June 13, 2008

A few days ago, I began receiving multiple Google alerts about something called “€œBanned in DC,”€ an anonymous blog with a fixation on Takimag. The site was established only two week ago, apparently for the express purpose of attacking Takimag writers and talking up the Lukacs/Buchanan controversy. The commentary struck me as rather inane and trivial, and I moved on”€”until I noticed that the site also functioned as a kind of Scott McConnell fan club. The author switched between trite bashing of John Zmirak and R.J. Stove”€””€œd-list rejects”€ and “€œmaundering malcontents”€”€”and trite TAC apologetics, offering up lines like, “€œI was impressed by the argument he [McConnell] put forth here”€” nuanced, thoughtful, and not rendered in the spirit of those who attacked him last week.”€ 

McConnell would never do something like set up a TAC front group, and so I began to ask myself what kind of groveling wretch would dedicate himself to such sycophancy? After Ramesh Ponnuru, for whatever reason, linked to this ridiculous blog on National Review Online as serious commentary on the Buchanan controversy, I simply had to find out Who is banned in DC?

The name itself”€”a reference to some execrable punk and reggae compilation“€”should have given it away from the start. Regardless, I”€™ve now acquired definitive evidence (which I could present to anyone if asked) that the author of “Banned in DC” is A.G. Gancarski, a free-lance writer who’s attempted to build a career denouncing and then shilling for the same person—Scott McConnell.  

Gancarski first entered the paleo orbit during TAC‘s infancy in 2003, going by the byline “€œAnthony Gancarski”€ and offering up the occasional color piece on Jonny Cash or punk rock. A friend of mind who met him personally said that the Ganc described himself as a “€œrasta-con,”€ apparently hoping to unite Bob Marley and the Roman Catholic Church in a new conservative coalition. Masterpieces of the early Gancarski include articles like “Hail Mary, Pass the Dutchie:”€¨Rebranding the US Catholic Church.”€

Well, by 2004, Gancarski had decided to start up a very different kind of political venture. Perhaps inspired by David Frum’s infamous hit piece “€œUnpatriotic Conservatives,”€ Gancarski tried to make a career of it at David Horowitz‘s FrontPageMag bashing the antiwar paleos and libertarians in general and Scott McConnell in particular. From the beginning, Daniel Larison smelled out the rank mendaciousness and opportunism of the refashioned “€œA.G. Gancarski.”€

The Ganc’s commentary on the paleos was so bush-league and riddled with factual errors it made “€œUnpatriotic Conservatives”€ seem like The Critique of Pure Reason. Gancarski made “€œarguments“€ like, Bush won the 2004 election, therefore McConnell should stop criticizing the neocons, and that TAC is really, like, “€œEuropean”€ or something (“€œcheese-eating surrender monkeys”€ lines were working back in “€™04).

And then came the obligatory accusation of anti-Semitism. Mentioning that McConnell listed by name some prominent neoconservative players”€”Rumsfeld, Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith et al.”€”Gancarski called it the “€œtime-honored neocon Jew rollcall.”€ According to the Ganc: “€œthey aren’t McConnell’s kind of people. They aren’t WASPs, and what’s more, their foreign policy arguments are dangerous “€“ especially in the hands of the “€˜wrong”€™ people.”€

Within the space of 800 words, Gancarski denounced McConnell as a Euro PC leftist and then as a anti-Semitic White Nationalist”€”both allegations self-evidently wrong to anyone who’s ever known McConnell or read his writings.  

Gancarski spend most of his time at FrontPageMag not simply attacking critics of the Iraq war but basically everyone to his right”€”Justin Raimondo, the LewRockwell.com libertarians, Sam Francis, and Pat Buchanan were all targets. Dropping phrases like the “€œHate America Right,”€ the Ganc seemed to be auditioning for a staff writer position at “€œFox and Friends.”€ For the likes of Midge Dector and Donald Rumsfeld, he had nothing but praise.  

The Ganc’s sojourn at FrontPageMag lasted about a year and a half, ending with a rambling, incoherent piece on pop music and political culture, much like the forgettable stuff he”€™d been contributing to TAC a couple of years earlier.

After the FrontPageMag experience, Gancarski apparently decided to meandered on back into paleo territory, and somehow”€”for resons that I simply cannot comprehend”€”he got back in the good graces of Scott McConnell and Kara Hopkins, who allowed him to return to his old duties writing short pieces on the musical genius of The Clash and critiquing the rock selections at Republican campaign rallies.

