The great political fight of the present moment is not between the Left and the Right. It’s between the Left and freedom.
Conservatism is always, to some degree, defined by its opposition. As William Voegli writes in the latest issue of the Claremont Review of Books, “To declare oneself a conservative…is to employ a verb without providing its direct object. What, exactly, does conservatism exist to conserve?” Beyond any specific ideology, conservatism is powered by a sense that civilization is both valuable and fragile and that change should be made slowly and judiciously with a proper respect for the traditions that have brought us to where we are. Don’t pull down the fence before you fully understand why it was put there in the first place.
Because conservatives are wary of change, they are liable to miss the moment when change is required. Situations and attitudes morph over time. Some traditions become obsolete or reveal themselves to be unjust and should be abandoned. I supported gay rights, for instance, because I perceived that sacramental marriage had been destroyed by no-fault divorce and the sexual revolution. To deny gays the remaining comforts of an institution gutted by straights seemed unfair and small-minded. I suspect future generations of conservatives will fight to conserve gay marriage because it encourages committed romantic relationships, which contribute to happiness and social order.
The fact that conservatives can be late to the game gives leftists a certain advantage. In their self-hating rampage against Western civilization, they are constantly attacking all of our institutions and traditions — and so it stands to reason they are going to be right from time to time. In each of those largely accidental moments, they gain the appearance of moral authority which they then use to justify their attacks on other institutions and traditions that should remain in place. “You bigots denied gay people the right to marry, and now you tell us that a man does not magically become a woman when he says he is. For shame!”
The Left pretends to fight for equality and sometimes they stumble on the right fight and they do. But in truth, they are fighting to replace one unfair abuse of power with another. Not for the right to gay marriage, really, but for the power to drive a Christian cake baker out of business if he does not wish to participate in gay marriage. Not for equal treatment of blacks, in fact, but for anti-white bigotry. To support slavery reparations, for instance — the idea that a group of people who did not hold slaves should be penalized just because they are white in order to pay off a group of people who were not slaves just because they are black — is to bury yourself head first in the sewage of racism.
The same principle is at work in the Left’s supposed fight against right-wing “hate” and “white supremacy.” What is portrayed as an attempt to ostracize such minor troublemakers as Richard Spencer or loons like Infowars’ Alex Jones masks the widespread attack on mainstream conservatives, people who stand for America’s Founding values, or simply for factual reporting. With zero justification, Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro and the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald and Jason Riley have all been variously deemed bigoted and unacceptable, censored and barred from campuses.
Or consider this. In the wake of the recent shootings in Christchurch mosques, New Zealand not only outlawed semi-automatic firearms, but a major national bookstore also banned Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules for Life.” Why? Did the mosque killer stand up straight and make his bed? It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the point here was not to attack “gun violence,” but to squelch individual empowerment and free thought.
Always and everywhere, the Left is at war with freedom, especially the freedom of those “deplorables” who do not see things the way they do, who aren’t woke enough to understand that what seems like the greatest, freest, richest and most powerful civilization ever to exist on earth is really only a city of sin that needs to be torn down brick by brick.
I have no problem with debating them. But the Left is not trying to win a debate. They are trying to end debate entirely.