Conservatism

Sohrab Ahmari Is a Joke

The emptiness of conservative nationalism

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Not too long ago, Sohrab Ahmari, the editor of the New York Post op-ed page, wrote a jeremiad against National Review's David French, succinctly titled "Against David French-ism." At its core, it was an argument not only that French was too nice but that he embodied a habit among conservatives, and in particular among social conservatives, of shrinking from important cultural fights. 

What looked on the surface like a personal spat between two opinion journalists was in fact a larger debate about the future of the political right. Ahmari was arguing for a conservatism that wasn't nice or civil as a matter of practice. He wanted a conservative politics that would wage cultural war on its enemies—and win. 

Last night, Ahmari took the fight directly to his enemy, debating French in person for the first time in an event at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., moderated by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. As debates go, it was profoundly lopsided.

French, a lawyer and former president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, repeatedly challenged Ahmari to explain what concrete actions he proposed to defend religious liberty and culture. In doing so, French demonstrated over and over again that Ahmari's arguments are hollow, that his thinking is shallow, that he is an utter lightweight on virtually all the matters of policy substance he claimed to care about. To put it in the kind of blunt and less-than-civil terms that the Post editor might use, the evening proved that Sohrab Ahmari is a joke. 

Much of the debate centered on "drag queen story hour," an event held at a California public library that was, by Ahmari's telling, the inciting incident for his attack against French. Ahmari was offended by this event's existence, and for whatever reason he decided that French, and French's style of political argument, were to blame.

Ahmari brought up the California event early in the evening, calling it and others like it a "cultural crisis and a moral emergency." Drag queen story hour, he warned, was a "global movement," since the group that hosts it has 35 chapters. "It is," he said, "a threat." 

This eventually prompted French to ask the obvious question: What would Ahmari do to combat this supposed crisis? "What public power would you use?" he asked. "And how would it be constitutional?"

Ahmari's answer—and I promise I am not making this up—was that he would hold a congressional hearing "on what's happening in our libraries," in which sympathetic conservative senators such as Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton would "make the head of the Modern Library Association or whatever sweat." 

There has always been something frustratingly vague about Ahmari's vision. In his original essay attacking French, he longed for a conservatism that would "fight the culture war with the aim of defeating the enemy and enjoying the spoils in the form of a public square re-ordered to the common good and ultimately the Highest Good." It was never clear what, precisely, he felt the common good or the Highest Good were, or who would be in charge of defining them. But now, at long last, we have some clarity about what it means to fight the culture war in this manner: It means convening a formal event at which public officials are mean to the head of the Modern Library Association. Which is to say: It means political theater designed to entertain and satisfy Sohrab Ahmari.

Later, Ahmari suggested that local ordinances could be passed to prohibit culturally offensive displays like drag queen story hour, or that obscenity laws could be enforced more strictly. French, an actual lawyer, patiently explained that even the oldest and strictest interpretations of obscenity laws would not bar drag queens from the library; even back then, courts would not have seen dressing in drag as obscene. More importantly, local ordinances would violate the Constitution, which protects viewpoint-neutral access to public facilities such as schools and libraries. Those protections, French noted, have benefited conservative Christians immensely, ensuring that they cannot be denied access to public spaces because of their religious beliefs. But the same protections also prohibit public officials from turning away drag queens. You can't have one without the other. 

"I'm going to fight for the rights of others that I would like to exercise for myself," French said, "because I also know that my rights are fragile." It's not possible to create a system that only delivers results that Ahmari likes. Sometimes, French said, "people you disagree with are going to have to go to court and win." What matters is the fairness and integrity of the system as a whole, not one's irritation with a particular outcome.  

Ahmari stumbled in response, arguing that there are "cultural battles that can't be fought" in the courtroom. These issues were bigger than the courts, he said. This was something of a retreat, if not an outright reversal, from the position he took in his essay, in which he nonsensically complained that French—who has sued countless universities to protect individual religious and speech rights—was too resistant to using government power to achieve his desired ends. Instead, he claimed at the time, French was overly enamored of "cultural change" as the solution. 

So which is the correct way forward? Culture? Or law? As on so many things, Ahmari couldn't seem to decide. 

I suspect he isn't really concerned about either. What Ahmari really wants is theater, the satisfaction of watching a friendly senator dress down an unfriendly liberal. 

Similarly, Ahmari wants to reinstate the ban on assault weapons, a position an editorial in his paper recently endorsed, not because he believes it would be effective—the piece admits that such bans are arbitrary and that the previous one had "limited impact"—but because his agenda consists almost entirely of empty, symbolic action. 

He likewise defended Missouri Sen. Hawley's absurd plan to regulate social media functionality, not because it offered good, practical ideas—"it's not as if I agree with every provision," he said—but on the grounds that "at least [Hawley's] willing to say, here's a problem, and the state may have a role." At one point he offered, largely unprompted, "I am willing to ban things. Let me put it that way." The Highest Good, I guess.

This is not a practical agenda. It is a flimsy expression of irritation. Ahmari is upset about things that are happening in the culture, and he wants them to go away—or at least to be castigated publicly by someone in a position of power. He doesn't really have a plan to make anyone's life better. He just wants the brief satisfaction of a lively political show. 

To be clear, my critique of Ahmari is not a defense of all of French's ideas. The National Review writer is, to put it mildly, no libertarian. I believe he is wrong about many things, such as whether the First Amendment does—or should—protect pornography. (French made clear in the debate that he believes it shouldn't, although he recognized that cultural demand presented challenges to his view.) But he has also done much to concretely defend individual liberty for both religious and secular people, especially on college campuses. And he understands, correctly, that the foundation of individual freedom is the protection of individual rights, even—especially—when they benefit people and actions you personally dislike.

