In the previous installment on David Bahnsen, we observed his mocking of Ron Paul’s “mediocre” supporters. Bahnsen’s criticisms were entirely without substance and essentially amounted to an unjustified ratification of the opinions of arch-Zionist neoconservatives like Jonah Goldberg and John Bolton. In this second installment on David Bahnsen, we will look at his all-too-predictable response to the Ron Paul newsletters. We will delve into his childish response to criticisms by Gary North. Finally, I will sum up my assessment of Bahnsen himself. (Spoiler alert: I find Bahnsen to be far more mediocre than the people he attempts to refute.)
Ron Paul’s “Racist” Newsletters
Bahnsen accuses Ron Paul of supporting “sickening” and “vile racism” in what he allowed to be published in his newsletters. Bahnsen complains: “Ron Paul’s past metaphor to describe people fleeing with great speed was to describe the break-up of the 1992 riots as being caused by black people running to get their welfare checks, but if you don’t mind, I am going to steer clear of such sickening, vile racism.”1 So let me get this straight — we are supposed to be sensitive to the feelings of the black rioters now? This is the state of what Bahnsen considers to be conservative thought? It is hardly necessary to respond to Bahnsen’s whining.
The truth is that the contributors to the Ron Paul newsletters are forthright in their presentation of the truth about race relations in America. As the mainstream media gleefully broke the story that the Ron Paul newsletters contained “racist” statements, they never bothered to refute anything written in them. Neither has David Bahnsen. No doubt many people will bristle at the frankness of those on the old right, but this does not make them wrong. If David Bahnsen wants to effectively demonstrate that Ron Paul and his supporters are “dangerous,” then he has to address the content of the old Ron Paul newsletters. He cannot just “steer clear” of them. It is unfortunate that Ron Paul has been trying to disavow what was written in his published newsletters; he was obviously more aware of what was being published than what he let on. They contain what is probably the most frank and candid appraisal of race relations in America that have been circulated and published in the past several decades.2
David Bahnsen’s Perceived Self-Importance
Perhaps the most annoying of Bahnsen’s attributes is how important he perceives himself and his employer, Morgan Stanley, to be in the scheme of American politics and the international economy. This is particularly central to his assertion that Ron Paul’s rhetoric has a particular appeal to those who are “mediocre,” as opposed to mainline neoconservatives such as himself. Bahnsen compares the efforts of successful people such as, well, himself, to the losers who support Ron Paul. Says Bahnsen of his efforts: “I work as a senior vice president at a company with 62,000 employees, serve on four or five boards of non-profits and political groups, am raising three children under the age of six, manage the financial well-being of 150 high net worth individuals, families, and institutions, and am beyond passionate about the direction of my country. And frankly, I feel like I am not doing enough!”3
I suppose that we ought to consider working for Morgan Stanley at the level that Bahnsen does to be a major accomplishment. It seems as though Bahnsen is arguing that he is right, or at least credible, based upon the fact that he manages more money than most of his critics will ever see. Bahnsen is certainly proud of the fact that he is part of the establishment. Morgan Stanley is definitely entrenched in the modern finance regime, so it obviously makes sense why Bahnsen seeks to defend this establishment. As pointed out before, the financial establishment is what created the problems that we are experiencing today. Major financial corporations and conglomerates like Morgan Stanley are in bed with the Federal Reserve in her schemes to create money out of nothing. They are not innocent victims.4
Supposedly, Bahnsen’s position at Morgan Stanley uniquely qualifies him to be considered an expert on a whole host of political and economic matters. When Bahnsen was confronted by author Gary North regarding his support for the economic policies of Alan Greenspan, Bahnsen simply went berserk! Instead of refuting North’s accusations, Bahnsen made baseless attacks on North’s character. A sample of Bahnsen quotes bears this out.
[N]o sane person reads Gary. I have never been attacked before by a guy who has spent his entire life making a fool of himself in one brutal miscalculation after another. In fairness to Gary, I do not know if his history of false predictions has been motivated by something sinister, or just merely something intellectually deficient . . . for the most part, he is forgotten – by everyone. . . . I do not get irritated when I read Gary’s piece, because he is not taken seriously by anyone, anywhere. . . . Gary’s is, well, irrelevant. . . . Gary’s understanding of what took place in the autumn of 2008 reflect [sic] the understanding you would expect an old, disconnected, sociologically distraught buffoon to have. I feel no need to correct him here for the 11 people who read his scam website. . . . If Gary were to know the facts, it would probably cause his dysfunctional typing hands to do something to himself he would regret. I feel no need to add to the frustration Gary feels with his own life and career.”5
Basically, Bahnsen’s response to North is a hit piece. Bahnsen perceives someone like Gary North as an annoying fly buzzing in his ear that needs to be swatted away. If Bahnsen didn’t feel the need to “correct” North, then he could have made much better use of his time than merely defaming a man he believes is delusional and irrelevant. For the record, I, as well as other Faith and Heritage authors, would probably take many exceptions to what Gary North has written on a whole host of subjects. The difference between us and David Bahnsen is that we don’t simply ridicule other people, but offer substantive criticism. Once again, Bahnsen’s self-worship and adulation becomes evident.
