Issues analysis
Pride and ideology
Fred Hutchison, RenewAmerica analyst
July 13, 2009

Self-deceiving pride leads the sons of Adam into many foolish vanities and conceits. Some people concentrate on the petty vanities, and others indulge in grandiose delusions about themselves.

It has long been clear to me that grandiose delusions of pride are sometimes the motor force behind the personal ambitions of political careers. However, until I read Civilization and its Enemies by Lee Harris, I did not realize that inordinate pride can account for the contents of extreme political ideologies. Harris calls these "fantasy ideologies."

The first part of this essay is about my futile efforts to debate with leftists and to refute the myths of their fantasy ideologies. Subsequently, I shall introduce Harris' concept of the fantasy ideology, which will explain why these folks cannot coherently respond to debate arguments, and why they almost always attack the debater instead of challenging his arguments. Then I will offer the "green" movement as an example of a very popular fantasy ideology. Finally, we shall plunge into the dark waters of Muslim extremists who are following an irrational fantasy ideology. We shall end with reflections about mad men with missiles.

The destructive delusions of pride seem to be leading the world to destruction. But there is hope. As we shall see, popular fantasy ideologies often form like a bubble, and after a season, the bubble pops. In every life, the illusions of youth pop like a bubble during the middle of life or perhaps late in life. In like manner, every civilization goes through phases of the delusions of pride, which endure for an historical season, and then pop like a bubble. In this manner, God sweeps each historical age clean of its vanities and illusions to prepare for a new season under His dispensation.

But now there are bubbles that are not yet popped, and some of my misadventures involve the attempt to pop those bubbles. At carnivals, one can win prizes by puncturing balloons by throwing darts. It looks easy, but is surprisingly difficult. The same thing is true of the attempt to pop the bubbles of fantasy ideology.

Tilting with windmills

My various debates with leftists have often came down to a fight over a myth. When I recognize that a leftist believes a myth, I often take upon myself the task of proving to him that one of his cherished beliefs is a myth. In other words, I am a self-appointed bubble-popper.

My quest often has had all the futility of tilting with windmills. I confess that I have often tried to reason with fools, contrary to King Solomon's advice in Proverbs. Am I unwise to do this? Should I leave the popping of bubbles to God? Perhaps. But if I had not tried to tilt with the windmills, I could not have written this essay.

Insults shouted from a high window

Some leftists call me demeaning names when I challenge their myths. The insulting names are carefully chosen to display their moral and intellectual superiority and my moral and intellectual inferiority. In their inflated pride, they see themselves as existing on a higher plane than I do. They are sincere in their contempt and malice.

The insults have a windy echo as though they have been shouted down from a great height. It is as though a man at a window at the top of a tall windmill is shouting execrations down upon me.

On windmills and straw men

Some leftists respond to my arguments with a "straw man" attack. They build a "straw man" that is purported to represent my views and then attack the straw man. Their attack on the straw man is like burning me in effigy or poking needles into a voodoo doll with my name on it. It is as though they are getting vicarious pleasure in my symbolic destruction. It is a voyeuristic approach to hatred.

In order to build a straw man, my opponent must ignore what I actually said and attribute to me fallacies and follies that he can take pleasure in knocking down.

Metaphorically speaking, when I am tilting with windmills, I can sometimes see the giant arms of the windmill smashing a straw man with my name pinned to it.

Then the man in the windmill will insist that he just demolished me and will point to the smashed straw man as evidence.

Responding to the straw man attack

Sometimes I respond to the straw man attack with words like "The views that you attribute to me are things I never said and never thought." Sometimes, I say, "I wish I could get a response to something I actually said."

It is amazingly difficult to get a postmodern leftist to respond to something you actually say to him. The postmodern left has lost the ability to communicate authentically with someone who is not in their clique.

The new tower of babel

When God confused the tongues at the Tower of Babel, construction stopped because the workmen could not understand each other. Is the postmodern left trying to build a new tower of babel? A tower is potentially much higher than a windmill. Such a tower might enable them be able to shout down imprecations upon us from a much greater height than they can do now.

The narcissistic obsessions of the postmodern left not only make conversation with conservatives impossible, but must eventually trip up their conversation with each other. When that happens, their Tower of Babel will collapse.