French is sometimes wrong. But unlike Ahmari, he is arguing thoughtfully and in good faith. He knew what he was talking about, the precise details and history of the law, and the ramifications that alterations might have, in the way that a lawyer with years of on-the-ground experience knows. Ahmari knew what he felt, knew that he was upset, and didn't know much more. 

So when I say that Ahmari is a joke, I don't do so solely as a cheap jab. I'm saying he is so thoroughly ignorant of or careless about the particulars of legal and policy substance that he should not be regarded as merely wrong. I'm saying he should not be regarded at all. 

Ahmari has nothing productive to offer, nothing useful to add to the debate about conservatism and nationalism and the best way to protect the rights and liberties of Americans. He is a person without a plan beyond behaving rudely to garner attention. He has substituted shallow snideness and pointless personal attacks against a decent man in place of a thoroughly considered political program, because, in the end, his political program consists of little more than sneers and shallow assertions of moral righteousness. Incivility is not the process by which he means to achieve some larger political victory but an end unto itself. Ahmari-ism is not an agenda, or an ideology, or a political program. It is, at heart, being a jerk for its own sake. 

Ahmari will probably have to be satisfied with that, because his attack has backfired. He lost last night's debate, and lost badly, in a fight that he started. In doing so, he proved not only that David French can fight—but that French-ism can win. 

NEXT: The GOP Deals With Trump Competition by Canceling Elections

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  1. Headline is misleading.

  2. Ahmari-ism is not an agenda, or an ideology, or a political program. It is, at heart, being a jerk for its own sake.

    Why do you think he’s so popular?

    1. What the fuck is wrong with this guy that he is offended by a drag queen event? Was he offended that he wasn’t invited?

      1. It is not just a drag queen event. It is flamboyant drag queens is fairly sexualized outfits reading to young kids. That may be okay for some but let’s not pretend it is just some innocuous drag queen event.

        1. Unfortunately, some people find the idea of keeping drag queens away from children offensive and diametrically opposed to libertarian values. As though taxpayer-funded drag queen events are compatible with non-aggression.

          1. I’ll bet most of the straws clogging up the oceans are coming from the straw men that get shredded here.

            1. Which straw man perse is that?

            2. Eh. Your analogy skills are weak. I’ll give you a 2/10.

          2. As though taxpayer-funded drag queen events are compatible with non-aggression.

            Are any taxpayer-funded events compatible with non-aggression?

        2. Oh who cares. The kids will be just fine, don’t worry.

          1. Just because you don’t care doesn’t mean others can’t. And there is very little evidence one way or the other that the kids will be just fine. In fact a number of pediatricians are starting to question vocally the sudden need to expose kids to transgenderism in all its ‘glory’. More than a few children psychologist and development specialist have also question the advisability of this sort of activity.

            1. Please provide evidence for a statement such as this. I am interested in your source material.

                1. Lol. You think those kids experienced rapid onset of gender dysphoria after seeing a drag queen at a library?

                  1. That is a pure bullshit response as I said nothing of the sort. Nor did I imply it. You are fucking trying to put words in my mouth, a blatant straw man, to make yourself feel better. There is nothing intellectually honest about your reply here. I was providing citations for someone who asked for them in regards to my statement about pediatricians and psychiatrist who question the social aspect of the in your face attitude and movement of the current trans community.

                  2. What your reply truly says is that you argued yourself into a corner here and now must denigrate and attack others in a blatantly peurile manner to shift attention from your juvenile earlier responses. The fact that you resort to sophomoric tactics hardly speaks well of your ability to debate intelligently or cogently.

              1. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0202330
                Plos one article on possible correlation between rapid onset gender dysphoria and social media, possibly influenced by dealing with ones homosexuality.

              2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/rabble-rouser/201903/rapid-onset-gender-dysphoria

                Psychology today’s take on the PloS one article and the outrage from some, mainly on the left, to the article.

          2. the trannies have admitted their goal is recruitment to alternate life styles even though they’ve been claiming its not a choice. I know trannies aren’t all gay but most are

            1. So far every trans-sexual I’ve met has been gay, and at least one bragged out using Grindr. Not sure how that works. So far, the man-to-woman version seems to be the most obnoxious. Female-to-male seem…less bad. Possibly because women in pants has been a thing forever, but on the other hand kilts have been around a while too.

              1. So far, the man-to-woman version seems to be the most obnoxious. Female-to-male seem…less bad. Possibly because women in pants has been a thing forever

                Women dress to get my attention. I don’t have a problem with fewer men and unattractive women dressing to get my attention.

          3. It likes the drag queens, or it gets the hose.

        3. >let’s not pretend it is just some innocuous drag queen event.
          So what should we pretend that it is? If Satan, the actual prince of darkness, lord of the 666th circle of hell, and defiler of the damned sprung up from his dark pit to read books to children in a library how would even THAT be a problem? If you don’t like it… just don’t go. If you don’t want your kids exposed to that… don’t take them.

          I don’t really understand the issue some people have with other people doing something they don’t like all by themselves far away and with ample notice so that people who don’t like it can avoid it.

          1. Did I say that it should be banned or driven underground? Or did I say that there is a certain creep factor to it that makes it more than just a “drag queen event”? There is a certain sexual dimension to this particular event that does make you question the goals of the organizers (the outfits are fairly risque) even a number of transwomen and drag queens have stated their own “squeamishness” about it. Am I allowed to voice my opinion, or just keep quiet? Do whatever you want, but if you do it in public expect some people to question it. If you do something sexual in the company of minors, especially very young minors you should expect people to question it as well. That was the whole point of my statement. But like chipper it appears that you prefer to use straw men rather than actually engage what I said.

