James Baldwin trounces William F. Buckley (1965)

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/02/20/james-baldwin-trounces-william.html


Yes, a masterful trouncing (all emphasis on “master,” ha!).

Buckley was such a snake. I love Baldwin’s reaction when Buckley accuses him of faking a more English-sounding accent (to what, win over his English audience, because his argument alone would never do that?). I think this was it:


You have that right: one of 20th century America’s foremost garbage individuals. Despite the highfalutin affectations and the faux gentility Buckley was a thug at heart, whose works helped lay the path to the Oval Office for the short-fingered vulgarian that shocked (shocked!) the editorial board of the magazine he founded.


Did Buckley invent the force field? His manner seems like it would invite punches to the face almost constantly, even from bigots.

/And do Dennis Miller or Bill Maher currently own such devices?


Indeed. And one could all too easily go on in that vein, couldn’t one.


The one thing I’ll give Buckley credit for was that he recognized pretty early on that the War on Drugs (at least as it pertained to marijuana use) was a disastrous mistake. Other than that he was pretty much a pile of human garbage in a suit.


I found this video eye-opening last time I saw it, and I was quite sure I saw it here, a few months ago, but now I can’t seem to find it. Was it a dream?

Maybe someone posted it in a comment?


Buckley states something interesting near the end of his speaking (@54:55).
Sorry if I transcribe this poorly since the transcript is only for Baldwin’s part.

…But we must also reach through to the negro people and tell them their best chances are a mobile society and the most mobile society today my friends is the United States of America.

Now this is not the case.
For example
That is what is wrong with America now. There is little economic mobility.

Back to the debate as a whole, I loved it. Baldwin was making points with in other points.
Then Buckley made such articulated sentences (I wish I could speak so well)
Then with all his breath he is not really saying much or debating what is @ hand.
So Basically, He did a lot of talking and didn’t say much.

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Exactly. He pretty much made an entire career that way. And how he said it was infinitely more important to those listeners who admired him than what he was actually saying.


This just adds more weight to my theory that there are a lot of Baldwins.


Awesomeness by words.

The students voted 540-160

544 - 164

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Keep in mind that this vacuous arsehole is the go-to example of when the US right was “intellectual”.

Supporting the political right in America is indefensible now, and was indefensible then. It’s greed and bigotry all the way down and all the way back.


As is often the case when describing these things, “debate” is rather generous…

Buckley Jr. = mop.

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It is of little comfort that modern Trumpettes would think he sounded pompous and faggy.

Besides, Mr. Buckley’s argument was without substance or really addressing the measure, doing more goalpost moving and attempts to be clever. The student who introduced him was more entertaining, and seemed aware that their side of the measure was weaker.

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@Mindysan33 has mentioned Baldwin several times previously, and @wrecksdart posted a clip of the debate in response to one of her comments.


Wow. You’re hired.


Chomsky also destroyed Buckley later, in an exchange I also review from time to time.

I will say Buckley had a great skill with words as ornamentation, to mask the intent of a policy or action with high-minded excuses. When facing an opponent with equal or great skill and honest intent, that ornamentation was easily punched through and it was no contest.


Well said. I’m a big fan of the Buckley/Vidal debates even though Vidal is clearly just trying to get the Crypto Nazi pissed off (with success, too):

…AND YOU’LL STAY PLASTERED! Always worked for me in a fight. :smirk: