Hope in the Face of an American Holocaust

It’s a couple months old, but I recently came across an incredibly powerful essay Kyle-Anne Shiverputs the evil of abortion in stark clarity and historical context. An exerpt: wrote on American Thinker, which
The whole problem with growing up and becoming intellectual is that we stop making the fundamental connections that children innately make.  We stop being able to see the threads of evil for what they really are.  We watch evil morph, change the colors or characteristics of its stripes, and we are fooled.  Again and again mankind is fooled into embracing evil’s new form, even while decrying those who perpetrated evils past.


The child sees clearly the common threads.  The child can connect an evil father with an evil slaver.  The child can see that the evil which ensnared Anne Frank is the same evil that Martin is railing against.  The child discerns that a Jewish life is the same as a black life is the same as a white life is the same as a young life is the same as an old life.  The child could easily, with no prompting whatsoever, see a sonogram and tell you it’s a baby.  The child does not dissemble and rationalize and wish for convenient ignorance. 



To paraphrase Martin, dehumanizing one human being dehumanizes every human being.  And dehumanizing leads inexorably to more and more dehumanizing.  The line between who is on the legal list of those who can be treated as property to be disposed of becomes more and more blurred.  Until doctors are killing live infants with scissors slammed into the backs of their tiny heads.  And intellectualized adults can try to explain the difference to a child who knows better.

And just in case that’s too depressing, you should also check out Robert George’s reflections on the life of Bernard Nathanson, the abortion pioneer who eventually reformed and became a pro-life hero. Nathanson’s story should give us all hope that, if light can transform even the darkest hearts, it can also work on the bleakest times:

There are many lessons in Bernard Nathanson’s life for those of us who recognize the worth and dignity of all human lives and who seek to win hearts and change laws. Two in particular stand out for me.


First is the luminous power of truth. As I have written elsewhere, and as Nathanson’s own testimony confirms, the edifice of abortion is built on a foundation of lies. Nathanson told those lies; indeed, he helped to invent them. But others witnessed to truth. And when he was exposed to their bold, un-intimidated, self-sacrificial witness, the truth overcame the darkness in Nathanson’s heart and convicted him in the court of his own conscience.


Bernie and I became friends in the early 1990s, shortly after my own pro-life writings came to his attention. Once during the question-and-answer session following a speech he gave at Princeton, I asked him: “When you were promoting abortion, you were willing to lie in what you regarded as a good cause. Now that you have been converted to the cause of life, would you be willing to lie to save babies? How do those who hear your speeches and read your books and articles know that you are not lying now?” It was, I confess, an impertinently phrased question, but also, I believe, an important one. He seemed a bit stunned by it, and after a moment said, very quietly, “No, I wouldn’t lie, even to save babies.” At the dinner he and I had with students afterward, he explained himself further: “You said that I was converted to the cause of life; and that’s true. But you must remember that I was converted to the cause of life only because I was converted to the cause of truth. That’s why I wouldn’t lie, even in a good cause.”


The second lesson is this: We in the pro-life movement have no enemies to destroy. Our weapons are chaste weapons of the spirit: truth and love. Our task is less to defeat our opponents than to win them to the cause of life. To be sure, we must oppose the culture and politics of death resolutely and with a determination to win. But there is no one—no one—whose heart is so hard that he or she cannot be won over. Let us not lose faith in the power of our weapons to transform even the most resolute abortion advocates. The most dedicated abortion supporters are potential allies in the cause of life. It is the loving, prayerful, self-sacrificing witness of Joan Bell Andrews and so many other dedicated pro-life activists that softens the hearts and changes the lives of people like Dr. Bernard Nathanson.


May he rest in peace.

Get Conservative

The American Principles Project has been at the forefront of what I believe to be the most important fight within the Right going on today: whether or not conservatism is going to remain pro-life and pro-family, or if it’s going to degenerate into a slightly less embarrassing version of libertarianism. I’d like to call your attention to their blog, Get Conservative, which has a petition you should sign to voice your support for all of conservatism’s indivisible facets.

