Thankful to be a conservative
12/26/2002 12:00:00 AM - Joel Mowbray
In making my list of what I thankful for this holiday season, I added
something I would not have considered during this normally politics-free
time of year: being a conservative. As one who believes in
compartmentalization during the season when we at least try to set aside our
differences, exalting pride in politics seems like a particularly crass
exercise in divisiveness. But not this year.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve long been proud of my conservative
principles--limited government, maximal freedom, equal opportunity--but I’ve
never been “grateful” for them or for the ideological company I keep. But I
am this year.
I consider myself a conservative before a Republican, and the whole Trent
Lott imbroglio reminds me why. While opinion among Republicans was roughly
evenly divided, reaction from conservatives was not. Almost every major
conservative thinker or pundit, from Thomas Sowell to Charles Krauthammer to
Bill Bennett, blasted Lott--rightly--for the inexplicable comments he made
in praise of Strom Thurmond’s 1948 Dixiecrat presidential candidacy. There
was precious little such response, however, from elected Republicans inside
Lott’s colleagues hesitated calling for his head not because they found
the remarks acceptable--they didn’t--but because of what forcing him out
could mean for themselves. If Lott is pushed out over one incident
(regardless of size or scope), then a “terrible” precedent is set where
elected officials are immediately held to account--something that goes
against the very nature of the world’s most exclusive club. Conservatives,
though, had no such concerns.
Conservatives knew that Lott had to go for one simple reason: He showed in
his callous comment and subsequent lifeless “apologies” that he is not a
true conservative. Disciples of the right can--and do--come to different
sides of the same issues sometimes
. Not on race, though.
Conservative philosophy on race is simple: all people are created equal
under God, and God-willing, under the law as well. Conservatives abhor not
just segregation of the 1940’s premised on an intrusive police state, but
also segregation of the modern era founded upon political correctness.
Colorblindness is not just some utopian ideal, but the goal upon which our
eyes are fixed.
Criticism from Lott’s right was so strong and unrelenting that it
practically drowned out the rebukes from the left. Not that people were
missing much, though. Conservative criticism was principled and sincere.
Some naysayers on the left were also genuine, of course, but far too many
were not. Some--including Bill and Hillary Clinton and Jesse “Hymie town”
Jackson--decided to exploit the situation as an opportunity to smear all
Republicans as racist. But before making such unfounded leaps, they should
have remembered their own glass houses.
If Lott had praised African-American-only proms or graduations at “mixed”
institutions instead of a centagenarian’s campaign of five decades ago, he
would have been hailed as a leader--by the left. Leftist philosophy openly
rejects the tenets of equal opportunity and colorblindness. On college
campuses across the country, died-in-the-wool liberals espouse the “virtues”
of each race--blacks are more “creative” and Latinos more “passionate,” for
example--and systematically attempt to balkanize the student body along
The left’s obsession with race helps explain the demonization of
minorities who dare embrace conservative ideology. Clarence Thomas, Linda
Chavez, and Ward Connerly can all attest that hell hath no fury like a
leftist who feels “betrayed” by a “sellout.” Because leftist philosophy so
heavily emphasizes the importance of color of skin, the idea of a minority
endorsing colorblindness is inimical to the left’s belief system.
But there is one “get out of racism free” card available: Be a liberal.
Witness Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), who used the N-word twice in an interview
Criticism he received was scant--and fleeting. A couple
days and a few obligatory press releases later, the left was content to let
the matter drop. Democrats did not censure or reprimand the man who just
months later became third-in-line to the presidency. But former Ku Klux
Klansman had covered himself with Teflon by fully supporting the Democratic
Party’s agenda, thus he could not possibly be a racist. No such luck for
Lott--nor should there have been. And that’s
why I’m thankful I’m a