When The Devil Is In Your House: Charlottesville, The Alt Right And Conservatism

There is nothing conservative about the resurgent white identitarian movement taking root in America, and all decent conservatives must vehemently reject this toxic ideology – and its adherents – before we are further tarred by association

There seem to be two main responses from conservatives to the awful violence which took place in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend.

One approach – and the correct one – is to forcefully condemn the rise in white nationalism and the specific act of domestic terror which one individual from that movement perpetrated on society, pointing out that no matter what these people call themselves (Alt Right, Far Right or anything else) there is no place for them in the conservative movement.

The other approach is to point angrily at the leftist counterprotesters, particularly the militant Antifa contingent, and point out that these thugs were also violent, punching people, wielding clubs and attacking journalists with very little intervention from the police. This is the “whataboutism” approach – pointing out the speck in your brother’s eye while ignoring the beam in your own.

Sadly, we have seen too much of the second approach and not enough of the first in the days since violence came to Charlottesville.

The video above is a segment of the Andrew Klavan show. Klavan is a podcast host on Ben Shapiro’s conservative website The Daily Wire, and in this segment he demonstrates by example the way that conservatives should respond when racist, far right fanatics try to hijack our movement and sabotage our policy agenda in service of their own warped agenda.

Beginning at 6 minutes into the video, Klavan says:

Let us start among ourselves, because we’re all good conservatives here. Let us gather together and just remind ourselves – these clowns are in our house, okay? These evil, satanic clowns are in our house.

And it’s no good saying “well, they don’t believe what we believe”, of course they don’t believe what we believe. Of course they don’t. They don’t believe in the Constitution, they don’t believe in E Pluribus Unum, they don’t believe in the great American tradition of bringing people in, transforming them into America through our creed that we conservatives are fighting so hard to defend, they don’t believe in low taxes, they don’t believe in any of this stuff. They don’t believe in America, they don’t believe in the whole thing that makes America what it is.

But they’re in our house. They identify themselves as right wing, they vote for the people we vote for, they have their slogans “Unite the Right” and all this stuff. It’s no good – when the devil is in your house you gotta take care of that, it’s no good saying “well, the devil is in the other guy’s house too” – of course he is. But let’s not mince words about it.

Absolutely. And conservatives cannot afford to be hypocrites here. Whenever a terrorist atrocity is committed by a radical Islamist, many of us on the political Right correctly demand that the Muslim community do more to confront and defeat extremist Islamist ideology wherever it manifests in their mosques, their workplaces, their social circles or even their own homes. The state can not be fully responsible for making radical or violent interpretations of Islam unacceptable to susceptible people, and its attempts to do so (through the PREVENT programme in Britain, for example) will only ever be partially acceptable. The ultimate solution to Islamist extremism cannot be enforced from outside, it must be midwifed by responsible people within the community.

But if we make this demand of our Muslim compatriots, friends and neighbours, we conservatives must also be honest when a violent and extremist ideology is lurking in the fringes of our own movement. The domestic terrorist who killed one person and injured many more in Charlottesville, Virginia last Saturday is no more representative of the conservative movement than the depraved Islamist terrorists who kill innocent people in London, Paris or Brussels is representative of all Muslims – possibly even less so. But still we have an obligation to stand up and vociferously object when our movement is hijacked by those who would seek to appropriate our language, policies and even our political parties for their own warped purposes. It is only fair to be morally consistent in this way.

In the face of resurgent (or at least emboldened) white nationalism it is not enough to do what some stalwarts of the American Right did, and loudly proclaim that Nazism is actually a far-left ideology, trying to pretend that the white nationalist identitarian resurgence is not a problem primarily of the Right:

This is just supremely unhelpful, not because Dinesh D’Souza doesn’t have a point but because this “whataboutism” makes it look – quite reasonably – as though conservatives are deflecting. Yet D’Souza seemed to spend most of the weekend labouring this angle of attack, which while technically true does nothing to purge conservatism of the parasites in our midst, or convince sceptical people that we have our house in order.

Right now I don’t think Republicans or many American conservatives realise just what a severe reputational issue they are facing at the hands of this president. Is the media always fair with its coverage? Of course not. Does the media lazily try to fit every story into their “conservatives are racist” framework much of the time? Yes. But that only makes it more important for us to be whiter than white at all times (if you’ll pardon the unintentional pun).