Leon Wolf, Scourge of Pseudo-Cons Everywhere

Leon Wolf, author of a gloriously merciless review of Meghan McCain’s book Dirty Sexy Politics, has a couple of excellent posts up at RedState taking to the woodshed some not-so-conservative views and figures who reside on the Right.

First, CPAC and GOProud apologists:

Of course, conservatives have always been willing to wander into the arena of ideas and engage in spirited debate with liberals. Who can forget Buckley’s famous exchanges with Gore Vidal? It positively begs the question, however, to assert that CPAC is a place where this must occur and that conservatives must be willing to attend for this purpose or they are shirking their responsibility.

Many conservatives (including myself) live their lives surrounded by combative liberals, whether in the work place or in our social circles. We are constantly on the defense of our principles. The very reason we attend CPAC is that it is healthy once a year to be around like minded individuals and recharge our batteries for the fight in the upcoming year. It is not the Free Exchange of Ideas and Debate Club Conference. It is the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Of course, the post attempts somewhat to skirt this problem by asserting that conservatives can believe in all kinds of ideas. This assertion is based on a faulty taxonomy of conservatism that could well have been pulled from an essay written by a left-wing journalist assigned to cover conservatives like they were Gorillas in the Mist […]

It is of course the libertarian’s right to believe and think as he does, but it is important for conservatives to be honest with ourselves on this point: many areas in which the libertarian desires to reduce the size and scope of government are borne of fundamentally liberal instincts.

Second, pro-appeasement libertarians:

You see, there is almost nothing more important to Gillespie and his ilk than being blasé about Islamic terrorism. At this point, it has actually become tiresome. Yes, Nick, we are all very impressed at how very little you care about the government protecting the lives of your fellow citizens, and we are all admiringly agape at your daring suggestion that we have nothing to fear from Islamic terrorists. The victims of the families of 9/11, the USS Cole bombing, and the World Trade Center bombing I’m sure find you edgy and cool and would like to hear your views on the relative merits of The White Stripes and The Black Keys at their next cocktail party.

Of course, the real “point” of Gillespie’s post is for a hard-boiled Libertarian to lecture mainstream Republicans on what they ought to do to win elections. Ordinary people might find this as out of place as me lecturing Kobe Bryant on what it takes to win NBA titles, but Gillespie manages the trick with such panache that none of the other authors or commenters at Reason (who are also smarter and much more in tune with todays voters than anyone who might read such a pedestrian site as RedState) seem to notice what a majestic buffoon he makes of himself in the process. To recap, the Republican party has held the White House for 20 of the last 30 years with pro-life, anti-gay marriage candidates; the Libertarian party has never cracked double digits in a Presidential election, ever. Even in 2008, with Republican brand identity at generational lows and a relatively high profile candidate in Bob Barr, the Libertarians managed to get beat by Ralph Nader who was running without the Green Party nomination. If we are smart enough to follow Gillespie’s advice, someday the GOP nominee might well reach the soaring heights of barely beating Cynthia McKinney. 

Expert articulation of critical messages. Go read ’em both.

Yes, Sarah Palin Is a Social Conservative – And Conservatives4Palin Is Off Its Meds

Hat tip to Lisa Graas for linking to one of the most mind-boggling blog posts I’ve seen in a good long while. It seems Chris Cillizza, in an overview of the 2012 GOP field, hurled an absolutely unfathomable insult at Sarah Palin: he called her a…a…social conservative!

While Palin has spoken forcefully against President Obama’s fiscal policies, her rise to prominence has largely been built on very strong support among social conservatives.

Doug Brady at Conservatives4Palin is very, very upset about this:

This simply makes no sense. Just because the Lamestream Media concocted a phony “Sarah Palin is a religious fanatic who thinks dinosaurs roamed the earth just last week” narrative the moment McCain selected her doesn’t make it so, and Tea Partiers know this (unlike, evidently, Washington Post pundits). Indeed her entire political career has been based on fiscal, not social, conservatism. To be sure, she is personally a social conservative, but that did not figure prominently, if at all, in any of her political decisions.

