Paul Gottfried, a professor of humanities at Elizabethtown College and author of Fascism: The Career of a Concept, explains in The American Conservative that neocon Bill Kristol has incorrectly lumped in Tucker Carlson with the paleoconservatives on the subject of immigration. Gottfried explains that in Carlson’s view, it is the will of the people that drives a push against open borders. The paleoconservatives were focused, says Gottfried, more on preventing immigration because of its effects on “the moral and cultural cohesion of American society.” They have been proven correct, as evidenced by the fractured society in America today.
In a recent television interview, leading neoconservative never-Trumper Bill Kristol scolded his erstwhile Weekly Standard employee Tucker Carlson for advocating for a reduced, merit-based immigration system. Kristol accused Tucker of being a full-blown ethnic nationalist, an identity that Kristol suggests was long latent in his acquaintance. “He always had a little touch of Pat Buchananism, I would say, paleoconservatism,” sniffed Kristol from his guest perch on CNBC.
What pricked my ears was not the fact that Kristol had chosen to side with the liberal establishment over pro-Trump Republicans on this score. That’s a predictable development, given where Kristol is coming from. More striking was the epithet he chose to hurl at Carlson, now the host of the highly-rated Fox News primetime show “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” namely that he long showed “touches of Buchananism,” and betrayed evidence of “paleoconservatism.
The paleocons’ moment came and went when their ally Pat Buchanan ran for the presidency—and lost. It’s been downhill for the Old Right.
I can’t imagine the paleoconservatives whom I knew in the 1980s arguing against immigration in the manner of Carlson, Ann Coulter, or the American Greatness website.
Bill Kristol does, however, stumble upon the true paleocon position, if we discount his tone of contempt. Paleoconservatives opposed immigration because they thought it would reduce the moral and cultural cohesion of American society. They also viewed such a course as an opportunity for the courts and public administration to get further involved in interpersonal relations.
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