Boot Licking the Left

Max Boot has had his “come to Jesus” moment. In the pages of Foreign Policy magazine, we find an essay titled “2017 Was the Year I Learned About My White Privilege.” Oh, boy. The NeverTrumper had his “consciousness raised”:

I have concluded that my beliefs were based more on faith than on a critical examination of the evidence. In the last few years, in particular, it has become impossible for me to deny the reality of discrimination, harassment, even violence that people of color and women continue to experience in modern-day America from a power structure that remains for the most part in the hands of straight, white males. People like me, in other words. Whether I realize it or not, I have benefitted from my skin color and my gender—and those of a different gender or sexuality or skin color have suffered because of it.

Obvious critiques spring to mind.

If the election of a man Boot opposed was all it took for him to do a 180-degree flip on what one reasonably supposes were core tenets of his political and ideological identity, then the problem is not, as Boot supposes, with Donald Trump—but with him. It reveals that his intellectual core is hollow, extremely susceptible to the vicissitudes of changing political tides.

Not a good look on a pundit at all.

It’s also unclear how Boot can casually dismiss political correctness, scare quotes and all, even as Trump is plausibly seen as an avatar of visceral and in many ways largely justified anti-P.C. sentiment.

His odd admission of his own heretofore secret sins is suspect and reads a bit like a coerced confession ahead of one of Stalin’s show trials (which is ironic, as Boot tells us in the piece he is a “Jewish refugee from the Soviet Union”). “I wasn’t racist or sexist. (Or so I thought.) I hadn’t discriminated against anyone. (Or so I thought.)”

Boot’s only reason for his change of outlook is that Trump won in 2016. That’s not really an argument; it’s a kind of temper tantrum. Further, while he claims to distance himself from “social justice warriors,” in his words, “America’s harshest critics”—i.e., “successors to the New Left of the 1960s who saw this country as an irredeemably fascist state that they called ‘AmeriKKKa’”—he goes on to ape their rhetoric. This is as spineless as it is disingenuous.

His solution for the ills he identifies—police brutality, racism, and sexism—is to ritually invoke the fact that he supposedly “remain[s] a classical liberal” while offering no real solutions from that vantage point. One must assume, then, that, given his newfound warmth for SJW critiques of America—according to Boot, “feminist activists had a fair point when they denounced the ‘patriarchy’ for oppressing women”!—his solutions are substantively similar to theirs. So, more porn, adolescent hook-ups, and divorces are the order of the day. After all, a real conservative intellectual knows that the obvious way to fix the scourge of misogyny in Hollywood, that bastion of progressivism and “social justice,” is to continue headlong the way we have since the Sexual Revolution: more sexual license in all respects, then erect rickety legislative or administrative “safeguards” (see: Title IX) that always turn out to be inadequate to the task of bringing about a culture with a sane relationship with and to sex.

Who would have guessed more of the same would give us more of the same? Not Boot, evidently.

Self-Flagellation Isn’t the Only Issue
But deeper than these problems in Boot’s self-portrait is what all of this identity politics talk reveals: a rejection of the ideals of justice, punishment, and individuality inaugurated by the Christian West. Identity politics and multiculturalism privilege group identity over individual identity. Calls for white people, who can be nothing but oppressors, to “check their privilege”—to own up to the sins of their ancestors (but never take credit for their accomplishments)—even as minorities, the pure and innocent oppressed, are valorized unceasingly fly right in the face of Judeo-Christian notions of guilt and responsibility.

The ancient Israelites knew it was wrong to punish a person for acts and systems created before their birth: “The person who sins shall die. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent, nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own” (Ezekiel 18:20). Jesus echoed this same teaching in the New Testament when he healed a man born blind: “As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned …’” (John 9:1-3a).

The tradition of the West is clear: We have duties to others to alleviate their suffering and to address certain systems which perpetuate sinful outcomes. But to browbeat persons for the “sin” of merely being born a certain race is deeply immoral and contrary to a genuine moral advance: We must be held directly accountable only for what we—not others, even our own ancestors—do and have done.

Social justice warriors—and now people like Boot, because he has chosen to make common cause with radical anti-Christian extremists—contribute to the moral deformation of our society; they advocate a genuinely retrograde moral vision that Christianity rightly consigned to the ash heap of history. The view of such people plausibly justifies all manner of evil. After all, if the world can be so easily and cleanly divided into sinners and saints, wicked oppressors and innocent oppressed, the bad and the good, then surely we’re justified in taking radical steps to cleanse villains—straight white men—from the earth. What could the once-upon-a-time popular hashtag #KillAllMen possibly mean, once one gets past its deplorable edginess-for-edginess’ sake?

We must reject this backwards thinking, not because we yearn for directionless progress but because the lessons about punishment, guilt, proportionality, and justice gifted to us by Judaism and Christianity are exceedingly clear: It is immoral to view persons as merely undifferentiated blobs in a racial or ethnic or gendered mass and not as individuals; identity politics requires that we believe in “inherited intergenerational blood guilt,” a barbaric idea that unwitting stooges like Boot threaten to resurrect in their pridefulness and in a fit of pique—all because they cannot recognize how much the ground has shifted beneath their feet.