The issue, then, isn’t that Cillizza insulted Palin, but that he innocuously identified her as something Brady considers contemptible. To normal people, “social conservative” denotes a handful of political views, chief among them opposition to abortion and gay marriage. But when Brady hears it, his mind immediately jumps to “religious fanatic who thinks dinosaurs roamed the earth just last week.”

If you wanna argue Palin’s tenure as Alaska governor was defined by fiscal matters, fine. If you wanna argue she’s devoted the bulk of her commentary since then to small government and economics, fine. But make no mistake, Palin is indeed a social conservative (the “normal people” variety, not the “religious fanatic” one). Palin’s always embraced the pro-life movement, with many of her fans inspired by her choosing life for baby Trig, despite his Down Syndrome. She supports the Federal Marriage Amendment. And she’s freaked out leftists with her discussion of the Founders’ faith in God.

Anecdotally, I have attended several Tea Party events. Everyone I have spoken to has the highest regard for Governor Palin…due to her fiscal conservatism. In fact, none of the Palin supporters I know (and there are many), including myself, could be characterized as social conservatives. Her appeal is to libertarian leaning fiscal conservatives because that is how she has governed.

Wait a minute. Is this guy – a die-hard supporter Sarah Palin – really claiming not to have ever encountered pro-lifers or marriage defenders among her supporters? Really? Under what scenario is this plausible? In what universe is this tool not lying?

This is simply bizarre – Doug Brady opposes Palin on social issues, yet defends her from an imaginary attack as if they’re on the same page. Is he such a diehard Palin fan that he simply can’t accept that his heroine parts ways with him on anything significant?

I like Sarah Palin, but clowns like this don’t do her any favors. Cults of personality aren’t healthy, no matter who they coalesce around.

New on NewsReal – In Search of the Statist Social-Con Menace

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My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Earlier this week, I asked Lori Heine who and where the “statist control freak” social conservatives she’s afraid of are, pointing out that what’s commonly referred to as the social conservative agenda isn’t statist at all. She responds by conceding that her fears might be overblown, but still has a few concerns:
People like Farah and Sprigg make a lot of noise, and everyone outside the audience of the mainstream conservative media hear this noise and make much of it.  Do they make too much? That is quite possible.  But besides Freiburger and a few like him, how many on the Right are stepping forward to set the record straight?
Sadly, I am aware of no conservative—social or otherwise—who tackled the Sprigg story, other than me. Perhaps some simply missed it, but I suspect many chose to ignore it in the hopes that it would just blow over. Bad move, guys. But Farah is another matter. Lori notes that Coulter slapped him down, but so did plenty of others, including NRB, Right Wing News, Red State, Big Government, and more. Besides, many on the Right have been sick of the Birther conspiracies Farah’s been peddling since well before the HomoCon scandal, so it’s not surprising that many wouldn’t bother wasting time with him in the first place.

Indeed, recall that anti-gay buffoon Ryan Sorba got soundly booed by the conservative audience of CPAC 2010, leading one lefty blogger to opine:
When conservatives are standing up for gays, and Democrats treat us like we are an embarrassment, there’s a problem.
Lori continues:
Not only the hard Left, but also much of the political middle believes that social conservatives are dangerous.  This is exactly why the Tea Party movement deemphasized social issues in the first place, and it is also why it has enjoyed so much success.
While fighting fiscal disaster might have been Priority Number One for the Tea Party, Lori makes too much out of the alleged distance between Tea Partiers and so-cons:

NewsReal Debate to Watch – UPDATED: "Swelled-Headed Narcissists"?