The century-long progressive era has reached its apogee in the Obama administration. The bubble of progressive fantasy ideology has been at maximum during Obama's long honeymoon with the press. Is God preparing to pop the progressive bubble, sweep away the rubble of twentieth-century illusions and allow a new kind of culture to be born? Perhaps. I know that postmodernism is unsustainable, but I don't know what kind of world will follow it.

Nancy's meltdown

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's communication meltdown is instructive. She is second in power to the president and more liberal than the president. As she stood at the top of her high tower, she tried to shout down her contempt on her enemies. She got tangled in her own words and embarrassed herself at her own press conference. She almost fell from power, but did not fall because just enough of her powerful allies rallied around her to save her. But many in her own party distanced themselves from her.

The day of doom for Pelosi and her ilk will come when the kind of painful communications breakdown we saw on television occurs between Pelosi and her key allies. Such a breakdown must eventually occur because the power brokers of the postmodern left are mostly narcissists trapped in fantasy ideologies. The left-wing tower looks powerful, but it is fragile. One remembers the seemingly impregnable tower of the Soviet empire (1922–1991). Ronald Reagan blew on it, and it collapsed because it was all dry rot within.

The increasing inability of the left-wing media to communicate with the ordinary person is another sign of communication decay. The liberal big city newspapers are dying. The audience for the TV political talk shows that feature liberal opinion has shrunk drastically. Even the liberals don't like to listen to the inchoate ravings of left-wing narcissists addicted to fantasy ideology.

Interestingly, the same incoherence can be observed in liberal theology. Books and Culture magazine, a project of Christianity Today, quickly moved from conservative theology and conservative politics to liberal theology and liberal politics. The editor, John Wilson, who presided over this great betrayal became rambling and incoherent in his essays as the shift was taking place.

The incoherence of the heretic reaches its thickest fog in New Age poetry and New Age mystical writing. This is no accident, because the New Age Movement is a swamp of many heresies.

Striking down Dirty Dick

Postmodern leftists cannot communicate authentically, but they fancy that they have powers of divination. They think they can divine men's motives.

Some leftists I debate with insist that they understand my motives and dismiss my arguments, which they attribute to bad faith, malice, dishonesty, unworthy motives, vested interests, or ignorant prejudices. These divinations are similar to the building of straw men. The leftist who has no understanding of me creates an imaginary person and ascribes bad motives to that person. Then he can ignore my arguments and condemn the imaginary bad guy he has created.

When I was a small child, I created an imaginary bad guy. I dubbed a little plastic cowboy with the name "Dirty Dick." I ascribed to Dirty Dick every quality of villainy that I supposed a cowboy bad guy ought to have. Then I dreamed up cowboy wars in which Dirty Dick would be struck down at the climax of the war. I struck down Dirty Dick with great drama and relish, and Dirty Dick would die screaming and writhing in a histrionic way. Sometimes I would act out his demise with melodramatic overacting that would make Jim Carey look inhibited by comparison.

When a lefty makes me the Dirty Dick of his melodramatic game, he has a lot of stock characters and stereotypes of right wing bad guys to draw from the fantasy world of the leftist imagination. It is much like Hollywood during the era of the studios, when central casting could choose from a number of character actors who specialize in villains.

One must keep one's sense of humor during these games. It can be amusing to find out which Halloween costume for a right wing villain one is expected to wear. If one can keep firmly in mind that the postmodern leftist is acting out a fantasy, one can laugh instead of taking umbrage.

Presumptions about religion

I had a debate with an academic philosopher emeritus about evolution. He claimed to be an expert in logic. However, he never answered my logic or my facts. The only argument he made in favor of evolution was based upon his tally of how many biologists support evolution and how many were against it. This is called in debate circles "an appeal to authority." An appeal to authority in debate is creditable only if it is not a substitute for making your own case, or a substitute for responding to your opponent's arguments. However, Dr. "Expert in Logic" did not seem to know this.

This academic was obsessed with the idea that my opposition to evolution was based upon my religion. He did not know what my religious beliefs or doctrines were, and I had not mentioned religion in my arguments. In a formal debate, if I were to point out that his speculations about my religion were unsupported and irrelevant to the debate, the judge would charge points against the man's case.

The evolutionists understand that evolution is vulnerable to criticism, but they also know that attacks against religion can divert the attention of the audience away from the issues and win cheap propaganda points. Dr. "Expert in Logic" insisted upon making these cheap propaganda points. I insisted that we talk about evolution using facts and logic. He insisted that we talk about religion. In spite of his claimed expertise in logic, he seemed to be allergic to the use of logic in an actual debate.

