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Post-Conservative America

In response to:

Post-Conservative America from the May 13, 1982 issue

To the Editors:

In his article “Post-Conservative America.” Kevin Phillips mentions that he coined the term “sun belt.” Since he was kind enough to recommend reading The New Right Papers, of which I am editor, it seems fair to add here that Mr. Phillips also originated the title, “New Right.”

We of the New Right seem often to be portrayed as the kind of people who once outlawed liquor, and who would now ban books. We do not conform to that image, but, given the results of Prohibition, it might be better if we did. When one looks at the enormous increase in alcohol consumption caused by Prohibition, it is easy to imagine how the entire outlook of the television generation towards good books might be changed if the government banned them.

The time may come when, in a last desperate gamble, those of us who believe in an informed electorate will have to adopt this last desperate expedient: You ban my literature, and I’ll ban yours. Such a conspiracy would constitute a left-handed tribute to the American mentality. Our national characteristic is contrariness. To a Stalin or a Hitler, freedom is no more than the tendency of a people to act contrary to dictates which, in the despot’s opinion, are for their own good.

Robert W. Whitaker

Falls Church, Virginia

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