In Defense of Those Who Dare to Yell Stop

William F. Buckley Jr. on Firing Line, April 22, 1980 (via YouTube)
To stand athwart history is not merely to defend the status quo; it entails discarding its most injurious elements without jettisoning history’s timeless lessons.


years ago, an upstart public intellectual founded this publication with a rallying cry. National Review, William F. Buckley wrote in 1955, “stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.” This was, and still is, a noble calling, especially at a time when so few are willing to stand athwart an ascendant progressivism that seems intent on erasing all social mores and extinguishing our nation’s rich cultural heritage and dynamism.

But Buckley’s conception of conservatism was far from the caricature described by

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