After a lifetime of teaching and writing about logic, his rational powers had been eroded away by trendy left-wing thought. Rationality cannot coexist in a mind filled with fantasy ideology. Postmodern liberalism founded upon narcissism cannot tolerate reason. The fantasies of narcissism are at war with reason, and at war with reason and reality.

Ad hominem attacks

In all of the cases cited above, my debate opponents refused to respond to my actual arguments. They made no effort explain to me why my ideas are wrong. They insisted on attacking me, instead of refuting my ideas. This is called in debate circles ad hominem, which means "against the man." Attacking the man is not a legitimate substitute for responding to his arguments.

Why have postmodernist leftists limited themselves to ad hominem attacks on their opponents? Why do they refuse to logically refute the ideas of their opponents? In formal debate, a debater cannot score points with ad hominem attacks. To win, you must either demolish your opponent's central arguments or put forward more persuasive arguments than your opponent did. Why do postmodern leftists stubbornly adhere to losing tactics? I did not understand this until I read Lee Harris' Civilization and its Enemies.

Fantasy Ideologies

Lee Harris and a college friend of his demonstrated against the Vietnam War, but they did so for different reasons. Harris's friend participated in some obnoxious and subversive activities that Harris considered counterproductive. More people would be turned against the anti-war movement than moved to favor of the movement by these tactics. Harris' friend did not care. He said he was doing these things "for the good of my soul." He did not care what the outward effects of his subversive activities were. He cared only for the effects they had upon him.

Lee's friend cherished a fantasy narrative in which he was on the right side of history and stood tall with the heroes of the revolution. He did not care if the leftist rabble rousers were effective. All he cared about was having a beautiful memory of himself of fighting in the company of giants. He had what Harris calls a "fantasy ideology." I have no doubt that he wore a Che Guevara T-shirt.

A fantasy ideology requires a narcissist with a vivid imagination. Like a Hollywood director, producer, and story board developer rolled into one, the narcissist formulates a grand scenario, which puts himself in the flood lights and reduces everyone else to supporting characters and enemies. Enemies are pawns in the shadows. They exist only for the sake of the script and wear whatever costume is assigned to them by the script.

A fantasy ideology can be passed down from leftist leaders and adopted by followers. However, one must come to the table as a narcissist or the fantasy ideology will not take. Fortunately for the leftist leaders, the postmodern culture of self-esteem, self-actualization, hyper-individualism, and relativism is multiplying the number of narcissists in our midst.

A pawn steps forward against the star

Imagine that the narcissist has developed his fantasy ideology and has reduced all his opponents to pawns wearing costumes. He is the star of the show, and the story requires him to kick around the pawns dressed up as villains.

Suppose one of these pawns ventures up to the glorious star of the show and tells him that the script does not make sense, or that it contradicts reality, or contains a myth. How shall the great one react?

He might think, "Who is this upstart pawn to challenge the sublime narrative of my greatness? Doesn't that scoundrel know that his only reason for being is to support the story as I wrote it in the script? He is fighting against his assigned role in the master plan for the greater glory of me. I shall put that varlet in his place."

He proceeds with an ad hominem attack upon his enemy. He never answers the challenge that his enemy made that the grand narrative is illogical or is based upon a myth or is in conflict with reality. He flies into a temper and throws the dishes at the upstart pawn who doesn't know his place and dares to question the grand narrative.

There is a reason for this kind of behavior which transcends mere infantilism. If the postmodern leftist condescends to answer the logic of his opponent, it would dignify his challenge. Even if the challenger was unsuccessful in the ensuing debate, the fact that the debate was held and the star and his opponent met head to head on level ground would be an admission that the challenger is not a pawn wearing a costume. The leftist would have to admit that he is not an untouchable great one, and that the assumptions of his grand narrative are open to public examination and criticism. To condescend to having a real debate is to have one's narcissistic bubble punctured.

This, my friends, is why leftists in positions of power are trying to silence the conservative voice. The very fact that we are speaking and some people are listening is intolerable to them.

The great unmasking

Lee Harris describes the pregnant moment when a conservative challenger meets a leftist with a fantasy ideology in a real debate. At some point in the proceedings, the mask of the conservative challenger will fall off, and an unmasked and unknown person will stand before the leftist. At this point, Lee tells us, the leftist will blink and say, "Who are you? Why are you here? What do you want? Why are you disrupting these proceedings?"

