In contrast to neoconservatives or Rockefeller Republicans, Pat Buchanan calls himself a "traditional conservative."
Some of Buchanan's contemporary positions reflect the influence of the magazine Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. Buchanan decries US entry into the Spanish–American War and most wars since, and supports abolishing many government agencies, such as the United States Department of Education and the Bureau of Land Management. Buchanan said in 2005:
We do not consider 'Big Government conservatism' a philosophy, we consider it a heresy.
Following his return to the US Republican Party, he maintains the party has largely abandoned traditional anti-war, anti-imperialist conservative principles in favor of neoconservatism. On MSNBC before the 2006 State of the Union Address, he characterized President George W. Bush as a "Great Society" Republican:
He is Woodrow Wilson in foreign policy, FDR in trade policy, he's LBJ on immigration, but he's Reagan on judges.
He says both parties are now barely distinguishable. He told a public radio interviewer that:
The Republican Party in Washington D.C. today are the sort of people we went into politics to run out of town.
Buchanan vocally opposes those neoconservatives whom he calls "undocumented aliens from the Left, carrying with them the viruses of statism and globalism." He describes their first generation as people who began as "Trotskyist, socialists or Social Democrat," then became "JFK-LBJ Democrats," but broke with the Left during the Vietnam War and "came into their own" during Reagan's administration. He said he welcomed neoconservatives during the early 1970s, but that it has become an inquisition, "hurling anathemas at any who decline to embrace their revised dogmas." Buchanan compares "Neocons" to squatters who take over a once-beloved home (the Republican Party) and convert it into a crack house.
Buchanan also denies the neoconservative maxim that the United States is "the first universal nation," one that embodies rational, democratic principles about freedom, equality and virtue that are applicable everywhere. About sharing a common heritage, culture and language, he says:
Every true nation is the creation of a unique people. Americans are a people apart from all others, with far more in common than political beliefs.
He also says that America's modern-day sexual immorality and "imperial decadence" are not worth emulating. In his opinion,
A society that accepts the killing of a third of its babies as women's 'emancipation,' that considers homosexual marriage to be social progress, that hands out contraceptives to 13-year-old girls at junior high ought to be seeking out a confessional—better yet, an exorcist—rather than striding into a pulpit like Elmer Gantry to lecture mankind on the superiority of 'American values.'
In March 2003, Buchanan wrote an American Conservative cover story arguing that neoconservatives want "to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America's interest." He claimed that Lawrence Kaplan, David Brooks, Max Boot, Robert Kagan and others used charges of anti-Semitism to intimidate Iraq War critics. Buchanan wrote that the American national interest is at stake and "warmongering threatens our country, even as it finds a reliable echo in Ariel Sharon." He argued that a group of "polemicists and public officials" was "colluding with Israel" to start wars, wreck the Oslo Accords, damage US relations with Arab states, alienate Western and Islamic allies, and threaten the peace won by winning the Cold War.
Buchanan has also said "Our democracy is a fraud. It's a consumer fraud."
Buchanan says he supports "equal justice under law," and opposes "reverse discrimination" against whites. Buchanan sees affirmative action as discrimination and is a critic of the NAACP, often accusing the organization of distancing blacks from "the American mainstream". He often accuses Republicans of pandering to such organizations out of their fear of being called racist. Buchanan feels that preferring to associate with one's race is acceptable, as long as it is done respectfully and does not divide America. However, he feels racial politics are dividing America.
Trevor Griffey turned up a memo from 1971 in which Buchanan advocated that President Richard Nixon, rather than abolish affirmative action and appoint Supreme Court justices without regard to race, instead specifically appoint a Catholic:
Instead of sending the orders out to all our agencies—hire blacks and women—the order should go out—hire ethnic Catholics, preferable [sic] women for visible posts. One example: Italian Americans, unlike blacks, have never had a Supreme Court member. ... Give those fellows the 'Jewish seat' or 'black seat' on the Court when it becomes available.
Buchanan writes in State of Emergency:
Race matters. Ethnicity matters. History matters. Faith matters. Nationality matters. While they are not everything, they are not nothing. Multiculturalism be damned, this is what history teaches us.
He has criticized Bill Clinton, writing that Clinton pandered to the African-American vote, and then benefited from receiving a majority of it in the 1992 general election. Buchanan then asserts that Clinton, once having emerged victorious, relegated the black members of his own administration largely to positions of political irrelevance:
Section Eight housing–secondary cabinet positions which have no influence in the inner core of an administration.
When commenting on Jeremiah Wright, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama's controversial pastor, Buchanan wrote:
First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.
Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.
Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the '60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream.
Buchanan says while he did not oppose all aims of the Civil Rights Movement, he deplored what he saw as its increasingly left-wing orientation. Buchanan expresses preference for the social and cultural views of most of Black America prior to the baby boom generation. In his 2001 book Death of the West Buchanan shows a more positive opinion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but assails African-Americans who do not consider themselves part of American culture.
In his 2006 book State of Emergency, Buchanan writes having the federal government repeal the Jim Crow laws were the right decisions, but racial quotas and busing were and are a bad idea. He maintains Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy was a good idea, and dedicates an entire chapter called "The Suicide of the G.O.P." to his view the Republican Party's new strategy of courting minority votes at the expense of its traditional base will spell doom.
State of Emergency also details his take on the importance of race, statistics dealing with race, crime and education, and America's history concerning race. In the book, Buchanan praises the anti-immigration positions of black leaders like Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, his favorite black American leader, and W. E. B. Du Bois. He has especially praised Washington's pleas with industrialists to hire blacks instead of immigrants. He attacks modern day African-American leaders (along with contemporary union and business leaders) for not taking the same position. The book's view of the African-American community in general is critical in some instances and supportive in others, often taking the contemporary black community to task for the country's high crime rates but also portraying blacks as victims of illegal immigration and at times taking a sympathetic historical view of black Americans.
America did not listen [to Booker T. Washington's concerns]. Millions of jobs in burgeoning industries went to immigrants who poured into the United States between 1890 and 1920. These men and women enriched our country. But they also moved ahead of and shouldered aside black men and women whose families had been here for generations and even centuries. Not until immigration had been dramatically cut in the Coolidge era, and World War II created an all-consuming demand for industrial workers, were black Americans brought by the hundreds of thousands north to the manufacturing cities of America. And when they were, a Black middle class was created upon which the civil rights movement was built. When immigration stopped, Black America advanced, as Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and A. Philip Randolph said it would.
