Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Evil of Banality

It’s no secret the political left has continually demeaned and vilified the Tea Party and other rising conservative groups ever since their inception a mere one and a half or two years ago. So it is ironic to see that in the most recent attacks on the Right, the Left has accused the conservatives of creating a “climate of hate” so potent it infected the crazed brain of the killer responsible for the Tucson massacre. The solution to such violence, conservatives are assured, it a renewed effort guaranteeing civility of discourse in order to temper the hateful political climate. The thermostat of political discourse is to be set at a serene 70 degrees; or, like Goldilocks preferred porridge, neither too hot nor too cold, but just right.

Lofty calls have gone out for all parties to rise above the passions of political partisanship, to elevate discourse to a more dispassionate and reasonable plain. But the new manifesto of the Left calling for dispassionate discourse is either a deliberate and calculating gloss whereby its true intentions are withheld so that its real agenda may be implemented without opposition or even detection; or it is a serious, debilitating inability to recognize and articulate the bases of one’s policies and the execution of those policies. In either case, the pretense of those who call for all to become dispassionate observers and commentators when it comes to politics (and religion) is just that: a pretentious charade of calculated banality which merely conceals ulterior motives and goals.

Simply put, there is no possibility American politics can be dispassionate, so the calls for toning down or eliminating passion are a cover for something else.
That “something else” is as follows: radical progressives’ tactics of vilification combined with calls for civility and peaceful bipartisanship are twin prongs of a strategy meant to discredit and ultimately to silence the opposition.

Conservatives do well to pick off charges of hate mongering and disassociate themselves from linkage to carnage such as the Tucson massacre; demanding evidence as well as 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 while allowing the Left to set the agenda, linguistic or otherwise.

Conservatism must not lose the impetus of their offensive strategies such as attention to the debt, out of control spending, increasing socialization of the US, the erosion of federalism and the rest of the Leftist agenda.

Conservatives need to recognize the diversionary tactics employed by the liberal Left are meant to keep the conservative movement constantly on the defensive. They need to realize the attacks meant to keep them on the defensive are coupled with a more subtle strategy; namely, the most recent call to civility. The goal of radical progressives, who seldom--if ever-- follow their own advice, is to vitiate the conservative protest against the overreach of the federal government, to water down the recent victories in the election of 2010 and to keep conservatives constantly responding to the accusations of the Left, thus vitiating conservatism’s attempts to reform the US political system. The idea is to rendering conservatism so meek and mild, so intimidated, soft spoken and banal that it becomes utterly ineffective as a political reform movement.

In short, in the end, the constant calls for "civility" are a thinly disguised means for silencing protestors.

At this point, 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 and racially 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, for example, 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.]

Limited linguistic tropes combined with attempts to control and neuter language are hallmarks of radical ideologues. Linguistic limitations characterized by banality can be as sure a means of repression as permitted inflammatory rhetoric characterized by faux rage and canned reactions to “insults.” Both are linguistic mechanisms designed to enforce conformity by molding thought patterns according to ideological tenets. Make everyone call each other “citizen” or “comrade,” and you’re already half way there to thought control. Enforce a stiff arm salute every time the dear leader’s name is evoked, and you have already pacified the public. Make everyone in the congregation use God neutral terms, and you have already succeeded in conforming established church doctrine to your agenda.

Ultimately, the Newspeak language of a given ideology becomes the advance sub-military attempt to enforce conformity and to achieve the banal egalitarianism ideologues desire.

It is therefore imperative for conservatives to refuse to accept the Left’s attempts to define political dialogue by linguistic manipulation which seeks to expunge language of “hostile” terms, thus re-defining political debate. Conservative groups must not allow genuine moral indignation to be redefined as incivility. Moral indignation arises from recognition of evil. In turn, recognition of evil requires strong language, strong confrontation and strong action.

It’s worth noting 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. Conservatives 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 or force them into conformity by false charges of “hate speech” and hypocritical, spurious calls for "civility."
Conservatives must speak boldly and truthfully to the evils of society, refusing to abide by the Left’s terms of debate. They must articulate clearly and precisely their short and long term goals, realizing that vigorous articulation and proclamation of truth is the first and most necessary requirement of any political movement pushing for reform.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


The most important thing that can be said of hierarchies is that once established, their tendency is to hold on to power.

But the second most important thing to be said is that hierarchies are never eternal, never truly static, as there are always continually uprising currents of change either influencing the hierarchy to return to its roots or seeking to annihilate it altogether.

Sometimes established hierarchies don’t notice undercurrents of change soon enough to incorporate them into their established ways. Such seems to have been the case with the aristocracy of France before the Revolution, which though cognizant of and even catering to the Enlightenment and the radical new ideas of the intellectuals of the time, thought their status as arbiters of power would remain unchanged.

And, such seems to be the case within the Republican Party, albeit with some notable exceptions.

Within a mere year and a half, the Tea Party movement has shaken American politics to the foundations. However, some within the Party hierarchy still remain oblivious to or distinctly dismissive of the significance of the political revolution happening under their noses. They maintain a Louis the XVI posture of, “What? You say the Bastille has fallen and peasants with pitchforks are at the gates of the palace? Nonsense! Tell the guards to shoo them away.”

Too many within the established Republican hierarchy still expect matters will go on as usual, with elderly statesmen who’ve duly waited in line a lifetime for the opportunity to be nominated expecting their due anointment. But those who have been waiting in the wings may never get their cue to enter stage Left, never be that “poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more,” much less fill their long expected central roles.

As Richard Land, a prominent leader within the powerful southern Baptist church has said, “We’re not going to do what we normally do, nominate the steady beau. As the grassroots Tea Party movement showed in state after state in the 2010 congressional elections, this is no longer a hierarchical party. And the field of contenders doesn’t overwhelm anyone. All the major candidates have significant problems.”

Land gets it.

Old hierarchical political models will no longer work. That’s because the rising revolutionaries have crashed the gates.

Certainly the new (actually, quite traditionally conservative) revolutionary principles have been brought to bear in Delaware, where Tea Party, conservative favorites overthrew establishment candidates. While the results were not, to state the obvious, what the conservative movement desired; nonetheless, the hierarchy cannot remain what it was, should not expect to maintain old ways. It has to change if it is to remain relevant. It has to move toward the new conservatism.

There are positive signs some respected Republican leaders in Delaware “get it.” For instance, the appearances of Pete DuPont and Charlie Copeland at the Tea Party rally last year at least indicate an acknowledgement of Tea Party power and principles.

But diehard “moderates” within the hierarchy continue to resist, expecting conservatives to continue their old patterns of behavior, believing conservatives will fall into line with their votes and money.

Resistance, however, will ultimately prove futile, as the burgeoning power of the conservative movement nationally and within the state continues to grow. “Moderates” must join the emerging revolution or permanently be left out in the cold.

All the above doesn’t mean the conservative upstarts should put the members of the old hierarchy into tumbrels headed off to the guillotine, but it does mean the momentum is with conservatives, not with the “moderates” who have dominated the party structure for so long. It means “moderates” will have to, well, “moderate” according to conservative principles if they are to remain relevant to the Party. To put it another way, the ancien regime run by “moderates is done for. It’s time for them to move with the new political currents or be left behind, consigned to near irrelevancy while holding on to an ever shrinking power base.

In the meantime, rising conservatives should use every power of persuasion to bring moderates into the conservative camp; not vice versa.

Conservatives also should extend olive branches whenever they can—but without compromising or abandoning principles as they have done so often in the past.