Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 1. 1967.
Buckley Stuns Congress — Conservative
Buckley Stuns Congress
A Detente with Communism, government-sponsored integration programmes, and the concept of the welfare state emerged as chief targets for the invective of William F. Buckley.
He impressed as a man of prejudice, who nevertheless had the ability to rationalise with wit and sophistication.
He was a master of the assertive irrelevant answer. One of his favourite non-answers was to cite a known liberal whose opinion happened to concur with his on an isolated issue. And when he abandoned logic, he carried on with massive confidence in his own unsupported judgment.
Buckley rejected the suggestion that the United States could find some accord with the Soviet Union if hostilities ceased in Vietnam. He said that his country and Russia "have no common purpose. We are at loggerheads. It is because their form of government wishes to imperialise."
At the beginning of February, Buckley spent nineteen hours at the Curious Cove student congress.
He is a millionaire, leading United States conservative spokesman, editor of "National Review," and was candidate in the 1965 New York mayoral elections.
NZSPA vice-president Mike King gives some impressions.
Asked if his view of Russian foreign policy was not similar to the Russian view of United States foreign policy, he cogently argued: "They are wrong, I am right."
The United States presence in Vietnam is justified. Buc-ley believes, by Treaty obligation, and protection of national interest. When asked to specify what he considered United States interest to be in Vietnam, he replied: "Containment." A further question was put: "Containment of what?" Buckley replied per-tinantly: "The genesis of the policy began in 1947."
Many questions were put to Buckley about the United State's racial problems. He made it clear at the beginning of his answers that he did not believe the Supreme Court's 1954 ruling on segregated schools implied that the government had the authority to desegregate.
He regarded the introduction of negroes into a European institution as a violation of the white man's right to enjoy amenities of his own specification.
Favouring negro advance through separate self-development, Buckley criticised American negroes for a failure to raise their own standard of living. He observed that between 1900 and 1966 the number of negro doctors had risen by only 2 per cent. He then stated that most American medical schools are prepared to give free tuition to a negro student, "with suita-able qualifications."
He did not elaborate on how an appreciable number were to obtain their "suitable qualifications." and he im-plied that the fact so many: had not done so was culpable.
The chief cause of discontent and unemployment in Harlem is, Buckley believes, the instability or absence of marital bonds. This phenomenon was not described in social terms, but as a negro-erected barrier to negro development.
The welfare state is condemned by Buckley on the ground that no government should legislate charity on behalf of its citizens. He believes each individual has the right to grant or withhold his contribution to welfare aid, and the right to determine its nature and degree.
He maintained that the United States had looked after its underprivileged morel humanely at an individual level before the beginnings of welfare legislation.
Asked about the Republican Party's nomination for the presidency in 1968. Buckley said that he favoured all Ronald Reagan's proposals but did not consider him a "viable" candidate.
He named Richard Nixon as his first choice for the nomination, referring to him firstly as "the rightwardmost candidate," then subsequently as "a centrist." Romney he regards as a candidate from the left wing of the party, and Reagan and Goldwater as leaders of the right. He favoured Charles Percy as second choice, though his position "has not yet congealed."
As a conservative, William Buckley preaches the supremacy of individual rights. But he defends the rights of the privileged individual: including the right to exercise public racial discrimination, and the right to accumulate wealth without government intrusion to remove a surplus for assistance to the poverty-striken.
William F. Buckley looks like the quiet American, but talks like an ugly one.