As part of his fantasy ideology, the leftist had reduced his opponent to a minor bit player in his grand narrative. He has no place in the script for an unknown intruder who wears no mask for a part in the story. He cannot deal with a real person. He is annoyed that he has to contend with an actual human being. He is vexed with the inconvenience of having to find a substitute villain for the script.

Imagine a movie set on which the villain throws off his mask, walks up to the star or to the director, and says, "This story line is stupid." The man playing the villain would be thrown off the set, and central casting would look for a new villain.

Suppose the unmasked intruder ventures into the narcissist's dream world and somehow manages to expose the premise of the grand scenario as false and the story collapses. The leftist narcissist will be depressed for a short time, and then he will begin to weave a new fantasy scenario. That is how it is in Hollywood. After the movie is finished, the actors, directors, and producers are depressed for a short while. Then a new movie project brings them back to life. They are the addicts of fantasy.

Your question threatens me

Recently, I received an e-mail from an atheist asking me to denounce a Christian of mutual acquaintance and send my denunciation to a list of his friends. The atheist was scandalized because the Christian asked him a question.

I answered that I was scandalized that he showed such malice towards one whose only offense was to send an invitation to communicate. I was shocked that he wanted all of the Christian's friends to denounce him. I suggested that he become a man and stop whimpering in the pretext that the question was a threat to him or did him injury. I sent this response to him and all the people included in the e-mail list.

Proud postmodern atheists sometimes live in a state of paranoia. If such a one has a real discussion with a Christian, his fantasy bubble might pop. If that happens, his proud dreams of himself as his own god as a replacement for the Christian God would disappear. Therefore, an invitation to a discussion from a Christian — which would be regarded as a friendly gesture by most people — is regarded by him as a deadly threat by a scary enemy.

It makes a statement about me

Now let us take a look at how fantasy ideology has invaded the realm of marketing.

"Green consumption became 'positional consumption' that identified the consumer as a member of a moral and intellectual elite. A 2007 survey found that 57 percent of Prius purchasers said they bought their car because 'it makes a statement about me.'" (Source of the quote is a column by George F. Will, Recession nudges green movement back to reality, Columbus Dispatch 6/8/08. The quote within the quote is from The Green Bubble, by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Schellenberger, The New Republic May 20.)

"Nordhaus and Shellenberger note the telling 'insignificance,' as environmental measures, of planting gardens or using fluorescent bulbs. Their significance is therapeutic, but not for the planet. They make people feel better." (ibid.)

Saving the planet and ushering in utopia

Notice the narcissism of the green psychology. One part of the motivation behind the green consumer movement is the fantasy ideology in which the green consumer makes a proud statement about himself. The other part has to do with utopianism and guilt.

"The point of 'utopian environmentalism' was to reduce guilt. During the green bubble, many became 'captivated by the twin thoughts that human civilization could soon come crashing down and that we are on a cusp of a sudden leap forward in consciousness, one that will allow us to heal ourselves, our society, and our planet. Apocalyptic fears meld seamlessly with utopian hopes. Suddenly commonplace acts — e.g. buying light bulbs — infused pedestrian acts with cosmic importance." (Ibid.)

It seems that I heard a snippet of this utopian nonsense during the recent presidential campaign. If memory serves, Obama said that the day he is elected is the day the planet will begin to heal. Therefore, by voting for Obama, the "virtuous" green voter can make a proud statement about himself.

When Obama made the statement about the earth beginning to heal when he is elected — and was cheered instead of being laughed off the stage — the progressive movement reached its terminal bubble. There is a limit to how far a fantasy bubble can swell.

Where have I heard before that we are on the cusp of a sudden leap forward in consciousness? Aha! I heard it thirty years ago from the New Age folks. "This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius," etc.

If they thought they were on the cusp on a New Age then, and no such thing happened for thirty years, why should we think we are on the cusp now? Is the messianic cult of Obama worship causing aging baby boomers to reach back to the crazy days of their youth to resurrect the faded and threadbare hopes for the dawning of a new age?

Muslim fantasy ideology

As American liberals are reviving old messianic hopes as part of their fantasy ideology, Muslims in the Middle East are doing essentially the same thing.

Harris thinks that both liberals and conservatives misunderstand Muslim terrorism.

