Ponzi and Leibsohn on “Muscular Americanism”

American Greatness Senior Editor Julie Ponzi joined AG contributing editor Seth Leibsohn yesterday on The Seth and Chris Show to discuss the ways conservatives continuously cave to the Left when challenged on questions of race and America’s greatness.  You can listen to the audio and/or read the transcript of their conversation below:

Seth Leibsohn:  Welcome back to the Seth and Chris show; I am Seth Leibsohn, delighted to welcome back to the show a great friend, Julie Ponzi; she is a senior editor over at American Greatness, amgreatness.com. Julie, how you doing?

Julie Ponzi:  I’m well, how are you?

Seth Leibsohn:  I’m fine and it’s good to hear from you. I am glad we could get together with you, because there’s a lot of things I wanted to run by you on the culture front. Some interesting things we’ve been doing at American Greatness, you do much and far more than me. But one of the things I like, and I want to get to the culture stuff in a minute, but if we can start with politics, this headline piece we have up there right now, pronounce the author’s name, so I get it right, Deion Kathawa? Am I close?

Julie Ponzi:  Yes, that’s correct.

Seth Leibsohn:  Deion Kathawa, “Conservatives Need to Stop Indulging Leftist Narratives.” One of the things people ask me is how would I summarize the project of American Greatness? A few things I could say. One of the things I like to point out, Julie, hope you agree with, is it’s trying to restore a muscular conservatism and that’s much of what Mr. Kathawa doing here, isn’t it?

Julie Ponzi:  Yeah, although I would call it Americanism.

Seth Leibsohn:  Perfect.

Julie Ponzi:  Not a fan of the word ‘conservatism.’

Seth Leibsohn:  That’s fine. Muscular Americanism is just even better. You are my editor, so there we go. You can edit me in real time.

Julie Ponzi:   There you go.

Seth Leibsohn:   As well as in the written word . . . Let’s call it that: Muscular Americanism. But what the author here is talking about is how too many mainstream conservatives or self-declared conservatives who are mainstream love being cheap dates for Democrats; that’s what this is about.

Julie Ponzi:  That’s exactly right. And the piece really picks up on a particular incident that occurred yesterday. The conservative website, I use that word advisedly in their case, Daily Wire, had a short satirical video that has since been removed about, sort of poking fun at the way we changed Columbus Day or tried to change to Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.

Seth Leibsohn:  Right.

Julie Ponzi:   And the point of the video, which was … it was funny. It was cute. It was completely innocuous. It was making fun of the way that the Left just gets hysterical and turns history on its head by judging the past by our standards of today and attributing nefarious motives—that Columbus purposely came here to kill all the Indians because he brought diseases. Just sort of, over-the-top, hysterical reading of history that results in us forgetting our history, forgetting what it means that this country was discovered and became a beacon to the world.

This is something that ought to be celebrated, obviously. This little video sort of took on what we would be celebrating if we were celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day. So it went through the achievements that had been reached by the indigenous people of America at that point, which were sort of … war, cannibalism, various ways of killing one another was pretty much what was happening here at that time in history.

And then, of course, the left lost its mind and said this was horrible and racist and Ben Shapiro, who is the head honcho over at the Daily Wire, apologized. Issued an abject apology and blamed his staff for not consulting him or not doing a good job of editing.

Seth Leibsohn:   Hm. Okay. All right. We do tend … I haven’t seen the video, and I want to before I can comment very wisely on it, but there is a larger symptom this speaks to, which is what the author and what you and I and certainly Chris and Ben and everyone who writes for American Greatness have been lamenting for a long time now, Chris and I call it “Conservative Stockholm Syndrome,” call it anything you want, but basically it is adopting the beliefs of the Left, generally, that makes it sound like we’re not so convinced we’re right and that there’s a large part of us that thinks the Left is right and we don’t have the moral high ground.

We kow too much, in other words.

Julie Ponzi:   Yes, and that’s exactly Kathawa’s point in this piece, is that just far too often, we’re ready to … because we’re just so afraid of being called racist, that word has just acquired so much power over us that it’s like, we just, as soon as we hear it, we run for the hills.

Seth Leibsohn:  Yeah, the left has done a good word with that. A good turn with that word. We’re going to a break. You can stay with us another segment?

Julie Ponzi:   Sure.

Seth Leibsohn:   Absolutely. Wonderful. We’ll be right back with Julie Ponzi, senior editor of American Greatness. We’ll go out with Joan Jett giving a tribute to Mary Tyler Moore. We’ll be right back.

Welcome back to the Seth and Chris show; I’m Seth Leibsohn, delighted to be joined by Julie Ponzi, senior editor at American Greatness. Julie, before the break, and I do want to get into the culture, and maybe this will get us there a little bit, before the break we were talking about how conservatives like being cheap dates for liberals or for Democrats, something Chris and I and some of us have called Conservative Stockholm Syndrome, it’s this view that we’re not necessarily sure we’re right, we kind of think they are, but we want to be counter-cultural.

But there’s another way this presents itself, too. Makes Chris and I just pull our hair out. And it’s when you see conservatives, largely they are Republican office holders or those seeking election in the Republican Party, who get called into these late-night comedy shows, these cynical, left-wing comedy shows. The Kimmels, the Colberts, and they just go hat in hand. They love going to them. And they end up, each and every time, looking like fools.

But they love getting the credibility and the idea that I’m somebody or they like me, they really like me, only to find out they don’t. You see it this way a lot, don’t you?

