By R. Cort Kirkwood
A remarkable phenomenon on the neoconservative Respectable Right appears to be the periodic urge to attack the late conservative intellectual Sam Francis, dead now 17 years. Calling Francis a “racist” or “white nationalist” and smearing his admirers makes good copy for Big Journalism, meaning the communist Mainstream Media. The attack is a signal: One is on the “right side of history,” and ready for Big Things. Thus does the “fact-check editor” at The Dispatch, a laddie buck called Alec Dent, writing for leftist Vanity Fair, purport to show why interest in Francis’ ideas is bad — very bad — for mainstream conservatism and the Republican Party.
The problem is less that Dent, all of about 25 years old, thinks that Francis’ ideas are such toxins that the Right must undergo ideological chelation. He’s entitled to his opinion. Like noses, everybody has one. Then again, whether young Dent has read much of Francis, or even vaguely understands what he believed, is debatable.
Rather, the bigger problem is that the fact checker needs fact-checking. That’s something of a mystery given that Dent, who graduated from high school in 2015, is freshly-minted from the University of North Carolina’s journalism school. The cub’s story is also a tedious exercise in question begging. One must ask whether Dent was absent from journalism school when they taught journalism. He apparently never learned that good journalists engage ideas they don’t like, as opposed to merely surrounding them in scare quotes and assuming everyone will nod in bovine agreement that such ideas are “beyond the pale,” as he puts it in one of the slovenly clichés to which all young writers are attached.
Here is what we have in the silly boy’s lament: trying to establish his anti-racist bona fides, a young conservative publishes a virtue-signaling hit piece on a dead man he knows nothing about, in a magazine whose editors and writers are mostly Cultural Marxists.
Errors And Omissions About Francis
Opening with one of those lazy clichés, Dent explains that Francis “was ousted from The Washington Times for virulent racism.” Some day, etymologists might explain why racism is always “virulent.” In the old days, as Joe Sobran amusingly explained, leftists said “racism” among conservatives was always “bubbling beneath the surface.” Now, it’s “virulent.” We Francis fans are a leprous, scrofulous bunch who have no place among respectable, disease-free conservatives.
Anyway, the Fact-Checking Editor, who certainly mastered virulent clichés in journalism school, then explains why his neocon predecessors couldn’t get rid of Francis before they did, in 1995:
It was, according to the Washington City Paper, the culmination of months long campaign carried out by young conservatives in Washington, DC, who wanted Francis to be removed not just from the Times but from the conservative movement as a whole. Francis had kept his white nationalism semiprivate — a feat easier accomplished in the pre-internet era, when his most extreme views, like calling for a “white reconquest of the United States,” could be circulated in more obscure publications without wide distribution.
In other words, Francis operated like a film noir villain, skulking in and out of the shadows of a tunnel, an ideological Harry Lime. We can safely assume from this risible falsehood that Dent knows little about the “pre-internet era.” That is understandable. He came of age after the internet arrived. We had telephones. We had computers. We had TV and newspapers — mass communication. Aside from writing editorials for The Washington Times, Francis wrote a syndicated column for years, and contributed monthly essays to Chronicles: A magazine of American Culture. He also wrote for American Renaissance, and spoke at its conferences. His ideas were in the public eye for years. Nothing about him was “semiprivate.”
Then Dent gets to what he thinks is the meat of his case: Francis’ famous, if fatal, appearance at an American Renaissance conference:
In May 1994, in the course of researching his book The End of Racism, Dinesh D’Souza, then a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, caught Francis saying (at a conference put on by white nationalist Jared Taylor, no less), among other things: “What we as whites must do is reassert our identity and our solidarity, and we must do so in explicitly racial terms through the articulation of a racial consciousness as whites.” When the galley for D’Souza’s book circulated the next summer, and some of the quotes D’Souza captured were featured in The Washington Post, what Francis had said and written were deemed beyond the pale and incompatible with conservatism.