The liberals are laughably wrong

The liberals think that terrorism is caused by poverty, political injustice, memories of colonialism, and America's foreign policy. These ideas are not only wrong, but are laughably wrong. For example, most terrorist cell leaders come from affluent families and are highly educated. Their ideologies are remarkably immune to policy changes that America makes.

Diplomatic overtures to leaders who are living in a fantasy ideology are futile. You cannot reach people who are living in a bubble. I found this out by tilting with windmills. As Obama is flying home from a meeting with a terrorist leader, the leader will be ritually smashing a straw man with Obama's name on it as he denounces words he attributes to Obama that Obama never said. We should not waste energy on exercises in futility, and spare ourselves the humiliation of dealing with rogues.

The conservatives are partly wrong

Conservatives think that terrorists are evil and seek the destruction of America. They are correct, but the destruction of America is not as high in terrorists' priorities as we think, and it is not for the reasons we suppose.

Conservatives think that terrorists are following rational strategies and tactics to pursue their strategic objectives in their jihad war. This is completely wrong, but it is a natural mistake. We naturally assume that our enemies are rational and practical — but there is nothing rational or practical in a fantasy ideology.

Al Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Wahhabi Sunni cult in Saudi Arabia, and the Mahdi Shiite cult in Iran are irrational and are following fantasy ideologies. Followers of these cults do many things that are contrary to their practical and strategic interests.

In the aftermath of the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11/01, America struck back with a vengeance. A majority of the leaders of al Qaida were killed. The training camps were lost, except for those in remote mountains. Taliban rule of Afghanistan was lost. Osama bin Laden had to retreat to the mountains in the Northeast corner of the country. A political and military strategist with a good grasp of reality must have known that arousing the wrath of the world's only superpower must have terrible consequences.

Although al Qaida suffered heavy losses in practical terms, they won big in the theater of action which they really cared about — the theater of fantasy ideology. When the twin towers fell, millions of Arabs went out into the street and celebrated. Bin Laden was the international star of the show. Bin Laden circulated a film of him getting the news about the towers falling. He is shown chortling with his lieutenants and savoring the golden moment when he took public responsibility for planning the destruction of the towers. Ah, the glory, the glory.

The popping of the bubble

The crisis in the Middle East must continue as long as fantasy ideology has a hold on the Arab Street. The riots in Iran (a Persian Shiite country) indicates that the fantasies of messianic Shia have lost its grip on a large portion of the people on the street. Their fantasy bubble has popped.

Contrast the moment when millions of Arabs were celebrating in the street over the fall of the Twin Towers with the present riots in the streets of Iran. Fantasy ideologists will go to any length to enjoy the triumph of dancing in the streets. (The glory, the glory.) Fantasy ideologists will go to any length to avoid the riots in the streets. (The horror, the horror.) It is impossible for us to appreciate how complete was the triumph of the fall of the Twin Towers. In like manner, it is impossible for us to appreciate how deep are the psychic wounds to the leaders of Iran as a result of the rioting in the streets by their own people.

The clerical leaders in Iran will now go to any length to demonize their domestic opponents and to blame America. At the same time, their fantasy ideology has popped and they have lost legitimacy in the eyes of the people. They have been demoted from messianic heroes to foul pretenders to the throne. From the historic birth of their sect, Shiites have had an intense hatred of pretenders and usurpers.

The present regime is too tough to be overcome by a poorly organized revolution. However, the leaders have lost face in a way that can never be cured. They are now vulnerable to a coup d'etat. The seizure of power might come from the military, the militia, or a palace coup by rival mullahs.

The potential future of Islam

Let us hope that the bursting of the fantasy bubble in Iran will lead to the bursting of bubbles in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the Sudan.

Religion has a general tendency to tame human pride and narcissism, but when religion goes bad, it sometimes allows the most ambitious narcissists to get control. When this happens, instead of being a great force for good in the world, religion becomes a force for evil. This is what has happened to the jihadist wing of Islam in the Middle East.

Islam has its share of built-in faults, but there is no law of necessity that Islam must be hijacked by a fantasy ideology of hate. The bubble of fantasy ideology can pop in the Arab world as it has done in Iran. It is possible for Islam to escape its present horrors and return to the lesser jihad of its age-old struggle with its own inner contradictions. If the bubbles keep popping, we may live to see Islam escape from the hell-fires of murderous hate and bitterness, and return again to its normal state of controlled surliness with a thin polish of courtesy. In that day, we might once again take holidays at tourist resorts in Jordan and Lebanon.