Returning to a world where collective guilt is the norm is beyond foolish. But flattering profiles by a magazine that will throw you and your fellow travelers to the wolves as soon as you’re no longer politically and rhetorically useful to savage a sitting president is the price of your integrity, eh, Boot?

About Deion A. Kathawa

Deion A. Kathawa is an attorney who hails from America’s heartland. He holds a J.D. from the University of Notre Dame and a B.A. from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. He is a 2021 alumnus of the Claremont Institute’s John Marshall Fellowship. Subscribe to his “Sed Kontra” newsletter.

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33 responses to “Boot Licking the Left”

  1. If Boot had any self-awareness, he’d be embarrassed at what he’s become.

    • A lack of self awareness is practically a prerequisite for being a pundit.

      (With all due respect to the fine set of writers at AmG.)

    • Not long ago I saw Max rip Donald Trump for being an AGW denier.. lawl! That’s conservative, right?

      Bill Kristol is getting acquainted with his “inner socialist” Bret Stephens acknowledges Trump’s list of wins, but still wishes Hillary were president. David Frum famously wrote anyone who questioned the Iraq War out of the conservative movement, and his 40 lb box of irony arrived when NeverTrump cost him his conservative membership. He rails at the Atlantic now, calling the Tax Reform bill a mean spirited piece of revenge politics. David French, is still trying to explain the difference between flavors of NeverTrump! at NRO.

      It’s such a joke.. Trump has stripped them all naked and they don’t even know it.

    • Boot’s core principle is…. himself.
      Like many NT pundits, he craves attention (and the money/power that comes with it). He’ll thus write anything that will please the editors of the punditry journals.

  2. And since the mantra of self haters like Boot is ‘submit and surrender’ then the only honourable path for him and all those self haters like him is to do the rest of us a favour and take the honourable japanese path of harakiri

  3. Boot is a neocon Jew on steroids, the worst thing to come out of Russia since the Holodomor and possibly even Julian Ioffe.

    • Boot is also a victim of his education. Unless an education (and let’s presuppose it’s a good one, not likely these days, but let’s presuppose), again unless an education also kills the notion in the student that the student is now really smart (and stuff) the education will be worthless.

      • What’s baffling, however, is how any sort of ‘quality’ education inures its recipient from ever being able to admit error.

        Then again, as the old saying goes: follow the money. At the end of the day, Boot is just parroting any/all garbage that will keep the checks coming. He can’t very well ‘come to Jesus’ (cough) because he’d starve to death.

      • This is true. I’ve wondered in the past if these types never saved their ill-gotten gains or just continually take on more debt as a matter of course. The neocon blood for money endless war racket has made billions filtering it down from their military-invested hedge funds to even the lowliest of their media propagandists in the form of Holiday Inn Banquet Room speaking fees (10k to speak to Blanche and Hiram, money laundering at its best).

      • He clearly was not educated but indoctrinated. Being taught things that are not true can not accurately be called an education.

  4. Boot is like the rest of the neocons – Nothing but leftists who love war. They hate the base of the republican party as much as the admitted left does and they always attack them in the same manner. Accuse them of bring stupid dupes longing for a dictator and slime them all with being racist somehow. It doens’t have to make objective sense, as a feeling is enough to justify the charge. Proclaim your fear of these people and the return to the dark past they surely long for.

    Hillary Clinton couldn’t have done it any better than the neos have when she pulled “deplorables” out of her hat. They’re the same creatures, and they have the same priorities.

    With friends like these it is little wonder “Conservatism” has been so useless.

    • It all makes sense once you realize the Neocons were lefties who abandoned (some of) socialism over the threat of the USSR.

      • Exactly.. That is their history, and it shows. They aren’t even trying to hide it anymore! Like Boot up there, many of them are just proudly embracing it..

        And to think, these were the people who planned to “rebuild the republican party” when Trump lost. They should probably be thankful that never happened, because you couldn’t fill a phone booth running on what they believe.

    • Saw a great meme a few days ago which sums up matters well. It’s a picture of Boot with the phrase “will say anything to invade Iran”!

  5. The only sure thing that comes from writing at Commentary, is that, eventually, you’ll take off the mask and get to the left side of the aisle, where you always belonged, e.g. Boot, Podhoretz, Rubin, etc.

    • Once jews successfully co-opt a plurality of the non-jewish left into the zionist cause, these guys will all abandon the right, which they only supported as a means of hedging their bets.

  6. He is not any kind of a conservative. Played the part to make more money at one time, now searches for greener grass on the other side.

    Unfortunately we have more than a few guys like that, they recognized there was a shortage of conservatives in media at one time and took it as an opportunity, now they’re betting on the mainstream coastal media to give them the better opportunity as a “convert.”

    • Absolutely spot on. Boot is one of many that we’ve alll worked with, who will do/say anything to get promoted. He wants to stay employed on CNN and other MSM outlets so he took the socialist oath of allegiance.

