When I was growing up, one of the greatest joys while reading the newspaper or magazine was to see something by Joseph Sobran. In a world full of predictable crassness, his writing abounded with subtlety, literature, and more. As I came to adulthood, I became acquainted with others--George Will, Walter Williams, and so on--and in the mid-1990s, I lost touch with his work.
I found out somewhat later that there was a reason I'd lost touch with Sobran's work; after the first Iraq war, Sobran had started to make an animus against Israel's foreign policy a key part of his work, leading to his firing from National Review and the end of his newspaper columns. Themes perfectly acceptable at the United Nations were, of course, not acceptable to William F. Buckley and others. (this is of course a good thing--at least for National Review, but of course not for the UN)
Sobran chose to self publish, went on to add the theme that Jews were overrepresented in various movements he deemed subversive, and even appeared at Holocaust denial conferences. So what do we make of the last 17 years of his life? Was he simply a more erudite Mahmoud Ahmadinijab?
I'm not convinced he was; rather, I believe that he fell into the trap of failing to test his own hypotheses. Ironically, this was one of the things I loved about him at the beginning; he forced you to think. However, in the case of his writings about Israel and Jews, he largely lost this focus.
A great example is the "sinister" note he gave (linked in the link above) about Jews being overrepresented in various movements he considered subversive; the clear inference is that there is some kind of plot going on. Now is that the case?
Well, let's introduce a more general hypothesis; literate people who know they may periodically be chased from their homes by Cossacks will tend to choose jobs where you don't need to have a lot of capital. That is, of course, exactly what we see; this people has wisely chosen professions not requiring a lot of capital like law, education, medicine, and yes, politics--the last being also a nice way to see what can be done about reducing the funding for training Cossacks.
So is it the threat that one might infer from Sobran's work, or is it about as surprising as finding a fishing rod in a Minnesota home? We ought to infer that a wonderful way to honor Sobran's life is........to remember what he initially brought to the table, and live for that. Rest in peace, Joe.
Proud grandfather... - Our daughter-in-law, Heidi Bayly, took this pic of the grandchildren at Taylor and Réze's wedding a couple weeks ago. Twelve now, with three more on the ...
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