            1. What is the “sexual dimension” precisely?

              “If you do something sexual in the company of minors”

              What are these drag queens allegedly doing that is “sexual in the company of minors”?

              1. The manor in which they dress, one if a leather bustier at one event and other forms of lingerie.

                1. Every post. With every. single. post. you get more retarded.

            2. You’re more than within your rights to question it, protest it, find it creepy, do whatever. Personally, I think it’s kinda stupid and gross too. But that’s neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is that drag queen story hour is a single thing happening at a single place far away from either of us. To get angry about it is to purposely scan a nation of 400 million people for a single digit number of them doing a thing that you don’t like.

              And even if it was in your backyard? Even if it was your LOCAL library down the street, you can always just choose to… not go (in the same vein that you or I could have chosen to just not reply, but clearly we both believe there’s some possibility of changing someone’s mind for the better). I mean, let’s be real here. No one taking their child to Drag Queen Story Hour is going to be surprised by a man in a sexualized costume reading books. This is not being sprung upon unsuspecting parents and children against their will. They are CHOOSING to participate in this. You might not agree with it. You might not think its appropriate for your own child (I certainly wouldn’t). But your children aren’t going to Drag Queen Story Hour, and neither are mine. Those children that are have parents who clearly DO think its appropriate and who are you (or I) to tell them otherwise.

              And this is the point where I see the instant objection “But I’m not saying ban it. I’m just exercising my free speech right to say its awful.” and that’s a fair point, but here I am exercising MY right to say “That sort of talk sounds too much like an excuse for jackbooted thuggery for my taste.”

              1. Nailed it.

                1. Or was my phrasing to “creepily sexualized” for the tender
                  sensitivities of the culturally insecure?

        4. It is flamboyant drag queens is fairly sexualized outfits reading to young kids.

          The pictures I have seen from “Drag Queen Story Hour” events have depicted the drag queens either in rather ordinary dress, or in a fantasy-inspired costume (princess, unicorn, etc.). Where are the ones with drag queens dressed in kinky leather?

          And give the librarians a little bit of credit here. Do you really think that a professional librarian would approve of drag queens in inappropriately sexy outfits reading to kids?

          There doesn’t appear to be anything “sexualized” at all at these events.

          1. What I’ve read they have worn leather bustiers and other forms. I’m sure the pictures may depict them in rather mundane outfits. And are we sure about professiinal librarians in California having a problem with sexualized dress. It is also far more than a single library. There have been reports of one such event in Houston where the volunteer had a history of criminal behavior with a minor, another report of a drag queen fondling kids and another of drag queens stripping. They also tend to have rather age inappropriate books, one of which discussed masturbation, others which discuss sex etc. Granted much of this reporting has been from parents and more right wing leaning media. In Pennsylvania, one of the drag queens is a virulent anti-Christian who wore satanic symbols and is an adult performer. The problem with this latter incident is I doubt anyone who chooses a stage name that degrades Mohammed (his/her stage name is Annie Christ in reference to Anti-Christ by his/her own admission) would be allowed to read to children.

            1. I don’t know the details but it sounds like the whole satanic thing could just be another performance. Perhaps the performer came to the school in an entirely different dress and persona. I guess you would have to be there to really know.

          2. Even the mission statement of the group sounds like a form of recruitment. “capture the gender fluidity of children and give kids a glamorous, positive and unabashedly queer role model”. The first portion “to capture the gender fluidity of young children” is questionable at best.

            1. To me — and I say this as a totally cis-gendered heteropatriarchal white male — it sounds like they’re trying to offer parents whose kids might have gender identity issues a framework where the kids don’t have to feel ashamed. Which is not the same thing as “recruitment”. By your own arguments, most kids who experience “gender confusion” grow out of it. All the moreso for those who will grow out of it, making them feel estranged from normalcy seems to me to be actually more likely to push them farther in an abnormal direction.

              1. I think young children would probably just see it as some kind of make believe act. Kids are used to the idea of people dressing up as talking animals, princesses, Spider-Man, all kinds of creative things. They do that themselves all the time pretending to be something.

                Kids that age are very much aware of boy/girl but are not going to understand things like transgender issues.

              2. Whoa, a reasoned, insightful, intelligent and compassionate comment. Needless to say, it does not belong in the Reason Comments section, where we strive diligently for the bottom of the barrel……

  3. I haven’t seen the whole thing yet, but French has definitely gotten the better of the debate I’ve seen so far. Still, I think there is a legit question underlying Ahmari’s position. Work with me here. Say there’s a hard filibuster in the Senate. The Dems have the Senate, but only 51 votes, not 60. They want to get a nominee through, so they change the rule to allow a majority vote for judicial nominees. Conservatives cry foul, filibuster rule protects minority interests, and so on and so on, but they lose of course, rule changed. Time passes, now it’s the GOP that has 51 in the Senate. What should they do about the filibuster rule that was changed by the Dems? I think Ahmari is reading David French as saying he would take the position, “2 wrongs don’t make a right, they should change it back to 60 votes required, even though it hurts them in the moment, because that’s the right rule.” I read French as saying, “Alright, 51 is all we need now.” Ahmari, on the other hand, would say, “Well, the Dems have established the precedent that whoever is in charge can change the rules to favor themselves, so we should also change other rules to favor ourselves–we need to fight fire with fire.” I don’t agree with Ahmari, but there does seem to be a risk that the side taking and maintaining a principled position necessarily loses if the other side isn’t so constrained. So I think it’s interesting debate, just wish it wouldn’t have gotten personal.

