Favorable reviews for Juliana Pilon’s book An Idea Betrayed: Jews, Liberalism, and the American Left (2023) keep on coming in including an incisive analysis by the political theorist David Lewis Schaefer published in the online journal Law & Liberty, a publication of Liberty Fund. But Dr. Pilon, Senior Fellow, The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI), clarif [y]ies several points in her response titled “Jews and the American Creed” regarding her position on the American Founding and on the meaning of the word “neoconservative.”  “[T]oo many public intellectuals,” she observed, “are busy underestimating [John] Locke’s contribution to America’s founding.”  She is not one of them.  Indeed, she shares Dr. Schaefer’s high opinion of Locke and the modern liberal tradition to which he, more than most, gave rise. And while he is correct that she does not uses the term “neoconservative,” the reason is that it was meant as a pejorative. And she does discuss some of the major figures by that name.

Additionally, Dr. Pilon clarifies her position on the so-called neoconservative movement. She made a conscious choice not to brandish the word “neoconservatism.”  But neoconservative luminaries de facto make up many of the pages of her book. “[M]any ‘neocons,’ as they are un-affectionately labeled by their adversaries, happen to be among my closest friends and longtime colleagues.”

Irving Kristol, referred to as the “godfather of neoconservatism, once famously said that his colleagues were “liberals mugged by reality.”  Dr. Pilon retorts, “The Founders were liberals who faced reality without having to be mugged by it.”