over the last few years, i've gained a strange mix of respect and revulsion for patrick j. buchanan (former senior adviser to three u.s. presidents, currently an author and political commentator on msnbc). as a libertarian with some older-style conservative sympathies, i have appreciated his desire for a humble, non-interventionist foreign policy and his sharp critique of george w. bush and his neo-conservative advisers. i've even become a regular reader (mostly via rss). at times, i find him surprisingly insightful and almost erudite; at other times, he seems narrow-minded and disturbingly xenophobic. his recent article "this is the way our world ends" illustrates why (find the article here).
he starts by quoting t.s. elliot's "the hollow men," setting the poem in its historical context and examining a couple of contrasting academic interpretations of it. this is not your average fare as far as contemporary political commentary goes, and it's refreshing to have an author trust the intelligence of his readers.
he then devolves into a lament about the demise of the "caucasian race" -- an interesting, if curious, demographic analysis. what is painful here is not that he thinks to analyze these trends (though some might object to that), but rather his near-identification of western civilization and the american way with white people. even the title of the article -- "this is the way our world ends" -- implies that it wasn't written with someone like me (or most of my extended family, for that matter) in mind. i especially found the following statement revealing: "sixty-two percent of americans told pew we should do more to protect our way of life." i might even be tempted to agree with that, but from what i infer from the rest of the article, asian, black, latino, and other non-white americans aren't part of the 'us' he's addressing.
do you consider that 'racist?' just to be completely clear, i don't believe that buchanan is a white supremacist or a bigot who hates non-white people. he might even say (truthfully, i'm guessing) that some of his best friends are not white. i doubt that he would excuse or try to justify violence by whites against non-whites.
but what else do you call someone who consistently argues for the hegemony of western culture, which he conflates with being white and american? he does it with a better-than-average grasp of history, great literature, and sociological realities, which i appreciate, but that he does it is both thought-provoking and disturbing to me. take a look at his "a brief for whitey" if you want more grist for the mill.
for an interesting contrast, read fareed zakaria's "the rise of the rest" in this week's newsweek magazine (you can read it here).