I am running one of the largest wealth management practices in the country for the premier investment bank on the planet. Gary is still peddling completely insane newsletters to other quacks in remote parts of the country. I will stick with my life, thank you very much. . . . I am a fee planner, a fact that my $250 million worth of clients know well. I work for an unbelievably fantastic organization. . . . I can only say that my confidence in my abilities as a financial manager are enhanced by the last six months, not diluted. . . . Those of us making a killing in the real world – we do not have that luxury.
Bahnsen’s argument is simple. He is more qualified to answer questions on economics and politics because he is an executive vice-president for the “unbelievably fantastic” organization that is Morgan Stanley. Every one of us uneducated rubes need to shut up, bow down, and kiss the ring.6 It never occurs to Bahnsen that his entrenchment within the establishment might very well account for his blind spot when the establishment is critiqued. Bahnsen cannot handle disagreement from us lowly peons. When confronted on Facebook by my friend Darrell about how his support for foreign interventionism contradicts the positions of Christian Reconstructionists whom he claims to admire, Bahnsen “un-friended” Darrell after calling him a “douche bag.” Such sinful pride and arrogance is not becoming of one who professes the Christian faith.
Conclusion on David Bahnsen
I do not have a particularly personal grudge against Bahnsen. My chief concern with him is the way he attacks others with whom he disagrees. He refuses to offer substantive criticism of his opponents or even engage in meaningful dialogue. Bahnsen remains obsessed with himself and his perceived self-importance in the world, convinced that financial companies like Morgan Stanley and fractional reserve banks like the Federal Reserve are the answer to our nation’s financial problems. I believe the contrary. I have become convinced by the Bible and the traditional Christian teaching that fractional reserve banking, and its basis in usury, commonly called interest, is sinful and contrary to the law of God.7 Bahnsen’s “incrementalism” has not brought American society any closer to the values that Bahnsen claims to espouse. But as dangerous and erroneous as Bahnsen’s beliefs are, his attitude towards those with whom he disagrees is even worse.
The real issue, as I see it, is Bahnsen’s arrogance. David Bahnsen has yet to offer any sort of legitimate or substantive criticism of his intellectual opponents. Instead, he simply opts for character assassination and vilification. Bahnsen believes that those who support Ron Paul are “dangerous,” or at best “mediocre.” The truth is that it is Bahnsen who is both dangerous and mediocre. Bahnsen’s ideas are dangerous because American society is headed on a path of destruction. Bahnsen advocates staying the course in the worst sort of way. He wants to preserve the Federal Reserve and often expresses admiration for the worst of Fed chairmen like Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke. Bahnsen is nothing if not a committed Zionist, and he persistently exudes support for arch-Zionists such as Paul Wolfowitz, Jonah Goldberg, and John Bolton, among numerous others. Zionism has committed America to an entangling alliance with an overt enemy of Christian civilization, and if the unequal yoking principle in 2 Corinthians 6:14 means anything, it must stand to condemn such an alliance with the stated enemies of Christianity.8
Bahnsen’s ideas are mediocre because they are so depressingly within the mainstream. Bahnsen mocks Ron Paul as unelectable and his supporters as losers. Bahnsen uses present and superficial success as his sole criterion for truth. (Did I mention that Bahnsen is an executive VP at Morgan Stanley and makes a lot of money?) It is much easier to root on a frontrunner candidate than waste your time on someone so reviled by the establishment. Cheering on a winner simply because you know that he will win is the mentality of a coward, and we live in an age of pervasive moral cowardice. The suggestion that we are making incremental progress of any sort in a healthy direction is simply preposterous. Our friend Tim at First Word understands this well:
Indeed he is unelectable, in that he will die mysteriously if he starts winning too many primaries. Like the Godfather presciently observed in his great speech, he will be accidently shot by a security officer, or hang himself, or be struck by a bolt of lightning. Indeed, he is unelectable. However, that does not stop me from sending him money, because I am an Anglo-Saxon. We believe in supporting lost causes.
