Trende and other suggest that it is very bad form to stigmatize certain thinkers on the right. But shouldn’t there be a stigma attached to those” who traffic in white nationalism? Or who write for publications that promote it? Or who use their platforms to offer excuses for the president’s character? Or who peddle conspiracy theories and hoaxes?
Is conservatism really better off without a vigorous effort to maintain its intellectual hygiene in a time of rampant toxic swampiness? What is the endgame of ceding the debate to the grifters and trolls? (Trick question. The answer is CPAC.)
It is also worth remembering here that William F. Buckley Jr. founded National Review, not merely to combat what he saw as the dominant leftism of his era, but to combat what he called “the parasitic cant that defaces” conservatism “and repels so many of those who approach it inquiringly.” Not only did he famously ex-communicate the Birchers and fellow cranks, but launched withering attacks against other Republicans who were taking the party in the wrong direction. In 1965, he mounted a third-party campaign for New York mayor against GOP establishment darling John Lindsay. His criticism of Richard Nixon was sustained and deadly.