After that, the top editor at the Times, Wesley Pruden, terrified that he employed a “virulent racist,” forced Francis to resign. Pruden always knew what Francis thought. So did the newspaper’s editorial writers and staff reporters. If D’Souza hadn’t smeared Francis in the Post, Pruden never would have moved against him.
Several omissions follow.
D’Souza riddled his account with so many sloppy errors that his publisher, fearing a lawsuit, not only rushed out a corrected version but also might have pulped the first run. If Dent didn’t know that, he should have. If he did know it, he should have reported it. Either way, journalism school didn’t impart the lesson that what a writer omits from a story can be just as important as what he includes.
Within the story about D’Souza, Dent observes that Francis wrote that “neither ‘slavery’ nor ‘racism’ as an institution is a sin.” Despite having the full quote available from the homosexuals and Cultural Marxists at Media Matters to whom he links, Dent omitted it:
If the sin is hatred or exploitation, they [Southern Baptists repenting their support of slavery in the mid-1800s] may be on solid grounds, but neither “slavery” nor “racism” as an institution is a sin. Indeed, there are at least five clear passages in the letters of Paul that explicitly enjoin “servants” to obey their masters, and the Greek words for “servants” in the original text are identical to those for “slaves.” Neither Jesus nor the apostles nor the early church condemned slavery, despite countless opportunities to do so, and there is no indication that slavery is contrary to Christian ethics or that any serious theologian before modern times ever thought it was.
Whatever one thinks of Francis’ views on racism and slavery, after the Times pink-slipped him, he explained his remarks at the AR conference to Howard Kurtz, then a media writer for The Washington Post:
I understand what I said was controversial. I believe there are racial differences, there are natural differences between the races. I don’t believe that one race is better than another. There’s reasonably solid evidence for IQ differences, personality and behavior differences. I understand those things have been taken to justify segregation and white supremacy. That is not my intent.
To the best of my knowledge, “virulent racists” do believe that one race is superior to another. That’s why they’re “virulent racists.” But forget that. Had Dent spent an hour or so reporting, he would have also learned that the “virulent racist” Francis lived in Prince Georges County, Maryland, which was 64.5 percent black. Indeed, Francis’ neighbor was black, a man he chatted with frequently over the fence. Last time I checked, “virulent racists” don’t consort with blacks. It might be interesting to know where young Dent and his editors live, and how much time they spend with blacks.
Dent also ignored another important fact: Francis died with the sacraments of Dent’s own proclaimed Catholic faith.
So Dent skipped the reporting. Then again, here was the assignment: “Write a hit piece on Sam Francis and the hard-right Republicans who find his ideas compelling to smear them three weeks before the November midterm elections.” Reporting wasn’t high on the to-do list.
The slavery line, by the way, appeared in a syndicated column. Yet we are to believe that Francis’ views on such matters were “semiprivate.”
No Reading Francis
Next, Dent uses another cliché to attack conservative Republicans for channeling Francis. Instead of listening to Stupid Party Brain Trusters who think the party must seek the minority vote, conservative candidates have “doubled down” on seeking votes from their white base. Not do the green sprout a disservice, let’s quote him at length:
[W]hile discussion of Francis in the early Trump days was oriented toward trying to understand how we got to Trump, now his ideas are cited not descriptively, but prescriptively.
What makes this of particular note is that if one’s interest is purely in class politics, there’s little reason to turn to Francis. His view of class politics was largely ripped straight from National Review editor and former Marxist James Burnham, a debt Francis acknowledged during his career. Rather, it’s an attempt to idea-launder Francis’s most noxious views into the mainstream under the cover of class politics.
