Thanks to the pugnacious editor of the New York Post opinion page, Sohrab Ahmari, David French became one of the more unlikely “isms” ever formulated. In a much-discussed 2019 essay for First Things, Ahmari argued that everything wrong with establishment conservatism could be summed up as “David French–ism.” French, as you might imagine, was not altogether pleased. In his new book, Divided We Fall, French seeks to reclaim his name. He argues that pluralism and tolerance can save the nation in this divisive era.
French begins with an arresting claim: The continued unity of the United States of America is not certain. America may break apart into two or more nations, because Americans are no longer one people. We lack a common culture, we live separately, we believe in different things, we increasingly loathe our political opponents. And things are only getting worse. Geographical and digital self-sorting feeds extremism, which leads to greater fear and division. This summer’s protests and riots, which took place after the book’s completion, make French’s picture even more timely.