Buchanan is a syndicated columnist on VDARE, a website advocating immigration reduction.
In 1992, he said:
If we had to take a million immigrants in, say Zulus, next year, or Englishmen, and put them in Virginia, what group would be easier to assimilate and would cause less problems for the people of Virginia?
He also opposes what he considers the immigration of Muslims reluctant to accept Western norms to the United States and Europe, calling it a security risk, and says that porous borders make America vulnerable to a terrorist attack.
Buchanan has vocally criticized large-scale immigration, both legal and illegal, especially coming across the Mexican border. He supports increased border security and opposed Bush's guest worker program (which he labeled amnesty) for illegal immigrants.
He states many left-wing Mexican-Americans have a revanchist view on territories lost to the United States in the Mexican-American War. He declares their high birthrates threaten the social cohesion of certain parts of the country. In State of Emergency, he warned that the American Southwest could "become a giant Kosovo," still part of the United States, but Mexican in "language, ethnicity, history and culture."
In a 2002 speech, he said:
In the next 50 years, the Third World will grow by the equivalent of 30 to 40 new Mexicos. If you go to the end of the century, the white and European population is down to about three percent. This is what I call the death of the West. I see the nations dying when the populations die. I see the civilization dying. It is under attack in our own countries, from our own people.
Buchanan's book The Death of the West deplores the decline in non-Hispanic whites and argues no nations have held together without an ethnic majority. Buchanan believes if immigration and birth rate trends continue, young Americans (in that case the Millennial Generation) will spend their golden years in a "third world America", which will reduce the nation to a conglomeration of peoples with nothing in common. He believes this can be credited to the 1965 Immigration Act and the cultural revolution of the 1960s. He notes past immigration was European, while 90 percent of new legal immigrants are Asian, African, and Latin American and they are not "melting and reforming."
In State of Emergency, he writes:
Any man or any woman, of any color or creed, can be a good American. We know that from our history. But when it comes to the ability to assimilate into a nation like the United States, all nationalities, creeds, and cultures are not equal. To say that is ideology speaking, not judgment born out of experience.
During an interview promoting the book, Buchanan said he did not prefer only white immigrants, yet lamented changes in demographics of the United States.
I'd like the country I grew up in. It was a good country. I lived in Washington, D.C., – 400,000 black folks, 400,000 white folks, in a country 89 or 90 percent white. I like that country.
Asked if he believed the country should try to keep such ratio, he replied:
No, no. What I believe is that people should not deliberately alter the character and composition of the country without consulting the American people. If you adopt two children, Alan, you're going to go in and you're going to decide who comes. Who should decide who comes and who doesn't? First, illegals should not come. Secondarily, the American people should be consulted about how many immigrants come, what are the criteria.—And we haven't been consulted.
In State of Emergency, Buchanan proposes the following immigration policy:10-year moratorium on all legal immigration at a level between 150,000 and 250,000 per year
A 2,000-mile (3,200 km) double-line security fence between the United States and Mexico
A federally legislated end to all social welfare benefits for illegal aliens, except for emergency medical services
A crackdown on major businesses that chronically hire illegal aliens and the elimination of deductibility for all wages paid to illegals
A federal law to "restate the true meaning of the 14th Amendment" and denial of automatic citizenship to "anchor babies" born to illegal aliens
A policy allowing immigrants to bring in only wives and non-adult children
An end to dual citizenship in the United States
A deportation program beginning with all aliens convicted of felonies and every gang member who is not a citizen of the United States
Buchanan has openly ridiculed those who oppose the display of Confederate flags in State capitals. He has written the American Civil War was about states rights, self-determination, and "the right of a people to break free of a government to which they could no longer give allegiance", as well as irreconcilable cultural differences between the North and the South at the time. In The Death of the West, Buchanan cites this as an example of how culture is more important than political ideologies, because
The South was 'attached to the same principles of government' as the North. But that did not prevent Southerners from fighting four years of bloody war to be free of their Northern brethren.
However, like other Southern conservatives of past generations, he has also expressed admiration for President Abraham Lincoln, calling him "the great protectionist of the Republican Party."
Buchanan once heard Martin Luther King, Jr. speak at a Baptist church in north St. Louis in 1962. He claims King accused the 1964 Goldwater presidential campaign of "dangerous signs of Hitlerism." He opposed making King's birthday a national holiday. Buchanan urged Nixon not to visit King's widow Coretta Scott King in 1969, because:
It would outrage many, many people who believe Dr. King was a fraud and a demagogue, and perhaps worse. ... It does not seem to be in the interests of national unity for the president to lend his national prestige to the argument that this divisive figure is a modern saint.
In his 1988 autobiography, however, Buchanan describes reporting on the 1963 March on Washington, and personally witnessing the "I Have a Dream" speech:
No one there was unmoved. I knew I had just heard from a few feet away one of the memorable addresses in American history. What made King's oration so powerful and affecting was that it was a passionate appeal to the best in America, delivered without rancor or malice or warning of retribution for past wrongs.
In a 2000 public radio interview, Buchanan said King was a divisive figure.
[I said that in] a memo in 1969 whether we should recognize the day or go down and see Mrs. King, and I suggested we not see Mrs. King. I said, 'Martin Luther King was one of the most divisive men. Some see him as the messiah of the nation, others think he's a dreadful person. He is a divisive figure.' Look, I knew Martin Luther King. I am the only candidate who was at the March on Washington. I was in the Lincoln Memorial. I was in Mississippi covering the civil rights demonstrations. ... Like every great movement, the civil rights movement had things that were attractive and things that were not. And for my history, friends, we make no apologies.
The Anti-Defamation League noted that Buchanan has made several appearances on The Political Cesspool, a white nationalist radio talk show. In his June 2008 appearance on the show, he said that he plans to write a book that will describe the possibility of a future race war.
In a debate with Tom DiLorenzo, Buchanan referred to Alexander Hamilton as "my hero," and attributed "the greatest economic expansion" in American history to Hamiltonian economics.
Buchanan says while he wants endangered species to survive, regulations protecting habitats are unconstitutional takings from private landowners. During his 2000 presidential campaign, he explained:
We have a Biblically-based obligation to be good stewards of the land as 'keepers of the commons.' However, the modern environmental movement has been co-opted by globalists who use international treaties to regulate our industries, and violate property rights by converting private holdings into public 'habitats.' No one is more qualified to conserve land than the people who live on it. The government should not trample states' rights by turning local land into public property.
