Bret Stephens

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Why care about social formalities, modes of dress, niceties of speech, qualities of restraint? Not simply because manners make the man, although they do, but because manners also shape political cultures.

Bret Louis Stephens (born 21 November 1973) is an American journalist, editor, and columnist. He began working at The New York Times in late April 2017.

Quotes[edit]

[T]he United States is not “much of the world.” We are a sovereign state, not a nation-state. Unlike, say, Denmark, we have no official language and no state religion. Our identity is oriented toward the future, not the past.
  • Dictatorships fall not only when they have implacable opponents but also exemplary victims: Steve Biko in South Africa, Benigno Aquino in the Philippines, Jerzy Popieluszko in Poland. Through their deaths, they awakened the living to the conviction that it was the regime that should die instead.

The New Conservative Pyrite (2019)[edit]

"The New Conservative Pyrite" (26 July 2019), The New York Times
  • [T]he United States is not “much of the world.” We are a sovereign state, not a nation-state. Unlike, say, Denmark, we have no official language and no state religion. Our identity is oriented toward the future, not the past. We do have birthright citizenship — though that, curiously, is something many of today’s national conservatives want to abolish. Our national borders have changed repeatedly and may change again.

    America is the country under whose banner the descendants of slaves give military orders to the descendants of slave owners and stand guard alongside the children of immigrants from Greece and Mexico in places like Panmunjom. It’s where the biological son of a Syrian immigrant created our first trillion-dollar company. It’s where Jews celebrate Christmas by going out for Chinese food.

    All this is the essence of America’s exceptionalism. It does not require open borders, rule by U.N. mandarins, obeisance to progressive pieties or any of the other ostensible predations of “globalism” that conservative nationalism claims to oppose.

  • [N]ationalism does require the mainstream conservative movement to jettison its best principles. Three in particular stand out.
  • Conservatives used to believe in the overwhelming benefits of immigration. Most nationalists want to restrict even legal immigration. Conservatives used to believe that America should always speak and sometimes act in defense of freedom-seekers everywhere. Nationalists strike the bargain that America will mind its own business if others mind theirs. Conservatives used to oppose identity politics for being hostile to individual freedom. Nationalism is the superimposition of one form of identity politics over various others.
  • [T]he American example. Novus ordo seclorum: We are a new order of the ages, not just a copy of the old states of Europe writ large. Unlike most other nations, we have opened our doors to human capital wherever it comes from (and hence attracted a greater share of it); and adopted good ideas irrespective of who first had them (and hence developed or commercialized them more successfully); and found ways to smooth, adapt and enjoy cultural differences (and hence rendered them generally benign). Nationalists only want to sharpen or weaponize those differences. To what end?
  • [A] nationalism moderated by liberalism can serve other countries well. When it comes to the United States, however, we should recognize nationalism for what it really is: un-American.

External links[edit]