    1. David French makes everything personal. I loathe that man’s opinions. I don’t know anything about Ahmari. I also didn’t listen but your synopsis makes sense and would make for an interesting discussion. The Dems are already talking about unilaterally banning “assaut rifles” using executive privilege and expanding the amount of supreme court judges.

    2. The idea that Democrats are responsible for upending Senate rules is one of the more impressive marketing victories of the past few years by Republicans. Yeah, like Mitch McConnell has ever looked to the Democratic leadership as a guide to how he’ll act. He would never have ended the filibuster for judges if not for that time Harry Reid did something! Sure. Whatthefuckever.

      It’s a zero-sum power game, and Republicans made it that way.

      1. “He would never have ended the filibuster for judges if not for that time Harry Reid did something! Sure. Whatthefuckever.”

        Reid ended the filibuster for judges, not McConnell. McConnell merely extended it to Supreme Court justices, which Reid didn’t do because there were no vacancies.

        Both sides have been active and eager participants in the escalation of the judicial confirmation wars to the complete shit-show we have now.

        1. forget it. Your reasoning and point will have no affect as the goalpost will be moved and overall point will be deflected to another topic, which will than be countered by you easily and the process repeated until you move on and forget about it and tony comes back to the thread days later to corpse fuck it.

        2. Using facts with Tony? Homophobe!

        3. Both sides were acting rationally.

          The dog-and-pony show is the claim that Republicans only respond to meany Democrats. Republicans will act, if anything, more ruthlessly, if it serves their immediate interests.

          1. Proof?

            1. They weren’t following Democrats’ lead when they gerrymandered the whole country.

              But, and this is the really good part, people like YOU sit there and do their buttwork, for free, with no shame, whenever you rant like an idiot about how “we were never meant to be a democracy anyway!”

              That’s what losers say.

      2. It’s a zero-sum power game, and Republicans made it that way.

        This just shows Tony’s partisanship prevents him from understanding anything – which is true of just about everyone on the far left. There were many cases the filibuster prevented Republicans from acting yet they never touched it until after Dems changed it twice to their benefit and made it clear they would change it a third time on SC nominees the second it advantaged them.

        1. Yes, how many judges of Bush’s did the Democrats block again? I believe is was quite a few.

      3. I’m actually more interested in the underlying issue, because (as your comment points out) both sides can always point to something to which they claim to be “retaliating.” Intellectually, it seems to me that the only way that type of a cycle can end is if at least one side takes the first step and says, “Notwithstanding what may (or may not) have happened before, we’re going to do the right thing.” In the short term, that almost certainly means losing. But there’s no guaranty that it’s a good long-term strategy either, particularly when (as now) both sides are convinced that the other is evil and it’s a fight to the death.

  4. I’m not an Ahmari fan (he’s too much of a neoconservative), but he’s no more of a joke than French, whose brand of conciliatory, pro-appeasement conservatism pairs a warfare state with capitulation to progressive excess. And I have yet to hear a libertarian argument in favor of taxpayer-subsidized drag queen story hour.

    1. Of course, the culture wars are the only conflict most conservatives don’t want to fight. War with North Korea and Iran are perfectly acceptable, though!

    2. The libertarian response is to privatize the fricking libraries! But so long as they are government supported the US Constitution applies, no matter how icky drag queens make you feel. The drag queens have as much right to the library as the Boy Scouts and PTA.

      You don’t like it, work to change the Constitution. Wiping your butt with it instead is not the answer.

      1. You’re an idiot. There’s no libertarian argument that justifies using coercion to fund drag queen events.

        1. There’s no libertarian argument that justifies using coercion for fund government libraries in the first place.

          1. I agree.

            1. Then why are you only outraged by drag queens using the library instead of being outraged by anyone using the library?

      2. The drag queens have as much right to the library as the Boy Scouts and PTA.

        They kicked the Boy Scouts out of the libraries until they lost the ‘boy’–except in cases of boy-on-boy love. The Scouts are –probationally- allowed to use the libraries again.

        The PTA uses school auditoriums.

      3. But so long as they are government supported the US Constitution applies, no matter how icky drag queens make you feel.

        Bullshit. Pedophiles in the school library for story time? Nope. Carry a gun into a library? Uh-uh. Expectation of privacy in a library? Are you serious? Even if The Constitution did apply, drag queens are no more of a “right to public libraries” than strippers or crackheads.

        The Constitutional argument is the same bullshit motte-and-bailey where not giving is taking and is the same as taking, and taking is OK as long as you do it from everyone equally. No. Taking is not okay. Taking to give to everyone equally doesn’t make it OK. Giving less selectively is still giving less. The real solution would be to privatize and defund libraries but the second anyone proposes it, they’re a bigot who really just wants to control how wealth gets redistributed away from these poor drag queens and inner city children.

        1. Giving less selectively is still giving less.

          Cut the programs. When the libraries are sitting on mountains of cash, cut their budgets and return the surplus to the taxpayers.

          The ‘privatize it all or shut up’ bullshit is the exact sort of self-defeating idiotic sophistry that someone more capable than Ahmari would rightly rail against.

    3. “And I have yet to hear a libertarian argument in favor of taxpayer-subsidized drag queen story hour.”

      That’s an argument against public libraries in general. Ahmari clearly doesn’t care about that, he’s just specifically bothered by public libraries allowing drag queens.

      1. I think his argument is against letting drag queens near children.

        1. In your opinion is banning men wearing women’s clothes and makeup from being in the presence of children compatible with libertarianism?

          1. Using stolen money to pay for drag queen events is. And if you can’t see how such events are collectivist and identitarian in nature, I can’t help you.