In The Great Betrayal, Buchanan argues that free trade contributes to environmental destruction. He blames multinational corporations, saying they do not have the same vested interest in respecting nature as "economic patriots." He also opposes the Kyoto Protocol. Buchanan proposes economic nationalism based on the principles of the American School. He says that "the country comes before the economy; and the economy exists for the people." A critic of free trade, he supports repealing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and raising tariffs on imported goods to provide tax relief to domestic industry. Arguing that "you need imports to pay the taxes," he sees tariffs as a vehicle for allowing for tax relief for domestically made products, making them more competitive.
Buchanan does not view tariffs as something that should be set so high as to ensure the foreign product will not be bought (and the tariff hence uncollected), but something that should be adjusted to maximize tax flow. In 2004, he wrote, "Tariffs raise the prices of goods. True. But all taxes—tariffs, income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes—are factored into the final price of the goods we buy. When a nation puts a tariff on foreign goods coming into the country, it is able to cut taxes on goods produced inside the country. This is the way to give U.S. manufacturers and workers a 'home-field advantage.'"
Buchanan opposes placing economic sanctions on foreign countries, saying they only harm the impoverished and weak while giving tyrants a convenient scapegoat. He has consistently rejected as immoral and self-defeating the idea of imposing sanctions on Arab and Muslim countries, for example. Despite his anti-Communism, he now opposes sanctions on Cuba and criticized proposed sanctions on North Korea. Buchanan also opposed economic sanctions against South Africa during apartheid (see South Africa, below).
In 1999, Buchanan announced his "Family Farm Bill of Rights." It called for:
- Elimination of all inheritance and capital gains taxes.
- Requiring that all countries that trade with the U.S. give American farmers open access to their markets absent tariffs and quotas.
- Abolish the IMF and end American aid to foreign competitors of U.S. farmers.
- Review of all embargoes and sanctions of foreign countries that "use food exports as a weapon."
- Enforcement of existing anti-trust laws to "prevent mega-mergers from forcing the vertical integration of American agriculture."
- Requiring price disclosure.
- Support for ethanol production as integral to a policy of national energy independence.
- Revision of the Endangered Species Act to require a vote of Congress on every species listed as endangered.
- Regulatory changes: exempting family farms from OSHA, imposing a moratorium on all new regulation, requiring a sunset provision of five years on all regulation, and instituting a defined annual cutback in regulatory paperwork.
- "Restore farmers' Fifth Amendment property rights and end the regulatory theft of property without just compensation."
In 1995, Buchanan announced his "Small Business Bill of Rights." It called for:
- A balanced budget amendment with a tax limitation provision.
- A line item veto for the president.
- Elimination of the federal income tax for small businesses and a 17 percent flat tax on large corporations.
- Slash the capital gains tax, indexing it for inflation and eliminating it for new risk capital invested in start-up businesses.
- End inheritance taxes on all family businesses and family farms.
- A moratorium on new regulation, a sunset provision of years on all regulations, and a defined annual cutback in paperwork for small businesses.
- A review and rollback of the unfunded mandates of the past and restrictions on future unfunded mandates.
- Elimination of all quotas, contract set asides and affirmative action from federal programs and federal law. The aspect of the 1991 quota bill that put the burden of proof on employers will be reversed. The government will have to prove deliberate discrimination on the part of the employer.
- Tort reform at both the state and local level. Punitive and compensatory damages should be related to actual harm done, and the loser should be made to pay the legal fees of the winner.
- The "restoration of property rights under the 5th Amendment."
In announcing his 1996 presidential campaign, he said:
Today, in too many of our schools our children are being robbed of their innocence. Their minds are being poisoned against their Judeo-Christian heritage, against America's heroes and against American history, against the values of faith and family and country. Eternal truths that do not change from the Old and New Testament have been expelled from our public schools, and our children are being indoctrinated in moral relativism, and the propaganda of an anti-Western ideology.
Buchanan has said frequently that Christianity and the Ten Commandments have been "expelled" from public education. He supports state-sanctioned prayer in public schools, as well as a constitutional amendment protecting such prayer. In a 1999 interview, he said:
Ever since the judges have gotten heavily into education, and the National Education Association has gotten into control of that Department of Education, test scores go down, there’s violence in classroom, things are going wrong.
In Right from the Beginning, he said:
A National Day of Prayer, conducted inside the classrooms of America's public schools, by Christian teachers, in open defiance of Supreme Court edicts, would send a message of political strengths the Secular City could not ignore.
He believes that Darwinism is a "disastrous theory," calling it faith instead of science. He endorses the concept of intelligent design, and argues that regardless of the science behind creation, this process "implies the existence of a lawmaker."
Buchanan is a member of the traditionalist movement within Roman Catholicism, attending the Tridentine Mass in the Latin language at Saint Mary, Mother of God Church in Washington, D.C. on Sundays and holy days. In a 1993 speech against multiculturalism, he declared:
Our culture is superior because our religion is Christianity and that is the truth that makes men free.
He says the Western World is approaching a grim future because it has rejected traditional Christian values, and says if politicians do not "defend the moral order rooted in the Old and New Testament and Natural Law," society faces "a permanent downhill run"—and that this matters more than "economic or political" problems.
Buchanan charges the New York Times with Anti-Catholic bias. He has referred to John Kerry and other Catholics who claim views on abortion and homosexual unions which dissent from official Catholic doctrine, as scandalous heretics. On the direction of the Catholic Church since Vatican II, he has stated:
The Church is in crisis today not because it failed to adjust its teaching and practices to the sexual revolution, but because it tried both to be true to its teachings and to keep in step with an immoral age, which is an impossibility. The way for the Church to restore its lost moral authority is to retrace its steps.
Buchanan praised Pope John Paul II's views on abortion, homosexuality, and extramarital sex, calling him "the most politically incorrect man on Earth." Buchanan says post-Vatican II liberalism is hurting Mass attendance and reducing the numbers of priests and nuns. He later praised the pope's successor, Benedict XVI, as uncompromising on Catholic doctrines, including divorce, contraception and women's ordination. On the other hand, he said Pope John Paul II was wrong on the death penalty, saying:
It is the Holy Father and the bishops who are outside the Catholic mainstream, and at odds with Scripture, tradition and natural law.
