By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Buchanan likes to take the long view, as is evidenced by his character, which seems almost to belong to another era, and his conversation, which is laden with historical and religious references. He believes that America is a good country and that we ought to think about it in ways that will enable it to survive as a viable democracy. Neoconservatives who want to police the world, invade foreign nations and put their trust in a hyperglobal economy while piling up trade deficits, alienating allies and allowing foreigners to pour across America’s borders unchecked, are risking everything for short-term profits, cheap labor and power.
“I simply am a non-interventionist,” he says. “Once we win the Cold War, I believe you bring the troops home and you have a traditional American defense, and that‘s how the republic endures. Nothing lasts forever, but for as long as possible. And we are undertaking an imperialist, almost crypto--British Empire foreign policy that I believe is going to lead to disaster.”
When it comes to the famous “root causes” of 911, Buchanan concurs with the left that the assault on the World Trade Center would not have happened had we removed our troops from Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War in 1991, and been more evenhanded in the Middle East. He doesn’t doubt that America will win a war with Iraq. It‘s the aftermath he’s worried about, and the fear that the neocons will press for war elsewhere in the Muslim world. In his view, the best way to confront Islam is to fight terrorism but otherwise leave the Arabs alone. Eventually, Muslims will realize that theocratic governments are great on rhetoric but lousy on results, and will turn toward democracy. Nor is he interested in suppressing Islam. “I don‘t think we can anyhow. It’s been around for 1,400 years. Even the Crusades didn‘t work, and they were a good idea!”
Undaunted by the hostile reception for The Death of the West, Buchanan is writing a new book about what he believes are the real threats facing our country. Those would include terrorism, the forthcoming collapse of the global economy, the deindustrialization of the U.S., and what he calls the “deconstruction” of America by its intellectual elites.
“The old America is like a beautiful building. If you take it apart and reduce it to the wood, and the molding, and the bricks, and the rest of it, it’s just a pile of junk,” he says, his voice dropping almost to a whisper, as it does when he is particularly passionate about something. “It‘s held together by myth, and belief, and a lot of things, and I think they’re all under assault. I think that‘s what’s going on in society. It‘s sad, and there’s not a lot I can do about it.”
Then he adds, laughing because he knows that what he‘s about to say amounts to self-parody, “The ’50s were a great time! It was a great country! They talk about how people were mistreated in Catholic schools -- I wasn‘t mistreated at all! It was wonderful!”
Taki likes the old days, too, school included. (He came to America in 1949, aged 12.) “The Italians were called wops, the Jews were called hymies, I was of course a greaseball, and every Hispanic was a spic,” he says in his rat-a-tat style, which wouldn’t be out of place in a remake of Casablanca. “Well, we all got along famously! It was rough, but it was fine. Obviously, one doesn‘t like to be called a greaseball, but you know -- Greek, greaseball . . . Now, of course, all that is very, very unacceptable.”
When I ask him what kind of America he’d like to see, he tells me about a film called Since You Went Away, a World War II home-front tearjerker he watched the previous night on television. In it, Claudette Colbert plays the mother of two teenage girls (“You can‘t imagine to have such wonderful children,” says Taki), and while her husband is off fighting the war, his friend (Joseph Cotten) falls in love with her. Taki looks positively beatific as he describes the movie. His dark eyes shine, lost in nostalgic reverie.
“They go to bars . . . the women wear hats . . . they’re drinking . . . people smoking . . . girls mooning over . . . Everybody so polite to each other! The man comes over and says he doesn‘t have money to pay . . . The other says, don’t worry, here‘s the food . . . That’s what I‘d like to see! Obviously, it’s a pipe dream . . .”
Obviously -- even to a romantic like Taki. His own son, he tells me, is a “wigger” who‘s had a few run-ins with the law due to his habit of spray-painting graffiti around New York. But though Taki seems quite proud that his bad-boy genes have been successfully passed on to the next generation, he still deplores the coarseness of the culture. (He excuses his own bad language on the grounds that he went “through hell” in the Navy.) And like Buchanan, who was an Eddie Murphy fan until he came across one of the comedian’s more obscene productions, Taki is extremely critical of present-day Hollywood. “I truly believe that they‘re responsible for the mess,” he says. “The day that Hollywood stops blowing up cars, using drug dealers and tough guys as icons, and the F word, I think the culture and civility will improve.”