            1. The event is no more problematic from a libertarian POV than any other event at a public library, as I already noted. Ahmari’s objection here is not a fiscally-based libertarian one, and you seemingly agreed with that in your response about him not wanting drag queens near children, and then when I put you on the spot to give your opinion on it you shifted back to condemning public funding of libraries, which wasn’t what I was asking you about.

              1. There’s been a few questions in this vein he can’t answer. But you can’t expect feelz to have an answer for everything.

  5. “Jeremiad.” Just added that one to my lexicon. Cool.

    1. You haven’t had the pleasure of Jeremiad John reading your mind? It’s a rite of passage around here.

  6. “I believe he is wrong about many things”

    You give one example – porno – are there others?

    Do you disagree with his views on Trump, for example?

    1. How long do you want this article to be?

  7. Suderman calling anyone a joke is kind of rich.

    1. Reason commenter calling anyone a joke is s rich.

      1. Not just Rich. Other do it as well.

        1. Alphabet troll and Chipper MW are jokes.

          1. This may be low-hanging fruit, but lc1789 has got to be the biggest joke anywhere near Reason.

            1. this coming from the worst joke ever.

    2. +1000

      You have never seen Suderman call Hillary Clinton a joke…
      Bill Clinton a joke
      Barack Obama a joke
      Michelle Obama a joke
      Ruth Bader Ginsburg a joke
      Krugman a joke

      And they’re all jokes. Bad jokes but still jokes.

  8. No one knew who Soreabs Jabroni was before he attacked French

  9. If a man wears a suit, tie and pants, but he thinks he’s a chick, does that make him a drag queen?

    1. No, that would make her a drag king.

  10. If Ahmari and French both believe in individual liberty, as they appear to, then there’s no other way this could have come out. Ahmari hates that progtards go around the Internet being galactic bullies to shut their opponents up, and getting away with it. So he wants conservatives to do the same. What he doesn’t apparently quite get is that part of what makes conservatives conservatives (or maybe just non-progtards non-progtarded) is that they don’t do things like that. I understand his frustration, and truthfully I feel for him having gotten himself into this position vis a vis David French. He probably knows what’s wrong with what he’s advocating.

    But … this doesn’t prove David French can fight. It proves that liberty sells itself in an environment of intellectually honest debaters. That is, to put it mildly, not the environment that today’s culture wars are fought in. There is literal ground to be taken and held, and the eventual solutions are probably going to have to involve some very illiberal tactics here and there. Ahmari is right about that, though he’s deeply mistaken in (as I read it) arguing that conservatism should become illiberal at its core.

  11. The goal should be to prevent public officials from using public funds and platforms to further the SJW political agenda. This should apply to both Drag Queen Story Hour and also Left-Lunatic University.

    So while Ahmari may not be focused enough to work through to the conclusion French’s and Suderman’s apparent position that there’s nothing to be done is also wrong.

  12. Sohrab Ahmari, the editor of the New York Post op-ed page

    I had no idea the Post even had an op-ed page. Given that the Post is best known for their pun-ish front page headlines and their penchant for photos of D-list celebrities with their tits hanging out, I’d have to guess that op-ed page editor is akin to head of quality control at a rendering plant.

  13. lionizng French is snore.

    1. It also lends credibility to the idea that libertarianism is just watered-down conservatism. There’s a reason why certain neoconservatives scrambled to the LP in 2016.

      1. It started out the opposite way. Buckley, Goldwater, Reagan took conservatism and added libertarian ideas.

  14. The Troompaloompas will hate to hear it, but the problem with the modern conservative movement is exemplified by Ahmari. He’s a child trying to argue with an adult. The modern conservative movement is overflowing with children whining about shit with no solution other than more whining. I don’t agree with French on a lot of things, but he often feels like the only adult in the conservative room.

    1. Trump is NOT part of a modern conservative movement.

      Many establishment conservatives hate him.
      Trump is not Evangelical.
      Utah was divided between Trump, Hillary, and Evan McMullian.
      Many religious Black Americans stayed home Election 2016.

      Trump represents a conservative movement but the issues have been going on for decades (Cutting gov, stopping illegal immigration, America first, lowering trade restrictions, etc). Trump also has a Libertarian-ish streak. Trump is also not a Constitutional Originalist.

      1. > Trump is not Evangelical.

        But the big Evangelical leaders endorsed him and still endorse him. Dobson for example. Dobson went up to the mountain and talked with Trump, then came down and declared him chosen of God so everyone should vote for him.

        > Utah was divided between Trump, Hillary, and Evan McMullian.

        Utah is Mormon, and Mormon’s are NOT Evangelicals. Mormons take their religion a bit more seriously than the most Evangelicals. They have this crazy notion that the Word of God takes precedent over mere political figures.

        1. They endorse him because he more closely aligns with their goals, i.e. not openly hostile to Christianity and his views on abortions, than the current Democratic platform. They also disagree with him on a number of issues.

    2. “He’s a child trying to argue with an adult.”

      French is an adult, but then so is Ahmari. The problem is that French is a Liberal. He believes in law, equality before law, tolerance, science, reason, etc. You can be a Conservative without believing in any of this, as Ahmari shows us..

      1. >He believes in law, equality before law, tolerance, science, reason, etc.

        David “Bombs for Palestine” French?

        1. Hasn’t National Review purged all non Zionists?

    3. There’s definitely a solution. The problem is you’re not willing to accept it.

      Here are a few ways to implement Ahmari’s sentiments:
      1. Highly restrictive immigration policies based on a combination of ancestry and values. Not a pure merit based system, because there are lots of absolutely subversive geniuses throughout the world.
      2. Apply the 14th amendment as intended and end birthright citizenship for children of non-citizens, deport as needed.
      3. Prosecute states who promote NPV and violate 12A.
      4. Prosecute state and municipal politicians who commit treason by stealing electoral votes, representation and tax dollars via sanctuary policies.

