Conservative Thinkers So Heavenly Minded They’re No Earthly Good

Outside the ivory towers of prestige publications and think tanks, something interesting is happening — or rather, not happening.

Andrew Donaldson

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Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

The somewhat hard to define realm of higher conservative thought has spent the last week engaged in a battle between Sohrab Ahmari who attacked the previously never-heard-of “David French-ism” and the response “Against David French-ism “ as written by the actual David French. Now aside from driving traffic to First Things and NRO, the row also spawned dozens of other articles for, against, supporting, and opining on the various matters related to the discussion. In case you missed it, or didn’t particularly care, last week’s version of intra-conservative warfare is readily available via interwebs search if you feel compelled to delve into the particulars. I will not do so here because it mostly boils down to a recurrence of a very old debate: (Fill in the blank X) is an existential crisis du jour threatening to wipe out (fill in the blank Y) and if you do not have the same amount of exothermic chemical combustion process of your protein filament that grows from the follicles on your head, well then, you are an even bigger existential threat than the first existential threat.

Yes, that is over simplification, but simplification is what is needed, not more hair-on-fire same-team rhetorical flagellation.

I love reading, pondering, debating, and kicking around such things on both on a thinking level and a practical level. Thinking about it is good intellectual exercise, and keeping a curious mind busy and fed with such problems to hash out is healthy. Interacting with folks on such things is likewise good and healthy, both personally and for the great good of the country since we should always be questioning, testing, and challenging. I even have the privilege and platform of writing about it and sending it out to the wider world online for folks to react too.

But that is also why I temper myself; writing online, commentating, opining, all of that is well and good but it is still just words sent out into the ether. Meanwhile, there is real world stuff going on that is beyond the power of mere words to control.

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Andrew Donaldson

Writer. Mountaineer diaspora. Veteran. Managing Editor @ordinarytimemag on culture & politics, food writing @yonderandhome, Host @heardtellshow & other media