While the Republican National Committee’s 2012 election postmortem saw the need to appeal to minority voters in order to grow the party’s base and continue to win elections, the GOP of 2022 had doubled down on white Americans as their base. In this worldview, white supremacists are tolerated, and perhaps even sought out as allies. Better to be ugly winners than beautiful losers, they argue. And so, there are few consequences when Kent takes a photo with a Nazi sympathizer and criticizes Twitter for banning a white nationalist. Or when Tommy Tuberville pushes a racist narrative. Or when Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene speak at a conference organized by a white nationalist. Or when Masters claims Black Americans are to blame for gun violence and says Democrats are trying to use immigration “to change the demographics of our country.” Such language about immigration-altering demographics is commonplace in today’s Republican Party, where “great replacement theory” rhetoric is used by everyone from Tucker Carlson to Elise Stefanik. Coming full circle, D’Souza—now a fringe figure himself for his election conspiracy theories, a racist tweet (that he later tried to walk back) about Barack Obama, and a presidential pardon from Trump over campaign finance law violations—has said Democrats “want to sort of transform the demographics of America” through illegal immigration. Francis’s return is not a random occurrence, it’s part of an ongoing test of the limits.
Let’s unpack two lines in this portmanteau of horribles.
Tuberville did not “push a racist narrative,” as his actual words show, and media hysterics regardless. The headline over the NPR story to which Dent links is a lie. No fair person reading the story, biased as it was, could say he “equated descendants of enslaved people to criminals.” Tuberville clearly said reparations for slavery, as a practical matter, would pay black criminals to commit crime.
Dent also avers that “Masters claims Black Americans are to blame for gun violence and says Democrats are trying to use immigration “to change the demographics of our country.”
Dent links to a piece in Vanity Fair that makes the same false allegation that in turn appears in a headline at the hyperlinked Daily Beast. This is what Masters said: “We do have a gun violence problem in this country, and it’s gang violence. It’s people in Chicago, St. Louis shooting each other. Very often, you know, Black people, frankly.”
Masters was clearly speaking about black gangs in two major cities, where almost all the “gun violence” is black-on-black shootings. Or maybe young Dent hasn’t seen the headlines lately. But even if Masters had said “black Americans are to blame for gun violence,” generally speaking, he would have been correct. If blacks aren’t to blame for almost all the “gun violence” in major cities, Dent should tell us who is. Maybe it’s whites. Or Asians. Or Eskimos.
As for the claim that Democrats are trying “to change the demographics of our country” as part of the Great Replacement, leftists and Democrats admit and brag about it. Discussing the dispossession and replacement of white Americans is only unacceptable when the discussion involves opposing it. Maybe Dent should have spent four years in college in remedial reading and taken a course or two on how to use Google.
Dent’s accusations are scare-quote journalism. In not a single instance does he attempt to refute or even mildly dispute what Francis, Masters or anyone else says, or even give them a fair hearing. Again, he begs the question. By using scare quotes, he assumes that whatever Francis the “virulent racist” said and those candidates say is, ipso facto, false. And “white nationalist dog whistling.”
What you have in Dent’s piece isn’t journalism, and it certainly isn’t an “essay,” as he laughably called it. It’s a drive-by shooting. In Francis’ case, it’s a drive-by shooting at a cemetery. Dead men don’t shoot back.
Francis On ‘Class Politics’
A second problem with Dent’s short screed: It’s failure to acknowledge that Francis’ political thought is popular not for what he wrote about race, but instead for what he wrote about “class politics,” as Dent calls it.
Dent’s insinuation that Francis merely plagiarized James Burnham is preposterous, and shows that Dent is largely unfamiliar with Francis’ work, notably, his monthly columns in Chronicles. That not-so-sly innuendo also suggests that Dent hasn’t read Burnham. Francis adopted Burnham’s analyses and applied it to the white American middle class, then articulated his own theories in essays about Middle American Radicals (MARS) and their growing political movement that opposes the Ruling Class’s attempt to crush them through globalization, sexual revolution, and anarcho-tyranny, evils that also affect middle class blacks, Asians, and Hispanics. Francis’ ideas are gaining traction today precisely because they explain what the Ruling Class wants to accomplish. Standing in its way are angry white middle class voters, along with the minorities who vote with them. They want candidates like Masters and J.D. Vance to represent and protect them from the predations of the global, communist anarcho-tyranny, which wants drag queens in grade schools, Antifa and Black Lives Matter terrorists ruling the streets, mass immigration from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and American boys with names like Jones and O’Malley dying abroad, so people with names like Volodymyr Zelenskyy can shove “gay marriage” down the throats of their viscerally and religiously conservative people.