However, until the day that the bubbles pop throughout the Arab world, the Islamist extremists will remain our enemy — no matter what America does. Negotiation is futile. All we can do is to defend ourselves until this evil cloud is lifted from the earth by the good angels.

It can happen. It is contrary to natural law that a fantasy ideology can last forever. Man is endowed with reason by his maker, and reason is the enemy of irrational fantasy ideologies. Reason may slumber for a season and be suppressed as men live in denial. But sooner or later, reason will awaken, revolt, and throw off irrational fantasies.

The enemy with nuclear bombs

The Soviet Empire was expansionist and evil, but was practical in terms of providing for its own survival. That is why we did not have a nuclear war. However, a ruler in the grip of fantasy ideology might accept death and the annihilation of his country if it makes him a hero in the grand scenario of his fantasy ideology. The Shiite regime of Iran is expecting the return of the Mahdi who is the Shiite messiah. The mad man with nukes in North Korea is no better. We cannot expect restraint or prudence from such men.

They are not rational in calculating their prospects for strategic success or in ensuring their own survival like the Soviets. Therefore, we must assume that Iran or North Korea will try to destroy us if they have the opportunity.

Shall we launch a peremptory attack? Perhaps. But not until the mad men have the capability to hurt us, which may be still a few years away. Meanwhile, we can hope that the bubble of fantasy ideology will pop and we can once more negotiate with them as sane men.

Providential defenses

Thanks to President Reagan's "Star Wars" program, we can now shoot down a missile with a missile, which is like hitting a bullet with a bullet. Unfortunately, we cannot take down all the incoming missiles in this way.

God, in his providence, has often provided the indispensable weapon just in time. The Defense Department is working on a program to use jet fighters to shoot down nuclear- tipped missiles. The fighters cruising at perhaps 40,000 feet would fire special rockets. The rockets would soar into the lower stratosphere. They would be guided by high-flying reconnaissance planes. The rockets would have the accuracy of smart bombs.

The rockets could swoop down from above and behind the nuclear missile like a hawk diving for a pigeon. It would not be a case of hitting a bullet coming straight at you. It would be a case of pulling up in close pursuit to a missile allowing for a much closer shot and much more time to take careful aim. The accuracy of the jet-released rockets will be an order of magnitude greater than Reagan's anti-ballistic missiles.

Thus, the indispensable missile defense weapon has arrived just in time to protect us from mad men with nukes. Thank you, Lord.

Once the missile attack starts, the jet-launched rocket defense will buy us time to destroy the ability of the enemy to launch a second strike.

If we have a president as tough and clever as Reagan was, he will wave our superior rocket defense in the face of the mad men with nukes, so that they will not dare to attack us. The next time North Korea launches a missile, we should blow it out of the air.

No more sentimental nonsense

Our safety mainly lies in being able to recognize fantasy ideologies when we see them. When foreign leaders hate us, have weapons that can hurt us, and indulge in a fantasy ideology, we must drop all sentimental nonsense from our foreign policy. No more apology tours, no more shaking hands with bloody dictators, no more appeasement, and no more dreaming impossible dreams about what negotiations can achieve. At such times, we have only God and the providential weapons he has given us just in time — to save us.

Having thus assured our survival, time is on our side. The fantasy ideology bubbles must pop in due time. Just as we are not now threatened by the Nazism, Communism, and Japanese imperialism, which the greatest generation fought, the next generation will probably see the threat of Muslim terrorism fade away.

A message from Stephen Stone, President, RenewAmerica

I first became acquainted with Fred Hutchison in December 2003, when he contacted me about an article he was interested in writing for RenewAmerica about Alan Keyes. From that auspicious moment until God took him a little more than six years later, we published over 200 of Fred's incomparable essays — usually on some vital aspect of the modern "culture war," written with wit and disarming logic from Fred's brilliant perspective of history, philosophy, science, and scripture.

It was obvious to me from the beginning that Fred was in a class by himself among American conservative writers, and I was honored to feature his insights at RA.

I greatly miss Fred, who died of a brain tumor on August 10, 2010. What a gentle — yet profoundly powerful — voice of reason and godly truth! I'm delighted to see his remarkable essays on the history of conservatism brought together in a masterfully-edited volume by Julie Klusty. Restoring History is a wonderful tribute to a truly great man.

The book is available at

© Fred Hutchison

RenewAmerica analyst Fred Hutchison also writes a column for RenewAmerica.


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They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:31