Conservatism as a Family Affair


Jonas Savimbi: A Black African worthy of Peter Worthington's respect.

Over at Vanity Fair, James Wolcott is puzzled by the presence of Peter Worthington at the Frumforum site. Wolcott quotes a Worthington column on the World Cup which includes this observation, “And as a reflection of African ethnicity, well, maybe the vuvuzelas are the apex of cultural achievement.” Wolcott rightly describes Worthington’s column as a “moldy crumb of racial condescension” and doubts that it “will make FrumForum a lot of friends in the African community.”
As a cultural commenter Wolcott is dauntingly erudite. He can write with informed verve about everything ranging from the film noir classics of the 1940s to the novels of Norman Mailer to the peculiar humour of Benny Hill. But even Wolcott can’t be expected to understand the genealogy of Canadian conservative journalists.


Peter Worthington is the father-in-law of David Frum. Worthington is married to Yvonne Crittenden (herself a conservative writer); Worthington’s step-daughter is Danielle Crittenden, also known as Mrs. David Frum. Frum’s sister Linda was also a conservative journalist before being elevated to the Canadian Senate by Frum family friends in the Conservatve government.

As with the Kristol clan and the Podhoretz people and the Kagan coterie, the conservatism of the Worthington/Crittenden/Frum family is very much a matter of keeping things close to home.

Worthington’s “racial condescension” is best appreciated by remembering that he was an ardent supporter of the apartheid regime in South Africa. So his snorting over the vuvuzela is perhaps his way of mourning the passing of the Boer Republic. To be sure, Worthington isn’t dismissive of all dark-skinned Africans. In the 1980s, Worthington wrote many articles for the Toronto Sun and the National Review celebrating Jonas Savimbi, the erstwhile Maoist guerrilla leader who killed many Angolans. Worthington’s support of Savimbi was perhaps not unconnected with the fact that the Angolan mass murderer was being backed by both Washington and Pretoria. Savimbi had many conservative fans including Jack Abramoff, who later gained noteriety for his corruption but was pretty much a creep from high school onwards.

5 thoughts on “Conservatism as a Family Affair

  1. Angola in the 1980s was a weird situation. I worked there briefly in 1986 for a seismic company doing work for Chevron, which produces oil in Cabinda, a weird little piece of Angola separate from the rest of Angola. We oil-field workers got priority on airplanes (along with soldiers). The Chevron facility was well-guarded against raids (not infrequent) by South African commandos. Our guards? Cuban soldiers. Meanwhile, the USA and Reagan were giving Savimbi millions to fight the “communist” government of Eduardo dos Santos. I put “communist” in quotes because I feel he was as communist as his next paycheck. Savimbi was the same way–a total opportunist. While I was working there, Jesse Jackson visited the country and came to Cabinda, where he told us oil workers to keep up the good work! (Chevron–and those of us who worked for Chevron and its contractors–were also more concerned with our paychecks than with American foreign policy.)

    I never understood why the US supported Savimbi. For the money we were giving that loser, we could have surely have turned Dos Santos into a “pro-America” dictator. I think our side was too blinded by ideology to make a cold realpolitik calculation. I think even Jackson realized this.

  2. Forget, please, “conservatism.” It has been, operationally, de facto, Godless and therefore irrelevant. Secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God both are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson’s Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

    “[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth.”

    Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

    John Lofton, Editor,
    Recovering Republican

  3. Hi Jeet —

    I know your “Mrs. David Frum” comment was in jest, but I noticed the other day whilst reading the Times Sunday Styles section (blush) that Danielle Crittenden does indeed go by the name of Danielle Crittenden Frum. When the hell did that happen? When David became famous? I always remember her useless journalistic reflections being authored by someone who proudly retained her maiden name alone.

  4. Hi Paul — I didn’t know about Danielle Crittenden’s renaming. I’ll have to investigate this! Keep a watch for future blog posts! Hope all is well, Jeet

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