Buchanan said of Mel Gibson's film Passion of the Christ:
Responding to charges Pope Pius XII remained silent during the Holocaust, Buchanan called the claim, "a blood libel that is Hitlerite in dimension." He notes that the Nazis despised the Pontiff, while the victims of Nazism (and the 1940s New York Times) praised him. He says Pius XII reigned during "a time of explosive growth in the Church" and supports proposals to have him declared a saint.
Buchanan holds the Crusades in high regard, and is against political correctness to consider them as otherwise.
Pat Buchanan says that America is divided by a culture war. He calls it a conflict over the power to define society's definition of right and wrong. Fronts include environmentalism, feminism, abortion, gay rights, freedom of religion, women in combat, display of the Confederate flag, recognition of Christmas and taxpayer-funded art. He also said that the controversy given this idea of culture wars was itself evidence of polarization.
When Buchanan ran for president in 1996, he promised to fight for the conservative side of the culture war, saying:
I will use the bully pulpit of the presidency of the United States, to the full extent of my power and ability, to defend American traditions and the values of faith, family, and country, from any and all directions. And, together, we will chase the purveyors of sex and violence back beneath the rocks whence they came.
In a 2004 column, he wrote:
Who is in your face here? Who started this? Who is on the offensive? Who is pushing the envelope? The answer is obvious. A radical Left aided by a cultural elite that detests Christianity and finds Christian moral tenets reactionary and repressive is hell-bent on pushing its amoral values and imposing its ideology on our nation. The unwisdom of what the Hollywood and the Left are about should be transparent to all.
Buchanan says pornography is a symptom of society's displacement of Christianity. He argues capitalism's power should not extend to such material. He referred to hardcore pornography as:
Buchanan believes life begins at conception and says of abortion:
I don’t care about the circumstances of a child’s conception... You want to execute somebody in the case of rape, execute the rapist and let the unborn child live.
He has described the abortion inducing drug Mifepristone as a "human pesticide." He compares legalization to the downfall of the Weimar Republic. As a result, he opposes Planned Parenthood, UNFPA and fetal-tissue research. Buchanan wants Congress to hold hearings on when life begins and confer "personhood" on the unborn. He believes modern technology can be used to prove life begins at conception and:
To reach hearts, we must first teach. Some hearts that are closed and cold will open. We will reach them. It has worked before.
Buchanan believes the right to die does not exist, and compares euthanasia to the culture of the pre-Christian Roman Empire, calling euthanasia a "crime against humanity." He claims that, in the Terri Schiavo case, Florida murdered Schiavo by starving her to death. He argues such practices will physically destroy Western civilization. He predicted in 2002 that:
In coming decades, involuntary euthanasia will be commonplace in Europe, and Generation X battles to stay alive into old age will be treated with the same cold contempt as they treated the silent screams of the unborn. Millions will be put to sleep like aged and incontinent household pets. Since the 1960s, the radical young have pleaded for a world free of the strictures of the old Christian morality. They are close to getting what they have demanded... and my sense is that they will not like what they get.
Referring to AIDS in 1983, Buchanan wrote in his syndicated column that gays have "declared war upon nature, and now nature is extracting an awful retribution." In later years he urged New York City Mayor Ed Koch and New York State Gov. Mario Cuomo to cancel the Gay Pride Parade or else "be held personally responsible for the spread of the AIDS plague." In a 1990 interview, he stated he was, "the first national columnist to demand why the government wasn’t dealing with this national epidemic," and stood by his view that AIDS is a consequence of immoral sex. In his autobiography, he wrote:
Someone's values are going to prevail. Why not ours? Whose country is it, anyway? Whose moral code says we may interfere with a man's right to be a practicing bigot, but must respect and protect his right to be a practicing sodomite?
However, Buchanan does not reject gays as political supporters. Notably, due to their common Old Right anti-war views, he developed professional ties with gay paleolibertarian Justin Raimondo.
In Right from the Beginning, Buchanan wrote:
The real liberators of American women were not the feminist noise-makers; they were the automobile, the supermarket, the shopping center, the dishwasher, the washer-dryer, the freezer.
He went on to explain these conveniences allowed "Mom" to spend more time reading, teaching or getting involved in the community. He vocally opposed the policy of allowing women to serve in military combat. In Death of the West, he wrote that early campaigners for women's rights such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton held social views distinctly different from those of second-wave feminists of the 1960s. He has expressed his belief that the latter hold much of the responsibility for imperiling Western civilization.
During a heated 2008 debate with fellow MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews over the media's coverage of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Matthews claimed Buchanan's views on women and feminism had unconvincingly changed ever since the 2008 Democratic primaries, when Buchanan defended longtime foe Hillary Clinton from what he considered unfair treatment by the media. Matthews said, "When did you become Dr. Phil [McGraw]?... Now you've become the foster father of all women politicians." Buchanan retorted, "What's your problem with strong women, buddy?" He noted that Matthews once had to publicly apologize for what was widely perceived as a sexist comment about Hillary Clinton. Buchanan added that "The 'M-S' in 'MSNBC' should not stand for 'misogyny'." He asserted that Palin was a feminist, and expressed admiration for the organization Feminists for Life, to which she belongs.
Buchanan believes that gun ownership and violence are not linked, saying the gun owner bears responsibility of keeping weapons away from children. In his 2000 presidential campaign he said:
The Second Amendment guarantees the individual right to own, possess, and use personal firearms, and as President I will ensure that this right is not compromised. People convicted of violent crime should forfeit their right to own firearms, but sportsmen, hunters, and law-abiding Americans should be allowed to use guns for pleasure or personal or family safety. Private ownership of guns gives citizens of this free republic the means to protect life, liberty and property—and I will fully and faithfully protect that right.
Buchanan endorsed armed resistance to urban unrest, saying:
There is one root cause that is common to all riots: rioters. When such people—as they did early in May—attack a bus carrying terrified commuters, they do not need to hear a lot of bullhocky about 'communicating' and 'dialogue.' They need to hear through a local bullhorn the three little words that say it all: 'Lock and load!'
