Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The legacy of the great Williami F. Buckley Jr.

I learned yesterday afternoon that the so called "father of the conservative movement" had passed away at his home.

After I purchased my first computer in 2001 and gained my first access to the Internet, I saw this advertisement that said, "Free subscription to National Review. Click here." So I did and never thought anything else of it.

To be honest, I had no clue what I was doing; like I said, I was new to the Internet. And, to be honest, I didn't even know it was a conservative magazine.

So when I received the first magazine, and found that the writings in it were way over my head, I pitched it, and I did the same for the next four or five magazines that were sent to my home.

Then one day, probably after I received the bill because I had no clue the "free" part of the subscription was the first two or three magazines, I was really slow at work and needed some reading material. Since I had forgotten to bring my book to work, opted to check out the "National Review" magazine.

I remember the issue to a tee because it was the first issue following the 9-11 attacks. The articles that caught my attention were the ones describing the attacks and who was reportedly responsible: Osama and the radical Islamists.

The writings in this magazine were very in depth, deeper than any readings I had ever read to that point in my busy life, and I found quickly that I loved it. It wasn't so much the conservatism that I loved, but the knowledge I obtained about politics in general, about the world, about history, about people.

What is a paleoconservative? I had never heard of that term before I started reading this magazine. I knew what conservative was, but had no idea there were different types of conservatives.

I had no idea there were liberal republicans and moderate republicans and conservative republicans and libertarian republicans and then paleo conservative republicans and neo conservative republicans and so on and so on, until I started reading this magazine.

The magazine did not brainwash, I'll have you know, because I had already realized that I did not agree with much of what I read in the media. In fact, my college buddies used to tell me that my arguments were wrong because, "that's not what it says in the Detroit Free Press."

That was their proof that I was wrong: the media said otherwise. Since I had no other access to information to prove them wrong, I simply avoided political discussions with them. They were both from Detroit by the way, if that matters. It seems a lot of liberals in Michigan come from the Detroit area, if not most of them.

I didn't realize this when I was in college debating with my friends, but I was beginning to open my mind and observing the "whole picture" rather than just believing things "just because" they were in the media. I was learning, as my parents and grandparents taught me, to "think for yourself."

And when I discovered Rush Limbaugh accidentally after I became bored while traveling to Detroit one day on a business trip, and later when I discovered who William F. Buckley was and what his magazine represented, and later yet when I discovered an array of knowledge on the Internet, I had access to all the news, and not just the media's version of it.

And for that I have to thank Mr. Buckley. Because of the movement he started, people, like me, don't just look at the news verbatim, they take the whole picture in perspective. And that is what I think my parents meant when they preached "think for yourself."

Never in my growing up years did my dad once ever tell me what his political stance was on anything. Everything I learned from him I learned from him was via his disciplinary techniques, his example, and his short and pithy lectures about being frugal with your money, responsible for your own life, responsible for your own actions, and stuff like that.

It was only when I was an adult that I found out he was a conservative. Now, whether he is a paleoconservative or neocon I have no idea. I'd almost tend to think he's paleo, but I may never know. I probably will never ask him. Heck, he probably has no clue what those are. Then again, even though he keeps his opinions to himself, he might impress me with his knowledge.

I imagine by their actions that my dad's parents were relatively conservative, but I would bet my house my mom's parents were democrats to the core, as was my mom until I started discussing politics with her when I was still living at home during the summers when I was in college.

My point here is that I was not brainwashed. While I spent a couple years reading National Review, I still read the newspaper as often as I could, and still tried to keep in perspective the opinions of all Americans, just because I think it's not good to get all your news from one source, as it appeared my college buddies did.

Even after I read NR for over a year, I still lagged on reading Mr. Buckley's columns, more so because his vocabulary was way, way over my head. So, because of him, and because of some of the readings I was now enjoying in my adult life with tons of vocabulary words that I was supposed to learn in school but didn't, I pulled out my old vocabulary books and started studying.

It made me smarter. It gave me greater joy in reading magazines like NR in that I now didn't have to skip over big words I didn't understand, and a greater overall understanding of all the wonderful material in Mr. Buckley's magazine.

Who knows where I would be if not for Mr. Buckley. I would probably still be looking for materials to prove to my friends that I am not alone in my thinking that what's in the media is not all the news. We may not have Rush, and we may not have Fox News and we may never have had Reagan.

Yet, the greatest achievement of Mr. Buckley's life, as far as I'm concerned, is not the conservative movement. It doesn't matter your political stance, what matters is that you look at the whole picture, and not just the information presented before you. You need to use your common sense, and think for yourself.

For that, Mr. Buckley, we thank you. RIP.


Mike said...

I agree that it's important to get one's news from several different sources, and to form one's own opinions about world events.

However, I'd like to note that Rush Limbaugh, William F. Buckley and National Review are the media, so when you say don't just buy what the media tells you, make sure you aim your skepticism at them, as well.

Freadom said...

They are the new media. They represent the side of the news the old media does not report. That's one of the reasons so many people flock to Rush.