Sunday, June 1, 2014
Kevin Williamson with a paean to National Review. Amen.
Even in those few happy places where conservatives can prevail politically, the Left owns the culture. The mighty Lubbock Avalanche-Journal had wall-to-wall coverage of Friday-night lights, but its national and international news came mostly from the Associated Press, as is the case for most U.S. daily newspapers, which means some of the worst economics writing and biased political reporting you can find. At my high school, American history began with the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, reached its apex with the New Deal, and ended with Watergate. Capitalism was unmitigated greed, Reagan was the Antichrist, and what appeared to the unenlightened to be an age of possibility and prosperity was in fact the prelude to environmental apocalypse and the virtual enslavement of the American worker. And if that was the witches’ brew of lies and nonsense I was being dunked in daily in Lubbock, who knows what they were enduring in some comparatively liberal metropolis such as Albuquerque?
But somewhere out there on the barren Llano Estacado was a quiet hero, whose identity still is unknown to me, who changed my life in a profound way — by ensuring that National Review was available at my library. This was in the dark days before the Internet and before National Review Online, when most of the information and insight you needed was still on paper. Woody Allen lampooned National Review in one of his films by placing the magazine in the pornography section of a Manhattan newsstand, but the newsstand, and all of the choices that it offers, would have been a luxury in my part of the world. We were still dependent on the good graces of librarians, who are not, as you may have heard, particularly sympathetic to conservatives. Years later, Rush Limbaugh would capture the experience precisely describing his own first encounter with National Review: It was like stumbling across the in-house newsletter of some sort of secret society dedicated to cultivating the intellectual institutions that support a free, prosperous, and secure society with wit and good cheer and very little inclination to suffer fools gladly. It was like meeting someone for the first time and knowing you were going to be lifelong friends.
...National Review was a gift, and, like many gifts, it carried with it implicit reciprocity, the obligation to live up to the conversation. The fruits of that labor were very sweet: My professors, and, later, my editors at the various newspapers where I worked, all knew what the New York Times had to say about income inequality; I knew what the New York Times had to say about income inequality, too — and I knew why it was wrong.