Watch the conversation between Rachel Maddow and a couple of guys from the John Birch Society (including President John F. McManus) on the Society’s webpage here. Is there a more charismatic television personality than Maddow out there today? You can tell how much she’s enjoying herself, how relaxed she is, and how well she understands the importance of actually talking to people with whom you most strongly disagree. (Compare: the lately unwatchable Keith Olbermann, who (just for instance) compared the Supreme Court’s corporate financing decision to…Dred Scott?!…in one of his increasingly embarrassing “Special Comment” segments. And this is a guy I mostly agree with!)
These John Birch nuts opposed the fluoridation of drinking water; listen and watch how well Maddow discusses the point with them, and how she somehow manages to resist arching her eyebrows when McManus discusses his view that there’s a straight line between forced fluoridation and (wait for it!) putting birth control substances into the public water supply. (Nuanced, these guys aren’t.) You might even learn something about iodized salt. All in all, a quick miseducation in public health.
Categories: conservatism, public health, Rachel Maddow arched eyebrows, birth control, charismatic television personality, CPAC, Dred Scott, fluoridation, iodized salt, John Birch Society, John F. McManus, Keith Olbermann, public health, Rachel Maddow, Special Comment
Tomorrow’s event at the Cato Institute seems like an intriguing cage-match between Andrew Sullivan, a sort-of-lapsed [small c]onservative and the Ultra-Right wing, virulently anti-gay Maggie Gallagher. The stated topic is whether there’s a place for gays in conservatism and the conservative movement. A more perspicacious question might convert the “and” to “or”: Is there a place for gays in conservatism OR the conservative movement? Because these two things are quite different. (I expect that Sullivan will pick up on this point immediately, as he’s written about how the “movement” has lost its way, and therefore him.)
I’m pretty far from conservative. But reading thoughtful conservatives is vital for anyone with aspirations to informed commentary and discussion. The conservative “movement,” though? Not so much: Tea Parties, torture defense, hypocritical and indefensible legislative obstructionism, and…Sarah Palin. It seems that Burkean-style conservatives have plenty to do in distinguishing themselves from those who have hijacked the word “conservative” and are trying to make off with it. There’s no room for gays — or anyone else whose concern for community, nation, and world isn’t purely cynical — in that “movement.” The gay question is to some extent a distraction from this broader tension, but the issue whether conservatism can find a place for gays is important as a marker for the movement’s continued intellectual legitimacy. Any “movement” that can find no place for a large and influential demographic group is engaging in the kind of denial — closeting, to use a pointed word in this context — that is destined to consign it to history’s periphery. We’re not going away, but they will unless they can find some way of accommodating us.
Expect the third participant, a UK Conservative party “shadow” secretary (Nick Herbert) to explain how that party has abandoned its attacks on the gay community in favor of the kind of robust, inclusive conservatism that Maggie Gallagher loves to hate.
Categories: Andrew Sullivan, conservatism, Maggie Gallagher Andrew Sullivan, Burkean conservatism, Cato Institute, community, conservatism, conservative movement, Conservative Party, gays, Maggie Gallagher, Nick Herbert, Sarah Palin, shadow secretary, Tea parties, torture defense