Corraling 'conservatives'
0 comment Sunday, July 6, 2014 |
Recently in the post 'The cost of respectability' I wrote about the 'respectable conservatives', or the 'respectables.'
Obviously that isn't a phrase of my own coinage; its been current for some time.
I've also used the term 'castrated conservatives', but that too is not mine; it was Carleton Putnam's coinage, as far as I know.
In this discussion centering on William F. Buckley at AltRight, a commenter TS1709 provides a good description of 'respectable conservatism':
The most odious doctrine of his (much lauded by the left) was to keep the conservative movement "under control" and "respectable" by exiling and /or excoriating those who dared to go beyond a certain line of discourse. I cannot even begin to conceive why one would be deferential to the sensibilities of those whose objective is to destroy you and your beliefs. However, for a social fop such as WF Buckley whose vanity required the acceptance of the "Eastern Establishment" it was sufficient justification for the purges.''
The above is pretty much the same as my own idea of 'respectables', as the first sentence describes. The respectables are very image-conscious, and very quick to 'shush' and censor and even pronounce anathema on those of the right who violate the 'respectable' norms, as per liberal standards. Violate political correctness in any important way, and you will be drummed out of 'conservatism' and labeled a racist. The respectables worry lest your political incorrectness taint them and their spotless image.
And again, why should anyone on the right care what those hostile to us think or say of us?
Jack Cashill also writes an article in which 'Respectable Conservatives' are the subject. In his context, the 'respectables' are those who were either outright supporters of the president or apologists for him in some way. I suppose that these qualify as respectables in that they react to the criticisms of the left and tailor their message and their actions to the standards of what the left deems acceptable. These people Cashill alludes to are obviously cowards when it comes to racial issues, and afraid to mention that the emperor's clothes are conspicuously absent.
The readers who comment on Cashill's article seem somewhat confused by Cashill's use of the term 'respectable conservatives', seeming not to catch the irony or sarcasm in it.
''Good article but since when are Kathleen Parker, Jonathan Last, and for crying out loud, David Brooks "respectable conservatives"? They were, and apparently still are, being hustled by a narcissistic, man-child would-be fascist street agitator. How does that earn any thinking person's respect? ''
The idea is not that they should be respected, or respectable, but that they are courting respectability with the liberals and perhaps their media peers (who are, after all, mostly mad-dog liberals.)
In my own usage of the term, one need not be a major media figure or a visible leader of the party in any sense to be a 'respectable conservative'. Anybody who is more concerned with how we are viewed by the left than with truth and right fits the definition.
The purge-happy 'conservatives' among the bloggers, the ones who are ready to denounce and point the finger at anyone who strays from the acceptable line are an example. I think it's obvious that some, if not all, of them are people who are perhaps acting as some kind of gatekeepers and their job is to cull out those who are too far outside the narrow bounds of what is acceptable.
Whether they are cast in this role by the real powers in the GOP or the media, or whether they are simply self-appointed censors, doesn't matter; the part they play is the same.
They keep the 'right' corraled and steer them away from thoughtcrime -- otherwise known as uncomfortable truths.
Sometimes, however, some of the more 'edgy' conservatives (like Michael Savage or Glenn Beck) also fulfill the same role as the mild-mannered 'respectables', in a way. They are an alternative way of keeping the right from getting too radical. They act as an outlet, a way to channel and divert the anger that exists out there. They are a way to release some of the pressure, while still keeping people within acceptable bounds.
The respectables use the power to ostracize or anathematize the people who are too politically incorrect, too right-wing, and the 'edgy' personalities, who are geared to appeal to the more hard-core right, play along, and act as though they share the concerns of their listeners or viewers, all the while re-directing the energy towards safe ends. Beck seems to act as a means of reinforcing political correctness among the Republicans who are his followers. Witness his emphasis on black icons and heroes. The image of MLK which is shown every day alongside the Founding Fathers is a way of Politically Correcting his viewers. And it seems to be working.
The carrot and the stick both have their place in corraling the right.
Not just Glenn Beck but Fox News in general is a kinder, gentler reinforcer of PC for the Republican viewers. Over at Free Republic there are men who ogle Harris Faulkner (who is a female, despite the male name), and who thus find the 'diversity' more palatable at FoxNews than at CNN.
The media are just in the business of serving up differerent varieties of the same old, same old; one flavor for the 'right' and one for the liberal. For the Republicans, just wave the flag and make the liberalism less blatant, works like a charm.
Since what we now call conservatism has been so compromised and co-opted, we need a new term to describe the politically incorrect right. I think we discussed this here a couple of years ago, and we never found a term we could agree on.
Some on the ethnopatriot right say that conservatism is discredited; that may be true, but I still believe that there needs to be a concern for preserving or conserving what is good from the past. It's all very facile to say 'there's nothing left to save'. In my occasional cynical moment, I've probably said that, but it is not true. Our people are still here, though in a bad way, and our way of life is weakened and marginalized, but it is not dead and gone, despite the efforts of the enemy.
I don't know if I consider myself 'conservative' any longer; perhaps I'm a restorationist or a reactionary, or just an ethnoloyalist. The labels don't matter as much, but if we discard even the idea of preserving anything of tradition, we will become nothing more than ideologues with some utopian pipe-dream of a re-invented West, or Jacobins, who tried to destroy and remake everything.
As useless as 'conservatism' has become, and as much as it is the salt which has lost its savor, we still need to try to salvage what we can, and not raze everything to the ground in our zeal to reject what is bad in our world.

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