I have been a life-long Conservative, and frankly, I’m damned proud of that – of being a Conservative, and of being linked with and in league with other Conservatives. However, just as there are intolerant Liberals (actually, they’re pretty much ALL intolerant – that’s what the PC movement is all about – but they and the media would deny it to their dying breaths), there are some intolerant Conservatives, and that troubles me. For a lot of reasons, a few of which I will expound upon here.
First, let me give my perspective on the meaning of “Conservative.” A Conservative is someone who:
- Believes that government should be both small and local – that the bigger the Federal government, the more intrusive it has to be into the lives of individuals.
- Believes that taxes should be small, and necessary – they see government waste as nothing short of armed robbery (if you don’t believe it’s armed robbery – just withhold paying taxes and see who comes to the door, and look at what he’s got on his right hip).
- Believes that the Bill of Rights means exactly what it says – about freedom of belief and expression, about self-defense, about unreasonable searches, and about the size and role of the Federal government.
- Believes that my rights end when they interfere with your rights (i.e., I can swing my arm, but I can’t punch you in the nose).
- Believes that my private choices – i.e., those which do not hurt or infringe on the life of others – are my choices, not yours (or the government’s) to make or judge – but that choices which do impinge on others are justifiably judged by society and government
With that all in mind, let me discuss some intolerance I see among some who profess to be Conservatives – who say they believe in these basic points, yet they all-too-often want (even demand) the government – the awful and awesome power of the State – to enforce their beliefs and prejudices on others. So let’s get started …
First, PC judgments: The most dangerous kind of intolerance is that which is hidden, not perceived as such. Here I’m referring to those Conservatives who abhor “political correct” points of view – PC being, of course, nothing but imposed restrictions on free speech, free expression, free (and legal) behavior – yet, who want to use the same kind of force on those who disagree with them. Who say outrageous things, or act out in (legal) but truly outrageous fashion. They want to ban wearing “low-rider” jeans that seem to hang around someone’s knees. Or ban Rap (or is it Hip Hop – I can never keep them straight) because the lyrics are so over-the-top. Or … fill in the blank, plugging in legal but obnoxious, offensive, absurd, outrageous or just plain gross behavior. Fellow Conservatives, we cannot object to far-left Liberal PC mandates and restrictions while at the same time imposing the same KIND of standards on others. As Mr. Spock said in the 2nd Star Trek Movie, “Sauce for the Goose, Mr. Savik.” Or, as my son used to day, “what goes around, comes around.”
Next, racial Judgments: There is a Liberal rap against Conservatives that we hate minorities – blacks, Hispanics, Asians, you name it. They often point to a dying-out generation of Southern conservative Republicans who hearken back to the pre-Civil Rights days of the 60s, forgetting that they had been Democrats for generations, and left that party only after the McGovern wing began to dominate national politics. And those who claim that Conservatives don’t like Blacks forget the long and honorable list of Black and Hispanic Conservatives. Condi Rice, Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell (when he was Reagan’s National Security Adviser, before the State Department corrupted him), Jeb Bush (married a Hispanic, making children, and Bush 43’s nieces and nephews Hispanic, too), Nevada’s own Governor, Brian Sandoval.
Many Conservatives have a strong dislike for the Welfare state, and for those who choose to live on the public dole. And it’s true that many of those people are black – but many are also white, or some other minority. The same can apply to illegal aliens – many Conservatives strongly resent their flouting of our laws, their choice to suck on the public teat, and to take jobs from Americans here legally who can’t find work. All of those are legitimate concerns. However, equally legitimately, it’s important to NOT confuse a sub-group who make personal choices with a larger group defined only by skin color or national origin. It’s especially important because, as well all saw when the media was (with so much bias) “covering” the Tea Party, how disproportionately they “covered” any Tea Party member who did anything which might have been skewed into race hatred or bigotry.
We need to attract all Conservatives to our cause, no matter their skin color or national origin, and to make those on the fence feel welcome and at home in the Conservative movement.
Next, faith-based judgements: Many (though not all) Conservatives in America are also professing Christians (of course, a majority of all Americans are professing Christians, but more Conservatives are also Christian than is true with Liberals). Sadly, some Christians are intolerant – usually, but not always, pointing to the Old Testament (which is filled with proscriptions about lifestyle and behavioral choices) to justify their intolerant choices. To them, two things: First, if they cut their hair and shave, how do they square that with Leviticus 19 (which basically says, though I’m paraphrasing: Cut not the corners of thy head, nor round the corners of thy beard, for I am the Lord). They choose which behaviors or choices to condemn, but let others slip by, which is inconsistent at best. However, I’m more of a New Testament guy myself, and I recall Jesus’ commandment: “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Conservatives should not be intolerant – and to me, that especially applies to Conservative Christians.
Judging Gays: This overall Christian judgmentalism may be related to the intolerance some Conservatives seem to hold against Gays, especially those “Old Testament” Conservatives who believe that the State should stand in for God in enforcing what they believe are God’s views of Gays and the Gay lifestyle. It is true that Gay “activitists” are way over there on the far Left side of Liberal. As a group and a cause, they are trying to use the awesome power of the State to impose their beliefs – and to force society to embrace their issues and causes. Frankly, I’ve got no use at all for that, or for any of that, and I especially resent their intrusions into public schools, trying to use tax dollars and government employees to force their views on innocent children. Yet I know many Gays who are conservatives, who want a small government, small taxes, minimal intrusion from government in anyone’s lives – i.e., the things all true Conservatives embrace. I believe (and urge all Conservatives) to differentiate between the “Gay Cause” (or, even worse, “Gay Predators”) and individuals who are Gay, but who may also be Conservative and who respect the rights of others.
