It is an old story which the politically aware have watched unfold time and time again: The media – and now also social media – seize on a speech, an interview, a comment, or an event that, says the left, proves the right is racist, bigoted, xenophobic, or all of the above. Some conservatives then immediately go on the defensive, condemning the words or the actions of one of their own in a sad attempt to prove to the other side that “we’re better than that.”
Why do certain people on the right feel the need to engage in this virtue-signaling? Why the fawning apologies for speech or behavior that the PC police deemed unacceptable? When one considers the torrent of hate and abuse – often including racist or homophobic slurs and physical threats – hurled, almost daily, from the left, one cannot help but wonder why any conservative would feel the need to apologize for anything.
Standing Firm for First Amendment Rights
It is one thing to voice disagreement with someone. It is quite another to call for that individual to be censured or punished in some way, or even forced to resign for something they may have said or done. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer. He may even be an actual racist, but he does have a First Amendment right to say whatever he wants. Furthermore, since he was elected by the people of Iowa’s fourth district to represent them, only they have the right to remove him from office over something he said.
While King is unceremoniously dismissed as a racist monster – even by his own side – many Democratic politicians continue to refuse to distance themselves from outspoken racist and antisemite, Louis Farrakhan. If the double standard was not bad enough, the fact that many conservatives accept and conform to it is even worse. Republicans should have demanded a public condemnation of Farrakhan from Democratic Party leaders as a condition for any agreement on formal disapproval of King’s remarks.
Recently in the headlines, and figuring prominently on social media, is a video clip from competing demonstrations in the nation’s capital. The initial story behind the video was young white boys wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ hats harassing an Indian tribal elder. The usual contingent of invertebrate conservatives, including Meghan McCain and various other apologists, leaped into the fray to condemn the boys; so important was it, apparently, for conservatives to bow their heads and tug their forelocks in deference to leftist standards of behavior.
As things turned out, these boys had said and done nothing rude or offensive. Indeed, they were the ones targeted by abuse and then approached by the tribal elder, who all but physically assaulted them. In reaction, the boys stood their ground but did nothing else.
The question is: What if these boys had been the instigators? What if they had gotten in people’s faces? Is that not that what the left has been told for years – to literally “get in the face” of those who disagree with them? Anything short of directly inciting or initiating physical violence is perfectly legal and protected by the First Amendment. Leftist demonstrators frequently go well beyond what any civilized society would consider acceptable behavior and no-one on the left apologizes for that or condemns it.
It is time for conservatives to stop policing the behavior of those on their own side…
The argument from those conservatives who mistakenly believe that “values” and “principles” will ultimately win the day is that the reprehensible speech and behavior of radical leftists do not justify the same from conservatives. These moderate, pacifistic right-wingers are entirely missing the point. If conservatives refuse to make the left understand that they do not get to set the standards for acceptable speech and behavior; that violence – if taken too far – will be met with greater violence, then, sooner rather than later, the majority of Americans will come around to accepting that any defense of conservative ideology goes beyond what is acceptable. It will simply become normal to look upon any public defense of conservatism – or any demonstration in support of conservative political principles – as being beyond the pale.
The very reason the so-called “alt-right” exists at all is the refusal, by too many conservatives, to stand firm against the abuses of the radical left. It is time for conservatives to stop policing the behavior of those on their own side, to stop demanding penance from their own, and to stop allowing the left to dictate the terms under which cultural and political debates are conducted. The mere state of being a conservative is sufficient to make one a monster, a bigot, and a hate-monger in the eyes of the left. Why, then, would conservatives concern themselves with how they are perceived? Simply put – and for the sake of the very survival of resistance to leftist radicalism – It is time for conservatives to stop apologizing.