Wednesday, July 28, 2021


A dozen years ago, Christopher Caldwell got respectful attention while endorsing what was essentially a European Great Replacement Theory. Dwight Garner of The New York Times summed up some of the assertions in Caldwell's 2009 book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West.
Through decades of mass immigration to Europe's hospitable cities and because of a strong disinclination to assimilate, Muslims are changing the face of Europe, perhaps decisively. These Muslim immigrants are not so much enhancing European culture as they are supplanting it. The products of an adversarial culture, these immigrants and their religion, Islam, are "patiently conquering Europe's cities, street by street."
Garner was not appalled by this. He wrote:
Mr. Caldwell, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard and a columnist for The Financial Times, compiles his arguments patiently, twig by twig, and mostly with lucidity and intellectual grace and even wit....

Mr. Caldwell's book is well researched, fervently argued and morally serious.
Today, an op-ed by Caldwell appears in the Times, where he's a contributing opinion writer. In it, we're told that it was no big deal for the January 6 insurrectionists to assault the Capitol in the hope of overturning the results of a democratic election, because, heck, it's not as if they were going to succeed or anything.

Caldwell writes:
Were we really that close to a coup? ...

On the one hand, it is hard to think of a more serious assault on democracy than a violent entry into a nation’s capitol to reverse the election of its chief executive. Five people died. Chanting protesters urged the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence, who had refused Mr. Trump’s call that he reject certain electoral votes cast for Joe Biden.

On the other hand, Jan. 6 was something familiar: a political protest that got out of control. Contesting the fairness of an election, rightly or wrongly, is not absurd grounds for a public assembly. For a newly defeated president to call an election a “steal” is certainly irresponsible. But for a group of citizens to use the term was merely hyperbolic, perhaps no more so than calling suboptimal employment and health laws a “war on women.” ...

The stability of the republic never truly seemed at risk. As Michael Wolff writes of Mr. Trump in his new book, “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency,” “Beyond his immediate desires and pronouncements, there was no ability — or structure, or chain of command, or procedures, or expertise, or actual person to call — to make anything happen.”
So the vice president and speaker of the House might have been assassinated -- Caldwell concedes that we got our hair mussed! But that's not like real insurrection!

Besides, the folks with the gallows had a point, according to Caldwell:
Republicans had — and still have — legitimate grievances about how the last election was run. Pandemic conditions produced an electoral system more favorable to Democrats. Without the Covid-era advantage of expanded mail-in voting, Democrats might well have lost more elections at every level, including the presidential.
The changes made in response to the pandemic were available to everybody; they were advantageous to Democrats only because Republicans didn't care about the risks of congregating in a pandemic. If Republicans had taken advantage of expanded mail-in voting, or if they had offered drive-through balloting in red precincts, no Democrat would have objected. More voting is good! One party believes that; the other doesn't.
Nor was it just luck; it was an advantage that, in certain places, Democrats manipulated the system to obtain. The majority-Democratic Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled in favor of a Democratic Party lawsuit to extend the date for accepting mail-in ballots beyond Election Day.
Yup, and the majority-Republican U.S. Supreme Court rejected all challenges to the extension of that deadline.

A dozen years ago, Caldwell wrote a "morally serious" book in which he made arguments about immigration in Europe that Tucker Carlson currently makes about immigration in America. Now Caldwell argues that the 2020 pre3sidential election kinda-sorta was rigged. And yet he's still regarded as respectable.

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