Andrew Klavan gives his insights on the feud between conservative writers Sohrab Ahmari and David French — both of whom have varying opinions on how to advance liberty. On Monday’s episode of “The Andrew Klavan Show,” the host explains how members of the Right should discuss these ideas.
I am always unhappy to see right-wingers fighting. I think that our opponents are so bad, so crazy, so vicious in the way they fight that we should be united and not fight each other personally, certainly. We should debate ideas, no question about it, but we should stay off each other personally. So, I want to say at the top of this that I thought Sohrab Ahmari did the wrong thing.
His article was in First Things and he called it, “against David French-ism,” and that’s not the way we should be having debates. It really is not, it really matters. It really matters to you. And then later he said, you know, he said, “Oh well, I was just going after his ideas.” Fine. But here’s I — there are ideas that David maintains that you can attack in general, even quoting him even saying, “he’s one of the people you disagree with.”
Without labeling it “David French-ism,” which immediately makes it personal, and the fight of course on Twitter immediately became very stupid and very personal. And he included things like he said at one point — this is you know this is in this article in First Things … he says, “It isn’t easy to critique the persona of someone as nice as French. Then again it is in part that earnest and insistently polite quality of his that I find unsuitable to the depth of the present crisis facing religious conservatives. Which is why I recently quipped on Twitter that there is no polite ‘David French-ian’ third way around the cultural civil war,” and I totally disagree with this.
I’ve known plenty of nice people that you can’t get around with a bag — that you can’t dig up with a backhoe and it’s part of this kind of fake, I’m not accusing Ahmari of this, but I think that that idea is part of this fake macho stuff that has grown up on the Right. I hate this stuff. I hate this talk about alpha males and so forth. Alpha male is a category of ape. I have known many a wimpy little guy who can stand like an absolute pillar of stone when he is assaulted and attacked for his opinions and his beliefs.
And I’ve known many tough young guys that I wouldn’t want to go toe to toe within an alley who collapse the minute there’s social pressure against them and yet they seem like alpha males. If you’re judging — if you’re judging in ape terms, integrity, a rock-solid integrity comes in all kinds of shapes all kinds of forms and all kinds of people and you can be incredibly nice, and incredibly nice and polite and incredibly immovable when it comes to matters of principle. And human life is far far too complicated to be judged on ape terms. And I just hate that faux macho stuff that grows up on the Right about this.