French folly

Writing for First Things, Sohrab Ahmari launched a mordant attack on all-around nice guy David French and his eponymous “ism”. In one sense, this is yet another round in the Alt-Right vs. Conservatism, Inc wars. Kurt Schlichter refers to the latter folks as “Fredocons“, but “cuckservatives” packs a lot more bite and is overall a better fit. It might seem unfair to single out French, but recall that this die-hard never-Trumper actually embarked on a short-lived presidential run to challenge Trump’s candidacy (what tactical genius put him up to that?). David French has come to exemplify the cuck phenomenon, and his adopting a black child is completely beside the point (the usual dim-witted provocateurs notwithstanding). What makes him a cuck, in our eyes, is quite simply this: In gross violation of the Buckley doctrine, he actively tried to undermine Donald Trump’s candidacy, thereby lending support to Hillary Clinton.

All that is by way of background; Ahmari’s target is not so much David French himself but rather “David French-ism” as a strategy in the culture wars. The point of contention boils down to this: Do we prevail against the Left by sticking to our principles of decency, honesty and high-brow rationality? Or do we fight dirty like they do? French offers a cheery rebuttal to Ahmari, calling him out on various inaccuracies and reminding us of his admittedly impressive list of courtroom victories on behalf of conservative causes. The libertarians weighed in on French’s side, and the lefties are rooting for injuries.

PTT will refrain from making a hasty call here; we readily concede the importance of principles and decency. We have, however, identified a major flaw in French’s reasoning — one that his side has repeated several times and the other side has not explicitly rebutted. French:

Here’s what Ahmari doesn’t recognize: Time and again, I and lawyers I was proud to work with didn’t just win these court cases, we persuaded left-dominated institutions to turn back from repressive illiberalism and recommit to religious pluralism. I’ve spent more time in conference rooms and meeting halls persuading the libs than I’ve spent in court owning the libs, and I’ve found that persuasion works. Not always, of course — nothing always works — but far more often than you might think. [Emphasis his.]

The notion of persuading the other side in rational debate is what makes Western civilization superior to the various shit-holes. PSA to French and his cronies: In order to have a debate, you need a working mic. When the other side resorts to cutting you off (say, by getting you kicked off of facebook, twitter, and youtube), you’ve lost the debate before it even got started. It doesn’t matter how persuasive your arguments are if no-one is allowed to hear them. Again and again, French’s side pig-headedly insists on disregarding the zeroth rule of chess: Making your opponent play by the rules.

PTT is all for persuasion by rational debate. When the Left begins to use the phrase “Let’s have a conversation” in earnest — rather than to mean shut up and listen, racist! — we will fully endorse David French’s approach. Until then, we find his tactics woefully inadequate and reluctantly call this one for his alt-right critics.

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