The Claremont Institute, home to the notorious “Flight 93 Election,” has published some bizarre essays lately, which, given what they’ve gotten up to in the past, is really saying something. I have in mind Charles Kesler’s non-apologia about Trump and January 6, which readers can find in the current edition of the Claremont Review of Books, Michael Anton’s non-apologia about Trump and January 6 (same place), and Arthur Milikh’s recent announcement of Claremont’s new Center for “The American Way of Life.”
There is a lot a person could say about this group. Many of its affiliates were supporters of Trump, several were key architects and advocates of the “Stop the Steal” movement, and the group was also influential in the creation the 1776 Report. I’ve written about them a bit myself in various pieces, but most directly in a short piece this past summer for the Niskanen Center (in response to two truly awful statements – here and here – concerning the summer’s protests, unrest, and violence).
Here are some of the relevant things that I’ve come across, or that have been sent my way, in recent weeks:
“Meet Trump’s Pro-Insurrection Intellectuals” – by Christian Vandenbrouk, for the Bulwark
“The Origins of Trump’s Slapdash, Last-Second 1776 Report” – by Joshua Tait, for the Bulwark
“Midnight in the Garden of American Heroes,” Podcast episode on Claremont and 1776, by Matthew Sitman and Sam Adler-Bell
Patriotism and Nihilism, by Alex Priou. On the Jaffa/Pangle dispute; accompanying Tweets, with text from original articles.
Here’s the conclusion of the Thomas Pangle side of the dispute, which I’d say holds up pretty well (full disclosure: Tom was my graduate supervisor):
“The permanent and deepest danger to America is not the periodic faltering of traditional patriotism, it is rather the self-satisfied philistinism of the herd that prepares each member for surrender to the soft and reassuring tyranny of “public opinion.” It is the belief, held more deeply and more widely in modern democracy than in any previous order, that ours is, not the privileged, but the satisfactory nation and era – that we have lost nothing of the highest value and that there is nothing truly admirable that we, with our modest powers, may not become or achieve. The truth is that one hour of reasonable reverence or aspiration for what is above us counts for more than a lifetime of satisfaction with what we are.
My experience as a teacher has convinced me that the best of our young people somehow know this truth, by nature. A call to patriotism that claims to find in our national tradition the fulfillment of every high standard proposed by the theological and philosophical wisdom of the ages will not only be untrue to our tradition; such a call will earn the distrust rather than the allegiance of America’s best youth.”