Literature Program

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Co-sponsored/co-presented by:
Talking Leaves and Prometheus Books

S. T. Joshi

The Angry Right: Why Conservatives Keep Getting It Wrong

Presented at:

Since 1968, Republicans have occupied the White House far longer than Democrats, have lately controlled both houses of Congress as well, and, by doing so, are reshaping the federal judiciary in their image for decades to come. In spite of these political triumphs, the right continues to depict itself as an embattled minority. If Republicans have won the battle at the voting booths, why is the right so angry?

As S. T. Joshi reveals in this incisive profile of twelve leading conservatives, the right's rage is fueled by a gnawing sense that conservatives long ago lost the hearts and minds of the American people. Since F.D.R., conservatives have unsuccessfully opposed (or attempted to reverse) legislative and judicial reforms that today are considered so mainstream as to be “conservative.” In effect, yesterday's liberalism is today's conservatism. Examining the writings of such conservative icons as Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley Jr., Phyllis Schlafly, and nine others, Joshi uncovers statements that most people today would consider not just radical but outrageous: In the 1950s, Russell Kirk opposed Social Security because he said it was “un-Christian.” In the same decade, William F. Buckley Jr. argued against the desegregation of public schools on the grounds that it would be an infringement of states' rights (an argument also used a century earlier to defend slavery). In the 1970s, Phyllis Schlafly declared that women's liberation is a “disease” and a “home wrecker.” Recognizing these positions as indefensible, conservative pundits have little recourse but to employ shrill invective that attempts to portray their opponents, rather than themselves, as the extremists. Joshi characterizes the aggrieved whining of conservatives as the last gasp of those who know their ideas will be consigned to the dustbin of history.

S. T. Joshi is a writer, literary critic, and the author or editor of many books, including God's Defenders: What They Believe and Why They Are Wrong; H.L. Mencken on Religion; In Her Place: A Documentary History of Prejudice Against Women; Atheism: A Reader; The Modern Weird Tale; and Documents of American Prejudice.

Some publications related to this event:
September, 2006 - 2006