Yesterday I objected to my NRB colleague Lori Heine’s criticism of social conservatives as “statist control freaks.” At her blog, she has some more remarks on the subject. She mention’s she’s got a NRB rebuttal to my piece waiting in the wings, so I’ll hold off responding for now. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Here’s Lori’s NRB reply. I’ve penned an upcoming response which entails some of the themes she touches on at her blog, so I’ll use this space to comment on something else she said yesterday:

First of all, I will again explain my take on social conservatism in general. According to my understanding, it can really only be said to mean one of two things. Either it concerns itself with politics — which is to say, with the workings of government — or it is the self-definition of swelled-headed narcissists who fancy themselves more moral, or more pious than anybody else (usually without any substantial evidence to back it up). NRB’s editors take issue with lumping all social conservatives together as big-government meddlers, and perhaps they are right. But I have not yet heard a better definition than the two that I have given.

Er, what? I’m not sure just what the first option’s supposed to be referring to, and the second – “the self-definition of swelled-headed narcissists who fancy themselves more moral, or more pious than anybody else (usually without any substantial evidence to back it up)” – is an egregiously insulting mischaracterization that’s hard to take seriously. Speaking of a definition “without any substantial evidence to back it up”…

Social conservatism actually isn’t all that hard to define. I’d argue that it’s simply the recognition that a self-governing society cannot be sustained without certain moral principles and institutions, and that while, to use Vindicating the Founders author Thomas West’s phraseology, government can’t “by itself produce the passions and convictions” America needs, it can “weigh in on the side of them” in certain ways, within the confines of the Constitution and consistent with natural liberty.

America’s Founding Fathers certainly didn’t believe that protecting natural rights and maintaining basic infrastructure were government’s only proper functions: George Washington tells us that morality, one of the “firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens,” is an “indispensable support” to political prosperity. John Adams writes that policy should “regulate” human passions, because it is “of the highest importance” that they be “arranged on the side of virtue.” Charles Rowley of George Mason University writes that for James Madison, “a republican order must have a moral content, a cluster of values, without which it would lose its meaning.” Even the Founders we consider relatively secular agree—Thomas Jefferson fears what might become of nations which fail to admit “a chapter of morality in their political code,” while Benjamin Franklin hopes the nation’s “virtues public and private grow with us, and be durable,” because “only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.”

Also, It’s a little surprising to see myself referred to as a “doe-eyed innocent”; that’s certainly not what a lot of other people would call me

UPDATE 2: Here’s my NRB response.

New on NewsReal – Are Social Conservatives "Statist Control Freaks"? Not So Fast

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

This weekend, NewsRealBlog’s Lori Heine objected to Ann Coulter’s recent column attempting to tie WikiLeaks enabler Bradley Manning to the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Today, she responds to several critical commenters. I’m not terribly interested in revisiting DADT right now—my position is that I’ll defer to military experts on what changes should be made to the current policy, but I insist that the decision be based on military criteria alone, not political correctness or kowtowing to the whims of the radical gay Left.  Lori argues her position well, and successfully refutes several of her critics.
However, I must take issue with the way she conflates social conservatism with statism:

One form of fun of which big-government statists on the social Right never seem to tire is the purity game.  True believers must toe the line and never stray from it, even one jot or tittle.  “You are no conservative,” another commenter harrumphed at me.  Since this person evidently thinks only the big-government, control-freak statists on the social Right are the “real” conservatives, then according to his definition of course I am not.  Nor would I ever want to be.

What I am is a former Leftist progressive who has come to the conclusion that libertarian conservatism is – for a wide variety of reasons – the right direction for America to take.  The relentless and childish tug-of-war of the past few elections has convinced me that the Left and the statist Right are actually as alike as Tweedledee and Tweedledum and that they are, together, pulling the country apart.  Just as Leftists view any liberal who believes in small government and individual initiative a heretic, so do those on the Right who view anyone who does not share their fantasies about Granny Government and her all-powerful magic wand “not a real conservative.”

What I think of the “purity game” is no secret, either, but here I want to consider this talk of “big-government, control-freak statists on the social Right” who believe the government has an “all-powerful magic wand.”

