Daniel McCarthy

Brains for Trump

A wide range of conservative thinkers are backing the Donald – and only a narrow group is opposing him

Last week more than 130 right-wing thinkers put their names to a defiant document — a list of ‘Scholars and Writers for America’ in support of Donald Trump. It includes the editors of five of the country’s leading conservative journals of ideas: R.R. Reno of the Christian conservative First Things; Roger Kimball of the New Criterion, the right’s leading journal of the arts; Charles Kesler of the Claremont Review of Books; the American Spectator’s R. Emmett Tyrrell; and me, the editor of the American Conservative. (Notably lacking are names from America’s oldest conservative magazine, National Review, which has been as hostile to Trump as the columnists of the New York Times and Washington Post. NR, representing what now seems like the establishment wing of the right, published a ludicrously ineffective cover story in February demanding that Republicans not nominate Trump.)

The list of scholars and writers for Trump includes high-profile thinkers who have also succeeded in business and politics — such as Peter Thiel, Conrad Black and Newt Gingrich — as well as academics who are at the top of their fields, such as the philosophers Scott Soames, Robert Koons, Daniel N. Robinson and Daniel Bonevac. Predictably, the list elicited outraged and snarky social-network comments suggesting comparisons with a few other philosophers, notably the Nazis Martin Heidegger and Carl Schmitt. As a Twitter or Facebook remark, that may be merely in bad taste, but in the hard-left climate of opinion on many American -university campuses, it could be taken seriously. The risks that conservative scholars take in openly supporting Trump are real. Before the release of the list, there was much debate among its signatories about whether to include a statement about scholars who wanted to sign but feared for their careers.

The list was the brainchild of F.H.

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