  7. “If the election of a man Boot opposed was all it took for him to do a 180-degree flip on what one reasonably supposes were core tenets of his political and ideological identity, then the problem is not, as Boot supposes, with Donald Trump—but with him.”

    This critique applies to a number of professional Trump supporters, as well.

    • “His odd admission of his own heretofore secret sins is suspect and reads a bit like a coerced confession ahead of one of Stalin’s show trials.”

      I like how Boot’s opponents keep using this analogy. Slipperiness in the service of Trumpian Power apparently is a form of subtle intellectual adaptation to the moment, but changes that happen in opposition are the result of brain-washing.

      Your ass is showing.

      • But that said, let’s look at it:

        “Boot’s only reason for his change of outlook is that Trump won in 2016. That’s not really an argument; it’s a kind of temper tantrum. ”

        That’s also not true: One reason for change of outlook is body camera evidence, which hasn’t been widely available until recently. Per Boot: “The videos do not lie. One after another, we have seen the horrifying evidence on film of cops arresting, beating, even shooting black people who were doing absolutely nothing wrong or were stopped for trivial misconduct. For African-Americans, and in particular African-American men, infractions like jaywalking or speeding or selling cigarettes without tax stamps can incite corporal, or even capital, punishment without benefit of judge or jury. African-Americans have long talked about being stopped for “driving while black.” I am ashamed to admit I did not realize what a serious and common problem this was until the videotaped evidence emerged. The iPhone may well have done more to expose racism in modern-day America than the NAACP.”

        Trump is not named in that graf at all. Instead, the evidence of his senses.

        Let’s try feminism. Boot:

        “As for sexism, its scope has been made plain by the horrifying revelations of widespread harassment, assault, and even rape perpetrated by powerful men from Hollywood to Washington. The Harvey Weinstein scandal has opened the floodgates, leading to the naming and shaming of a growing list of rich and powerful men — including Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Roy Moore, and John Conyers — who are alleged to have abused their positions of authority to force themselves upon women or, in some cases, men.”

        You COULD name Trump in there, but he didn’t. In any case, reducing the argument that Boot changed because of Trump and Trump only decides to ignore the actual evidence he cites in his decision to change his mind on the subject.

        You’re free to disagree with him. Mischaracterizing his argument is bad form.

      • Final thought:

        ” is the price of your integrity, eh, Boot?”

        The continual attacks at AmGreatness on the integrity of every conservative who disagrees is intellectually limp at best, ugly demagoguery at worst. Hey folks: You’re not the only ones in the world arguing in good faith. You know better. Or should.

      • Haha, you’re stupid.

  8. Is something going on here?

    The Neocons/NeverTrumps and the republican political establishment were telegraphing quite loudly that they were ready to “rebuild the republican party” following Trump’s loss. Presumably this meant writing the base out and replacing them with the phone booth full of people they could sell their core principles to.

    Then Trump won, and they collapsed. We’ve got David Frum and Jen Rubin going absolutely insane. David French still writing lunacy about the fine distinctions between flavors of Nevertrump. (Like anyone cares?) Bill Kristol is openly embracing his inner feminist and socialist, and big, bad, Max Boot is now revealed to be nothing but a SJW snowflake, hoping to atone for his “white privilege”

    Question: Are they:

    1) All just nuts?

    2) Are they rebranding to join the left? (They have certainly worn out their welcome on the right.)

    3) Are they moderating in the hope of creating a third party in their image?

    I hope it is the latter, because it will be funny as heck to watch.

    • The Neocons are merely reverting to type–they were only ‘conservative’ in the sense o being anti-USSR. Now that Trump has hijacked the party (back to its roots, ironically) they’re merely reverting to type.

      In other words, the most likely outcome is they simply rejoin the political left, which is why you see Boot going on about his “privilege”.

  9. It’s ALWAYS all about the money. Don’t you forget it. Follow the money trail and it will tell you all you need to know.

  10. Sometimes you see leftists like Whittaker chambers change sides and join the conservatives. Sometimes you see people like David Brock or Boot who thought they were conservatives change sides and join the left. Boot is a case in point. Nobody who actually understood deeply what Conservativism is about, how western history worked, how people of any race, ethnicity or gender actually succeed or fail in capitalism would embrace the SJW ideas he is embracing. Just another convert – in this case to the side of darkness, of expropriation, of famine and decline. He and Brock will get along well together.

    • I seriously doubt that Brock was ever a conservative. He played one for financial benefit and dropped the premise at the first opportunity.

  11. When Boot hands his job to a “person of color” to atone for his “privilege,” I’ll take his Road to Damascus “conversion” seriously.

  12. This guy is so full of zhit that it has reached his brain. He is so wrong that I don’t have the time to write all of the rebuttals. Still, one I will mention is; if White privilege abounds to such a degree why on earth are there so many poor White people. The opportunity to do well in America is available to every one of us. Sure rich people have a head start in a lot of things but many people have come to this country with only pennies in their pocket and become rich by working hard and working smart. To think you went to college …