As Chronicles editor Chilton Williamson, Jr., noted, Mr. David Brooks of the New York Times has written an editorial in praise of (and perhaps blaming) our late colleague and friend Sam Francis for accurately describing the American proscenium and providing profound structural analyses of the cultural and economic plight of Middle Americans. Dr. Francis shared his insights with his friend Pat Buchanan years ago, writes Brooks, but only when these insights were applied (to an extent) by the Trump campaign last year did they galvanize enough voters to win a presidential election.
The article makes many of the same points about Dr. Francis as Michael Brendan Dougherty’s “The Castaway,” published over a decade ago, after Sam passed away, and briefly mentioned by Brooks. Furthermore, Mr. Dougherty already applied these (if I may) Franciscan analyses to the Trump campaign in January of 2016 in The Week, and Rush Limbaugh devoted a program to discussing the matter, as Chronicles’ Tom Piatak duly noted at the time.
In a way, then, the Brooks editorial wrote itself, except for the conclusion, in which he predicts that, “As the tech behemoths intrude more deeply into daily life and our very minds, they will become a defining issue in American politics. It wouldn’t surprise me if a new demagogue emerged, one that is even more pure Francis.” Now surely, Mr. Brooks is not fond of "behemoths" and thinks that having one or more of them in your daily life is a bad thing. That must be the point of saying what he said. Yet there is an air of direness to the overall prediction, particularly with regard to his portended future demagogue who is "pure Francis."
This story never tires of repeating itself. “Conservatives”—including the pro-gay-marriage, pro-choice, foreign-interventionist Hillary Clinton-supporter Brooks—cannot imagine a right-turn away from globalism and the managerial state that is not tinged with, if not fully marinated in, "ethnic nationalism." Such racial identitarianism supposedly fires up Trump’s flyover base and is a central component of Trump’s own “America First” approach to the economy, Islam, and the border. This is the only way to explain these things, as the talking heads, the Democrats, and some Republicans never tire of telling us.
Yet, if we have learned anything from the Alt-Right's recent flash in the pan and Richard Spencer's Heilgate and the predictable violence of Charlottesville, it is that Middle Americans recoil at race obsession—both Spencer's and Antifa's/BLM's. That is one reason why they rallied (and continue to rally) to Trump, despite his faults: They see him as someone like themselves—always being required to repent of racism that is not there. They recognize this as a leftist ruse and a barely disguised power grab, and they are no longer buying it. They know that wanting to protect their jobs and their borders and their culture is normal and natural, and that this desire does not stem from some latent master-race Naziism. They don't parade around in Hitler outfits or tee-hee at those who do. But neither do they loathe themselves because they are white (or black). They simply want their country to function as it ought to.
It is undeniable that Dr. Francis strayed into white nationalism, as Mr. Brooks carefully notes, just as it is undeniable that Mr. Brooks has strayed into allowing for legalized infanticide and encouraging conservatives to support a definition of marriage that is an offense to God and invites divine judgment. It is also undeniable that Dr. Francis never propounded any ethnonationalist ideology in Chronicles, as Mr. Dougherty pointed out over a decade ago. Instead, Sam applied devastating scholarly critiques month after month to the Washington Duopoly (including this one aimed at Mr. Brooks), predicting that Middle Americans strangled by the globalist economy and constantly attacked for retaining their traditional Christian morality would reach a boiling point. This is what made Sam Francis, to borrow from Mr. Brooks, “one of the most prescient writers of the past 50 years.”
It remains our task to mount a defense of all Middle Americans, who have every right to perceive their government, the global financiers, and the corporate and media elites as being unconcerned about their cultural, financial, and spiritual wellbeing.
Aaron D. Wolf (1973-2019) was Chronicles' executive editor. His writings have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers. He was a frequent guest on Issues, Etc. (Lutheran Public Radio) and The Paul Youngblood Show (nta.fm), and has appeared on several other radio programs, including The Tom Clark Show (Wisconsin Public Radio) and Extension 720 With Milt Rosenberg (WGN).