Conservatives know that they will be attacked for racism if there is even the slightest possibility of malice, while leftists will be given a free pass. We know this, so there is absolutely no excuse for acts like Donald Trump’s latest press conference where he opened himself up to valid accusations by the media that he was drawing a moral equivalence between the violence of the neo-Nazi thugs and the actions of the counterprotesters (yes of course violence took place on both sides, but the ideologies in question are not morally equivalent, and only one side committed an act of domestic terrorism).

And yes, sometimes the Republican Party has been too willing to make a home for racists in their house, a fact which is not expunged by the fact that Democrats did the same in the 1960s. Engaging in whataboutism does not shift the spotlight away from conservatives, it merely makes it look to ordinary people as though we have something to hide.

At this point we are rapidly running out of excuses and mitigating factors for Trump’s behaviour. No, scratch that – the reserve of excuses has long since been exhausted, and the barrel is now bare. And if this presidential behaviour continues largely unchallenged by mainstream conservatives then only one of two things can happen – either conservative and Republican elected officials face deserved electoral annihilation in the midterms and the next presidential election cycle, or they are propped up and kept in office not by genuine conservatives but by uber-motivated Alt Right types – at which point small-government, constitutional conservatives will have been definitively pushed out of their own party.

This is untenable. The white nationalist and white supremacist Alt Right is a cancer on conservatism because they choose to align themselves with conservatism and live in our house, and rather than administering a welcome dose of chemotherapy the President of the United States is allowing the tumour to grow unchecked – either for cynical political ends, or else for a much darker purpose.

Meanwhile, every hysterical criticism and slander of conservatism ever made by leftists becomes slightly more plausible when Donald Trump, face of the Republican Party, cannot bring himself to disavow gushing words of praise from white supremacists like David Duke.

Abraham Lincoln once said:

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation [..] We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility.

We are rapidly reaching the point where all conservatives of conscience who have not already done so – including elected officials at all levels – must take a public stand and declare whether they accept the White House’s inexplicable Entente Cordiale with the Alt Right, or whether they repudiate it as a matter of conscience.

Those people who choose the wrong side of this existential debate, or who shamefully sit on the fence, will be remembered in spite of themselves.  And one day they will have to answer for their cowardice.

 

White Supremacists March with Torches in Charlottesville

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Meet Donald Trump, Special Snowflake

Donald Trump’s reputation as a brave warrior against political correctness is a big fat lie – he has always been happy to use free speech-busting, SJW tactics to attack and silence his critics

In a move which perfectly illustrates the yawning chasm between the “two Americas”, the cast of hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” saw fit to deliver a rather patronising end-of-show lecture on equality, diversity and tolerance to vice president-elect Mike Pence, who was sitting in the audience.

Telling the audience that there was “nothing to boo” (many of them seemed to disagree, and heartily booed Mike Pence when he first took his seat in the theatre and again when the cast addressed him as he was leaving), cast member Brandon Victor Dixon said:

Vice-president elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us at Hamilton: An American Musical. We really do.

We, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents — or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir.

But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us.

We truly thank you for sharing this show — this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men, women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.

It is actually not a bad speech, and was certainly delivered with an eloquence and dignity which has been largely missing from both sides of this dismal presidential election.

One can take issue with the idea that people need to be constantly nurtured by successive presidential administrations and “protected” by government, but Donald Trump has said enough inflammatory and offensive things on his path to the White House that nobody can say that all of the trepidation is unjustified, or that some people are not in legitimate need of reassurance – either because of things that the president-elect himself has said, or by irresponsible scaremongering by those opposed to Donald Trump.

And yes, one could also rightly point out that it doesn’t say much for America’s social cohesion and inclusivity when the producer of Hamilton: An American Musical could authorise such a speech in the sure knowledge that the words addressed to Mike Pence would speak for every single one of the cast and crew (as they almost certainly did). How many Trump voters or conservatives in general work in musical theatre, or dare to admit their political preferences if they do?

As Brandon Victor Dixon boasted, there was indeed every kind of diversity standing on that stage at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York. Every kind of diversity apart from intellectual and political diversity.

