Michael Fumento, who worked for the Reagan administrations and has written for Wall Street Journal, National Review, Weekly Standard, and Forbes, no longer wishes to associate himself with the modern Conservative Movement. He views the contemporary American Right as caught up in “Mass Hysteria,” which he says is completely antithetical to traditional Conservatism:
Civility and respect for order – nay,demand for order – have always been tenets of conservatism. The most prominent work of history’s most prominent conservative, Edmund Burke, was a reaction to the anger and hatred that swept France during the revolution. It would eventually rip the country apart and plunge all of Europe into decades of war. Such is the rotted fruit of mass-produced hate and rage. Burke, not incidentally, was a true Tea Party supporter, risking everything as a member of Parliament to support the rebellion in the United States.
All of today’s right-wing darlings got there by mastering what Burke feared most: screaming “J’accuse! J’accuse!” Turning people against each other. Taking seeds of fear, anger and hatred and planting them to grow a new crop.
Fumento’s article names quite a few of today’s most prominent Conservative pundits and politicians as part of the problem:
Last month U.S. Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican recently considered by some as vice-president material, insisted that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party, again with little condemnation from the new right.
Mitt Romney took a question at a town hall meeting this month from a woman who insisted President Obama be “tried for treason,” without challenging, demurring from or evencommentingon her assertion.
And then there’s the late Andrew Breitbart (assassinated on the orders of Obama, natch). A video from February shows him shrieking at peaceful protesters: “You’re freaks and animals! Stop raping people! Stop raping people! You freaks! You filthy freaks! You filthy, filthy, filthy raping, murdering freaks!” He went on for a minute-and-a-half like that. Speak not ill of the dead? Sen. Ted Kennedy’s body was barely cold when Breitbart labeled him “a big ass motherf@#$er,” a “duplicitous bastard” a “prick” and “a special pile of human excrement.”
Fumento’s article is extraordinarily difficult to excerpt. Needless to say, he leaves few of America’s most well-known right-wing shock-jocks untouched. On Breitbart:
There was nothing “conservative” about Breitbart. Ever-consummate gentlemen like Buckley and Ronald Reagan would have been mortified by such behavior as Breitbart’s – or West’s or Heartland’s. “There you go again,” the Gipper would have said in his soft but powerful voice.
Ann Coulter & Michelle Malkin:
A single author, Ann Coulter, has published best-selling books accusing liberals, in the titles, of being demonic, godless and treasonous. Michelle Malkin, ranked by the Internet search company PeekYou as having the most traffic of any political blogger, routinely dismisses them as “moonbats, morons and idiots.” Limbaugh infamously dispatched a young woman who expressed her opinion that the government should provide free birth control as a “slut” and a “prostitute.”
More Michelle Malkin:
Malkin, who revels in playing the victim, says that she’s been called all sorts of horrible things, many based on her Filipina heritage. But most of what she cites come from email or anonymous comments on blog sites. It wasn’t usually from paid professionals with large audiences, like her, aimed at paid professionals like her. It’s thus hard to compare with the host of the most popular talk show host in history taking shots at an unknown 22-year-old woman [Sandra Fluke]. (She’s hardly that now; Limbaugh himself promoted her to a national spokeswoman.)
And a bit of irony:
In the grief-fest at Breitbart’s death, forgiven (and indeed practically forgotten) was his crucial role in building the single most popular liberal website, the Huffington Post. Some of Breitbart’s friends admitted he was absent of ideology. “I don’t recall Andrew Breitbart ever mentioning electoral politics,” wrote Tucker Carlson. “It bored him.” Breitbart’s inspiration, then? George Washington through Benjamin Franklin – printed in primarily green ink on cotton stock.
It’s worth reading in full. Fumento joins the likes of Bruce Bartlett, David Frum, and of course, Andrew Sullivan (who spotted the story before I did), all of whom were excised from Right-wing zeitgeist for committing the cardinal sin of taking policy stances and/or social stances that were out of step with the party line.
This phenomenon, of course, is symptomatic of the American Conservative Movement’s increasing Epistemic Closure, wherein GOP moderates are being excised from the party, just as Conservative thinkers are being thrown to the wolves for daring to criticize a Republican president, or worse, point out that liberals may have been right about something.
None of this is new, of course. But it will be interesting to see if more public Conservative intellectuals abandon their Conservative credentials in the name of sane discourse and re-establishing an intellectually vibrant Conservativism. Only time will tell.
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