Skip to main content

Culture Books

Running from Trump

Max Boot (Anna Webber/Getty Images for The New Yorker)

Books

Running from Trump

An ex-Republican’s complaint, and views on immigration and education

Max Boot’s The Corrosion of Conservatism: How I Left the Right (Liveright, 2018) is the sad tale of a former Wall Street Journal op-ed page editor driven to despair by Donald Trump and his final acceptance by GOP leaders: Boot is now a man without a party. He accurately points out Trump’s character problems and attacks “Trump toadies.” But Boot leans over so far to discount the threat on the other side that he describes Hillary Clinton as “resolutely centrist” and applauds “the Clintons’ moderate views.”

One reason Boot can mischaracterize the losing candidate in 2016: “Abortion” and “homosexuality” are not in his index, although “homophobia” is. (Boot admits, “I am socially liberal. I am pro-LGBTQ rights and pro-choice.”) He does understand that the disappearance of 40 percent of U.S. factory jobs between 1980 and 2014, and the income stagnation among the bottom 50 percent, “helped to explain why so many people were so desperate for salvation that they were willing to turn to a reality TV host as their savior.”

Nevertheless, Trumphobia leads him to “ardently wish harm upon my former party because it has become an enabler of Trump’s assault on the rule of law. … My fondest hope is that the Republican Party is soundly defeated in elections to come.” Will that knock out what virtuous Republicans there are and give the despots among Democrats an opportunity to set up their gallows, as today’s Edmund Burkes fear? Boot’s response is too cute by far: “I echo the thirteenth-century French abbot who, when asked by Crusaders how to tell devout Catholics from apostates, reportedly advised them to kill them all and let God sort them out.”

I heartily concur, though, with Boot’s desire to expand the number of refugees America allows in, and to follow Ronald Reagan in celebrating rather than demonizing immigrants. What we most need to fix is how we educate immigrants, and on that issue Silvia Hidalgo’s How to Be an American: A Field Guide to Citizenship (Abrams Image, 2018) is part of the problem. She partly prepares immigrants for their naturalization test, but also introduces them to Oppression Studies with homage for the anarchist Emma Goldman, the racist Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, the Dakota Access Pipeline movement, and the 2017 Women’s March.

When immigrants and their children go to college, they often get more Oppression Studies. Warren Treadgold’s The University We Need (Encounter, 2018) notes the dominance of campus leftism and doesn’t think the tiny conservative footholds at a few large universities make any significant difference. He has a jaundiced view of online education: “Certainly an online course from which students learn nothing can be cheaper than a regular course from which students learn nothing.”

Treadgold summarizes well the reason why nothing will change if the matter is left to three interest groups: “Most students are happy to take long and expensive vacations at college and to receive high grades and a degree at the end, while most professors are willing to give their students high grades after spending very little time on correcting papers or examinations, and most administrators are pleased to be well paid for presiding over contented students and hiring discontented adjunct professors at low pay.”

BOOKMARKS

Israeli scholar Yoram Hazony’s The Virtue of Nationalism (Basic, 2018) says good fences make good neighbors: He doesn’t want Islamists to annihilate his people. Lawrence Wright’s God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State (Knopf, 2018) is a liberal’s look at Texas foibles, but it doesn’t say much about God or souls.

Prison Break: Why Conservatives Turned Against Mass Incarceration by David Dagan and Steven Teles (Oxford, 2016) is a catalog of horrors, but the authors offer some hope in the growing awareness among conservatives that prison for nonviolent offenders represents big government overkill. Seymour Hersh’s Reporter: A Memoir (Knopf, 2018) indiscriminately celebrates Hersh’s good investigative reporting and his bad propagandizing. —M.O.

Comments

  • Dick Friedrich
    Posted: Sat, 11/10/2018 08:36 am

    Education of someone who has no interest in learning, especially about cultural change, takes years, probably more like generations. A how-to book sure won't do the trick. Justice and mercy are often called for in days and hours. There is no reason why working harder to deliver justice and mercy can't contribute more to appropriate US immigration behavior. That's a central principle of Trump's actions and those of people like Senator Cotton. Short term economic considerations are a red herring.