Buchanan has supported the war on drugs and, opposing marijuana legalization, he has said marijuana use is not a victimless crime. On the other hand, he has also declared that marijuana use for medicinal purposes should be a matter between patient and doctor. Buchanan told the Charlotte Observer:
If a doctor indicated to his patient that this was the only way to alleviate certain painful symptoms, I would defer to the doctor's judgment.
Due to the failure of the war on drugs in Mexico and the increased narcoterrorism and violence there, Buchanan, while not outrightly calling for the legalization of drugs, has grown increasingly skeptical of American drug policies and sees drug prohibition policies as failed and unsustainable.
He has denied using illegal drugs. He once answered a New York Daily News reporter's question, "No to cocaine. No to marijuana. And a question mark over Jack Daniel's."
PETA gave Buchanan the 2005 "Strongest Backbone" Proggy Award after his American Conservative magazine ran cover stories criticizing "factory farms and slaughterhouses." The group said Buchanan made a "gutsy decision" to cover animal rights topics. The articles were titled "Fear Factories" and "Dominion" by Matthew Scully, a former George W. Bush speechwriter.
Buchanan says that being a lifelong "cat fan" is what sparked his interest in the issue of animal cruelty. "I've always been disgusted by that," he remarked, "even though I'm not a vegetarian."
Buchanan argues that the United States' ability to control its own affairs is under siege due to free trade ideology, globalism, globalization and other issues, discussed below. He once remarked, "we love the old republic, and when we hear phrases like 'new world order,' we release the safety catches on our revolvers."
Buchanan strongly opposes military interventionism. "Interventionism is the incubator of terrorism," he said in 2001. He approvingly quotes George Washington and Thomas Jefferson regarding the dangers of "entangling alliances" and foreign military adventures.
Yet, today, America's leaders are reenacting every folly that brought these great powers [Russia, Germany, and Japan] to ruin—from arrogance and hubris, to assertions of global hegemony, to imperial overstretch, to trumpeting new 'crusades,' to handing out war guarantees to regions and countries where Americans have never fought before. We are piling up the kind of commitments that produced the greatest disasters of the twentieth century.
Since the end of the Cold War, Buchanan has consistently been opposed to U.S. intervention and has advocated a conservative, anti-interventionist foreign policy.
For example, Buchanan once suggested that the U.S. remove the United Nations headquarters from New York City and send in the Marines to "help pack." He supports withdrawal from the Rome Treaty and most of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He also suggests that foreign aid be rolled back and that all US troops pull out of Europe. In The Great Betrayal, he wrote, "Like a shipwrecked, exhausted Gulliver on the beach of Lilliput, America is to be tied down with threads, strand by strand, until it cannot move when it awakens. Piece by piece, our sovereignty is being surrendered."
Buchanan's entire career reflects staunch anti-communism. He called for a strong national defense during the Cold War and supported the Vietnam War, saying that communism directly threatened the safety of the United States. He does not approve of the way the Vietnam War was fought or the initial decision to wage it, but believes the United States could have won the war if it had been fought correctly. Today, he expresses concern about China as a threat to United States security. In Where the Right Went Wrong, he claimed that "the Communist Chinese government has the secret loyalty of millions of 'overseas Chinese' from Singapore to San Francisco."
Buchanan opposes other U.S. military actions abroad, including the Persian Gulf and Iraq Wars. Buchanan opposes neo-conservative foreign policy, and has vocally opposed every major military campaign the U.S. has engaged in since the end of the Cold War except the United States invasion of Afghanistan. On The McLaughlin Group in December 2005, he referred to the current war in Iraq as the worst foreign policy disaster of his lifetime, and on "Scarborough Country" in December 2006 he called the war "The worst mistake in American history." Unlike many conservatives, he outspokenly opposed the invasion of Iraq when it was first proposed in 2002. He supports the tradition of 'neutrality' or 'non-interventionism' which was the policy of the United States prior to the onset of the Cold War. He has said that "Unless American honor, vital interests or citizens were at risk or have been attacked, U.S. policy should be to stay out of war." He is credited with reviving the slogan "America First," which was the name of a group that opposed American intervention in World War II. In his 1999 book A Republic, Not an Empire, he applauds that organization's efforts and calls its supporters maligned patriots. He also argued that the committee deserves credit for the fact that Soviet casualties far outnumbered American ones on the European Front. Buchanan's critics often describe him as an isolationist, which he denies.
He is in favor of ending treaties that he believes do not protect the interests of the United States, such as one-way defense treaties where the US must militarily come to the defense of another country, but not vice versa. For example, he believes that the U.S. no longer has any legitimate reason to be a member of NATO ever since the fall of the Soviet Union and he strongly opposed American intervention in the Yugoslav Wars.
Buchanan argues Islamic terror groups target America, "for what we do, not who we are." He is critical of the post September 11 War on Terrorism, which he claims ignores the root causes of terror in favor of short-term military victories. He advocated the use of torture to get information from terrorists. Buchanan says George W. Bush administration meddles in world affairs to the point of imperialism. He believes that Islamic terrorist attacks, such as the September 11, 2001 attacks come as a result of intervening in foreign countries, saying "terrorists hate us for what we do, not what we are." He says "Our war on terror should more properly be called a war on Al Qaeda, the ones who attacked us. Terrorism is a weapon of war that has been used from before the destruction of Carthage."
He believes it is pointless and dangerous for Americans to force their will on Muslim countries, because "anti-colonial and anti-imperial terror seems to be one of the few occupations at which Arab and Islamic peoples are proficient and successful. Turks, British, French, Israelis, Russians, and, yes, Americans (Lebanon in 1983), have been pushed out of these countries by terrorism and guerrilla war. Why do we want to go back?" He also says:
Clearly, Islam is going through an upheaval with its incapacity to reconcile itself both with modernity and its militant faith. We should stay out of this revolution inside Islam, as Washington, Adams and Jefferson sought to keep us out of the wars that came out of the French Revolution and its Napoleonic aftermath. That revolution may hit our shores, and when it does, we have to defend ourselves and punish those who attack us. But wholesale military intervention in the Middle East and Islamic world is throwing rocks at bee hives.
