True Conservatism Shunned by War Cheerleaders
by Paul Fallavollita
Have you noticed how many self-described conservatives have become cheerleaders for the government post-9/11? This is strange, since conservatives, by definition, should never treat the government as their friend; and George W. Bush, the titular head of state lauded by many of the cheerleaders, has never been a conservative. The tragic events of 9/11 have distracted a significant portion of the conservative movement. They suffer a peculiar bout of amnesia, forgetting what America's true values are (such as those found in Washington's Farewell Address), as well as the true policies of President Bush.
George D.W.I., before 9/11, advocated erasing the border with Mexico, and supported granting millions of illegal aliens amnesty. Fortunately, events tabled that open immigration agenda. Now, another aspect of American nationhood is vulnerable. Some are clamoring for more military adventures abroad than ever before, and allowing civil liberties at home to be chipped away by the new perpetual crusade against "evil terrorists."
Indeed, "evil terrorists" appear everywhere before neocon eyes. Bush's statement to foreign countries that "if you're not with us, you're with the terrorists" has been wielded domestically against fellow citizens. Amazingly, some have called the nationalist positions of putting America first and non-intervention abroad "liberal," and more astonishingly, "anti-military." Some have a hard time understanding that having a military that is second to none does not necessarily entail intervening at the drop of a hat in places no one can find on a map.
A recent experience I had on that mainstay of "Establishment" conservative forums, Free Republic, confirms my hypothesis regarding how 9/11, and the subsequent government spin, pacified and neutralized many conservatives.
Free Republic bills itself as "an online gathering place for independent, grass-roots conservatism on the web working to roll back decades of governmental largesse, to root out political fraud and corruption, and to champion causes which further conservatism in America." That sounds good to me so far. In practice, though, FR is a hotbed of militant neoconservatism. Imaginably, it all turns on your definition of "grassroots" conservatism. My definition is this: grassroots conservatism should be wild, like the hearty flower that springs up in the desert and persists despite the odds. Any true grassroots conservatism cannot be separated from its Old Right heritage of racial nationalism. Free Republic apparently has a much different definition.
One aggressive FReeper sent a post to founder/webmaster Jim Robinson and his moderators about a link to the Vanguard News Network listed on my FR homepage. The poster could not find anything too damning that I myself had written, so he cut-and-pasted a quote from VNN that critically used the "J" word. Within minutes, as I tried to reply, a screen came up informing me FR revoked my posting privileges. The one sentence reason given: "promotes white supremacy." That heralds what is to come on a larger scale: the silencing of dissent via "guilt by association," not necessarily with websites, but with forbidden ideas. Still, I smiled as I read that accusing screen since it shows how much conservatism and the boundary of the "realm of permissible dissent" has changed over time. If Al Gore had invented the Internet seventy-plus years ago, neocons would have been banned instead of me, and they would have seen screens that said, "denies white supremacy." If some have failed to hold the line over time, these sleepers on the job do not deserve the title "conservative."
The constellation of issues known as the National Question, such as race, immigration, English as an official language, foreign policy, and trade, determine whether America will exist as a distinct and identifiable nation into the twenty-first century. Grassroots conservatives have always earned the ire of the Left when discussing the National Question, as evidenced by the buzzwords always on the tips of PC tongues: racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, isolationist, protectionist, and the like. Too many conservatives are afraid of those labels, conceding the moral high ground to the Left. When refugees from the Left began calling themselves "conservatives," like the Kristols and Horowitzes of the world, the process of neutering conservatism continued. Now, all "respectable" conservatives are allowed to do is beg for more tax cuts. Anything otherwise, even including the "wrong" link on a profile page, and your next stop is Orwell's memory hole.
I understand what has happened to these wayward Bushite conservatives. For years, Americans have yearned to have pride and a sense of meaning again. They have wished for leadership that would draw a clear, black versus white distinction in an age when mushy Leftists paint only in grays. The new "war on terrorism" offers a politically correct outlet for satisfying those needs. That outlet, though, is an impostor and an illusion. Just as Osama's thugs hijacked those planes that plowed into the WTC, yet again the neocons have hijacked American passion and patriotism.
Grassroots conservatives, faithful to the nationalist fighting faith that characterized the political spectrum before the Second World War, need to remind the cheerleaders there was always a banner that raised "bold colors, not pale pastels." Further, they should have the courage to wave it occasionally, while they can, before the cheerleading squad tears it down and stashes it away.
Paul Fallavollita holds an M.A. in political science from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org