Posted by Brad @ 11:36 am on April 11th 2012

A Brief Flash of Insight Inspired by Derb

Daniel Foster tackled the Derbyshire flameout at the Corner, and in so doing gets at what I think is a truth not articulated nearly enough.

Iíve always thought that conservatives should simply bite the bullet and admit that there are racists among self-described conservatives, and moreover, that these conservativesí racism is an evitable (that is, unwarranted) extension of the mainstream conservative position on race. But this is true in the same way it is true that there are communists among self-described liberals, and that their communism is an evitable (that is, unwarranted) extension of the mainstream liberal position on political economy. To put this even more forcefully, we have to yield that there is something to it when liberal trolls snark about how tough it can be to distinguish a conservative from a racist. The fact is that both conservatives and racists think that considerations about race should play a much smaller part in our political discourse. And while only racists think that this is so because blacks are less than fully human, it can be tough to get them to admit as much. Until, that is, they inevitably slip up.

There. Thatís why itís tougher for conservatives to police the line on racism.

That’s right on the money, I think. It IS true that most racists are conservative and that there are more racists within conservatism than within liberalism. The Left is absolutely right about that. It’s stupid for conservatives to get knee-jerk and defensive about it.

But that it is true doesn’t give it any special insight into the character or quality of conservative ideas. My conservative friends tend to get pissed off at me for frankly noting the racism within the GOP, and my liberal friends tend to get pissed off at me for being relatively dismissive about it. But I’ve never quite understood why those positions were supposed to be mutually exclusive.

I made this point in relation to Ron Paul as well. OF COURSE Ron Paul supporters are disproportionally likely to be either conspiracy theorists or anti-Semites (or both). So what? Why is that either surprising or telling? Ron Paul is, by extension of a philosophy that is easily traceable, consistently applied, articulatable and not based in either anti-Semitism or conspiracism for their own sakes, the candidate that is most critical of Israel and the candidate that is most distrusting of government. Why ought it to then be surprising that people critical of Israel or distrusting of government would then migrate to that banner? In the same way that it isn’t particularly surprising that racists are attracted to the political philosophy most disinterested in a proactive kind of multiculturalism, or that communists are most attracted to the political philosophy most interested in the division between the rich and the poor?

The fact that most racists are conservatives, most radical socialists are liberals, and most anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists are Ron Paul supporters (well, you know what i mean) is both true, intuitive, but not necessarily informative in the least. Which is why I’ve never been quite clear on why people get so hung up on it.


  1. The acid test, incidentally, for when you’re dealing with a racist/communist/anti-Semite or whether you’re just associating that motive to somebody based on their underlying ideology (which is not itself any of those things) is when the former overrides the later. It’s not hard to see, for instance, that Rick Santorum’s homophobia is not informed by conservatism, but rather that Rick Santorum’s “conservatism” is informed by his homophobia – because he is willing to use unconservative means to achieve his homophobic goals, but not unhomophobic means to achieve conservative ones. Same with, for instance, whether President Obama’s moderate liberalism is actually communism in disguise – do radical and unliberal communistic policies regularly override a generalized belief in equality as a first principle – or to put that another way, does he turn to communistic policies when moderate liberal ones would do (say, in single payer health care, or nationalizing banks)? And would you imagine Ron Paul would pass a law compelling private citizens to give over wealth so that Israel could be smacked in some fashion – say trade sanctions or war if they don’t give up nuclear weapons or agree to a two-state solution and a freezing of settlements?

    That’s the difference. Ron Paul’s not an anti-Semite just because his ideology might naturally cause anti-Semites to gravitate to it. Indeed, Paul’s ideology isn’t necessarily anti-Semitic for that reason either. But Rick Santorum IS more a homophobe, and part of what was confusing for Derb is, in advancing a racist argument, he did so CONTRARY to his general understanding of conservatism and how he would apply it in non-racial situations.

    Comment by Brad — 4/11/2012 @ 11:57 am

  2. Dude, take it from a guy who paints, you really need to get a smaller brush.

    Comment by James — 4/12/2012 @ 12:51 am

  3. “Dude, take it from a guy who paints, you really need to get a smaller brush.”
    Well argued. the numerous points and explanations of your nuanced position won me over to your position, whatever it is.

    Comment by Jack — 4/12/2012 @ 8:39 pm

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