When William F. Buckley launched National Review, he announced as his goal the purging of the Right from its anti-semitic elements. Indeed, before 1955, the conservative movement was marred by those who called themselves anticommunists but were in reality fascist sympathizers such as radio priest Father Coughlin and Huey Long protege and member of the Silver Shirts (an American movement modeled on the Nazis) Gerald L.K Smith.
Buckley’s refusal to grant these elements a platform held fast until Joseph Sobran joined the magazine in 1972. Sobran, a former Shakespeare lecturer at Eastern Michigan University, would stay 21 years with the magazine, 18 as senior editor. He was able to more or less keep his controversial sentiments under wraps until 1993.
In a number of columns which Buckley would upbraid in his editorials in the magazine, Sobran attacked Israel as a “tiny, faraway, socialist ethnocracy,” and worse, “a treacherous and costly ‘ally’ of the United States”, whose support by America would eventually result in 9-11.
But Sobran was not content merely to bash Israel. He broadened his attacks to include all Jews in a passage eerily reminiscent of Coughlin and Smith, and even Hitler himself:
“In intellectual life, Jews have been brilliantly subversive of the cultures of the natives they have lived amongst. Their tendencies, especially in modern times, have been radical and nihilistic..History is replete with the lesson that a country in which the Jews get the upper hand is in danger. Such was the experience of Europe during Jewish-led Communist revolutions in Russia, Hungary, Romania, and Germany after World War I. Christians knew that Communism — often called “Jewish Bolshevism” — would bring awful persecution with the ultimate goal of the annihilation of Christianity.”
Sobran located the same nihilistic goal among American Jews:
“…the agenda of major Jewish groups is the de-Christianization of America, using a debased interpretation of the “living Constitution” as their instrument. When the Jewish side of an issue is too unpopular to prevail democratically, the legal arm of Jewry seeks to make the issue a “constitutional” one, appealing to judicial sovereignty to decide it in defiance of the voters. Overwhelming Jewish support for legal abortion illustrates that many Jews hate Christian morality more than they revere Jewish tradition itself.”
Perhaps inevitably, such accusations led him into suspicious qualifications of the Holocaust.
For example, he asserted that the “standard numbers of Jews murdered” was “inaccurate,” and that the “intent” of the Nazis was not “racial extermination.”
Say what you will about William F. Buckley, he was true to his goal of cleansing the Right of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. In addition to the above statements, Sobran sealed his fate with Buckley by suggesting that the New York Times change its name to Holocaust Update and appearing on panels with the fascist historian (and historian of fascism) David Irving as well as speaking before the Institute for Historical Review, the world’s largest Holocaust denial group. Buckley fired him in 1993.
Afterwards, Sobran wrote for Roman Catholic journals and what was known as “paleolithic” conservative, isolationist journals such as Chronicles. But such was his allegiance to the Institute for Historical Review, that he blew an offer for him to write for Pat Buchanan’s ( a friend who called Sobran “the greatest columnist of our generation) The American Conservative. His refusal to cancel an appearance before that group made editor Scott McConnell withdraw the offer.
Until his death in 2010, Sobran continued his associations. But to the credit of today’s conservative movement–save for Buchanan and Ann Coulter, (who called him “the G.K Chesterton of his time”)–he is denounced as at best, an anti-Semite; at worst, a fascist.