Monday, April 12, 2010

On Civility: Calls for civility can be a means of silencing oppostion

Although the political left has continually demeaned the Tea Party movement, it has also constantly called for civility of discourse. Those who are in the Tea Party movement need to recognize and to resist both the attempts to discredit it as well as to ignore the calls for civil dialogue as defined by the left. They must do so because radical progressives’ tactics of vilification combined with calls for civility and peaceful bipartisanship are twin prongs of a strategy meant to discredit and silence the opposition.

Of course it is necessary for the Tea Party to confront, challenge and diffuse the various smears directed toward conservative political groups springing up all over the United States. The charges leveled against the Tea Party have included racism, violence, hate speech, ignorance, lack of education and even a penchant for outdoor barbeques and fast cars.

While the new patriotic groups must pick off such charges one by one, demanding evidence and refuting false accusations; at the same time, such charges must not succeed in their chief mission, which is to vitiate the opposition by putting it continually on the defensive. The new movements must not lose the impetus of offensive strategies, chief among which are preventing the election of candidates for office who do not stand for the transcendent values of the Judeo-Christian ethic, which ethic was one of the chief impetiti behind the formation of the US constitution.

But the diversionary tactics employed by the liberal left to keep the Tea Party movement constantly on the defensive are coupled with a more subtle strategy; namely, a call to civility as defined by the far left. The goal of radical progressives, who seldom--if ever-- follow their own advice, clearly is to vitiate the Tea Party’s claims to truth and its attempts to reform the US political system by rendering it so meek and mild, so intimidated and soft spoken that it becomes utterly ineffective as a political reform movement. In brief, the constant calls for "civility" can be a thinly disguised means for silencing protestors.

It is important to make a distinction between gratuitous incivility and moral outrage. Human discourse, if it is to be meaningful, abides by generally recognized rules of civil behavior. Such rules exclude profanity, name calling, and unjustifiable personal attacks. Also excluded are slander, rumor mongering and sexually charged innuendoes.

But the left, and sometimes "moderate" or liberal Republicans, have sought to extend the rules of generally recognized civil behavior to include strong expressions of moral outrage. Many times the attempt is made to define genuine moral outrage as incivility; or worse, racism. To that end, members of the opposition from the left often have sought to silence conservatives by attempts to make the Tea Party and other conservative groups speak the language of the left, to accept the left’s terms of debate, which are almost always put in the context of race, victimization, political correctness and multi-culturalism.

To put it another way, progressives have certain doctrinal assumptions as the bases of any dialogue and seek to rope in and corral opposition by requiring the opposition to speak the language of the left and to define moral issues according to progressive priorities. That is one reason why the left most often resorts to the constantly repeated and by now often the merely rhetorical trope of racism. [A caveat: The reduction of the term by making it ubiquitous and all encompassing has been tragic for minorities, as the dilution of racism’s true meaning weakens justifiable attempts to confront and eradicate genuine cases of racist behavior.]

But the point of this small essay is that it is imperative for conservatives to refuse to accept the left’s definition of racism. As noted, "racism" has become a catchall category embracing the nearly the entirety morality and politics. If at one time, the mere hint of sexual misconduct was enough to bring down any political leader, all it takes nowadays to destroy a reputation and to end a career is the charge of racism It is a means of achieving--without dialogue, reasoning or factual proof--instant condemnation of conservative opposition.

In sum, being guilty of any of the multiple and increasingly arbitrary interpretations of racism by the left are the equivalent of a Christian irrevocably breaking the Great Commandment.

The Tea Party and other conservative groups must not allow genuine moral indignation to be redefined as incivility or racism. Moral indignation arises from recognition of evil. In turn, recognition of evil requires strong language, strong confrontation and strong action. The prophets of ancient Israel and Jesus Christ all used strong language to define and to confront the injustices and societal ills of their time.

The members of the Tea Party movement should encourage one another to follow those illustrious examples. By so doing, they will avoid falling prey to scurrilous attacks which keep them always on the defensive and to attempts to silence them by false charges of racism and hypocritical, spurious calls for "civility."
It is extremely important for member of the Tea Party and other groups to speak boldly and truthfully; to refuse to abide by the left’s terms of debate and to articulate clearly and precisely their short and long term goals.

Moral truth is the always the first and most necessary requirement of any political movement.

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