Ever since Trump’s election, Ross Douthat has let his inner authoritarian run amok with column after column of radically bad ideas tagged as “implausible proposals”—which are really just actual proposals disguised as what I can only assume is a conservative’s attempt at satire.
It’s kind of sad. In this new country of America in which supposedly principled conservatives routinely commit ideological suicide by defending Trump in any manner, Douthat has now gone out of his way to “make a case” for Marine Le Pen, but decides to be intellectually honest for a moment before diving head-first into nonsense (“Is There a Case for Le Pen?” The New York Times, 4/29/2017):
To elevate [Le Pen] to the presidency is to empower the National Front, an organization that despite years of renovation and attempted purges — extending to Le Pen’s own father, Jean-Marie — still includes figures like her successor (briefly; he just resigned) as its leader, who appears to have done the “I’m just asking questions” thing about the gas chambers.
Which means Douthat is doing the “I’m just asking questions” thing about the legitimacy of a party whose members are routinely engaged in the “I’m just asking questions” thing about the Holocaust. Imagine being unwilling to disavow a political party over Holocaust denialism—an act you understand to be horrific—because you think maybe the party leader’s extreme ideas about immigrants might somehow work. Really. Imagine being that.
There are a litany of reasons French people shouldn’t vote for Le Pen—and the polls indicate that most French voters understand this—and though I probably shouldn’t find what is essentially Douthat’s endorsement, I still do: how someone whom I’m sure believes he has a responsibility as an intellectual can be this irresponsible week after week is insane to the point where I’ve become convinced Douthat believes he is living in the Matrix: the world around him is ripe for manipulating, all its actors potential enemies, and even though it may appear at first that actions within that virtual world have no consequences because it is all a sham, he’s still ultimately fucking with people’s lives.