Buchanan's social views sometimes contribute to his ideas about trade and foreign policy. For example, he claims that the American media contributes to an unnecessary war because "[m]any of the movies, books, magazines, TV shows, videos and much of the music we export to the world are as poisonous as the narcotics the Royal Navy forced on the Chinese people in the Opium Wars." While he considers Islam inferior to Christianity, he also shows sympathy for modern Muslims' opposition to American pop culture today. He says that exporting the "imperial decadence" of "Pagan America" will only provoke Muslim wrath. He wrote:
If conservatives reject the "equality" preached by Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, NARAL and the National Organization for Women, why seek to impose it on the Islamic world? Why not stand beside Islam, and against Hollywood and Hillary? [...] If he [George W. Bush] intends to impose the values of MTV America on the Muslim world in the name of a "world democratic revolution," he will provoke and incite a war of civilizations America cannot win because Americans do not want to fight it. This may be the neocons' war. It is not our war.
Buchanan has gained notoriety for various controversial statements about Canada. In particular, he coined the epithet Soviet Canuckistan on an October 31, 2002 broadcast of Buchanan and Press. Following a Canadian outcry responding to new U.S. regulations which allow border officials to photograph and fingerprint Canadian visitors of Middle Eastern descent, Buchanan called Canada a "haven for international terrorists" and "freeloading nation."
Buchanan claims the United States must review its policy toward China, because it is ambiguous and could lead to war. He argues that America gives this nation "unrestricted" access to its markets – and deserves something back, "besides cheap consumer goods." He also says that while the Chinese still live under Communist ideology, they follow economic policies reminiscent of German nationalist Friedrich List.
About contemporary China, Buchanan has written:
[The Chinese] are Hamiltonians – resolute and ruthless economic nationalists. They look out and see the same world our forefathers saw, a world of nation-states where the struggle for power and pre-eminence is eternal, where trade is not a game, but an arena of battle, where industrial and technological primacy eventually yield military and strategic supremacy, where those who sacrifice today rule the world tomorrow. They see the world as it is. We see the world as we would like it to be.
Buchanan says that although he supported his boss, President Nixon, when he opened toward China in the 1970s, the geopolitical situation has changed greatly since then. He says that the US should contain, but neither aggravate nor appease, Beijing. He also supports providing Taiwan with defensive weapons and other material, but not troops.
Buchanan argues that Christianity created Europe, but Europe rejected Christianity. So without orthodox morality and ethics, it faces a crisis of legitimacy. He further says that democracy is merely a political process and insufficient for preventing decadence and tyranny.
Buchanan is also a Euroskeptic and opposed the 2005 EU “New Europe” constitution, yet also suggested that the EU offer Russia membership. He complains of an “atheist-socialist superstate rising in Europe”, which is "the prototype of the World Government to come." He also states that the "Mother Continent" is endangered by falling birthrates, so that it risks becoming “Islamicized” by immigrants. "For the de-Christianized European Union does not contain a single nation where the birth rate is sufficient to replace the population," he explains, "Europe has begun to die. In 20 nations, the native-born population has begun to shrink. The cohort of workers entering the labor force is not large enough to maintain the welfare benefits, pensions and health care for retirees and elderly."
Some critics equate Buchanan's right-wing nationalism with that of French nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was convicted and fined by a German court for remarks "minimizing the Holocaust." Buchanan himself contends that Le Pen "made radical and foolish statements," but is not a neo-Nazi. He also says the EU establishment violated the National Front leader's free speech rights. He wrote:
As it is often the criminal himself who is first to cry, "Thief!" so it is usually those who scream, "Fascist!" loudest who are the quickest to resort to anti-democratic tactics. Today, the greatest threat to the freedom and independence of the nations of Europe comes not from Le Pen and that 17 percent of French men and women who voted for him. It comes from an intolerant European Establishment that will accept no rollback of its powers or privileges, nor any reversal of policies it deems "progressive."
In a commentary published July 26, 2011 and in response to the terrorist attacks in Norway, Buchanan stated "Breivik is evil—a cold-blooded, calculating killer." Buchanan goes on to discuss the political aspects of the attack and immigration in Europe concluding his commentary by stating,
As for a climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world that is growing in numbers and advancing inexorably into Europe for the third time in 14 centuries, on this one, Breivik may be right.
Buchanan believes the United States should consider post-Communist Russia a strong ally and make attempts to bring that country closer to the West. He says, "Just as Russians have to put the Cold War behind them, so do we. America’s quarrel was never with the Russian people, it was with the Bolsheviks who terrorized Russia and said to Americans when I was young, 'We will bury you!'" He has called Vladimir Putin a "patriot and a nationalist who puts Russia first, and who is a resolute guardian of Russian national interests." He said Putin is probably "being set up" for the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, and that Litvinenko's death was likely either a suicide or the work of one of Putin's enemies trying to "put a cloud of suspicion over Putin and a chill over Russian relations with the West." He has also accused the Bush Administration of harming American interests and endangering America's potential friendship with Russia by needlessly antagonizing the Russian president "Our vital interest was always in maintaining strong US–Russian ties," he writes, "which have been ravaged by the meddling of neoconservatives mired in Russophobia." In Buchanan's view, both Russia and the United States have a vital interest in resisting Islamic terrorism and the possibility of Chinese expansionism, and that "Of this generation of leaders, it may be said in epitaph: They were too small to see the larger world. They frittered away in a decade what others had won in a half-century of perseverance in the Cold War." He also opposed the US position in the South Ossetian war of 2008, asking "Can any sane man believe the United States should go to war with a nuclear-armed Russia over Stalin's birthplace, Georgia?"
Buchanan states in the article Can Uncle Sam let go?:
After the Russia-Georgia clash last August, Bush declared, "It's important for the people of Lithuania to know that when the United States makes a commitment – we mean it." But "mean" what? That a Russian move on Vilnius will be met by U.S. strikes on Mother Russia? Are we insane? Let us thank Divine Providence Russia has not tested the pledge. For can anyone believe that, to keep Moscow from re-establishing its hegemony over a tiny Baltic republic, we would sink Russian ships, blockade Russian ports, bomb Russian airfields, attack Russian troop concentrations? That would risk having some Russian general respond with atomic weapons on US air, sea and ground forces. Great powers do not go to war against other great powers unless vital interests are imperiled. Throughout the Cold War, that was true of both America and Russia.
Pat Buchanan strongly supports Vladimir Putin. In a pro-Putin essay posted to a conservative website, he wrote that "Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity" and that "Russia's annexation of Crimea is part of Putin's master plan to fight the moral war against the west. Further adding that "Russia is the 'third Rome' and the West ‘is Gomorrah'".
