It’s been announced that the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) will present the “Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award” to Duck Dynasty character Phil Robertson. Robertson’s comments about gays and blacks were almost universally condemned for their bigotry, their insensitivity, and their outright ignorance.
Certainly, Robertson has the right under the first amendment to prove to the world what an ignoramus he is. But CPAC honoring this country clown for being shockingly uninformed is the last straw for me.
I would urge anyone who considers themselves a conservative to boycott this year’s CPAC conference. Otherwise you give silent assent to this travesty by attending.
There have been moments of clarity over the last 10 years when I realized that my beliefs and principles wildly diverged from those who call themselves “conservative” today. I hardly think it relevant to make a list, although the enthusiasm over shutting down the government was particularly jarring. If there had been a purpose to it, I might have thought differently about it. But what was the purpose if there was absolutely no chance whatsoever to realize the goal of such a shutdown — the blocking of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act? If you are going to take such an extreme act, there should be at least a small chance of success.
Later, we were told that the shutdown was necessary to give heart to the right wing base, who didn’t believe the GOP was serious about eliminating the ACA. The rabid right wingers that make up the Republicans most reliable voters will never be satisfied with anything — just like the rabid left wingers will dismiss the national Democrats as appeasers and traitors. But the shutdown was one of those moments in time where I realized that either, 1) I wasn’t a conservative, or 2) the base wasn’t conservative. We both can’t be conservative, so what’s the answer?
I find myself in a similar position to Josh Barro, a center-right columnist who believes that conservatism isn’t defined by a set of mostly immutable principles, but rather by those who call themselves “conservative.” The right — like the left — has a series of litmus tests by which your conservatism or liberalism is judged. In other words, your position on issues defines whether you are conservative or not, rather than the principles that undergird the assumptions upon which one’s position on the issues is based defining your fealty to conservative philosophy.
It’s a backasswards way of judging who or what is conservative and I’ve never adhered to it. That, and the rank intellectual dishonesty that permeates movement conservatism has put a lot of distance between me and the base. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is a mantra spoken by Christian conservatives, who then think nothing of calling all homosexual men child rapists, and describing homosexual love in the most vile, obscene ways. They claim not to hate the government, but try defending any government program beyond national defense and it becomes clear where their real sentiments lie. They call themselves “Constitutional Conservatives” but that’s nuts. They believe the Constitution is holy writ and that if it’s not explicitly stated in our founding document, it’s “unconstitutional.” Many of them would be far more comfortable living under the Articles of Confederation rather than the Constitution.
The Phil Robertson controversy is a perfect example of how a cut and dried case of bigotry can be justified by these cretins. Here’s what Robertson said about gays in an interview in GQ:
“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.
And later in the article:
Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Yes he did equate homosexuality with bestiality. But it is his ignorance of how homosexuals define their sexuality that is inexcusable and embarrassing to see in anyone reasonably aware of the modern world. It’s like he’s caught in a 1950’s time warp.
His comments about growing up with blacks buttresses that notion:
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field … They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’ — not a word! … Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
As if a black from the 1950’s would complain to a white kid about being mistreated — something that, if it ever got around, would probably get him lynched.
The only thing that saves Robertson is his utter lack of awareness. He probably doesn’t have a hateful bone in his body. But this lack of awareness, coupled with an ignorance so profound it beggars the imagination that anyone in the 20th century could be so afflicted, should obviously and easily disqualify him from being honored in any way, shape, or form at CPAC.
Robertson was not just expressing his religious beliefs. He was offering commentary on civic and social issues — and rotten commentary it was at that. Rather than giving him an award for freedom of expression, Robertson should be shunned and then told to spend half an hour or so on the internet googling “sexual orientation” and “Jim Crow.” I’m sure it will be an enlightening experience.