Being a conservative makes you evil

It’s getting to the point where merely being a conservative makes you evil. You may not be evil on purpose. It may be that you don’t understand your own underlying motives. Then again it could be that you simply refuse to acknowledge your underlying motives because you know that they’re repulsive to most people in today’s society.

This was the impression I got from a discussion I had in the comment thread of another blog. A blogger had asked, “How can the Democratic party reconnect with people in middle America, people who are ‘cultural traditionalists’ [not defined]?” (I’m paraphrasing.)

My answer was, by not constantly accusing them of racism and homophobia, among other things. Of course, being accused of racism would only be off-putting to white cultural traditionalists. So someone opined that I was assuming that ‘cultural traditionalist’ was synonymous with ‘white’, and wondered why. And then proceeded to tell me what was wrong with “traditional white culture” (hint: it’s racist).

I pointed out that that was precisely the type of anti-conservative rhetoric that alienates rural cultural traditionalists: You can’t be one of those without being presumed racist. He then explained that some cultural traditionalists are not white. Those, obviously, are not racist. But the white ones are. Well, maybe some aren’t, but if they’re not racist then they “choose not to think about the history and real-world consequences of some of [their] beliefs”.

And by the way, the Republican party is about to become solely the party of Southern Christian racists.

And herein lies the rub: A conservative may not be personally racist, he may not actually feel hatred for non-white people. But even if he lacks the emotional component of racism, his conservatism per se is racist, because of its “history and real-world consequences”.

Meanwhile, one of the liberals on the blog had commented that “we need to be careful in ascribing a monolithic identity to the democrats” (he was making the point that not all Democrats are among the “bohemian rich” as someone had suggested). It didn’t seem to occur to anyone that conservatives aren’t monolithic either.

See, liberals get rather piqued when you associate them with the views of a Saul Alinsky or a Bill Ayres. “We’re not all like that!” But associating any and all conservatives with conservative racists is completely fair. This is because, again, conservatism per se is racist: If you’re conservative, you’re racist, not because of what you assume the definition of racism to be: that you hate people of other races; but because conservatism has a “history” and also “real-world consequences” which link it and its adherents indelibly to racism.

The course of the discussion was ironic, in light of the topic of the post (written by a Democrat) being how distressing it is that people “are forgetting how to talk to one another”; and that “Some of the responsibility for [the] depth of the urban/rural divisions in the country rest with the Democratic Party, which has become a far more exclusively urban-constituent party than it used to be”. In light of this, you would think that someone besides me would notice the utter failure to engage with conservative viewpoints on their own terms, and accept what conservatives say about their own beliefs at face value, at least for the sake of the discussion.

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5 thoughts on “Being a conservative makes you evil

  1. The current political landscape in America is really quite bleak for Catholics. As far as I can tell, America has always had a populist tradition that in some ways reflected Catholic Social Teaching- maybe a residual memory of Christendom. This petite-bourgeoisie movement was socially conservative while simultaneously being distrustful of big business -especially big finance. The last echo of this once, vital tradition propelled Reagan into power. In many ways the so-called Reagan democrats represented this tradition even though it was Reagan’s economics that spelled the end of the social order that sustained this demographic. The point being nowadays we have the exact antithesis of this. We have social libertinism coupled with economic libertinism. This is exemplified by the rise in prominence of libertarianism the movement that most coherent advocates liberalism. Both political parties are completely enthralled with individual autonomy and they cannot afford to deviate from what their core constituents want. Democrats have the “war on women” individual rights to contraception and abortion are paramount, Republicans cry “socialism” and give more spirited defense to business interests than the marriage or life issues. The Catholic Church obviously offers an alternative, but it has no moral authority. 80 years ago FDR could cite the Papal Social Teaching in crafting his New Deal programs. We wouldn’t see that today. At most a politician might cynically twist and exploit some Papal pronouncement but not actually do anything substantively.

    I actually sympathize with many of positions expressed at Vox Nova, but for some reason I have a hard time reading a lot of their stuff. Maybe it is just their tone?

    • ISE:

      Some people on VN are what you might call scorched-earth liberals, but the worst offenders (thinking especially of Morning’s Minion) I believe aren’t there any more, at least among the contributors, though some of the commenters are as bad as ever. Most of the contributors who remain are at least reasonable, even if I don’t always agree with them. I have to say that some of the smarter and better informed people on VN have challenged my conservative stances on a lot issues, by making me think through them more carefully.

      I don’t necessarily classify myself any longer as a conservative or a Republican as those terms are commonly understood. I have come to realize that both parties are substantially out of line with Catholic teaching to varying extents. But, as a conservative commenter pointed out on the VN thread, the GOP “at least allows [serious Catholics] a place to exist”, whereas it’s extremely difficult for me to identify with the party of unrestricted abortion and gay marriage.

  2. Why do some men speak of human “races”? Only one matters to the Creator: the human race. Thus, He said: “I desire that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth ” (1 Tm 2:4).

    • SS:

      You’re absolutely right, and this is precisely how all of the “cultural traditionalists” that I know personally think about race. For that matter, my wife is non-white and my kids are of mixed race (to the extent that makes any objective sense). My wife’s immigrant family for the most part are devout Catholics and die-hard Republicans. Based on my own experience I simply cannot identify with the picture of conservatives or cultural traditionalists that some liberals try to paint.

  3. It is much easier to maintain hatred, disdain etc. when it is in regard to a faceless other who you can then disparage. It is much more difficult when that other sits at your table as family, friend or neighbor. This holds true whether the other is a racial other, religious other etc. It is easier to deal with a black and white, good and bad manner of viewing things. The problem is, that truth is always limited in that view.. But we live in a society where people seem more interested in damning the other and trumpeting their own rightness, than they are in getting to know the other, and finding common ground.

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