Is Patrick Buchanan Right?

I was nearing the close of Pat Buchanan’s new book Suicide of a Superpower (St. Martin’s Press) when I read that MSNBC had fired him as a political commentator for expressing views offensive to political correctness as practiced at that left-leaning network. (“Left-leaning” as applied to MSNBC comes from the Los Angeles Times, which is well situated to know a left-leaning news operation when it sees one.)

The conservative Buchanan cited Suicide of a Superpower as the occasion for his heave-ho by MSNBC. If this book actually did do him in, I can’t say I’m entirely surprised. It’s hard to imagine anybody agreeing with everything it says, and many will come away from it hopping mad. But matter for firing? Only in a setting where thinking unpopular thoughts is not allowed.

Buchanan is blunt on topics where others tread lightly or not at all. But bluntness is the only honest approach to his central theme: America’s ideologically-driven craze for diversity has gotten out of hand and is well on its way to doing us in. (In a book I haven’t read, Coming Apart, Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute makes a similar argument but, unlike Buchanan, deliberately omits race and immigration from his analysis.)

“Racially, culturally, ethnically, politically,Americais disintegrating,” Buchanan writes. Ever since the cultural revolution of the 1960s, Americans have been losing their shared sense of identity as a nation. “Out of one we have become many,” he says.

In tackling tough issues like race, immigration, and the wisdom of continuing international commitments left over from cold war days, Suicide of a Superpower says plenty to raise hackles. Even more annoying, the author bolsters what he says with facts and coherent arguments. That includes making the case that unchecked immigration presents a grave national problem whose ducking by Congress and the White House reflects the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of political Washington.

But has he got the story straight about Hispanics? Recently-arrived Latinos may be at the same early stage of assimilation that groups like the Irish, the Jews, and the Italians occupied a long time ago. Entry into an alien culture is bound to be a bumpy road—for the Spanish-speakers as it was for them. Give the Latinos time. The results could turn out more happily than Buchanan imagines.

The author, a Catholic, devotes a chapter to the Church, saying no institution in America has been more “ravaged” than it by cultural changes of the last half-century. Now, he says, Catholicism in the United States must “necessarily [be] an adversary culture” in order to survive. The assimilation of American Catholics has already gone disastrously far. Much farther, and American Catholicism will be finished as a viable cultural force.

That, however, underlines another problem—in the real world and also in this book.

Buchanan seeks a solution to disruptive diversity in the seamless assimilation of diverse groups into a unitary American culture. In other words: bring back the melting pot. Yet, as he’s well aware, American secular culture in its contemporary manifestation is far from being the basically healthy thing that it was back in melting pot days. On the contrary,  it’s degraded and destructive, as a few hours spent watching television or reading The New York Times should persuade any sensible person.

What to do? Diversity or assimilation? Or some yet-to-be discovered third way that combines elements of counter-culturalism and new evangelization? That’s worth another book. Maybe, without MSNBC on his hands, Buchanan will have time to write it.

Russell Shaw


Russell Shaw is a freelance writer from Washington, D.C. You can email him at

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  • Apilgrimsoldier

    Terrific idea…combining elements of counter-culturalism and new evangelization is a challenge.   I hope Mr. Buchanan will consider just what you have suggested.  Wonderful young people are active in other endeavors that help society. Why not? 

  • edmund burk

    I don’t follow Pat Buchanan anymore since he made some wacky comments about Isreal. But it’s not just Isreal that bothers me, I’m beginning to doubt Buchanans conservative credenials. He calls himself a palo-conservative and I don’t know what a palo-conservative is, but given Buchanans past comments he’s deffently
    not a mainstream consevative.

  • Florin S.

    Things are getting out of hand.  COMCAST is presenting more and more shows to foster homosexulaity, to present it as natural…unfortunately, there are areas where only Comcast is available…but word is getting out about Comcast’s anti-family agenda and people are trying to get other cable providers into their neighborhoods. Some Comcast officers actually campaign for Obama I’ve been told…people need to be informed before it’s too late.

  • chaco

    I might be a “Pie in the Sky ” kinda’ guy, but I like to compare Russia’s failure to establish communism to Relativism’s losing it’s momentum. In our young, I think there is an obvious hunger for something more satisfying than the unbridled freedom started in the 60s when birth control came on the scene . The liberal’s social agenda requires the power of law in order to be adopted at all. Forcing an agenda can last only so long. I’m holding on to the perspective that “The New Evangelization” & “The New Springtime” will cause Relativism to fall, perhaps as suddenly as the Berlin Wall fell. I hold that polls showing a majority of citizens being against abortion is one sign of such a future. 

  • Cgjewett

    I have not read Buchanan’s book, but I have listened to him being interviewed over the years and think that I have a fairly good sense of where he is coming from. I concur with him that we have as a country gone from a melting pot to a mixed salad. The first meaning that new immigrants came here and wanted to join with others, the second meaning new immigrants came here and formed their own inclusive communities, keeping their culture, and excluding the existing one. In a way I can see why. Current culture is far from being uplifting. Just turn on your television. The only way I think it will work out is that we need to return to a culture who values God. In our daily lives, in our interactions with whomever we meet, be it a neighbor, a customer, a family member, a fellow parishioner, a prelate, a boss, a employee. I think it is possible. I think it will be very difficult, but difficulty is not a excuse.
    Peace and God Bless,

  • noelfitz

    I read here that Pat Buchanan wrote “Racially, culturally, ethnically, politically, America is disintegrating,”

    Sorry, but I disagree fundamentally with Mr Buchanan.

    The US was anti-Catholic and is now amongst the most Catholic Countries on earth.

    In the 18th century there were less than 1% Catholics in the US, now
    there is over 25%, and they play an important part in the life of the

    Al Smith prior to John F. Kennedy, was the only serious Catholic
    candidate for President and he was defeated by anti-Catholic bigotry.

    When I was in the States years ago a friend told me she worked in a
    Boston bank and overheard the remark that Catholics were not to be
    allowed in the bank vault, as they were untrustworthy. Where I worked,
    in Pennsylvania a young man from Alabama fell for an Italian-American
    Catholic and his parents were appalled. Again indicating
    anti-Catholicism in the past in the US.

    Now the Catholic Santorum was the preferred candidate for many Southern Evangelicals.

    Web sites such as CL provide leadership in Catholic thought.

    Two thirds of the members of the Supreme Court are Catholics, the rest are Jews and none are Protestant.

    25% of Senators are Catholic and a higher percentage are in the House
    of Representatives. The VP is a Catholic. Prominent Catholics in Public
    Life include Pelosi, Biden, Giuliani and Kerry. gives a list of prominent Catholics. I do not think any of us is in a position to judge others.

    Cardinal William Levada, as Prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith, is one of the most influential Catholics alive.

    The Papal Nuncio sent by Pope Benedict to sort out the problems in the Irish Catholic Church is the American Charles Brown.

    Recently the Pope sent a team, led by the American Cardinal Timothy
    Dolan, to examine the Irish Catholic Church and some of its
    recommendations have been implemented, which will help revitalize the
    Catholic Church in Ireland and shows the important role Americans play
    in the Universal Church.

    So to claim America is disintegrating is false.