To My Shaken Conservative Friends…
A high-school classmate posts a lot on Facebook, often about his political views which are generally conservative. After the events in Charlottesville, he posted a long lament — voicing his frustration at being associated with racists and Nazis, people he called “idiots”. He took offense at the racists and took even greater offense (his words) at the alt-right label having the effect of putting him in the same camp as the racists. (I’m paraphrasing here, he can be long-winded)
I wanted to post a reply and offer him some advice, but we don’t exactly have a FB relationship or interchanges. I’m sure my unsolicited advice on his timeline would not be welcome, so I’m writing it here.
Setting aside the troubling idea that the perception of him as racist is a bigger problem than the racism itself — I don’t blame him for being frustrated at being lumped in with the odious denizens of the “alt-right”. I wouldn’t want that stink to rub off on me either.
Here’s what I wanted to tell him. If he is serious about distancing himself from the “idiots” then he needs to look not left, but right — at the leadership of the Republican party. Its that leadership’s fifty years of pandering to the “idiots” that have created the association he so wants to avoid.
From Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” to Reagan beginning his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, site of the murder of three civil rights activists, where he dog-whistled his support for “state’s rights” to George HW Bush’s heinous “Willie Horton” campaign ad to George W Bush smearing John McCain over his adopted child to Newt Gingrich calling Barack Obama the “food stamp” president to the tweets of the Donald— Republicans have spend 50 years meticulously cultivating, and working to expand, the racist vote.
So, my conservative friends, if you want to distance yourselves from the nazis and the racists, then what you need to do is police your ranks and especially your leadership. Ending their poisoning of the public discourse with racism and hatred is something only you can do. That means calling out racism and hatred (in all its forms) whenever you see it. They will never listen to the left, they might just listen to you, It’s a job you don’t want, but it’s a job only you can succeed at.
Otherwise, you will end up not talking about limiting government the way you would like, but rather you will endlessly have to talk about goose-stepping, torch-carrying idiots and how they don’t really represent your views. You don’t need that, we don’t need that, nobody needs that.
Your work is cut out for you.