White Americans are still a majority in this country. Yet they are the only group forbidden to act in their own interest or claim they have rights, let alone even suggest that the United States should remain a majority-white country. Were they to do so and insist on it, they would derail the global, communist anarcho-tyranny.
The intellectual midgets who have “deemed” Francis “beyond the pale” are leftists and neocons who hate Francis and don’t think whites have interests as a group. Of course, they never cogently explain why whites should not assert themselves like other groups. Neither does Dent, of course. He simply knows that whites have no rights and no interests because he was weaned on that lie. Now, to make a name for himself, he must ensure that everyone knows he has the right views on thinkers such as Sam Francis and his admirers. Young Dent had better figure out quickly that the people with whom he jumped under the sheets, notably his editors at Vanity Fair, hate this country, and hate its majority population. They also hate Catholics like Dent.
Dent doesn’t know what doesn’t know. He doesn’t know what he thinks he knows. He is, after all, a young fellow, a larval writer with a journalism degree and the unfortunate job of grappling with a profound, highly-credentialed thinker. Francis graduated from Johns Hopkins, and received a doctorate in history from Dent’s alma mater when a doctorate still meant something. He wrote deeply about everything from English history to Burnham and Machiavelli. He was expert on Soviet-backed terrorism and seriously contemplated horror literature and popular entertainment such as The Godfather novel and films. Francis won the Scripps Howard Walker Stone Editorial Writing Award, and took home the Distinguished Editorial Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors two years running. No writer had ever done so, much less one from a Moonie conservative newspaper. And, we can safely say, chances are that Dent will never do so.
But feel sorry for Alec Dent. When the Cultural Marxists at Vanity Fair hired the young gun to carry out a yet another contract on Francis, they sent him off half-cocked.
American Remnant’s R. Cort Kirkwood worked with Sam Francis at The Washington Times for four years.
Excellent piece. They think it is necessary to misrepresent and slander Francis because they want to prevent his ideas from influencing the conservatives of today. Late in George W Bush’s presidency, he gave a speech warning in which he inveighed against “nativism, protectionism and isolationism.” It struck me as odd at the time, as no major political figure then was advocating an America First agenda. Indeed, W had driven the Republican party into the ditch with his wars especially, but also his open borders immigration and free trade policies. Even then, though, when no credible AF conservative was in sight, they feared the latent power of such a message. May theirs fears be proven warranted.
Your assessment that the ephebe typist who wrote the Vanity Fair piece was sent off “half-cocked” is an over-generous assessment of his male capacity.
It seems to be like Sam Francis wasn’t as much as a monster as these other clowns thought, however he was highly flawed and problematic, and if these people want to exhume him and beat him up, I say let them. If he was a good soldier, ok, but he’s a dead one now. D’Souza — another flawed conservative — is alive and is doing yeoman’s work. He is also smarter and more successful than most of the conservative commentariat working at present, be they white or not.
Simply an outstanding refutation of a typically shallow, ignorant, and ideologically driven attack on the late and brilliant Sam Francis. I suspect Cort Kirkwood captures what Alex Dent is all about in a single sentence that could be applied to most neocons and establishment Republicans: “Here is what we have in the silly boy’s lament: trying to establish his anti-racist bona fides, a young conservative publishes a virtue-signaling hit piece on a dead man he knows nothing about, in a magazine whose editors and writers are mostly Cultural Marxists.”