Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks has written an essay for The Atlantic in which he details his experiences at the recent National Conservatism Conference, which he found loaded with angry culture warriors delivering apocalyptic warnings about "wokeness" decimating American culture.
One speech at the conference that particularly struck Brooks came from activist Amanda Milius, who argued that Americans needed to start making movies like the 1950s John Wayne Western "The Searchers" again on the grounds that the film unapologetically showed "how Americans tamed the West and how Christian values got brought to 'savage, undeveloped land.'"
Brooks, however, has seen the movie in question and was not impressed with Milius's take on it.
"This is about as dumb a reading of The Searchers as it's possible to imagine," he writes. "The movie is actually the modern analogue to the Oresteia, by Aeschylus. The complex lead figure, played by John Wayne, is rendered barbaric and racist while fighting on behalf of westward pioneers. By the end, he is unfit to live in civilized society."
Brooks also found himself disturbed by some conservatives' embrace of authoritarian Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán, whom they believed had successfully used state power to enforce Christianity as the dominant religion of his country.
Brooks, however, said that even if such a thing were desirable in the United States, it would simply not be possible to enact.
"Evangelical Christianity has lost many millions of believers across recent decades," he writes. "Secularism is surging, and white Christianity is shrinking into a rump presence in American life. America is becoming more religiously diverse every day. Christians are in no position to impose their values—regarding same-sex marriage or anything else—on the public square. Self-aware Christians know this."
Brooks also was disturbed at the remarkable hostility that these conservatives displayed toward all who disagreed with them.
"Their public posture is dominated by the psychology of threat and menace," he writes. "If there was one expression of sympathy, kindness, or grace uttered from the podium in Orlando, I did not hear it. But I did hear callousness, invocations of combat, and whiffs of brutality."