William Frank Buckley (originally William Francis Buckley) was born on November 24, 1925. He was most famously known as an American editor, author, and commentator. He was well known for his Mid-Atlantic accent and deep vocabulary. He also hosted the famous public affairs television show ‘Firing line’ from 1966 to 1999, making it the longest television show about public affairs with a single host. His foundation ‘National review’ is considered to be a significant catalyst in the conservative movement in the late 20th century.
Buckley was born to Aloise Josephine Antonia (Steiner) and William F Buckley Sr. He received his primary schooling in Paris and later on in London in English. At the same time, his first and second languages were Spanish and French. As a young boy, he has a multitude of interests and hobbies, including sailing, horse riding, music, and skiing. He was very proficient with the harpsichord and also learned how to play the piano well. He was a big fan of Bach and later on requested that Bach be played at his funeral.
After graduating from the Autonomous University of Mexico, Buckley was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army. He recalls serving throughout the war at Fort Benning, Fort Sam Houston, and Fort Gordon. . After World war in ended in 1945, he enrolled at Yale University, where he became a member of the Skulls and Bones society and champion debater. During his time at Yale, he took an active part in the Yale Political Union and Conservative party. He also served as the Chairman of Yale Daily News and worked as an informant for the FBI. He later went on to be hired by the CIA and also served as the Editor of the American Mercury in 1952.
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Religion and Political Views
Buckley described his upbringing as a Catholic as “I grew up, as reported, in a large family of Catholics without even a decent ration of tentativeness among the lot of us about our religious faith.” This upbringing is even reflected in his book Nearer, My God, where he criticized the ‘Supreme court’s war against religion in a public school.’ Also, it argued that the Christian values were being replaced by ‘another god multiculturalism’ During his time as the Editor-in-Chief of the National Review, the publication became a standard for the values of conservatism. Buckley, however, was keen on promoting the fusionism of conservatives and libertarians. He even went on to recruit Ex-communists and people who had work on the far left side of the spectrum like Whittaker Chambers, Willi Schlamm, William Rickenbacker, and many more as editors and writers for the National Review. He believed that the amalgamation of the two contrasting ideas would serve as the basis of a more coherent modern Right. Buckley used the National review to exclude people/groups he felt were unworthy and ill-fitting into conservative ideas. He excluded people like Ayn Rand, George Wallace, the John Birch Society, along with white supremacists, racists, and anti-Semites.
Views on Race
Buckley was in strong support of the racial segregation of the North and South. He published an Editorial in 1957 in the National Review where he clearly supported the segregation in the South until “long-term equality could be achieved.” He believed that the Blacks lacked the education and cultural development to make racial equality a possibility. He truly believed that “because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.”
However, Buckley later went on to express that he wished he was more supportive of the Civil Acts right at the time. He grew to admire Martin Luther King Jr and also helped in the creation of Martin Luther King day. In 2004 he said, “I once believed we could evolve our way up from Jim Crow. I was wrong. Federal intervention was necessary.”
After his death in 2008, George Bush, Newt Gingrich, and First Lady Nancy Reagan paid tribute to him. Bush said, “He influenced a lot of people, including me. He captured the imagination of a lot of people. Various organizations have named awards after Buckley.
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