If you haven’t seen it yet, you should go over to Little Green Footballs and read this J’accuse post by Charles Johnson where he briefly lists some of the reasons why he has now, officially “parted ways” with the right.
Irony abounds for me in this situation. The fact is, Johnson and I are in lockstep agreement when it comes to many of our criticisms of the right. We both despise the cotton candy conservatism of Beck, Limbaugh, and Coulter et. al. that is occasionally tinged with sniffs of bigotry. We both bemoan the paranoid conspiracies - birthers, and other theories about Obama - that have risen up to inject some of their sickness into mainstream conservatism.
We both see an anti-science, anti-intellectual undercurrent in some of the critiques of liberalism employed by the base, including an inexplicable denial of Darwinism, and a “the science is settled” argument toward global climate change (the science is wrong and the whole thing is a conspiracy). And we both agree that the anarcho-conservatism expressed by many on the right is unrealistic and dangerously wrong.
Therefore, having established my bona fides, I can say flat out that Charles Johnson, in his wildly exaggerated, hyperbolic, injudicious, ad hominem, unreasonable, and illogical attacks on the right, has abandoned any claim to prudent analysis and temperate understanding, and has instead, joined the ranks of those on the right and left who don’t deserve to be taken seriously by anyone with half a brain.
To wit: (”Why I Parted Ways 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.)
Johnson’s use of the epithet “fascist” shows that he is ignorant of the history, the philosophy (such as it was), and the tenets of that odious ideology. He is as ignorant as the brain dead lefties who employed the smear against Bush and the moronic righties who use it to describe Obama.
Using the term immediately identifies one as an excessively ideological partisan. He condemns the entire right for the wayward beliefs of a few. There is hardly a mainstream conservative blog that has not skewered Buchanan at one time or another for his stupidity and bigotry. And the tenuous connections Johnson has sought to draw to the genuine article in Europe - neo-Fascists - is laughable. Six degrees of separation does not “connect” American conservatives to those putrid personalities and parties in Europe except in the overactive, fevered, and unbalanced imagination of Johnson.
2. Support for bigotry, hatred, and white supremacism (see: Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Robert Stacy McCain, Lew Rockwell, etc.)
If you are going to accuse someone of “hatred” or “white supremacism,” I suggest you take proving those charges very seriously. Johnson doesn’t and never has. In the case of McCain, he has quoted extensively from some of McCain’s postings around the internet through the years. The problem is that many of those entries that he so proudly features were not left by McCain, and many of the quotes he uses to crucify RSM are not even his.
McCain is quirky. He can be insufferable. His constant self promotion can be wearing. But I have met and come to know this man and I can state categorically that there isn’t a racist bone in his body and anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Not recognizing that McCain was targeted by professional smear merchants only shows Johnson’s unreasoning hatred of McCain to be the product of rank emotionalism and not rational analysis.
(McCain can, and has, defended himself. I don’t agree with some of his published writings, but I have an idea of how his mind works. It is an expansive, sometimes brilliant instrument that plays with concepts and ideas as a child plays with blocks. Seizing upon out of context ramblings by McCain is a cottage industry for some of his detractors and unfortunately, RSM is also afflicted with a naivete about how some of what he writes is perceived. He actually believes his honesty and perspicacity should be rewarded. Pity it isn’t.)
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.)
The numbers of conservatives who Johnson is talking about could hold a convention in a Marriott conference room. The mainstream right may be devout, but I hardly think the exaggerated term “fanaticism” applies to all but a very small percentage. And the charge that the religious right supports “throwing women back into the Dark Ages” does not deserve acknowledgment except that it reveals Johnson’s overweening, ideological partisanship. No rational critic would make such a charge. An irrational mountebank would.
4. Support for anti-science bad craziness (see: creationism, climate change denialism, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, James Inhofe, etc.)
Ooooh - “anti-science bad craziness?” Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the very deep thoughts of Charles Johnson.
5. Support for homophobic bigotry (see: Sarah Palin, Dobson, the entire religious right, etc.)
Is there really “support” for “homophobic bigotry” among mainstream conservatives? There is support for DOMA. There is support for an anti-gay marriage amendment. There is opposition to including gays as victims in current hate crime legislation. As I have laid out, while there is a conservative case to be made for gay marriage, there is a secular conservative case to be made against it. There are also perfectly legitimate legal arguments to be made against any hate crime statute.