Julie Ponzi:  Yeah, you do. And I think that you almost inadvertently hit on one of the reasons for that, and when you said that they almost think they’re wrong, almost think that they’re not right about things. And see that’s the thing, it’s that they don’t know. They don’t know what they think they know. They know what they are supposed to believe, because they know their “conservative principles.”

But they don’t really, all of them, know that much beyond that. And I think that’s the problem, so when you get … Kathawa’s got a great line in this piece that we were just talking about, he said, “Conservatives will always be at a structural disadvantage if all of their arguments are susceptible to a rhetorical kill-shot, like, ‘That’s racist.’ Those who adhere to the American ideal will never be successful if they believe they must apologize for the West’s and America’s soaring successes, just because in the course of human events, some injustices have occurred. Injustices don’t have to be denied to deny that they’re dispositive, or wholly constitutive of the American character. Americans should be capable of more intellectual subtlety than that.”

Seth Leibsohn:  Right.

Julie Ponzi:   I mean, that’s just it, as soon as a liberal or progressive says, “Oh, well. There’s racism in America and we did this bad thing to the Indians,” okay, well, then that’s it. Forget it. We won’t talk about Christopher Columbus anymore, because one bad thing or six bad things or ten bad things, or however many bad things may have happened—all of that erases everything good that happened.

Seth Leibsohn:  Yeah, it’s the story of America, too, isn’t it? This was our … it seems to be a country, as important as great as America, is a country that can stand to have the truth told about it and that we shouldn’t be embarrassed about any of the pock marks or scars. Daniel Moynihan, was a Democrat. He told us to stand up on this issue. He said, am I embarrassed to speak for a less than perfect country? Of course not. Show me a better one.

Why can Moynihan get it and we can’t?

Julie Ponzi:  You know, it’s a different time. Moynihan was educated in schools that were not populated by teachers and professors just completely weaned on cultural Marxism. I mean, the whole purpose of cultural Marxism is to undermine the ancient faith, as Lincoln called it. That’s the point of it. It’s to make you hate your country.

Seth Leibsohn:  And I guess once you hate it, you are prepared to do two things. You’re prepared to think of those who love it as quote-unquote “extremists,” and then the more politically pragmatic thing is, you’re prepared to quote-unquote “fundamentally transform it,” isn’t it? You have to be carefully taught to hate. That song comes to mind.

Julie Ponzi:   Exactly. That’s very good. That’s the point, if you can’t love America, if you can’t find something worth preserving in our old ways, then you’re very inclined to want to transform it, as you said.

Seth Leibsohn:  And it’s of no little irony that the spouse of the person who gave us the phrase “fundamentally transform America,” would say in that same campaign that it was the nomination of her husband which was the first time she was proud of this country. Now, she has written about certain abuses, sufferings, indelicacies and worse in her life, all of which, I’m prepared to believe. But that was the first time she could be proud of America?

The first time she could be proud of America could only be with the vote that gave her husband the nomination? It’s just a very, very, very stinted view of this country, and it’s also a very Oprah-ization view of this country, isn’t it? That the only thing that really matters is the self, the happiness of the self. It’s kind of the triumph of the therapeutic all over again.

Julie Ponzi:   And your frame of reference is the here and now. It’s a very sort of clumsy and disjointed reading of history, really.

Seth Leibsohn:  Well, it is. And that’s why it may seem simple, but I still believe in something Dr. Bennett called the “gates test.” Every country has gates. When the gates are open, which way do the people run? Do they run in or do they run out? Of America, it might be said, even when the gates are down, people run in, you know?

There is something about believing the Left or your own two eyes that hasn’t matched up about the narrative of this country.

Julie Ponzi:   Yeah, very much so. That’s exactly right.

Seth Leibsohn:  And that’s what explains, I think, in large part, Donald Trump’s not only ability to win the Republican nomination, but the presidency. I think he struck a chord with people who were just tired of the kick-me sign and they wanted someone who would kick back.

I think that’s in no small part, a lot of it.

Julie Ponzi:   Yeah. Deion’s got another really great line in this piece where he says, “The only way forward is through the fire, something President Trump is repeatedly demonstrating by example,” and then he refers to the NFL dust-up that a lot of conservatives were just appalled by, “Oh, why is he tweeting about this? Oh, he’s making it worse. Now, look. Now, they’re all kneeling!”

Well, how many of them are gonna be kneeling now? It’s coming to an end. If the American people stand up and say, “Look, we love our country. Stop insulting it.” People are going … they may not be happy about it, but they aren’t going to do it anymore.

Seth Leibsohn:  Yeah, and I think it’s a really interesting thing. I think I may have said at the beginning of the show something close to this. People like to criticize President Trump for his comments on the culture thinking he’s wading into things he shouldn’t and making them worse, each and every time, however, he seems to win.

Julie Ponzi:  That he does.

Seth Leibsohn:  And I think, lately, you’re seeing that with the NFL. It’s kind of a funny thing. The guy who gets the culture will ultimately get the politics right, too.

Hey, Julie. Thanks for checking in with us. Thanks for everything you do at American Greatness and everything you do generally.

Julie Ponzi:   No problem. Thanks, Seth,

Seth Leibsohn: You betcha. I’m Seth Leibsohn; we’ll be right back.



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One response to “Ponzi and Leibsohn on “Muscular Americanism”

  • Trump really stands alone as the one person on the right who will fearlessly wade into these culture wars. Maybe the rest are not to blame, nobody else has near the megaphone with which to defend themselves either. But Trump has his own moral compass, and he follows it wherever it goes, notwithstanding whatever flak it brings him. That’s called leadership.

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