Before any Conservative condemns Gays, I’d like to ask them if every private choice they make in their lives has been sanctioned by God – or if, perhaps, they may make personal choices that were, at one time, proscribed by both Church and State. Then I’d ask them, “do you want the State to enter your bedroom (or any other room) and not only judge, but punish
Judging Muslims: Next, since the rise of the tidal wave of Muslim-fueled terrorism in American – which dates back to the early 1990s, shortly after the fall of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and our successful first war against Saddam Hussain – and especially after 9/11/2001, it has become fashionable among some Conservatives to attack and condemn not just extremist Muslims but all Muslims. I have seen it go so far as to have Conservatives assert that the Muslim faith is a false faith. I am not an adherent of that faith, nor do I personally consider Mohammed to have been a legitimate prophet of God Almighty, but I also know that I’m not the last word on this topic.
I know many Muslims who live good and moral lives and who seem honestly convicted of their beliefs – even some who are clearly Conservatives. I have trusted my life and health to Muslim physicians (and I’m still here to tell about it) – and I respect people of any faith who are sincere in their beliefs. Which is something I believe all Conservatives should embrace. We honor the Bill of Rights, we Conservatives, and that includes the freedom of religion. I’ve got no use for Muslim extremists, and I would gladly throw the switch on any terrorist, regardless of his twisted belief system – but I urge all my fellow Conservatives to be tolerant of those decent and peace-loving, law-abiding Muslims who believe in Allah, and who are, after all, merely other followers of the God of Abraham.
Judging Mormons: Naturally, with a professing, believing Mormon all but certain to win the nomination to represent the Conservative side of the political battle for President in 2012, it’s not surprising that some – most of them believing and conservative Christians (who nonetheless forgot what Jesus said about judging) want to judge Mitt Romney’s faith as being “not really” Christian. Many go as far as to say it’s a “cult,” while overlooking the fact that for its first three centuries of existence, Christianity itself was viewed as a “cult” by the majority in society.
I’m not sure when something goes from being a “cult” to being a “religion” – I suspect that there’s some “critical mass” in terms of membership. About.com says that on December 31, 2010, there were 14.1 million Mormons worldwide. However, according to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, there were 13,421,000 Jews worldwide. Few would question that Judaism is a religion, yet in terms of raw membership, the Mormon faith is larger – and while the Jewish population worldwide is relatively static, the Mormon faith is growing annually at a rate of nearly half a million members a year.
Some will contend that population count is irrelevant, that “cult” status has more to do with the nature of a faith than it’s body count. Yet to outsiders, the eucharist is seen (by some) as a form of ritual cannibalism – in short, to anyone outside of a given faith, some elements of a belief could be presented to look “cultic.” I would just urge all Conservatives to remember the First Amendment, and to accord to any believer the integrity of his or her faith. You may not share it, but if they’re sincere in their belief, accord them the same respect you’d expect in return.
Finally Judging Jews: I would have hoped that Hitler would have put anti-Semitism to shame, discrediting it for all time. Certainly, Vatican II – by banishing for all time the charge of “Christ Killers” – demolished the last “legitimate” reason for any sane person to have a special hatred for the Jews. Yet there remains a festering hatred of Jews – and often, as a “legitimate” surrogate, especially among Liberals who never met a terrorist they didn’t love, Israel. For many years, I’d presumed this was real only among Liberals and among “Archie Bunker bigots” who basically hated everyone, including Jews.
However, with all the rhetoric I’ve heard from some elements of the larger Ron Paul movement – people apparently attracted to Dr. Paul’s cause because of his support for Iran’s nuclear program and his advocacy of cutting Israel loose (in economic and military terms) from any historical alliance with the U.S. That has served to lay a foundation on which they can build their attacks on “Zionism” (“Zion” being a code-name for Israel, which is in turn a substitute for “Jew” among anti-Semitic bigots).
I have no idea how many anti-Semites populate the Ron Paul movement, but it troubles me that he doesn’t actively reject their views. He’s grown in popularity among fringes (drug legalizers, anti-Semites, conspiracy addicts, etc.) because he has chosen to cast a broad umbrella that would cover any group which will only support him. If they do, they’re welcome, no matter how odious – or how downright ridiculous – their beliefs. Sadly, these people are conflated with “Conservative” – though most Conservatives wouldn’t recognize them as brothers, or even as neighbors.
Ron Paul won’t condemn them – they’re part of his strategy – but I will.
No person can be a Conservative and hate or judge others based on faith, or religion, national origin or skin color, lifestyle choice (as long as it’s in private, and hurts no-one). There is no room in the Conservative movement for bigots, racists or haters of any kind. We need to be the true Big Tent – to be truly inclusive and welcoming of all who share our core beliefs. If you embrace what the Bill of Rights was meant to be – if you accord others the same rights and respect that you expect from them – if you want a small and non-intrusive government funded by the bare minimum of your tax dollars necessary to do what they must do (and nothing else), they you are my brother, my sister, my comrade in arms. I welcome you to the Good Fight, the fight for liberty and a sane, secure America. A country where there is no hatred, no racism, no bigotry. Only freedom and respect, one for another.
Ned Barnett – Nevada Conservative
Ned Barnett has worked in campaigns, and as a speechwriter to candidates and elected officials, since he was the “mascot” to the local Young Republicans in 1964 (Goldwater) – he has managed media and strategy for three state-level Presidential campaigns, and worked hand-in-glove with the legendary Lee Atwater in South Carolina in the Ford Campaign. In 2009-10, as an active Tea Party supporter, he served as both the Clark County/Las Vegas and Nevada Republican Party Communications Director. He owns Barnett Marketing Communications in Las Vegas, and provides a full range of PR, marketing, issues-management and fund-raising services for clients in Las Vegas, around the country, and in several other countries. He can be reached at 702-561-1167 or firstname.lastname@example.org …
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