Buchanan says the 1953 Korean War armistice is a good example of a president ending a war that became unwise or unwinnable. He calls North Korea "Stalinist", but dismisses President Bush's claim that it is part of an “Axis of Evil” with Iran and Iraq. He says the U.S. should pull its troops out of Korea, letting the North and South should solve the unification problem as an internal issue. He writes that "While a North Korean attack on the South would imperil US troops on the DMZ, this is not 1950," and it would make more sense to withdraw U.S. forces from South Korea and simply sell arms to that country, which has a population twice as large and an economy thirty times the size of its rival. Buchanan believes the Bush administration was hypocritical to demand pre-emptive strikes and regime change for other nations, but not for North Korea. He says a "new generation" of South Koreans resents the U.S. military presence. He also predicts that a U.S. pullout would "moot America's quarrel with the Communist North."
Buchanan opposed economic sanctions designed to punish South Africa for apartheid, as did many other 1980s Republicans. Then he characterized such proposals as "collaborating in a United Nations conspiracy to ruin her with sanctions." He still defends that position, opposes sanctions in general (see Trade, above) and praises President Reagan for vetoing them. After Reagan left office, he wrote, "We helped ruin a nation that did us no harm, and that provides a better standard of living for blacks than any other in Africa. We injured an ally of two wars to advance an African National Congress that is shot through with terrorists, Marxists and socialist idiots of the sort who have brought ruin everywhere they have taken power."
Buchanan has also referred to Nelson Mandela as a former train-bomber. He says that he and the African National Congress used terrorism to overthrow white rule, as did Robert Mugabe in Rhodesia. He uses them as an example of how revolutionaries have fought European dominance.
During Israel's conflict with Lebanon in July 2006, he accused Bush of "subcontracting US policy out to Tel Aviv, thus making Israel the custodian of our reputation and interests in the Middle East." Further, he said when Bush was asked if he would urge Israel to restrain airstrikes, he "sounded less like the leader of the Free World than some bellicose city councilman from Brooklyn Heights." He concluded there is no proof to substantiate Bush's claim that Syria was behind Hezbollah's capture of Israeli soldiers, and added those "whispering in his ear" are:
The same people who told him Iraq was maybe months away from an atom bomb, that an invasion would be a 'cakewalk,' that he would be Churchill, that U.S. troops would be greeted with candy and flowers, that democracy would break out across the region, that Palestinians and Israelis would then sit down and make peace? How much must America pay for the education of this man?
Although he regularly criticizes U.S. policy in the Middle East, Buchanan says he favors "a strong, independent state of Israel." He wrote in 1999:
As for my views on Israel, they have changed. With the Intifada, I came to believe that Israel's survival now mandated a homeland, a flag, and a nation of their own for the Palestinian people. A friend I made in Israel at the end of the Six Day War, Yitzhak Rabin, reached the same conclusion at the same time. For attempting to negotiate peace with Arafat, Rabin, too, was called an anti-Semite and Nazi, and was murdered in that climate of hatred.
In Buchanan's opinion,
The Israeli people are America’s friends and have a right to peace and secure borders. We should help them secure these rights.
He believes that the United States has a "moral commitment" to recognize Israel's right to defend itself:
But US and Israeli interests are not identical. They often collide, and when they do, US interests must prevail.
Buchanan argues that much American "meddling" in the Middle East is not to protect the U.S. national interest but largely done to support Israel. Buchanan has referred to Capitol Hill as "Israeli-occupied territory." In 1991 he wrote Congress has become "a Parliament of Whores incapable of standing up for U.S. national interests if AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) is on the other end of the line." He accuses Israel of spying on the U.S. in many instances other than the well-publicized case of Jonathan Pollard, about whom he wrote:
Israel suborned Jonathan Pollard to loot our secrets and refuses to return the documents, which would establish whether or not they were sold to Moscow. When Clinton tried to broker an agreement at Wye Plantation between Israel and Arafat, Bibi Netanyahu attempted to extort, as his price for signing, release of Pollard, so he could take this treasonous snake back to Israel as a national hero.
In the 1990s, he endorsed the "land for peace" policy in the Middle East. He also strongly praised Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, calling him "the statesman who brought peace after a half century of fighting for Israel's place in the sun".
The first widespread accusations of anti-Semitism against Buchanan concerned the September 15, 1990, The McLaughlin Group program. On it, Buchanan said that:
There are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in the Middle East—the Israeli defense ministry and its 'amen corner' in the United States. The Israelis want this war desperately because they want the United States to destroy the Iraqi war machine. They want us to finish them off. They don't care about our relations with the Arab world.
This sparked New York Times columnist A.M. Rosenthal to complain of "venom" and a "blood libel" against Jews, saying "that to be silent about anti-Semitism would be a sin with which I could not live." ("Amen corner" is a slang term used by some American Protestants to describe a group of people who sit in near one another in church and shout "Amen!" whenever the preacher makes a point.)
Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League said before the 1990 invasion of Iraq, Buchanan made "an appeal to anti-Semitic bigotry" and "accused Israel's American supporters of goading the United States into the Persian Gulf War," writing in one column:
'The civilized world must win this fight,' the editors thunder. But, if it comes to war, it will not be the 'civilized world' humping up that bloody road to Baghdad; it will be American kids with names like McAllister, Murphy, Gonzales and Leroy Brown.
Buchanan doesn't see anything anti-Semitic about this statement, and responded:
If it is the lack of Jewish names among those soldiers, why is my list not also anti-Italian, anti-Greek, and anti-Polish?
Buchanan supports an independent Palestinian state, but criticized the leadership of the former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat (who died in 2004). He compared the 2002 Battle of Jenin to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and describes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the battle of intractable foes. He says a Palestinian state is the only hope for peace, and would give the Palestinians "a huge stake" in "preventing acts of terror against Israel – i.e., national survival". He also said that "Israeli repression" made the Palestinians radical, and describes U.S. policy as "waging war on innocents to break their political leaders" and fueling anti-American hatred.
Buchanan wrote a column on 5 April 2014 in which he opined, based on Vladimir Putin's December 2013 SOTU-like Address to the Federal Assembly, that "Russia ... is on God’s side. The West is Gomorrah," and "that Moscow is the Godly City of today and command post of the counter-reformation against the new paganism." He recalls Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum, wife of Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski, as being "stunned when in Tbilisi to hear a Georgian lawyer declare of the former pro-Western regime of Mikhail Saakashvili, “They were LGBT.”" Later on, he writes of Masha Gessen, who summarises the man thus: “Russia is remaking itself as the leader of the anti-Western world.” Buchanan writes of a world where Russia’s role, in Putin’s words, is to “prevent movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state.”