Little Davy B[ahnsen] cannot understand that. He wants always to back a winner, in the name of incremental progress. But the irony is, backing those kind of winners always leads to defeat. I was already an adult during the Reagan Revolution, and during the first Gingrich Revolution, both of which were “successful” they say. But can anyone seriously suggest that, compared to 1980, we are the tiniest increment closer toward being a healthy nation?” 9
Bahnsen’s incremental approach is a failure. As much as the affairs of the American nation were headed in the wrong direction in 1980, things have only become worse in spite of (or perhaps because of) the political victories that neoconservative thinkers like David Bahnsen claim. I can easily picture a David Bahnsen-esque thinker in the waning decades of the Roman Empire; a man who mocked those who warned that Rome’s imperial policies were leading her native citizens to inevitable destruction. This Bahnsen analog likely would have taken great comfort that his opinions were solidly in the mainstream and that Roman ascendancy would last forever. Rome was the greatest nation that has ever existed after all, and Rome’s military supremacy was proof that the pagan deities looked with eternal favor that would last as long as people inhabited the earth. The idea that Rome could ever be sacked by Germanic Christian Goths would never have occurred to Roman Bahnsen, and he would mock those who dared question the future of Roman dominance over the world’s affairs. Likewise, Bahnsen’s confidence in the mainstream of American political thought blinds him to seeing that America is making the same mistake as every other empire in history, and the consequences will be no less disastrous. I am sure that it will be consoling for him to think that he will always have the glory days of the Bush administration.
Just so I am not misunderstood, I have substantial reservations about Ron Paul and Gary North. I believe that Ron Paul does not nearly go far enough in his condemnation of the status quo. His lack of support for immigration restriction strikes me as too libertarian, and his effusive praise for Martin Luther King is simply an attempt to try to make amends for politically incorrect statements he has published in the past. I do believe he understood the contents of his newsletters more than he has let on. I only wish he would not apologize for their contents. There is nothing in them that is untrue; therefore he has nothing in those newsletters of which to be ashamed. Gary North has written some excellent material, but he has also denounced “patriarchy” in the abstract and accused his father-in-law of being a (you guessed it) “racist” for his politically incorrect views on race. There are certainly substantive criticisms to be made of Ron Paul10 and Gary North.11 You just won’t find any of them written by David Bahnsen.
Those of us who defend traditionalism are no doubt on the fringes of contemporary American political discourse, but this does not particularly bother me. Our primary goal is and always has been to discover and defend truth. We leave the outcome and results to God Almighty, not the average American voter. It is certainly likely that many of us will not live to see substantive results of our efforts within our lifetimes. The mature response is to discern that truth will ultimately win out because God is in control. We do not have to see immediate results to know that God will accomplish what He has promised (Is. 46:9-11; Eph. 1:11). As for David Bahnsen, he can have his present victories and successes. The present certainly belongs to him, but the future belongs to us!
- David Bahnsen, “The Attraction of Ron Paul to the Mediocre Among Us,” http://www.davidbahnsen.com/index.php/2011/12/20/the-attraction-of-ron-paul-to-the-mediocre-among-us/. ↩
- See Spirit, Water, Blood: “Of the Increase of His Government and Peace.” Posted January 16, 2012. http://spiritwaterblood.com/2012/01/the-increase-of-his-government-and-peace/ ↩
- “The Attraction of Ron Paul to the Mediocre Among Us.” ↩
- For more information see “The Morgan Stanley Bailout” by Surly Trader, featured in Pragmatic Capitalism. November 30, 2011. http://pragcap.com/the-morgan-stanley-bailout ↩
- See “David Bahnsen, The Morgan Stanley VP and Ex-Christian Rock Band Manager, Responds to My Critique: ‘Your Readers Are All Insane!'”, by Gary North. March 19, 2009. http://www.garynorth.com/public/4735.cfm ↩
- Libertarian author Tom Woods notes the same thing. See his “On David Bahnsen.” September 5, 2011. http://www.tomwoods.com/blog/on-david-bahnsen/ ↩
- For more information on usury and its adverse effects on the economy and society, see Usury: Destroyer of Nations (Theopolis, 1st edition, 1988); Money: Symbol and Substance (Theopolis, 1990); and The Fall of the House of Usury (Parakrisis Publications, 1st edition, April 19, 2011), all by S.C. Mooney. ↩
- See Judaism’s Strange Gods by Michael A. Hoffmann II (Independent History & Research Co., August 30, 2000). http://www.amazon.com/Judaisms-Strange-Gods-Michael-Hoffman/dp/0970378408 ↩
- “Martians and Assassins: The ABC/Yahoo Debate.” Posted by T on December 27, 2011 on First Word. http://firstword.us/2011/12/martians-and-assassins-the-abcyahoo-debate/ ↩
- See “The Ron Paul Generation” by Matt Parrot. Alternative Right. January 16, 2012. http://www.alternativeright.com/main/blogs/zeitgeist/the-ron-paul-generation/ ↩
- See “Mooney Answers North” by S.C. Mooney. Posted at Spirit, Water, Blood on August 6, 2008. http://spiritwaterblood.com/docs/North.pdf ↩