Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Charles Johnson's Jaundiced View of the Right

Charles Johnson, who runs the blog known as Little Green Footballs, has written a major post on the blog where he breaks his ties with the Right. He shares 10 reasons for his break with the right:

1. Support for fascists, both in America (see: Pat Buchanan, Robert Stacy McCain, etc.) and in Europe (see: Vlaams Belang, BNP, SIOE, Pat Buchanan, etc.)

2. Support for bigotry, hatred, and white supremacism (see: Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Robert Stacy McCain, Lew Rockwell, etc.)

3. Support for throwing women back into the Dark Ages, and general religious fanaticism (see: Operation Rescue, anti-abortion groups, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, the entire religious right, etc.)

4. Support for anti-science bad craziness (see: creationism, climate change denialism, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, James Inhofe, etc.)

5. Support for homophobic bigotry (see: Sarah Palin, Dobson, the entire religious right, etc.)

6. Support for anti-government lunacy (see: tea parties, militias, Fox News, Glenn Beck, etc.)

7. Support for conspiracy theories and hate speech (see: Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Birthers, creationists, climate deniers, etc.)

8. A right-wing blogosphere that is almost universally dominated by raging hate speech (see: Hot Air, Free Republic, Ace of Spades, etc.)

9. Anti-Islamic bigotry that goes far beyond simply criticizing radical Islam, into support for fascism, violence, and genocide (see: Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, etc.)

10. Hatred for President Obama that goes far beyond simply criticizing his policies, into racism, hate speech, and bizarre conspiracy theories (see: witch doctor pictures, tea parties, Birthers, Michelle Malkin, Fox News, World Net Daily, Newsmax, and every other right wing source)

Looking at this list, one could conclude that this is the end all and be all of conservatism in the United States. It's definitely what many on the American Left think of Repbublicans. And while I do think there are a lot of problems in the American Right that need to be addressed, I tend to think Johnson, along with many former Republicans, tend to have a jaundiced view of the Right. They look at the most extreme elements of the Right and think that it is sum of the entire movement. James Joyner took a look at Johnson's list and offers his own view which is a lot of nuanced than Johnson's.

It might help that Joyner explains that Johnson was a liberal until 9/11 and then shifted towards the far right. As 9/11 became more and more of a distant memory, he started to see things differently. So, in one case it should not be that surprising that his views changed back to what they might have been pre-9/11.

But his post raises larger questions. As moderate, I know that my brand of conservatism is not as much in fashion. The Right is dominated by the likes of people like Michelle Malkin and news outfits like World Net Daily. But that is hardly all of what makes up the GOP or conservatism. Take for example point 8 that talks about a hate filled right wing blogosphere. The funny thing is, there are a lot of conservative bloggers that are reasonable and well thought out. I like reading Frum Forum, American Scene, Outside the Beltway and the Big Stick. The League of Ordinary Gentlemen is not a conservative blog per se, but has several thoughtful conservative bloggers.

It has always flumoxed me that those who like me, have issues with certain parts of the Right, decide to take the most extreme elements of the movement use a wide paint brush to tar everything and everyone as a nut. But there are good and thoughtful people who take on the task of being a voice of reason amid the craziness.

No doubt, Johnson will be branded as a brave for parting ways with the Right by many on the Left or with those fellow angry former conservatives. But while it might serve to reinforce all the negative views that some on the left have on the right, it does nothing to change the right. Johnson's choice of bailing out at a time when the movement needs thoughtful reformers is not one of bravery, but opportunism.

What the American Right needs now are people who are willing to stand up to the Sarah Palin/Glen Beck crowd within the movement. Leaving the movement helps no one but Charles Johnson.


E.D. Kain said...

Well said, Dennis.

Transplanted Lawyer said...

You're pretty much right on here. Johnson seems to me to be escalating his blog-feud with R.S. McCain to a very high level. And it's more tedious than insightful.

Philip H. said...

I think you are correct that more moderate conservatives are getting short shrift in the blog-o-sphere, as well as the MSM. And that leads to many liberals in tunr deciding that all conservatives are, indeed, channeling Coulter and Buchannan.

The problem is that your moderate voices are being drowned out in the national dialogue by your more "fringe" elements. They get the air time and the column inches - in large part because their bombast is about supposedly clea rlines, not nuance. Unless and until this issues is resolved, many otherwise moderate conservatives will have to take drastic public action to get any notice.