  15. I think the challenge is that Ahmari is basically telling conservatives to start acting like leftists, and looking at whatever means are available to grind people different than them down into the dirt.

    That’s a very tempting message given how bitter and cruel and capricious liberals have become. You have to posses a good bit of saintliness to refrain from those tactics when you see commonly used against you.

  16. Paleocons > neocons

    1. True, or at least it was before Trump. A bit harder to find a paleocon these days criticizing Trump’s militarism.

      1. Trump’s militarism.

        Apparently we’re defining militarism down far enough to include his “war” on the press.

        1. Who do you think is funding Saudi Arabia’s genocide in Yemen? I don’t care how often Trump suggests we’ll get out of Afghanistan and Syria. The fucking idiot packed his cabinet with garbage like Bolton, Pompeo, and Abrams. He’s just learned how to ape “endless war is bad” rhetoric so that morons will ignore his warmongering.

          1. The wars he started are…what?

            Last I checked, selling items does not make one liable or morally responsible for their use. Has that changed in libertarian theology now?

            1. If you can’t see how selling weapons to aid in a genocide is immoral, then you’re a massive idiot.

              And last I checked, the moron said he wanted to end endless wars or whatever. Hasn’t done that. Too busy bitching and moaning on Twitter.

              1. “If you can’t see how selling weapons to aid in a genocide is immoral, then you’re a massive idiot.”

                Sorry, we’re just the seller. What is done with it is, literally, none of our concern.

                “And last I checked, the moron said he wanted to end endless wars or whatever. Hasn’t done that. Too busy bitching and moaning on Twitter.”

                He’s added nothing new which makes him a dramatic change over the last few decades.

            2. I was thinking about that. It does not seem so clear cut as a simple buyer/seller relationship. Sales of advanced weapons are partly commercial as Raytheon manufactures and sells the missiles. However the weapons were developed with government money and are under government control.

              Sales like this are political more than they are commercial. You can’t just sell an F-35 to Iran or anyone you wish.

              So in this case the government has a political responsibility in approving the sale. The argument has to be made that it is in the geopolitical interest of the US to sell the weapons to be used in this war.

              Even if you take an amoral realpolitik view part of that calculus involves how others around the world will perceive the use of US made advanced weapons by another party on a moral level which can affect alliances, diplomatic status and relationships.

              On another level say you sell bombers and bombs to friendly Tazmikistan. A year later they launch a horrible genocide against their peaceful marshpeople minority using the bombs. You are not responsible because you did not know. But if they came to you while it was going on and said they were running out of bombs I think you would have a moral obligation to not sell them any more.

              That said I don’t think there are any real good guys in the Yemen war.

              1. This.

                There may indeed not be any good guys in the conflict, but that is all the more reason to stay the hell out of it.

          2. The fucking idiot packed his cabinet

            So we agree you’re pretending talk is the same as actually killing people. This is included in the meaning of “defining down”.

            Who do you think is funding Saudi Arabia’s genocide in Yemen?

            Saudi Arabia. Plus I clearly remember this starting under Obama. So either the first President not to start a war in most Americans’ lifetime can be accurately described as a “warmonger” or you’re just another virtue signalling idiot.

            1. Both Obama and Trump deserve to be dragged in front of a war crimes tribunal, dummy.

              1. Everybody else is a war criminal feeds your moral superiority but most people move t=past daydreams by age 13 or so.

      2. Pat Buchanan’s been very critical of Trump’s interventionism

        1. Buchanan has always been critical of interventionism no matter who is in power. He’s been very consistent on this.

          1. Buchanan has even been called an isolationist by Nixon.

              1. The “Isolationist” label was considered a job by Nixon.

                But yeah, Nixon was no peacenik.

        2. Pat is an exception. I disagree with most of what he says, but I will always respect his principled antiwar stance. Too bad the same cannot be said for others, including the founder of the paleocon label.

  17. Could you imagine if the NRA put on a series of ‘viewpoint-neutral’ ‘Safety, care, and maintenance of firearms’ demonstrations at libraries across the country? I know my local library doesn’t allow guns on the premises and even goes so far as to ban 3D printing and file transfer of gun parts. So French can take his ‘local ordinances would violate the Constitution’ bullshit and blow it out of his ass.

    1. So French can take his ‘local ordinances would violate the Constitution’ bullshit and blow it out of his ass.

      So are you saying that it’s good and proper that your local library can refuse to host the NRA?

  18. Reason found their conservative French fetish.

    I think the Woodchipper incident broke Reason.

    They saw what free speech versus tyranny looked like, they fought it and won but they seem to prefer cocktails now. Soon after they shifted focus and direction (assuming it has an aim) and cleaned up the commentariat in the process.

    It was too big a fight.

    I may be wrong of course since it’s just a perception. A common theme with me.

    1. More like ‘cleaned out’ actually.

      1. Ack. Shoulda framed it as a/my theory.

        /Goes back to eating red lentil hummus.

    2. It was something.

      I personally think reason staff always thought non-Libertarian and the Election 2016 just shook them out of their boots. All the other people on their side were yelling and screaming, so reason staff thought that they were safe having such TDS. Its also possible that they never really paid much attention to the Libertarians on reason. reason has had a bunch of socks, trolls and Anarchists posing as Libertarians since I started coming here. Lots of the interesting people and jokers mostly left to the “G” Spot.

