Jeffrey considers himself as first and foremost a conservative, then a Republican, and would be willing to take the Bush administration to task on issues such as gay marriage, stem-cell research, border security, and illegal immigration.
Consequently Human Events has published some first-rate reporting on the problems of border security, terrorism, and lack of resolve on the part of public officials in halting the flow of illegal immigrants across our borders. Much of this reportage, however, has been through the post- 9/11 prism of terrorism and national security. As important as it is, there are other aspects of the immigration issue that get far less attention—if any at all—in the pages of Human Events. For example, where is the paper in leading the discussion on having a moratorium on legal immigration? Why don’t they just come right out and admit that generally speaking some immigrants are more preferable than others? Why not just admit that “diversity” has its limits and this demographic trend is proving to be detrimental to our nation’s survival. Some on the staff shared the view that Hispanic immigrants could be converted into dedicated Republicans and the country would be one harmonious giant Disneyland as a result. Just as long as they’re not Democrats—then everything will be fine.
Historically, the paper published occasional pieces on immigration, some articles like Palmer Stacy’s “Uncontrolled Immigration: Silent Threat to America,” were exceptionally informative. However, in 1965 Human Events had peculiarly little to say about the Immigration Act that passed in early October of that year, an event that historian Otis Graham has described as “the single most nation-changing measure of the era.” Despite the fact that it was one of the big “Great Society” reforms under the Johnson Administration, it never received the intense scrutiny that other “Great Society” measures did in Human Events. The paper published one brief op/ed that first appeared in the Arizona Republic, “Limit Needed on All Immigration,” in early October 1965 and a small news item, “Immigration Ceiling Advances,” in September 1965.
The fact that the Senate bill passed by a margin of 76 to 18 indicates that the paper was reluctant to criticize a measure that had this much political support and given that almost all the opposition to it came from southern politicians. In today’s post-9/11 political climate, given the public’s sentiments on illegal immigration and the ever growing congressional coalition for immigration reform led by Rep. Tancredo, Human Events aggressively publishes articles such as the June 13, 2005 cover story, “Is Your Security Guard an Illegal?,” which at best nibbles around the edge of America’s ongoing landmark demographic transition. Is it really that courageous to thunder on about America’s immigration crisis after the fact?
The paper’s reluctance in criticizing renegade Republicans on the issue of immigration is highlighted by an instance last year in which one of the paper’s more informative freelance writers, Jim Edwards, an adjunct fellow with the Hudson Institute, had submitted a piece critical of Utah Rep. Chris Cannon’s amnesty program titled “Loose Cannon in Utah.” The piece highlighted Cannon’s abysmal record on immigration legislation, which in many instances bucked his constituents’ interests, and triggered a GOP primary challenge by former state legislator Matt Throckmorton. Winter always liked Edwards’ columns and suggested that we publish this one. He forwarded it to me for publication and to our web editor to post on the website.
A short while after it appeared on our website, I worked it into the paper. The next week while on vacation, I received two frantic messages on my cell phone from Winter, “Kevin, I know you’re on vacation, but please call me as soon as you can.” I returned his call and he seemed puzzled by the fact that we published Edward’s piece, especially with the headline, “Loose Cannon in Utah.” Since Carneal had called him and hit the roof, he wanted me to describe the piece to him so he could explain to Carneal what happened. He couldn’t remember proofing the article. I reminded him that Edward’s article had been up on the web and that I received the column from him to publish. It had turned out that Rep. Cannon is related to Eagle board member Joseph A. Cannon, the chairman of the board of Geneva Steel, Inc. Carneal was concerned about Cannon’s reaction to reading something so critical about his family member in Human Events and berated Winter for running it.
The episode revealed that the conservative establishment has in many instances jettisoned principled stands to convenience and profit. It also reinforced the over sensitivity that conservatives have to criticism. For establishment conservatives, what is important is image over substance. Celebrity status and fame—being chic—drives profits. It explains the modern business mentality of “conservative” executives like Carneal. Human Events dropped Ted Baehr’s mini reviews of films, a family-oriented feature popular with many parents given his detailed ratings for foul language and nudity that were often informative. Well, it wasn’t swank enough for Carneal’s tastes (he would ridicule it in editorial meetings) and eventually it was dropped as a regular feature. Carneal was always urging the editors to come up with something “Drudgeable” so that Matt Drudge could link to it and drive his followers to the Human Events website. It was a good way to gin up business, but in many respects the editors were less interested in becoming trend-setters and appealing to Drudge than giving Human Events readers solid if less sensational news, and at the same time maintain the paper’s continuity—its look, content and features—which had been established over the years.
In his recent book Winning the Future, Newt Gingrich complains that “Since the 1960’s, the conservative majority has been intimidated, manipulated and bullied by the liberal minority. The liberal elites who dominate academia, the courts, the press and much of the government bureaucracy share an essentially European secular-socialist value system. Yet they have set the terms of the debate, which is why ‘politics as usual’ is a losing proposition for Americans.”
The reason why liberals have set the terms of the debate and have the upper hand in shutting out conservatives in the upper elites of society is because conservatives let them. A good example is the stifling of reasoned discussions and free inquiry into the genetic basis of racial differences in IQ and other personality traits. The reaction to the publication of The Bell Curve put conservatives on notice: there are real consequences to defending this area of scientific research. Egalitarians have fostered the current climate of political correctness that makes it impossible to candidly discuss matters involving race and avoid accusations of “racism.” By not confronting the left and then capitulating to accusations of “racism” and “intolerance,” conservatives let their adversaries establish the terms of what is considered “acceptable” and “politically correct” if, that is, you expect to be received into the corridors of power and influence.
For many beltway conservatives, attending the White House Christmas Party or Capitol Hill social event is the pinnacle of achievement—maintaining access to influential circles—and everything else is secondary. Anything that jeopardizes this social standing is considered “beyond the pale.” Status is the fuel that drives the conservative establishment.
It explains why conservatives have given up so much ground on issues that were once important to them: honesty and truth about race, IQ differences, egalitarianism, decadent societal trends, immigration restrictions, and the threat that ethnic balkanization poses to the future of American society.
KEVIN LAMB has been published in National Review, Chronicles, the Asian Wall Street Journal, Mankind Quarterly, Middle American News, The Social Contract, and The Journal of Social, Political & Economic Studies. He is the former editor of The Occidental Quarterly and former communications director of the National Policy Institute.