Paul Gottfried recently published a piece in the Chronicles blog, addressing Mark Levin’s charge that “Joe Biden is the most racist president in the Oval Office since Woodrow Wilson.” Of Levin’s rant, Gottfried said the following:
“Only two points in this rant seem even minimally true. One, Woodrow Wilson was a zealous “scientific” racialist who segregated the federal civil service. By 1913 this crusader for democracy abroad had imposed segregated facilities on all departments of the federal government. Two, Biden has rushed to racialize every crisis or disagreement with his Republican opponents. He has accused them and other white Americans—suspected of being Republican—of systemic racism and has even tried to turn a new voter identification requirement in Georgia into an extreme form of Jim Crow. This stunt was already prefigured in Biden’s warning to a Democratic audience in 2009 when he said of Republicans “they gonna put y’all back in chains.” Joe is certainly the most racially polarizing president in American history, surpassing even Barack Obama, but there is no evidence I’ve seen suggesting he is a white racist.”
I should (unsurprisingly) note that I am no fan of Joe Biden. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the racial pandering of Democrats like Biden – in an effort to garner black votes – has only harmed blacks in the long run. This makes itself manifest in a number of ways – failed welfare state policies, the breaking up of families, the encouraging of riots that have harmed black business owners, and much more. But this is another discussion.
Is Biden a racist? Unless one can read his mind, it is hard to tell. Perhaps he is. Or perhaps he is just a political opportunist. He is surely a demagogue.
But Levin’s rant underscores something far more profound – namely, a strategic failure on the part of Conservative Inc. Con. Inc. darlings like Levin think that via adopting the rhetoric and ideas of the left, they can fight the left. To the contrary, by doing so, they are implicitly handing victory to the left by doing exactly what the left wants – normalizing everything that conservatives once deemed as being associated with those “on the other side of the culture war.”
Allow me to explain, beginning with Levin’s rant:
Conservatives (rightly) complain that the left calls them out as “racists” anytime conservatives don’t agree with critical race theory, racial quotas in universities, and a host of other claptraps. Conservatives clearly point out that there is a problem with leftists painting a false reality – i.e., what justifies calling people racist simply because they are not woke?
But whose idea was it that the antidote to this is to just call the other side racist? In fact, would this not only make matters worse? Now, conservatives are, in effect, normalizing Americans calling each other racist in both private and public discourse. How is this not empowering those who want to instill a culture of hating America and scorning the past? Conservatives are boxing themselves into a perpetual defensive position, in which they must keep qualifying that they are not racist, and gradually denounce everything in their country’s past, in the process.
But it does not end here.
Sean Hannity recently hosted “firebrand conservative” Caitlyn (Bruce?) Jenner, who is running for governor of California. (Hannity strangely starts off by stating “I just have such respect for athletes.” Did he forget about Kaepernick already?) Was it not only a mere five years ago that conservatives were denouncing Jenner? Now, all of a sudden, they are trying to make Jenner their own.
Sure, now the line has been blurred between the two genders. Sure, now transgenderism is becoming normalized, with conservatives being part of the effort. Sure, we have tainted our culture in the process. But, hey! Caitlyn is a “conservative!” She supports “lower taxes.” So, the conservatives’ argument goes.
I could expound a litany of other examples:
E.g., (When #MeToo was popular) Con. Inc. readily using sexual assault allegations leveled against liberal politicians (many of them clearly guilty, of course!) to bring down their careers, irrespective of the merit of the allegations. So much for Con. Inc. hating cancel culture.
Or perhaps Charlie Kirk’s promotion of “Lady Maga?”
You want to fight the left? Adopt their tactics and ridicule them, don’t adopt their ideas!
What is the overarching theme here? All of these happenings are subservient to the idea of “conservative wokeism,” i.e., adopting the left’s ideas as your own in an attempt to win the culture war. This outlines an extremely ineffective way of fighting the left – it is really just a normalization of everything conservatives ought to stand against. The left does not care whether transgenderism or cancel culture is of a “conservative” or progressive flavor. All they care about is the rapid dissipation of Western traditions and anything deemed “normal.”
Historian Brion McClanahan notes:
“The left’s game is cancel culture, and it’s a game in which conservatives will always be playing defense. You cannot play the left’s game on their field and by their rules and hope for success. Charges of racism are emotional, not intellectual, and are used—successfully—to change the narrative.”
By readily calling people racists, conservatives are further breeding societal distrust (i.e., “everything is racist now”) and opening a can of worms that will lead to the pulling down of more statues, the renaming of more buildings, etc. By readily declaring “sexual assault” at the sight of mere allegations, they are normalizing cancel culture (which will come back to bite conservatives). By trying to somehow incorporate transgenderism with conservatism – frankly, they are no longer conservatives, in my view.
So how should conservatives fight the left? Easy answer – ridicule them, mock them, but don’t legitimize their ideas. E.g., as I’ve said in a previous article, suppose the woke campus police try to enforce a mandatory LGBT training on students for their “implicit biases.” One could sarcastically go along with this narrative, in an attempt to ridicule it, by saying “Why aren’t you voicing your concern for the rights of aromantic people? Why is this minority never represented? Therefore, why are you perpetuating hate and exclusivity?” In this example, the conservative pretends to support the leftist, in an effort to delegitimize the leftist. A conservative should not instead form their own “conservative” variety of a diversity training, in response.
In a sense, this sort of delegitimization draws upon the left’s tactics of cancelling anything they deem inappropriate. Keep in mind that the left does not care to debate or argue, it seeks to destroy. Thus, conservatives should not cross swords with leftists, and expect a fruitful discussion to come out of it. To have any chance of winning the culture war, conservatives must fight like leftists, not sound like leftists – adopt their tactics, but not their ideas. There is a big difference.
Yes, the left is merciless and won’t end its perpetual smear campaign. But “conservative wokeism” sounds about as dumb as “big government conservatism” or “compassionate conservatism.” Conservatives cannot fight fire with fire. For at the end of the day, the whole house burns down.