      One of the best things about Trump is that people who really don’t like America or what makes it great, said things that are forever on the internet and now some regret it. They outed themselves as morons that clearly follow a Lefty Narrative.

      1. Reason lost a lot of character when they migrated or just plain stopped coming.

        There were some serious smart people. In fact, I considered it among the best comments section on the North American political publication landscape.

        Oh well. La vie change.

        1. I visit the glib site from time to time. Some fun links and creative writing there. It is a club really. Nice how they seem to get along without all of the crap trolling that constitutes more than half the posts here.

    3. I think the Woodchipper incident broke Reason.

      You’re connecting the dots the wrong way.

      The Kochs have always funded Reason and when the Kochs could only be described as rogue libertarians so went Reason. Then Trump won, the Kochs explicitly went from being libertarian to anti-Trump and so went Reason. The staff was never very libertarian but they got their cocktail money by printing lots of pro-libertarian words. Now that they earn their cocktail money by printing anti-Trump words, there’s no real reason to print the libertarian words anymore.

      1. Ah.

  19. *pictures Suderman slapping Ahmari to death with his hanky*

  20. How many of these assholes who insist on imposing their own squeamishness on the rest of us go home and jack off to bestiality porn?

    1. You’re the one advocating for an imposition of values. Maybe don’t demand taxpayer funding for storytime events.

    2. How many Lefties can you name Tony?

    3. If they do it in their own home, without kids present what does it matter? Public vs private. I have no problems with anyone who wants to dress in drag but I do question the necessity of having a drag queen in sexualized dress reading children’s books to toddlers. Will I ban it? No, but that doesn’t mean I can’t criticize it. Do you understand the difference?

      1. I have no problems with anyone who wants to dress in drag but I do question the necessity of having a drag queen in sexualized dress reading children’s books to toddlers.

        Especially while one of these is posted up at every entrance.

      2. I understand that people who serve in the military should in theory be the least squeamish among us. Yet I’m constantly told that people who turn Arabs into bloody pulp transform into screeching little princesses at the thought of having to share a shower with a gay person or see a drag queen reading a book.

        It simply, my good sir, does not compute.

        1. Bullshit. I served with a number of gay men and women, no one voiced any complaints. Keep beating that straw man.

        2. Also, I don’t care if a man dressed as a woman reads a book to kids, I care, at least to the point were I find it distasteful, when they wear blatantly sexualized clothing to do so. I would also care if it were a heterosexual male or female wearing similar clothing. It is about the appropriateness of the outfit as opposed to the persons identity. Do you understand the difference?

        3. Also, homosexuals have been serving openly in the military for several years now, and even prior it was not a well kept secret. However, is it okay for a woman not to want to shower with a man, because of the sexualization issue (rather or not the man actually finds her attractive is beside the point)? Why will you provide this level of protection to a woman from a male gaze but question her if she also didn’t want to shower with an outspoken lesbian? Or a male soldier feeling uncomfortable showering with a homosexual male? Contrary to popular belief a lot of males would not feel exactly comfortable showering with females either.

      3. Will I ban it? No

        Unfortunately, I think you’re in the minority there.

    4. “the rest of us go home and jack off to bestiality porn?”

      If jack helped you off a horse, wouldn’t you help jack off a horse?

  21. Dinesh D’Souza. Lefties hate him.

    1. “Dinesh D’Souza.”

      I’d like to watch him dress down an unfriendly drag queen.

  22. “”cultural battles that can’t be fought” in the courtroom.”

    That’s not a stumble at all. The problem with French and ‘anything goes’ Libertarians is that when they see something absolutely degenerate, they permit it on the basis that violating such protections would jeopardize their own rights. Sorry, but letting underage drag kids strip during pride parades while gay men in leather shower them with money is not a civil right and restricting such a public display of pedophilia and degeneracy is not going to jeopardize your ability to own private property or speak your mind.

    Principles are mostly a sham that benefactors use to preserve society as they see fit. It is incredibly arrogant of man to assume that we can create perfect rules. Change the rules vs. work outside the system is a debate as old as the hills. The answer is to use whichever works best at the time. We’re going to run into a wall sooner or later with trans denial of biological reality, self-ordained “pedosexuality” in the LGBT+ umbrella, and other cultural ills that the French types feel comfortable enabling.

    “his political program consists of little more than sneers and shallow assertions of moral righteousness.”

    I don’t think you want to see what happens when you refuse to pursue civil solutions and this political program becomes more than just cultural criticism.

    1. Sorry, but letting underage drag kids strip during pride parades while gay men in leather shower them with money is not a civil right and restricting such a public display of pedophilia and degeneracy is not going to jeopardize your ability to own private property or speak your mind.

      So whose rights precisely are being violated here, so that you think this behavior should be banned?

      Oh right, nobody’s. But that is not a problem, because rights are merely a construct for creating a ‘proper’ social order, not an end unto themselves. Right?

      So the moment that someone uses their liberty to do something ‘degenerate’, then the paleocon says – poof, that’s not a right anymore, you don’t have the right to do something that I deem is ‘degenerate’.

      1. Pedophilia isn’t a right because children can’t consent. Never mind the absurdist logic here. As South Park put it decades ago, “dude, you have sex with children.”

        I really don’t think there’s any need to debate combating blatant sexualization of children, but lolbertarians strike again.

  23. David French was positively moronic with regard to all things Trump, apparently suffering from acute TDS. I don’t know about Ahmari, but David French has typified the sort of conservatism that is either scared to death of being called racist for embracing rational immigration positions, or is really open borders corporatism masquerading as conservatism. Also he seems rather neocon warmongerish. But F.I.R.E. does great work though so he’s got that going for him. But the criticism of David French types should be mainly that they cowed by the left’s cudgels of bad-faith accusations like racism. Or maybe worse, they actually agree with the left.

