Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Who's purging whom?

Rick Moran thinks I'm trying to set myself up as "an arbiter of 'true conservatism,'" or trying to read Charles Johnson out of the movement. This isn't remotely the case. Obviously, I don't even have that kind of influence.

I'm not angry at Charles Johnson and even if I were angry at him, so what? Compared to Johnson, I'm as inconsequential as a flea on the ass of an elephant -- LGF has 10 times my average daily traffic.

On the other hand, Johnson is trying to kick Pam Geller and Robert Spencer out of the conservative movement, and I'm trying to understand, and to explain, why he's doing it. Perhaps my understanding and my explanation are wrong. But I didn't start studying politics yesterday, and I've seen this "urge to purge" scenario played out over and over again through the years.

You cannot build a successful political movement by a process of subtraction, and building a winning coalition is impossible if you organize on losing principles. Allowing your opposition to dictate the terms of acceptable discourse is a losing principle, as Jeff Goldstein has striven to explain. Ergo, Johnson manifests a defeatist tendency when he pronounces Geller and Spencer "untouchables" because they attended a European conference whose promoters included some unsavory characters.

Was there any genuine danger that Geller and Spencer would return from Brussels singing the Horst Wessel Lied as they goosestepped down Broadway arm-in-arm with David Duke? Or, as I think far more likely, was Johnston concerned that the presence of a neo-Nazi element at Brussels would be used by liberals to discredit mainstream conservatism?

This is the kind of Republican flinch reflex -- "Oh, we can't say that, it might make the liberals angry!" -- that annoys the crap out of me. Look, we've all been officially branded "Rightwing Extremists," so what's the point of this fearful, defensive, cringing quest for "respectability"?

If we are confident that our policy goals are worthy and decent, and that our tactics are honorable and democratic, why should we give a damn what the sneering elitists and smearing propagandists say? Why allow liberals to decide what is scandalously "extreme," while they ignore or dismiss all of Obama's extremist associations? This is not to endorse a "no enemies to the right" strategy, but rather to advocate the pragmatic approach to coalition-building exemplified by Ronald Reagan.

During his 1966 run for governor of California, Reagan was endorsed by, and given campaign contributions by, a right-wing group whose members and leaders had a clear history of kookiness. The newspapers made a big deal about this group and its connection to Reagan. So Reagan called a press conference where he was naturally asked about this "scandal," and his response was simple: "They endorsed me. I didn't endorse them." End of scandal.

Candidates for public office cannot be held responsible for the opinions or actions of every person who supports them. Nor can Pam Geller and Robert Spencer be held responsible for the opinions and actions of every person who attended the Brussels conference. The Left has certainly never applied that kind of standard to Democrats, and if conservatives are going to operate under self-imposed standards intended to pre-empt liberal objections, then liberals have won the game before the first whistle blows.


  1. 100% correct. Conservatives need more public interactions with the left like Andrew Breitbart did when he was on Real Time With Bill Maher. Im tired of seeing weak ass people on the right just sit there on national television and get hit over the head repeatedly with descriptions like "racist" "hatefull" or "extreme." The movement will never get anywhere if the left is allowed to spew bullshit but never called on it. They should be called on it the very moment they speak it.

  2. I don't think Charles Johnson can read anybody out of the conservative movement, because he's never been part of it (I think he would probably admit that, himself, if he hasn't already). He certainly has the right to read people out of that fairly narrow ideology - shall we call it Charles Johnsonism? - that is unlikely to ever be anything as consequential as a "movement."

  3. Oh, and BTW: I don't like to lose, but I have found the Republican loss in Novemeber to be a strangely liberating experience. I have no problem taking the "extremist" label and running with it.

  4. I wouldn't wory about anything Rick Moran writes.

  5. It's hugely important that we learn to be indifferent to the good opinion of liberals everywhere. For some reason, millions of people paid attention to the MSM's good opinion of John McCain and we ended up with the worst possible candidate for president. Yes, I know, we might have lost no matter who was running, but still, he was the worst. We must remember that whatever the left thinks is good for us is going to be very very bad and so should be ignored.

    And I really wish Geller and Spencer would quit discussing Johnson. Johnson seems to be getting weirder and weirder lately, to judge by his interjections into the comments, and more self-pitying by the day, so it would be best for all concerned to simply read his blog, take what is valuable, and completely ignore the rest. If Geller and Spencer truly think so little of Johnson, they should do what their mothers doubtless told them to do, and completely ignore him.

  6. Stacy,
    Next time we're mocking Moran for boobery, let's point out that Conservativeism is a set of principles, not a physical space from which you can eject someone.

  7. Um, wouldn't Johnson have to be IN the conservative movement before he could be driven from it?

  8. Stacy, Johnson can't kick Pam Geller "out of the conservative movement," cause Pamela is NOT! a "conservative." Rather she's a hardcore libertarian.

    Yes, we libertarians and conservatives are "soul brothers and sisters." But in the end we vye from two separate ideological traditions.

    We are, in short, the two wings of the Right.

    Incidentally, I firmly side with Pamela.

  9. Paco's right. Johnson's never claimed to be a conservative or a Republican, and the most accurate political description of him would lump him in with the other "hard" (pro-war) libertarians like Glenn Reynolds and (according to Eric) Pam Geller.

    We should acknowledge his services in getting people like Robert Spencer and Gates of Vienna into blogging, ignore his current ranting, and let it go at that. It's not like he works at the RNC or holds any kind of office, after all.

  10. And Moran spelled your name wrong. So what does that mean? (Bumbumbum...)

  11. Assuming Johnson is actually hoping to marginalize Pamela Geller and/or Robert Spencer in the conservative movement -- well, it ain't gonna happen. This is like attacking Rush Limbaugh -- he gets show material, his ratings shoot through the roof, and he cries all the way to the bank.

    There's a reason Rush is so popular and has such a loyal following. Johnson has his loyal base and so does Geller. All this will do is ensure the conservatives (and I don't necessarily claim Johnson is a conservative because in reality he is not) are at war with each other possibly going into 2010.

    Now who would benefit most from schisms on the right?

    If I were a little more paranoid I'd start looking under the bed for provocateurs.

  12. Thirteen 28 beat me too it, but, yeah, one would actually need to be a conservative first.

    As far as Pam and Gates of Vienna go, I have watched them list and post in support of very far right European groups and people. I do not agree with them on these issues, but, both of them, particularly Pam, hold actual American Conservative values way more then Charles Johnson.

  13. Dr. David Duke arrested for Thought Crimes in the Czech Republic!