Church of the Minor Grievance, part ‘etc. etc. etc’ – 50 years ago William F. Buckley saw something somewhat frustrating in the woodshed

by John Holbo on June 25, 2010

An eternity ago, in 2008, Jay Nordlinger wrote:

And, in some respects, the entire country is a Church of Grievance. It is our national church. Everybody’s a victim, everybody whines, in this incredibly free and beneficent and prosperous country.

And today, a case in point:

Jonah, this is an old song, but, I agree, it’s important to sing it: The world gives you so many occasions. I remember when Nightline would have as its two pundits — Left and Right — George Stephanopoulos and David Gergen. I used to comment that they had both served in the Clinton communications shop. I also trotted out the old line, “All points of view from A to B” — or maybe A to L? N?

And I’m reminded why conservatives had to build their own media outlets. It’s sort of like Jews and country clubs. Jews built their own, not because they wanted to, necessarily, but because the other clubs wouldn’t let them in. They weren’t being “clannish.” They wanted to play golf, on first-class courses.

(Groucho on his daughter: “She’s only half Jewish. Can she play nine holes?” Alternatively, “She’s only half Jewish. Can she go into the pool up to her knees?”)

Well, we conservatives built our own media outlets — because the other clubs wouldn’t let us in. I guess it’s working out okay. But there are interesting arguments to be made, and listened to.

Just by the way: Isn’t it sort of insane that, in the years when Bill Buckley was the most brilliant and entertaining columnist in the land, the New York Times didn’t want him on its op-ed page? Wouldn’t he have been an adornment? Isn’t it sort of insane that he never won the Pulitzer prize for commentary? When they were giving it to people who weren’t fit to change the ribbon on his Smith-Corona?

But enough insanity . . .

P.S. Gandhi never won the Nobel Peace Prize.

P.P.S. Of course, we have think tanks because they wouldn’t let us serve on the faculties of the universities. And we have talk-radio shows because . . . Etc., etc., etc.

They don’t call it the Grand Old Pity Party for nothing.



David 06.25.10 at 4:30 am

I take cold comfort in this.


sg 06.25.10 at 6:11 am

This has to be parody, right? The clue is in the post postscript.


Mrs Tilton 06.25.10 at 11:06 am

sg @2,

This has to be parody, right?

Poe’s law: it’s not just for religion any more!


Dave S. 06.25.10 at 1:16 pm

To synthesize the post title and David @ 1, “Sure, honey, but did it see you?!”


scathew 06.25.10 at 1:46 pm


scathew 06.25.10 at 1:47 pm



cate 06.25.10 at 1:54 pm

His point about university faculties is well-taken. We offer classes on formal logic, informal logic, symbolic logic…but never illogic. Jay Nordlinger’s dream of becoming an academic tragically falls victim to intellectual segregation.


burritoboy 06.25.10 at 2:33 pm


That’s actually a fairly serious problem. We proceed far too often in ignoring the irrational. We want to study reason, but the political arena is where we can see if reason or non-reason is dominant. Depending on the political circumstances, it may be more useful to devote increased resources to studying irrationality than it is to studying reason.


noen 06.25.10 at 3:30 pm

Shorter Jonah: The white male is the Jew of liberal fascism.


Michael 06.25.10 at 4:09 pm

Because William F. Buckley is like Gandhi, conservatives, like Jews, were barred from country clubs. Makes sense to me. Has anyone asked McMegan to weigh in on this?


Broggly 06.25.10 at 4:19 pm

Wasn’t Gandhi a socialist?

I know that the situation in America is so very different (ho ho ho) but from here in Adelaide I find the idea that conservatives are barred fom universities laughable since my geology professor is Ian Plimer.


bianca steele 06.25.10 at 4:31 pm

There must be money to be made in tiny violins.


roac 06.25.10 at 4:40 pm

Has anyone asked McMegan to weigh in on this?

She’s on her honeymoon. (She has a roster of libertarian types filling in. One of them is a guy named Timothy Lee, who has put up a couple of posts which actually made a lot of sense, But another is some woman with a hyphenated name, who is — I swear this is actually true — even dumber than Megan.)


Pat Dolan 06.25.10 at 7:48 pm

Buckley had a long running talk show on PBS and I remember him on network television threatening to assault Gore Vidal at one of the party conventions (1968?). Not bad, I would think, for a man who bragged about not revising his prose, and who defended lynching in print.


John Quiggin 06.25.10 at 9:10 pm

The School of Applied Agnotology at UQ is taking applications now. But it will be a very competitive field.


cate 06.25.10 at 10:10 pm

Burrito–I agree!


Omega Centauri 06.27.10 at 3:33 am

Burritoboy: But, we want to use rational means to study irrationality.

I presume we want to know how it arises, and how to combat it. Or am I assuming too much!


Tocqueville 06.27.10 at 8:54 am

Seriously, you people are horrible. This is the most uncharitable post I’ve read in a while, anywhere. What an echo chamber this place is becoming.

And the comment here about WFB endorsing lynching would be libelous if he were still alive to sue you for it.

Christopher Lasch really had your number, didn’t he?


ajay 06.28.10 at 8:35 am

His point about university faculties is well-taken. We offer classes on formal logic, informal logic, symbolic logic…but never illogic.

Surely this lacuna is filled by the Faculties of Economics and Theology.


MBSS 06.29.10 at 6:19 am

i don’t understand.

is nord-dinger trying to prod jonah da whale to fast until the muslims and hindus reconcile? because that is a great idea.

i would encourage a homespun loincloth, as well.

will you tell if i recommend self-immolation for the ratfuckers?

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