At issue is whether a pressure lobby can dictate the parameters of what constitutes “bigotry.” The GLBT lobby constantly injects politics into this question, screaming “Bigot!” at anyone who fails to support their agenda. I happen to support equal rights for gays but denounce their politicization of gay marriage and their attempts to circumvent the will of the people by calling on the courts to adjudicate what is, at bottom, a political question.
Are there homophobes and bigots on the right? Yes there are. But Johnson, as he does constantly throughout his Zola-esque rant, inflates their numbers to justify his own, narrow, rigid, ideological reasons for abandoning his former allies.
6. Support for anti-government lunacy (see: tea parties, militias, Fox News, Glenn Beck, etc.)
Here, I have to agree with Johnson that there is a very large plurality of conservatives who not only distrust government, but despise it as well, and would like nothing better than to roll back both the New Deal and the Great Society to achieve “limited” national government.
(I do not include committed Federalists in this group who are much more serious minded in their approach to government and recognize many of its modern responsibilities.)
This anarcho-conservatism, where some kind of 19th century government is envisioned as the optimal solution to our problems, is a throwback to pre-Buckley days. It is unthinking, illogical, and oblivious to how the world has changed since the heyday of Robert Taft. Ultimately, it is a fearful kind of conservatism that can’t recognize or deal with change and seeks the safety of an idealized past.
But Johnson falls off the rails by lumping the “tea partyers” in with the anti-government zealots. Certainly, some in the Tea Party movement fit the description. But having observed several of their events, I was surprised at the restraint showed by most marchers, their very ordinariness giving weight to their protests. As an echo of the anti-war movement, I would say there are many telling parallels as far as the average American who felt strongly enough to commit to a cause.
7. Support for conspiracy theories and hate speech (see: Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Birthers, creationists, climate deniers, etc.)
Yes, in addition to the Birthers, there’s the “Obama is a Moooslim” crap, and “Obama wants to impoverish us all so that we become dependent on government” stupidity. But again, prove to me that this kind of thinking represents a majority of conservatives who are spouting this nonsense and I will gladly join in the cussing.
8. A right-wing blogosphere that is almost universally dominated by raging hate speech (see: Hot Air, Free Republic, Ace of Spades, etc.)
“Almost universally?” Heh - that’s something a freshman in high school might use in an essay. It’s either “universal” or not. Sorry Charles, back to English composition 101 for you.
As for the rest - not even worth commenting on. Simple sophistry.
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.)
This is something of which Johnson knows a lot about. I stopped visiting his site 4 years ago because of the nauseating, anti-Muslim bigotry spewing forth in his comments - cataloged many times by those on the left who are currently making him out to be some kind of honest conservative. And Johnson was their greatest enabler, if not inventing, then popularizing the denigrating mongram R.O.P. (Religion of Peace) to describe Islam.
How many pictures of Palestinian kids dressed in fatigues and armed with toy guns did Johnson publish, usually with the caption “ROP Child Abuse?” How many 7th century practices of Islam did Johnson mock on his website? How many times did he make fun of women dressed in the chador?
All of this enabled his legions of “Lizardoids,” many of whom felt no compunction in airing their out and out bigotry of Muslims. For Johnson to use this as a reason for “parting ways” with the right is the height of hypocrisy.
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)
How can you take anyone seriously who uses the phrase “every other right wing source” to describe “hatred” of President Obama among all conservatives? Kind of a broad brush you’re using there Charles. Would the Volohk Conspiracy be a hate site? The Belmont Club? Outside the Beltway? Betsy’s Page? Q & O? I could keep going down my favorites page and add a couple of dozen of the larger blogs who offer reasoned analysis, and, if not always respectful, certainly rational critiques of the Obama administration.
And I certainly hope you don’t cast you lot with liberals. The fact that the leftysphere mirrors the right in the number of blogs who express virulent, unreasoning hatred of their political opponents would put you in the awkward position of going from the frying pan into the fire.
As a final thought, I would ask how adult is it to throw a tantrum in public in order to bask in the approbation of your former opponents? I have no reason to question Johnson’s sincerity, just his emotional maturity. Why make an announcement at all except to garner attention like some two year old who throws himself on the floor when he doesn’t get ice cream for dessert? Why not allow your opinions to shine through during the normal course of your writing rather than playing the drama queen and inflicting your exaggerated, insipid ill-reasoned diatribe on the rest of us?
Only Johnson can answer that. And since it is evident that he has neither the temperament, or intellect to engage in any kind of introspective analysis that would reveal his reasons to his own conscience, we’ll probably never know.