But of more interest than the cast’s speech itself, though, is the response it provoked from president-elect Donald Trump, who now seems to have been given back full control of his Twitter account after anxious aides confiscated his devices in the closing days of the campaign to prevent any final day gaffes or Twitter wars.

Trump clearly did not take kindly to seeing his future vice president lectured on American values by a cast of musical theatre actors, and fired off this angry tweet:

And then this one, when the rage had still not subsided eight minutes later:

The theatre must always be a safe and special place? Really? I can think of at least one American president in history who had a decidedly unpleasant experience in a theatre, 151 years ago. And during his pivotal and historic presidency, Abraham Lincoln withstood insults and diatribes far worse than anything ever levelled at Donald Trump, and did so with infinitely more grace.

But mark what we are witnessing here: Donald Trump, slayer of political correctness, fighter of censorship, champion of free speech and supposed scourge of the Identity Politics Left, now using exactly the same language of grievance and victimhood to portray himself as a victim in a bid for the moral high ground.

Jonah Goldberg warned months ago that while Donald Trump is quite happy to profit from being seen as an anti-PC warrior, he is also ruthless in using PC tactics himself when he feels under attack:

This idea that Donald Trump is against political correctness is just a fiction. He’s against being held accountable to people to political correctness for himself but he is delighted to use the exact same bullying tropes of political correctness against other people. He’s done it against me when he tried to get me fired from National Review, saying I was insulting to women and that I have to apologise or resign or be fired because I was so insulting to women. What did I do that was so insulting to women? I said that Donald Trump is staying up late into the night like a teenage girl, tweeting. Which was A, accurate, and B, accurate.

During the primaries when Jeb Bush had a completely understandable and forgivable gaffe about women’s health issues, for weeks Donald Trump was talking about how horrible Jeb Bush was on women’s issues, playing these politically correct cards. He’s a nearest weapon to hand arguer in all things because he does have no philosophy, he has no intellectual grounding whatsoever.

And again here:

Nor is he the enemy of political correctness they make him out to be. Trump is perfectly happy to invoke and deploy PC arguments and standards against his opponents, he just wants to be immune from their sting himself.

And now, perhaps, people will start to realise that the man they just elected to the White House is not actually for free speech and against censorship and thin-skinned intolerance in principle, but only when those behaviours stand in his way or threaten to make him look foolish.

In this way and so many others (like the laughable idea that he is a conservative, and that his miraculous Damascene conversion from being a stereotypical wealthy New York liberal is in any way sincere), Donald Trump has conned his way to the White House. And as we have seen, his impulsive nature means that President Trump will inevitably react to events before his aides can restrain him or urge him to rise above minor slights and insults to portray a presidential calmness. Therefore, it will not be long until Trump is exposed as the thin-skinned, criticism averse, dissent silencing authoritarian that he is.

Inauguration Day itself will be one of the first big challenges – there are plans afoot for millions of protesters to descend on Washington D.C. and numerous other cities to voice their opposition to the supposed Trump agenda. Will Trump be seen tweeting responses and insults to the protesters from the presidential platform now being built on the steps of the Capitol, as he watches the inauguration festivities taking place? Will he demand that the National Mall be made a “safe space” free of political dissent as he and Melania take the limousine drive down to the inauguration site?

For those who have so far been willing to overlook them, Donald Trump’s grave character defects were always going to be exposed by events. And now it seems that we didn’t even have to wait until he placed his hand on the Bible and gave the oath before the portrayal of Trump as a happy warrior against censorship was exposed as a sham.

This probably will not bother Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters just now. While the president-elect demands safe spaces for himself, he at least continues to throw rhetorical bombs at all of the “right” people to keep his base happy. But one day that will change.

In a couple of years, when Donald Trump’s political agenda is quite possibly mired in gridlock and the Republican Party faces a difficult set of midterm elections, some of those Trump supporters, unhappy with the slow delivery of Trump’s promised land of milk and honey, may wish to register their anger at the president. And if they do so, the president will attack them too, just as he attacked the hated SJWs and college snowflakes and identity politics zealots during the campaign. But it will not feel so good when the president is demanding a safe space free from the criticism of his own one-time supporters.

Funny. I wonder how many Trump voters realised that they were electing the biggest and most precious snowflake of them all to the most powerful job in the world.

