Maybe this accounts for Cockburn’s status, more so in his later years, as the Pat Buchanan of the Left — the guy who’d show up in ostensibly rival publications as the house whackjob. He began this trend in the 1980s at the Wall Street Journal and, at least toward the end of his career, had sufficiently warmed up to the paleocons to be published in The American Conservative and Chronicles. (He also had currency among certain “libertarians.”) His more heterodox positions included being critical of climate alarmism, defending gun rights, and expressing, albeit with relative timidity, skepticism toward abortion. In light of this, many on the right might feel the urge to embrace Cockburn as a kind of oddity from the curiosity shop. John Fund of National Review, for instance, suggests that Cockburn “was getting more and more things ‘right’” as he aged.
It’s true that some of his work is entertaining and well done: his evisceration of 9/11 conspiracy theorists is fare that everyone can enjoy. But Cockburn was no Christopher Hitchens. Whatever positions he shared with genuine lovers of freedom were purely accidental; he remained opposed to everything the United States stands for and ever stood for. In his four decades of living here he never once uttered or wrote a word of appreciation for this country, or at least not one word that could be noticed beyond its 30-second half-life, buried deep in a column somewhere that no one will ever read again. To the far left, this lack of appreciation is a virtue; it is also why they must continue to invent reasons why their ideology is not accepted by most Americans.
I never met Cockburn. Hell, maybe I would have liked to. He seemed like an affable enough bloke in person. I’m not glad he’s dead, and I admire how stoically he fought cancer. But he ought not to be excused for his beliefs. Too many radicals get a pass when they die; they become martyred on the obit pages as freedom fighters for the very people they did the most to keep tortured in their cells. I have noticed — again, not surprisingly — that liberals, whom Cockburn castigated even more than conservatives, have reserved their harshest words for his views on climate change rather than his Stalinist tendencies. It’s about time we start spitting on some graves, don’t you think? To put it more simply, Cockburn was an a**hole, knew he was an a**hole, enjoyed being an a**hole, came from a long line of a**holes, and left this world the same way he entered: at the fringes of humanity.
Illustration courtesy shutterstock / snake3d
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