Thursday, February 28, 2008

WWWtW-Watch: #2 - Sockin' It to Him

Dedicated to the proposition that it can happen here.

At WWWtW, no event is too trivial, or too grand, to serve as an occasion to hate. Thus it was with the passing of iconic right-winger and Ur-conservative, William F. Buckley, Jr. After posting a standard, hagiographic eulogy, WWWtW author, Maximos, just couldn’t resist embedding on the site the video clip of the infamous, but legendary, television exchange between Buckley and leftist author, Gore Vidal, in which Buckley threatens (as I hear it): “Now listen you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in your goddamn face, and you’ll stay plastered.” According to Maximos, Vidal had been “trolling” for that epithet, or something similar. Blame the victim, why don’t you? And, indeed, Vidal had previously referred to Buckley as a “crypto-Nazi”, a plausible characterization, given the fact that Buckley had just gotten done attacking the right of assembly on “constitutional” grounds. He did this in response to Vidal’s defense of the peaceful anti-war demonstrators who had been clubbed to the ground by Chicago cops, who had removed their badges in order not to be identified. (It was known in advance that what they were going to do to the demonstrators would be extra-legal). It was this incident, outside of the 1968 Democratic Convention, that ensured the defeat of the Democrats and put Nixon in office. While Vidal called Buckley a “crypto-Nazi”—not without some justification, given Buckley’s take on the Chicago “police riot”—he neither took the name of the Lord in vain, (like Catholic champion Buckley) nor threatened WFB with bodily harm. And it was Buckley who had introduced the concept of “Nazi” into mix by referring to the demonstrators as such.

All that said, the incident did not, and does not, reflect well on Bill Buckley, and it is telling that WWWtW finds it an appropriate item to bring up as they “honor” his memory.