"But what if First Things’ manifesto is not what it claims to be either? At least, not for all of its signers. What if some of the people claiming to join this effort to renew American conservatism have another agenda entirely? Remember that on the left, secret Communists used to co-sign “popular front” appeals against Jim Crow, or other real abuses. However, for them, “the issue was never the issue.” They used such abuses and the idealism of real, patriotic reformers opportunistically. To advance their own quite alien priorities. Such as Marxist ideology. And the interests of the Soviet Communist Party.
Let me put this more concretely. Imagine if, alongside the professors from Catholic universities and respected conservative thinkers, we also saw names like “Richard Spencer” or “Paul Nehlen.” Or others who’ve elsewhere made clear their racist worldview. That would change how we read the manifesto, wouldn’t it? Places where it’s hazy would become painfully clear. We’d approach it with a “hermeneutic of suspicion.”
I think that’s what’s called for, alas. Now it’s trying to rebrand itself as a vehicle for socially conservative, responsible populist nationalism. But First Things under its current editor Rusty Reno has been advancing a pack of ideas that have nothing to do with that."