 

mike-pence-hamilton-an-american-musical-theatre-new-york-cast-speech-donald-trump-safe-space

Safe Space Notice - 2

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250 Words To Save The Union

Lincoln First Inaugural Scottish Independence 2

 

If your country faced annihilation by a foreign army, would you take up arms in its defence? Many would, and many have throughout our history – this year we honour the memory of the six million British men who fought in the First World War, many making the ultimate sacrifice for King and country.

But if your country was days away from a seemingly more banal kind of destruction – at the ballot box, following a largely dull and petty referendum campaign – what would you say to save it?

The Spectator has issued this challenge to its readers, asking them to submit letters to a wavering Scottish voter, imploring them to choose to remain in the Union. Entrants have complete freedom to say what they like within this broad remit:

You can make only one point, or make a bunch of them. The letter can be funny or deadly serious, clinically rational or a cri de coeur. The aim is to show that people in certain parts of Britain do care, very much, about the other parts – and that the Britishness which binds us together is worth fighting for.

The timing could not be better: a shocking new poll has given the “Yes” to independence campaign the lead for the first time, with 51% of respondents in favour of ripping up the Act of Union, and 49% preferring to maintain the bonds that tie us together. The Better Together camp long predicted that the polls would tighten as the referendum neared, but this latest poll is an absolute calamity, almost guaranteed to sew the seeds for further infighting and recrimination among unionists.

Immediately I got to work. I would gladly participate, I would find that elusive combination of words that would make Scottish independence supporters come to their senses and see reason. Where countless celebrities, politicians and statesmen had failed, I would succeed.

Four drafts later and I have nothing.

As a political writer and blogger I should be full of excitement and opinions about the latest opinion poll, and spend my time analysing the implications and wondering how each side will respond now that their fortune have apparently flipped. The Spectator’s Isabel Hardman does a typically fine job of this:

The question is who will this poll galvanise the most? Will it horrify wavering voters and send the Better Together campaign into a final frenzy to win over those lingering undecideds? One thing we can be certain of is more detail on what further powers Scotland would get if it stayed within the UK. Or will it give the SNP a final furlong spurt of energy? As we’re dealing with an expected turnout of around 80 per cent with voters who have never pushed a slip of paper into a ballot box before coming out to vote, no-one knows the answer. And that’s what makes tonight’s poll particularly terrifying for unionists.

I suppose I should also take the lead from many senior unionist politicians and pundits, and be ready and willing to say anything, do anything and offer anything by way of bribery or cajolement to convince wavering Scots of the readily apparent benefits of our United Kingdom. But I cannot engage in this flattery, just as I cannot engage in tactical speculation and analysis on this subject any more. The threat is too great and the imminent pain too real to treat the prospect of the end of the United Kingdom as just another political football.

I have written at length about my belief that our great country should remain united, and that we should not seek to create ever-smaller subdivisions on our small, crowded islands (though I strongly favour a federal United Kingdom). I have talked about the constitutional issues that would arise, and the fact that bespoke pandering to Scottish nationalists at the expense of the English, Welsh and Northern Irish is further unbalancing our constitution. I’ve argued in support of continuity for what has been proven to work in preference to an unresearched leap into the dark.

But at this point I have nothing left to say, not even 250 words. Not even in the face of the depressing news that Gordon Brown is to become the figurehead for the “No” campaign, further cementing the desperate idea that left wing bribes are all that wavering Scots want to hear.

If the Scottish people search their collective hearts and decide to destroy the United Kingdom in a bid for complete self-governance with no remaining ties to England, Wales and Northern Ireland, they should go. The UK will not be worth saving, because we will have forgotten who we are. We can await our diminished future as the fifty-first (and second poorest) state of America, or our balkanisation into soulless geographical regions by the European Union.

I watched the two awful televised debates between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling. I watched as the Better Together camp made the ludicrous, doomed decision to compete with the SNP in devotion to left-wing, big government principles. I watched as the Yes camp peddled their denialist fantasy in which an independent Scotland walks away from its share of the national debt, uses the pound while influencing UK monetary policy in it favour, accedes immediately to European Union membership and funds its socialist utopia with limitless oil revenues from the North Sea.

How does one engage in a debate when one side argues for what should not be and the other side clamours for something that cannot possibly be?

