Joseph Sobran is Dead

by Benjamin Domenech on 7:17 pm September 30, 2010


Government is far too big. But that’s not to say that it has much control. It makes a million laws and can’t enforce most of them. So many laws, so little order.

Joseph Sobran has died. Sobran was a figure of some note in the conservative movement, and later the paleoconservative one — a key member of National Review’s founding era, Sobran was later driven from the magazine’s pages by William F. Buckley Jr. in the early Nineties. Sobran was accused of anti-Semitism by several, most notably Norman Podhoretz. It was an accusation that was certainly borne out by his later writings, and by his association with the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review.

The firing was a severe blow to a man who’d invested twenty-one years of his life in a publication and was shown the door in middle age. It’s clear that Sobran never truly recovered, though he did reconcile with WFB before the latter’s death.

I met Sobran at a dinner more than a decade ago, where he expounded on his pet Oxfordian theories. He still had that hollowed-out look of someone full of regret.

Yet it’s conservatives who should be regretful. Sobran’s early work has much to recommend it — he is at times supremely eloquent, with a fierce logic behind his words. Read his Single Issues: Essays on the Crucial Social Questions, published in 1983, and you can see why Buckley liked the man. But at some point, Sobran lost his mental footing: the darkness came, and he descended rapidly into the paranoia of glowering anti-Semitism.

I am sad about Joe Sobran. He was a brilliant fellow in some respects, but he lost himself to darker things. So, in much the same way I will be sad when Pat Buchanan inevitably passes, and Peter Brimelow, and yes, Andrew Sullivan — I am sad tonight for what this man could have been, and what he instead chose to be.

Follow me to freedom.

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