Let me begin by saying that I have always liked Jack Hunter. I have only met Jack once at a Ron Paul event in Georgia, but I consider him a virtual friend. He is my Facebook friend. I was always especially fond of Jack because in addition to us both being Southern paleocons, we also shared a love of professional wrestling, especially of Ric Flair and the old NWA/Georgia Championship Wrestling on TBS era. We also shared a fondness for old school action movies. Jack, while a few years younger than me, reminded me a lot of myself. He was an intelligent guy who talked about Kirk, defended the South and seemed to really get it politically, but also couldn’t get beyond his Southern, blue collar tastes. The combination of someone who could talk intelligently about Kirk and Weaver one minute and then be a geeked out fanboy of Ric Flair and Sylvester Stallone the next was rare. Most people who can do either, can only do one or the other. Very few can do both. Hence I always felt a kinship and familiarity with Jack that exceeded our actual familiarity. While I don’t know if Jack felt the same way, I know he knew who I was and that he was familiar with this website.
I have been aware of Jack’s Southern Avenger persona since well before he revealed his identity. In fact, I recall going on an internet snooping session at one point to see if I could figure out who he really was. (To no avail.) The reason I was curious to figure out his true identity is because he seemed so well versed in paleospeak that I figured he might be someone I was (virtually) familiar with. We frequently posted his videos on this site. Contrary to Jack’s protests that he was young and naive, part of the reason that I liked his commentaries so much was because he was very articulate and often threw in references to Kirk and others that seemed intended to established his paleo bona fides. They struck me as winks of a sort. His way of saying “I’m one of you” without wearing it on his sleeve.
So it was with dread that I read his “Confessions of s Right-Wing Shock Jock” which appeared yesterday at Politico. I knew before reading it that he was going to prostrate himself before the gods of political correctness begging forgiveness and seeking to be accepted back into polite company, and he did, as I expected, just that. No worse than what I expected but no better.
I don’t now dislike Jack. I’m not going to disown him. I’m not going to call him names. I’m not going to un-friend him. In fact, when this “scandal” first broke, I counseled others against attacking Jack personally. Since I do consider Jack a virtual friend, to now attack him would be disloyal. It’s also unhelpful. I will say that I’m disappointed that this is the way Jack has responded to the “revelations,” which as someone noted (David Weigel maybe?) when this first broke, had always been hiding in plain sight.
When this came out, Jack had two options. He could do what he did and is doing which is backtrack and denounce his past. Or he could defend what he said vigorously. As I pointed out at the time, nothing he said, taken alone, was all that scandalous. Everything he said was common amoung paleos and in many cases mainstream conservatives. He could have appologized for some of the way he put things – suggesting that Lincoln and Hitler would have been best of friends is a bit provocative – without apologizing for the substance. He could have said he had become more libertarian over time, without casting aspersions on his old belief systems. His backtracking didn’t save his job them, and I’m not sure it will get him back into polite company now. What I do know is that he has hurt the cause he once (maybe still?) supports by accepting the framing of the enemy that what he said was scandalous. It was not. What the system needs is not another generic libertarian. What the system needs is smart articulate people like Jack who aren’t afraid to defend authentic conservatism against the PC mobs whether they be liberal “anti-racists” or Lincoln idolizing neocon thought policers.
I don’t doubt that Jack over time has become more libertarian. The simplicity and reductionism of libertarianism is seductive and has a way of drawing in people who are around it. And while I never got the impresion that Jack was hostile to religion, I did sense that he wasn’t personally very religious, so the slide into libertarianism was likely easier for him than it is for religious socons. Also, I don’t doubt that Jack has become over time more politically pragmatic. Playing the political game tends to do that to people. I had noticed this myself as Jack became somewhat of the designated spokesman for the Ron Paul campaign against conspiracy theorists and no-compromise libertarians. Now whether this was a job Jack was asked to do because it was felt he had credibly with the proponents of these issues or if this was a cause he took upon himself, I don’t know. It is possible that realizing his own past put him in jeopardy, Jack was trying to establish his reasonable bona fides, but this is just speculation.
That conceded, his handling of the racial and Southern issues in the article struck me as completely craven. Jack sort of walks back his support of secession as a principle for example. The passage where he addresses it is confusing. Jack is a good writer and there was no need for the passage to be confusing. I think the passage reflects his own ambivalence. I suspect he felt he needed to say something that he didn’t really want to say. Jack is schooled enough in Southern conservatism and Rockwell style libertarianism to know that secession is on firm intellectual and historical grounds.
His framing of racial and immigration issues as largely matters of sensitivity was pretty pathetic. As I pointed out at the time, the shock quote that was trotted out in the original hit pieces that was supposed to be so damning regarding race, wasn’t shocking unless you’re a lefty PC hysteric or an easily PC intimidated cowardly conservative. It wasn’t pro-white racialism. It was a standard color-blind conservative denunciation of the racial double standard. Jack’s yammering on and on about the need for conservative sensitivity on racial issues per se and Southern issues in general is profoundly harmful because it gives aid and comfort to the enemy. It accepts their framing of the debate. When a PC hysteric points and sputters because you denounced Cultural Marxist double standards, the way to respond is not, “Oh I’m so sorry. I’ll be more sensitive next time.” The way to respond is “You’re darn right I decried the Cultural Marxist racial double standard! What kind of conservative would I be if I didn’t? Do you defend it?”
My hunch is that Jack doesn’t believe his own crap here, and is just throwing himself on the mercy of the PC rightthink guardians. While he may believe that more care when discussing racial issues is prudent, in the same way he now embraces more pragmatic politics, I don’t think he really accepts that conservatives should abide by PC strictures with regard to language and policy lest they be guilty of wrongthink. Likewise I don’t think he really believes that defense of the South, secession, states rights etc. automatically means one is guilty of thoughtcrime. He’s too smart for that and too much a product of the roots that gave rise to the Southern Avenger.
So I am disappointed that Jack has chosen this route. I wish he had chosen the honorable route that Jason Richwine chose which was to vigorously defend himself because he knew he hadn’t done anything wrong. If Jack wants to remain a libertarian and a politcal pragmatist, I’m fine with that. I think that transformation is genuine. But accepting the framing of left-wing PC obsessives and neocon hit men is not OK. Hopefully Jack’s conscience and pride (the good kind) will set him back on the right path and one day he’ll write a mea culpa for his mea culpa. Maybe Jason Richwine can give him a call.