Maybe I just missed them, but I’m struggling to recall a significant number of examples of this nefarious social-con variation. To be sure, there are a select handful of individuals who come to mind—for instance, Joseph Farah and Peter Sprigg—but beyond that, I don’t know how any significant, respected portion of the social conservative movement fits the bill.

Read the rest at NewsRealBlog.

Surprise! Gay Republican Lobby Wants Social Conservatives to Shut Up

Last week, Jim DeMint fired a shot on behalf of social conservatism, and this week, gay Republican group GOProud is counterattacking with a press release speaking for “a group of Tea Party leaders and activists”who urge “Republicans in Congress to avoid social issues and focus instead on issues of economic freedom and individual liberty”:

On behalf of limited government conservatives everywhere we write to urge you and your colleagues in Washington to put forward a legislative agenda in the next Congress that reflects the principles of the Tea Party movement.

Poll after poll confirms that the Tea Party’s laser focus on issues of economic freedom and limited government resonated with the American people on Election Day. The Tea Party movement galvanized around a desire to return to constitutional government and against excessive spending, taxation and government intrusion into the lives of the American people.

The Tea Party movement is a non-partisan movement, focused on issues of economic freedom and limited government, and a movement that will be as vigilant with a Republican-controlled Congress as we were with a Democratic-controlled Congress.

This election was not a mandate for the Republican Party, nor was it a mandate to act on any social issue, nor should it be interpreted as a political blank check.

But as Joe Carter points out, not only does this letter not speak for the majority of the Tea Party, but its signatories are the ones out of step with the movement:

There are more than 2,300 local Tea Party groups across the nation yet leaders from only 12 of them signed the document […] They don’t seem to realize that they are out of touch with their own “movement.” A recent survey has shown that nearly half (47 percent) of Tea Party supporters consider themselves to be part of the conservative Christian movement. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Tea Partiers say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, and only eighteen percent support same-sex marriage. Most Tea Partiers are part of the one-legged conservative coalition.

GOProud might not like it, but we belong here every bit as much as (actually, even more than) they do. And you can’t really claim to stand for “individual liberty” if you don’t recognize that human rights begin in the womb.

GOProud and (a tiny sliver of) the Tea Party continue:

Already, there are Washington insiders and special interest groups that hope to co-opt the Tea Party’s message and use it to push their own agenda – particularly as it relates to social issues. We are disappointed but not surprised by this development. We recognize the importance of values but believe strongly that those values should be taught by families and our houses of worship and not legislated from Washington, D.C.

We urge you to stay focused on the issues that got you and your colleagues elected and to resist the urge to run down any social issue rabbit holes in order to appease the special interests.

The Tea Party movement is not going away and we intend to continue to hold Washington accountable.

The rhetoric about “special interest groups” ought to raise major red flags. It’s clearly meant to demean organizations who take seriously the right to life, protecting marriage, and religious liberty, by defining them as somehow beneath economic issue and motivated by something less pure. But first, that distinction is utterly arbitrary. All organizations involved in “influencing politics and policy on the federal level” (to use GOProud’s self-description) on anything – tax cuts, defense spending, health care, Israel, guns, abortion, marriage, environmental regulations, education, you name it – have an “interest” of some sort, and can just as easily be defined as a “special interest group.” Guess what, GOProud? That means you, too.

Second, labeling something a “special interest” is an old insult that dates all the way back to the writings of the early progressives. It’s meant to suggest that a position is motivated not by political principles or by a desire for the good of the country, but by either selfishness or devotion to something other than the country. Obviously, this isn’t true, for reasons I’ve explained before (and linked above). Disagreeing with GOProud on something doesn’t automatically make our motives impure (nor does it mean their motives are automatically on the level).

And just as obviously, it’s not how allies allegedly committed to the same goals treat each other in a healthy coalition. I’ve long been suspicious of GOProud’s true aims and their value to the Right – and this latest arrogant, dishonest attack on those of us who fully and consistently follow the principles of the American Founding only hurts their credibility further.

