December 17, 2004

The Martial Art of Book-Burning

A few days ago I wondered aloud on this page if any prominent conservatives would take on the “right-wing nanny-state jerks in their own party.”

I realize that libertarian Republicans do this on a regular basis. But libertarians are not conservatives. They are “classical liberals.” Many of them (like Glenn Reynolds) are basically centrists. Others (like Matt Welch) tend to lean to the left. What I want to see are actual capital-c Conservatives publicly challenge the right-wing authoritarians in their ranks.

If conservatives want to claim they stand for freedom, they need to actually stand for freedom. Arguing only with leftist opponents of freedom isn’t good enough. It comes across as cheap partisan opportunism that’s more anti-leftist than anything else.

Blogger John Coleman, self-described member of the religious right, seems to agree.
[I]n perhaps the most discomforting moves I have encountered in recent years, [a Republican] is burying books to “protect” our values. This of course, has been tried before, but to see it happen in the country that has served as a cove of comfort for writers from Rushdie to Solzhenitsyn is saddening. Even more frightening is the fact that so few of us have dared to respond. [My emphasis.]

I am not a prominent conservative; but I am a conservative. Moreover, I am a member of the religious right and a southerner by birth (born and raised in the heart of Georgia), and while my opinion matters little, I am ashamed that policies like this are allowed to persist in the party to which I often grant my support.

[…]

What happens when the party of the right leans away from the defense of liberty and toward the despicable martial art of book burning?
The question answers itself. Good for you, John, for asking it. Now if only you can convince Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to do the same.

UPDATE: Unsurpisingly, Andrew Sullivan picked this up. Anyone else want to take this on without waving their hands and saying “nothing to see here”?

SECOND UPDATE: Roy Edroso accuses me of being a psuedo-liberal. Guess what, Roy? I plead guilty. I'm a psuedo-liberal! Just as I'm a psuedo-conservative.
I really don't understand why these guys don't just say “fuck it” and announce themselves Republican.
Haven't we been going over that for the past several days? I swear to you, Roy, there are more than two points of view in this country. Try really really hard and you might scrounge up enough of the popular (yet somehow elusive!) nuance required to grasp this.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at December 17, 2004 12:37 PM

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