Friday, February 29, 2008


On William F. Buckley

Soon after the news broke, I read one of the obits linked on Drudge, though I can’t remember from which outlet it came. My Dad, a big Firing Line fan from way back, and me, a recovering Conservative, I was more than just familiar with William F. Frankly, though, he has been out of the picture as of late, so I hadn’t thought of him in the context of my current beliefs. So, I am reading this obituary that makes clear that while a very respected intellectual, he was also known (at least by the obit writer) as a bigot and a racist. Err. Now, while I am the one who often says that generations simply have to die off (yes, mine too eventually) in order for progress to occur, I did not think about a person with that kind of fame and influence being the kind that needed to die to allow for progress. It really seems counter-intuitive, given how I viewed him earlier in my life. Although, times were different back then. What is now considered redneck was more common among all socio-economic groups. As I often say, we cannot judge historical beliefs by today’s standards, and even the 70’s and 80’s were very different than today. Thank goodness. This really begs the questions though, first, was he really that lacking in humanity to begin with, and if so, did he evolve as he aged?
And will I? Am I simply being too demanding because I am young enough not to understand how difficult it is to change your long-held beliefs? Will it be my great challenge as I age to force myself to consider that I have held beliefs that were simply wrong all these many years? Or even if I can be okay with being wrong, this certainly does not mean that everyone can deal with having their own intellectual foundation shaken. Was his intellect built upon memory and lacking in problem-solving? Could it have been that we were so drawn in my his contemplative speaking style as to believe that he was being thoughtful, when he was really simply hiding his flaws?
I wonder if he would see his beliefs on women, minorities and gays as flaws now? What was it about him that drew people (that did not think this way) to love him? Was it his charisma that kept even a youngster like me interested, such a force that he was a must at parties and panels? Was he a center of attention or a mere novelty to which liberals stared and mocked? It certainly could be that the upper crust did love him flaws and all, genuinely waiting to hear what he thought as they gathered wide-eyed ‘round his socks. I do not know what to think of him. I do not suppose I need to think much of anything, but I feel torn.

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