The Isolationist By CHRIS SUELLENTROP NYT SBR: January 27, 2008
DAY OF RECKONING How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart. By Patrick J. Buchanan. 294 pp. Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press. $25.95.
His foreign policy prescriptions — withdraw from NATO, abandon our commitments to Taiwan and South Korea and pretty much everywhere else in the world — are not likely to be adopted by the nominee of either major party in 2008, but he presents them forcefully and often persuasively. They deserve a wider hearing in American politics than they are currently given...
Unfortunately, the worthwhile provocations Buchanan offers are overshadowed by his views on race and ethnicity. He believes that diversity is America’s weakness, not its strength; that because of its multiethnic nature and because of an “invasion” from the south, “America is indeed coming apart, decomposing, and ... the likelihood of her survival as one nation through midcentury is improbable”; and that racial differences are inherently divisive.
It is one thing to assert that America is not an abstract idea or a political science experiment or a philosophical creed, but an actual country with a shared culture and homeland. It is quite another to imply, very strongly, that American culture is the genetic inheritance of the descendants of white Europeans. (Buchanan opposes “the mixing of all tribes, races and peoples” and suggests he would support an immigration policy that would “keep the United States predominantly Christian and European.”) It is one thing to assert that America has the right to police its borders and to regulate immigration however it sees fit. It is quite another to blame “diversity” for the Virginia Tech massacre.
Buchanan apparently thinks his views on these matters are more important than his desire for a less warlike and imperial foreign policy, which is why he refuses to keep quiet about them. And Americans, it turns out, agree with him about the significance of these opinions. That’s one large reason the nation’s voters — in 1992, 1996 and 2000 — put a pitchfork in his presidential ambitions. And if the time comes, they will no doubt gladly bear that burden once more. Chris Suellentrop is an editor for the Op-Ed page of The Times. With Tobin Harshaw, he writes The Opinionator, a blog for The New York Times on the Web. Related Complete Coverage of Patrick J. Buchanan