It’s worth noting that after Gancarski turned coat one more time, and re-alligned himself with the erstwhile “€œanti-Semite”€ and WASP elitist, we haven”€™t heard any grand denunciations of David Horowitz as, say, an evil imperialist Zionist or whatever. Indeed, to my knowledge, Gancarski hasn”€™t leveled so much as a peep of criticism towards his former neocon comrades, nor bothered to explain his latest re-conversion to antiwar conservatism. Why TAC would be so eager to allow Gancarski back into the fold, or view him as a literary asset, is absolutely beyond me. 

In any case, Gancarski has set his mind to making a name for himself at the magazine he once ridiculed and using his “€œBanned in DC”€ blog as a vehicle for a shilling for the man he once denounced.

Knowing this history, it’s also clear why “€œBanned in DC”€ simply had to be anonymous. Indeed, many of the passages take on a whole new quality, become almost jaw-dropping, when re-read with full knowledge of the author in mind.
Take for instance:

My question, to Zmirak and all the other having “€˜second thoughts”€™ about the folks at TAC since the Lukacs review dropped is this: why didn”€™t you leave before, if you really had such differences with the “€˜senior editorship”€™ of this magazine? Why did you continue the affiliation with a magazine you clearly had such issue with?

“€œSecond thoughts”€ about TAC, huh? John recognized from the beginning that he had some philosophic differences with McConnell, but decided to stick with TAC because he thought much good could come from a “€œalternative”€ conservative magazine”€”a sane and stable course of action in comparison with Gancarski’s shenanigans. 

And then there’s:

TAC, in many ways, would be better off if it didn”€™t scrape and bow to the whims of a bunch of d-list rejects on this issue. There will undoubtedly be a few more “€˜kiss off”€™ pieces directed to McConnell and company. If they are smart, they will weather the storm, and replace these maundering malcontents with writers who don”€™t have some phantom bullshit axe to grind with the current direction of the magazine.

The Ganc no doubt imagines himself as that pristine A-lister who’s shown nothing but selfless fidelity to McConnell and should be rewarded with a regular column.  

Successive bootlicking and condemning is all Gancarski knows how to do. He”€™ll fashion himself a punk-loving paleo and then, in an instant, a GOP war hawk, and then back again. Throughout the twists and turns, his desire to grovel and please remains as constant as the Northern Star. This guy probably won”€™t earn too much cred on the antiwar Right, but he could have made a great career for himself in a Politburo somewhere. 
While bashing Takimag writers, he hasn”€™t spent a moment analyzing any of the content of the arguments, relying instead on blatant lying, claiming, for instance, that we”€™ve been insinuating things like, “€œDavid Irving isn”€™t really that bad, when ya stop to think of it”€ (!). No one at Takimag has defended the work of Irving, as is clear to anyone. We”€™ve been exasperated by the fact that TAC would publish something in which the founder of the magazine is compared to this one-time Holocaust denier and full-time Nazi-nostalgic. Gancarski is either attempting cheap and easy slander”€”done anonymously of course“€”or else his mind is too feeble to even grasp the arguments of the men he’s denouncing. Which one is it, Ganc?

Gancarski refers to my essay as a “€œpersonal attack of Mr. Lukacs”€ and yet my critique is entirely textual. Such a willful mischaracterization reveals a man incapable of even beginning to defend intellectually Lukacs’s position on Buchanan (or even to pretend that he likes Lukacs).

And then there’s my favorite from the Gancarski compilation:  

“€œTAC could”€™ve had some hack “€” maybe even Stove or Zmirak! “€” write a kiss-ass review of this half-baked book. They didn”€™t. Kudos. Yay.”€

Oh yes, those two “€œhacks,”€ Stove and Zmirak… While the Ganc was out with his buds at a Rastafarian concert, Stove was researching his history of western music and Zmirak was writing his study of the economic thought of Wilhelm Röpke. That someone with the lifetime accomplishments of an A.G. Gancarski would call these two men “€œhacks”€ is beyond pretentious.

I”€™m also not so sure how much calling The Unnecessary War “€œhalf baked”€ will ingratiate Gancarski with one of the most respected men of the antiwar Right. But the real question is how far this will get him with the editors of Pat Buchanan’s magazine…


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