Pat Buchanan says Adolf Hitler only sought to dominate Europe, while making "no physical threat to the US" after 1940. He argues that Franklin D. Roosevelt "froze all Japanese assets, cutting off trade, including oil" to push Japan into starting a war. He refers to Roosevelt as "a base appeaser of Stalin" and that his administration was "shot through with Communist spies and traitors." "In World War II," he writes, "patriots argued the wisdom of FDR's 'Europe First' policy that left our men on Corregidor to the mercy of the butchers of Bataan". He commented:
Responsibility for the lack of American preparedness at the time of Pearl Harbor rests wholly with FDR. He had been in power nine years and had controlled both Houses of Congress for all nine of those years. Blaming our lack of preparedness on the isolationists (or even on the Communists) is the shilling of court historians.
During the 2000 campaign, he elaborated on his interpretations of the roots of World War II:
It was Wilsonism, liberal interventionism, not 'isolationism,' that created the moral-political swamp in which fascism, Hitlerism, and Stalinism were spawned. Unable to deal with the truth – that their own heroes produced the disasters that may yet bring down the curtain on Western Civilization – the blind children of Wilson now scapegoat Pius XII and America First. Do those attacking me realize they are defending the policies that produced World War II and virtual annihilation of the Jewish population of Europe? While the West is busy erecting Holocaust museums, it has failed to study the history that produced it.
In A Republic, Not an Empire, he refers to Auschwitz and Katyn as places "where SS and NKVD killers roamed free and labored long into the night." In another column, Buchanan mentions the Holocaust as one of the horrors of World War II along with "the collapse of the British Empire, the Stalinization of 11 nations of Eastern Europe, 50 million dead and half a century of Cold War."
In his book State of Emergency, Buchanan blames Hitler and the Holocaust for contemporary "white guilt" and political correctness. He quotes several Jewish voices in support of the melting pot concept contrary to multiculturalism, and gives examples of anti-Jewish sentiment on the part of some Mexican immigrants.
In defending himself against charges of Nazi sympathies in 1999, Buchanan calls Hitler a "monster" guilty of "ugly actions and discriminatory laws." He says the Holocaust did not become a Final Solution until the Wannsee conference in 1942, after the Pearl Harbor attack ended the debate over US involvement in World War II. Until then, the Holocaust was no more of a concern for US interventionist leaders than it was for the isolationists. Buchanan says America fought on the right side of the conflict—and after Hitler declared war on the United States, had no choice but to fight.
In a 1977 Globe-Democrat column discussing John Toland's biography of Adolf Hitler, Buchanan wrote:
Though Hitler was indeed racist and anti-Semitic to the core, a man who without compunction could commit murder and genocide, he was also an individual of great courage, a soldier's soldier in The Great War, a political organizer of the first rank, a leader steeped in the history of Europe, who possessed oratorical powers that could awe even those who despised him... Hitler's success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path.
Buchanan supporters say the paragraph is taken out of context. They point out that in the same review Buchanan praised Winston Churchill for seeing that "Hitler was marching along the road toward a New Order where Western civilization would not survive" and concluded that modern-day statesmen were not following that example.
Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, in an October 11, 1999, letter to the Washington Post claimed that A Republic, Not an Empire "defends Charles Lindbergh against charges of anti-Semitism, not mentioning the infamous 1940 [sic] speech in which he accused the Jews of warmongering." Buchanan denies this and points out Foxman's error, saying that he mentioned the 1941 speech to say it "ignited a national firestorm," which lingered after the aviator's death, and shows "the explosiveness of mixing ethnic politics and foreign policy." Buchanan also said, in 2002:
There was nothing immoral, or unwise, about the isolationists' position of 1940–41. Because of the courageous efforts of Lindbergh and America First, the United States stayed out of the war until Hitler threw the full force of his war machine against Stalin. Thus, the Soviet Union, not America’s young, bore the brunt of defeating Nazi Germany.
In 1987, Buchanan called for ending prosecution of Nazi camp guards, saying it was "running down 70-year-old camp guards."
Buchanan asserted that six men accused of Nazi-era war crimes were innocent, or had not received proper legal treatment: John Demjanjuk, Karl Linnas, Arthur Rudolph, Frank Walus, Ivan Stebelsky, Tscherim Soobzokov. Ukrainian born Demjanjuk, a retired Cleveland autoworker accused of operating the Treblinka concentration camp's gas chambers, received the most attention. Buchanan called his trial a witch hunt and said "Demjanjuk had never even been at Treblinka." After a highly publicised trial, Demjanjuk was convicted and sentenced to death by an Israeli court, but his conviction was later overturned by the Supreme Court of Israel on the grounds of mistaken identity. Buchanan wrote at the time that this spared Israel the disgrace of hanging an innocent man.
In a 1990 column defending Demjanjuk, Buchanan also said:
Diesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody. In 1988, 97 kids, trapped 400 feet (120 m) underground in a Washington, DC, tunnel while two locomotives spewed diesel exhaust into the car, emerged unharmed after 45 minutes. Demjanjuk's weapon of mass murder cannot kill.
When asked for his source, Buchanan said, "somebody sent it to me." Critic Jamie McCarthy says this claim may have come from the German American Information and Education Association's newsletter, a publication he accused of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. He also argues that:
Unlike the locomotive engineer in Buchanan's example, who was concerned with saving the lives of trapped people, the Nazis had no qualms about opening the engine's throttle and restricting the air intake.
The Washington Post reported in 1989, before the controversy, that:
An Amtrak train had been stalled in a tunnel for half an hour, and smoke from the diesel engine had filled the first car, where there were 97 fifth-grade pupils and 27 adult chaperones. [EMT Cynthia] Brown boarded the train, guided the passengers — most of whom suffered from smoke inhalation — from the car and assisted those who needed immediate attention.
In an April 14, 2009, column, Buchanan likened the persecution of Demjanjuk to that of Jesus Christ on Calvary Hill, stating:
It is the same Satanic brew of hate and revenge that drove another innocent Man up Calvary that first Good Friday 2,000 years ago.