Jim DeMint Is Right: Fiscal Conservatism Needs Social Conservatism

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Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is currently the talk of the blogosphere for saying that:
You can’t be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative. A large part of the expansive government is to make up for a dysfunctional society because our culture’s falling apart. The family’s falling apart.
Taken as a statement of fact, DeMint is wrong—obviously, there are many people with conservative economic views but leftist social ones, and vice versa—but if we take the statement in the way I suspect he meant it, as a warning of sorts, DeMint is absolutely right.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the alleged distinction between “social conservatism” and “fiscal conservatism” is an imaginary contradiction based on either misunderstanding or selectively adhering to conservative first principles.  If American conservatism is fidelity to the values and wisdom of the Founding Fathers, then restoring the right to life and preserving civil marriage are every bit as much conservative imperatives as standing for the free market is. In this sense, DeMint is correct: if you truly and fully are a conservative, you’ll be one both fiscally and socially.

Further, DeMint’s absolutely right to warn that social negligence leads to economic and political disaster. As I’ve argued before, many on the Right are largely AWOL on the cultural front, and the results are more than cultural:
A culture that worships gratification (particularly sexual) without responsibility or constraints, that believes truth is personal and relativistic rather than grounded in permanent wisdom, that has been conditioned to expect everyone else to provide for their every need and clean up after their every mistake, that sneers at traditional morality and religious belief…these trends and attitudes cannot help but play into the Left’s hands.

Simply put, a narcissistic, relativistic, secular, ignorant culture will always be receptive to a political movement that promises to give them things paid for with other people’s money, affirms their “if it feels good, do it” mentality, and assures them that supporting statism and “environmental consciousness” are the only forms of morality or compassion they’ll ever really need.
Our Founders believed that, because no set of political mechanisms could fully account for man’s darker impulses, certain moral virtues and institutions, such as marriage, were necessary prerequisites for maintaining a free society. And the right to life’s importance is even clearer:
If we surrender on abortion, we might as well kiss goodbye the free market, or any chance of reforming the welfare state. Once society has accepted the proposition, I may take an innocent life if it benefits me to do so, why should we think twice about taking from our countrymen anything less vital—income, personal freedom, you name it—for the sake of interest? The rights to go without health insurance or allow smoking in your restaurant pale in comparison to the right not to be deliberately killed.  Surrender the right to life, and you’ve already as good as surrendered the others.
It’s not a coincidence that the more fiscally conservative a senator is, the more likely he is to be socially conservative as well. Conservatism is in desperate need of reunification, and Jim DeMint’s comments are a good start.

(Also see: Tim Andrews, “The Importance of Social Conservatism,” and Beregond, “Legislating Morality,” courtesy of the NRB Headlines)

Fiscal and Small-Government Conservatives Need Social Conservatives

I just came across this American Thinker piece by self-described agnostic libertarian Randall Hoven, who has a strong defense of conservatism from a libertarian standpoint that all who consider themselves moderates, centrists, libertarians, social liberals, secular conservatives, or any combination or variation thereof really ought to read to get a better idea of who their real friends and enemies are.  In particular, the following passage supports something I’ve believed and argued for a long time:

I’m still searching for the mythical creature that is the “financially conservative, socially liberal” politician.  In virtually every case, the pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage politician is the first to vote against a tax cut, the first to vote for more spending and quick to compromise principles on any issue there is.

Using the National Journal’s ratings of Senators in 2007 , the correlation coefficient between “economic” scores and “social” scores is 90%.  That means they almost always go together; financial conservatives are social conservatives and vice versa.   Every Senator scoring above 60 in economic issues, scored above 50 in social ones.  Every Senator scoring below 40 in economic issues, scored below 50 in social ones.  If there is such an animal as a “financial conservative, social liberal”, it does not exist in the US Senate.