The Ornery Observer
                     November 6, 2007

By Paul Gottfried

     As an adolescent attending middle school, I was 
familiar with two types of bullies. Seeing that I had the 
misfortune of being both fat and short at the time, this 
knowledge came in handy. The first type of bully towered 
over his victim, and unless you immediately surrendered 
your candy or change, he would not hesitate to push you 
around. Occasionally in this Hobbesian world, another 
gigantic bully would come along and beat up your 
oppressor, but then instead of ending the extortions, the 
victorious tough would proceed to shake down those who 
had already been exploited. It was truly an example of 
the circularity of history that the ancient Greeks wrote 

     But there was also a second type of bully, whom my 
friend Taki mocks to perfection. It was the puny, 
insecure kid who tried to act tough as long as his bigger 
buds, who were usually in hearing range, could rush to 
his aid. All that the bluffer had to do for protection 
would be to shout for the big bruisers to rescue him. 
Once the incident was dealt with, the faux bully would be 
able to go back to "talking big."

     For those who might not have guessed, I consider the 
neoconservatives, and particularly their minicon 
offspring and hangers-on, to exemplify the second type of 
bully. By themselves they are quite ineffective and, like 
the upstart editors of NATIONAL REVIEW, they are 
something less than genuinely tough guys. What allows 
them to push around dissenters on the American Right is 
that they have useful "connections." Among their helpers 
are the stooges who go after anyone who presumes to 
question the present "moderate" leadership of the 

     More important, the neocons have friends in the 
establishment liberal press who have no desire to see 
political debate drift toward the right. They therefore 
help the neocons to marginalize their right-wing critics 
by trashing them as "anti-Semites" and extremists. It is 
surely a plus to have stiffs like Rush Limbaugh, who 
insist that those who use the term "neoconservative" in a 
noncomplimentary way or who are small-government critics 
of the invasion of Iraq are really baiting Jews.

     One also learns from reading this month's British 
NEW STATESMAN that Republican presidential candidate Ron 
Paul was engaging in an anti-Jewish outburst when he 
asserted that the "neoconservatives wanted this war." And 
I won't even go into the diatribe against the late 
Russell Kirk done by Alan Wolfe in THE NEW REPUBLIC in 
June, since I responded to this rant at some length on 
another website. But it would not be overspeculative to 
assume that Wolf's invective might have been published as 
a way of punishing those reactionary "anti-Semites," who, 
like Kirk, had not always treated THE NEW REPUBLIC's 
preferred opposition with appropriate respect.

     At one time, back in the 1980s and 1990s, the mock 
bullies were allowed to get away with their intimidation; 
and I noticed how effectively they blackened the 
reputations of Mel Bradford, Joe Sobran, and Sam Francis. 
What has happened since then, however, is that the 
bullies have gone from being feared to being despised, 
and the result has been to change the rules of 
engagement. Before that juncture those whom the neocons 
disgraced, such as the hapless Professor Bradford, 
withdrew from the battle or else, like my departed, very 
close friend Sam, struggled on with diminished resources.

     Perhaps the fact that Pat Buchanan did not cave in 
before the onslaughts of his neoconservative-liberal 
enemies somehow affected the way the war would take shape 
afterward. What Pat called the "branding iron of anti-
Semitism" no longer necessarily achieved its effect by 
reducing its victim to a cowed or thoroughly ruined 
object of obloquy. Of course, Pat also had his own big 
guns to pull out in that struggle, but the important 
thing is that he gave even better than he got and is 
still an author and TV personality with a huge following.      

     Now the neocons themselves are being turned into 
punching bags, whether or not they publicly acknowledge 
what is going on. They are being knocked from pillar to 
post on websites that attract millions of readers; all 
they do in response, save for an occasional, soporific 
reference to "anti-Semites," is try to ignore their 
attackers, while making sure they have closed all their 
resources to their critics on the right.

     But these responses are no longer adequate. The 
attacks continue to come. Personally I hope the 
devastation never stops until we have humiliated the 
cowardly bullies, who have marginalized so many of us 
professionally. Special rules of engagement exist for 
such a struggle, in which one finds oneself dealing with 
a less-than-honorable adversary. These are the rules that 
applied when a phony bully at our school, perhaps someone 
who looked like David Frum, was no longer seen as 
invulnerable. We would be happy to rumble with their 
lefty protectors, once we have finished with the 
blowhards on the playground.


Read this column on-line at 

Copyright (c) 2007 by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation,
All rights reserved.

Paul Gottfried, Ph.D., is Raffensperger professor of 
Humanities at Elizabethtown College (PA) and a Guggenheim 
recipient. He is an adjunct scholar of the Mises 
Institute and the author of numerous articles and eight 
THE AMERICAN RIGHT (Palgrave-Macmillan, July 2007), THE 
MILLENNIUM (University of Missouri Press, 2005), 
SECULAR THEOCRACY (University of Missouri Press, 2002), 
STATE (Princeton University Press, 1999).

Contact the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation at to obtain permission to reprint this