    1. “but David French has typified the sort of conservatism that is either scared to death of being called racist ”

      But French is a Liberal, believing in traditional Liberal causes like the rule of law, tolerance, and individualism, so it’s only natural that he should bridle at being called a racist. Imagine you were a Liberal. Would it be any different?

  24. Does David French have compromising pictures of the staff here? They have a hard-on for the guy.

    You know why people are attacking him? Because he LOSES EVERY SINGLE BATTLE HE ENGAGES IN.

    His ideas are tantamount to just surrendering before you start.

    Sticking with a losing strategy might be consistent, but it is utterly asinine. If French cannot see that, then it is no wonder Reason loves him. The staff thought Weld had a libertarian bone in his body.

  25. “fight the culture war with the aim of defeating the enemy and enjoying the spoils in the form of a public square re-ordered to the common good and ultimately the Highest Good.”

    Did this guy copy some communist’s homework?

  26. The problem with Ahmari is he wants the right to act as if it had control of the cultural institutions of society. The problem being that the things he objects to are happening because the right does not have control of those institutions and Ahmari seems to have no idea how to recapture them.

    1. Debating people like French and exposing their weakness is a good start. I don’t know him well enough and frankly I never heard of him prior to Reason covering his NYP diatribe, but he’s 5d chessing the fuck out of Reason staff right now.

  27. “Shooting a drag queen is not a hate crime.” story time.

    Children welcome.

  28. A real libertarian would argue that libraries are not an essential government function and, therefore, should not be publicly funded.

  29. “Modern Library Association“

    Does this even exist? Or did he literally just make up somebody to two-minute hate?

    If he’s a joke he’s a bad one.

  30. Eventually progressivism will be seen as the religion it is and then we can all castigate the intersection of church and state

  31. Bugs Bunny was in drag in multiple episodes and very flirty with Elmer.

    And is it pushing some agenda that Netflix is running the 1959 film Some Like it Hot ? They just had Mrs Doubtfire on last month.

    (For the few who haven’t seen it Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon pose as women to join an all girl band in order to escape the mob. starring Marylin Monroe. Great flick.)

    Don’t see the library thing as a problem except the whole question of public libraries in the first place.

    1. And is it pushing some agenda that Netflix is running the 1959 film Some Like it Hot ? They just had Mrs Doubtfire on last month.

      All a part of the Cultural Marxist Conspiracy, my friend. No doubt the Drag Queen Perverts are conspiring right now with Google and Hollywood and Big Libraries to produce online animated cartoons targeted to children, depicting transsexuals having sex with farm animals. Because that’s the degenerate filth that they are. Amirite?

      1. In the case of Bugs it was humans making out with cross-dressing animals. Looney tunes was way ahead of its time.

    2. Hey, spoiler alert! (Kidding)
      I stayed in Hotel Del Coronado once.

      1. That is cool.

        Stayed at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach and kept looking around like I had been there before then I remembered it from Goldfinger.

        1. Okay that is seriously cool.

          Though it would not be cool if you entered your room and found a dead woman in a bikini completely painted in gold. At the very least, it would add a lot of stress and police attention to your stay.

          1. Should have brought a white dinner jacket..

  32. is that worse than the vacuity of Reason-libertarianism?

  33. “David French arguing in good faith” is probably about the most objectionable claim in this article.

  34. “… So when I say that Ahmari is a joke, I don’t do so solely as a cheap jab. I’m saying he is so thoroughly ignorant of or careless about the particulars of legal and policy substance that he should not be regarded as merely wrong. I’m saying he should not be regarded at all. …”

    As E.T. once said, “owwwww h”

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  36. Ahmari-ism is not an agenda, or an ideology, or a political program. It is, at heart, being a jerk for its own sake.

    So Tulpa is Ahmari? Huh.

  37. my friend. No doubt the Drag Queen Perverts are conspiring right now with Google and Hollywood and Big Libraries to produce online animated cartoons targeted to children, depicting transsexuals having sex with farm animals. Because that’s the degenerate filth that they are. Amirite?

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  38. Ahmari-ism is not an agenda, or an ideology, or a political program. It is, at heart, being a jerk for its own sake.

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  39. Frenchism has now led to National Review saying that conservatives should “compromise” on transgenderism. Sure it’s not scientific at all and the people are both insane and hostile — we need to just let them do whatever they want.

    THIS is the epitome of David French. Cave in and then bemoan that the culture is fucked up

    1. So what levers of state power should be used against transgenderism?

      Make it illegal to cross-dress in public?
      Prohibit drag queens from going to public libraries?
      What?

  40. “He wanted a conservative politics that would wage cultural war on its enemies—and win.”

    So? Liberals have been doing that very thing for years. Could it be that the author is afraid the tactic might work?

  41. muh racism

  42. Please include a link to the live debate?

  43. “French, an actual lawyer, patiently explained that even the oldest and strictest interpretations of obscenity laws would not bar drag queens from the library; even back then, courts would not have seen dressing in drag as obscene.” French is making a claim here that is simply wrong. I know from personal experience that there were laws that made it illegal for men to dress as women. The cross dressing artist who lived upstairs from me in a Boston rooming house in 1965 told me that the only time he could go out with makeup on without getting arrested was Halloween.

  44. No matter how “patiently” French explained his erroneous belief, he still was wrong. See this article about the many cities where cross dressing could land you in jail. https://news.sfsu.edu/when-cross-dressing-was-criminal-book-documents-history-longtime-san-francisco-law

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