The Better Together side’s latest grand idea is talking up the prospect of David Cameron being defeated in the 2015 general election, and holding out the prospect of a more appealing, left-wing alternative in Ed Miliband. But must we really now start to base our national identity according to the same brittle rationale by which we choose our newspaper habits and prune our social media feeds, seeking to insulate ourselves from contrary opinions and perspectives, and identifying only with those people who agree with us politically?

This is the toxic, petty world inhabited by the likes of George Monbiot, who believes that a Scottish “No” vote would be an “astonishing act of self-harm”:

What would you say about a country that exchanged an economy based on enterprise and distribution for one based on speculation and rent? That chose obeisance to a government that spies on its own citizens, uses the planet as its dustbin, governs on behalf of a transnational elite that owes loyalty to no nation, cedes public services to corporations,forces terminally ill people to work and can’t be trusted with a box of fireworks, let alone a fleet of nuclear submarines? You would conclude that it had lost its senses.

There is no point attempting to reason with the likes of Monbiot, a man so determined to see evil in everything the United Kingdom stands for and so willing to buy the Scottish nationalist snake oil. But there may yet be time to prevail upon those Scots who are not so embittered by the mere thought of capitalism, private enterprise and a strong nation state as our best model for human governance.

At a time when people from the four home nations of the United Kingdom sometimes look at each other and see no common bond left, we would do well to remember the example of our former colonies in the New World. Each of the fifty United States of America boasts its own distinct culture, accomplishments and economic strengths. Each fancies itself the greatest state in the union. But when push comes to shove, almost everyone in that great land proudly considers themselves to be an American – even if, in the case of the Lone Star State, they may call themselves Texan first and foremost.

An American born and raised in Kansas may never set foot in the state of California, but they would be rendered incomplete if the land of pacific beaches, the Golden Gate Bridge and the great Redwood forests were to wrench itself away and start governing itself for the benefit of Californians alone. Those in the American heartland may be different from their coastal cousins in as many ways as you can imagine – taste in food, fashion, approach to religion, views on social issues and love of firearms – but they share the same historical bond, forged in war and peace, that Scots share with the English (and Welsh, and Northern Irish) whether they like it or not.

I have no words of my own left to flatter or bribe my wavering Scottish cousins into preserving something so precious and yet apparently so undervalued north of the border. I can’t participate in the ideological race to the left, nor do I think framing the debate as a competition to promise Scots the most left-wing gimmicks is in any way helpful or illuminating. I can only offer the words of another, a great man who rose to the occasion when his country seemed destined to tear apart at the seams.

At his inauguration in 1861 and on the eve of the American civil war, President Abraham Lincoln reasoned and pleaded with the restive Southern states, seven of which had already declared their secession from the Union, in this way:

That there are persons in one section or another who seek to destroy the Union at all events and are glad of any pretext to do it I will neither affirm nor deny; but if there be such, I need address no word to them. To those, however, who really love the Union may I not speak?

Before entering upon so grave a matter as the destruction of our national fabric, with all its benefits, its memories, and its hopes, would it not be wise to ascertain precisely why we do it? Will you hazard so desperate a step while there is any possibility that any portion of the ills you fly from have no real existence? Will you, while the certain ills you fly to are greater than all the real ones you fly from, will you risk the commission of so fearful a mistake?

And as Lincoln said in closing to the rebellious American South, I can only repeat to the United Kingdom’s restless north:

I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Scotland England crossed flags pin

David Cameron, Werewolf Pacifier

Anyone watching television in the UK over the past few weeks can hardly have failed to have seen trailers for the soon-to-be-released movie, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”. Apparently the life of Abraham Lincoln was simply not interesting enough, and had to be augmented with vampires in order to make it to the big screen.

From the Amazon.com review of the book that inspired the movie:

Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother’s bedside. She’s been stricken with something the old-timers call “Milk Sickness.”

“My baby boy…” she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother’s fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, “henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose…” Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

This witty article from Slate.com treats the movie with the contempt that it deserves, and imagines the paranormal or superhuman feats of other past US presidents.

Chester A. Arthur becomes a “Sasquatch Assassin”.

Grover Cleveland becomes a time warrior.

Andrew Jackson takes on a Ridley Scott-style alien in a boxing ring.

This led me to wonder – what dark but noble feats would lurk in the past of alternate universe David Cameron?