Cruel Conservatives: Part I

Tuesday, both Will Hinton and Gun Toting Liberal picked up on the same blurb from Neal Boortz’s site, and then went down two different roads with it.

As noted in Tuesday’s Center of Attention, Gun Toting Liberal was inspired to question Boortz’s self-proclaimed libertarianism. In contrast, Will’s muse prompted him to use Boortz’s post to illustrate “why people think conservatives don’t care about people.� Will’s conclusion: People think conservatives don’t care about people because some of the most mean-spirited voices in America have defined the movement.

On that list of cruel voices, Will places Boortz himself, plus Ann Coulter and Michael Savage. But we all (Will included, I suspect) can think of more names than just those three. For instance, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, especially the super-blustery, pre-addiction Limbaugh. And of course, Bill O’Reilly, who should be forced to walk the streets wearing an oversized placard on his back with words appropriated from the incomparably incorrect Dennis Leary: “I’m an asshole. Lodie-dodie-do.�

But there’s another question that Will didn’t ask, namely: Why do benevolent conservatives (and yes, they do exist) tolerate the prominent, malicious voices that have become the spokespeople and hence caricature of the movement?

At least half the answer has something to do with the day President Johnson signed into law a landmark bill that irrevocably boosted civil rights in this country and prompted a mass exodus of hatemongers from the D’s to the R’s.

Post-Reagan, with communism effectively dead and no clear external foe on the horizon, the migrated hatemongers turned inward and once again applied their repressive sticks to the backs of their fellow men and women, blasting everyone from consenting adults who dared love each other in unconventional ways to frightened teenage girls who had abortions performed by professionals in sterile clinics rather than self-induced with coat hangers in cheap motel rooms.

Before long, the base haters were compelled to seek other haters to boost their confidence, buoy their hopes, and amplify their voices, especially during the Clinton era with its anti-hate theme song: “We Love Everybody, Even the Interns.�

Enter Rush, the rest of the crew, and their designated champion, The Newt, who for all his warts was never nearly as hateful as many of the constituents he represented.

So, back to the question of why hateful voices are tolerated in the conservative movement. In part, they’re tolerated because they speak for a significant, election-making swath of hateful conservative voters.

Then again, that’s only half the answer. The other half is rarely acknowledged or confronted, even in private.

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Author: PETE ABEL

  • domajot

    I hear a stampede coming…conservatives are on the way with protest signs.

    Duck!

  • kritter

    Good post, Pete! It identifies a lot of what has bothered me about modern-day conservatives—meanspiritedness. When they tied the movement to the religious right, it really gave me pause, because we all know that Jesus wanted to minister to the poor and told us not to worship material wealth.
    How can it not be hypocritical for “Christians” to send the “Horatio Alger” message, complete with anti political correctness? Now, the poor know that not only do they have much less than the rest of us, but they deserve to be that way because of various moral defects

  • jack moss
  • http://centralsanity.blogspot.com/ Pete Abel

    jack moss,

    thanks for that link. you’re right. it does happen on both sides.

  • kritter

    I’m sure it does- but is that an excuse not to speak out about it or try to change it?

  • jwest

    Not to be offensive, but this article is a breathtakingly shallow collection of clichés and stereotypes.

    If you really have a deep concern for society, ask yourself which group does the most damage.

    The “Cruel Conservatives� or the “Caring Liberals�?

    Which group stripped an entire segment of our society of dignity and doomed them to generations of dependency?

    Which group so relies on a voting block of teachers that they ignore the children’s deplorable results in inner-city schools?

    It isn’t the “hateful voices� that are the real danger, but the misguided voices of naive, compassionate, guilt-ridden elites who exhibit true racism by never really accepting people as equals.

  • kritter

    So jwest, you replace one group of cliches with another? As far as I know the welfare system was reformed by a liberal, and the compassionate conservative has ignored the problem of poverty totally.

  • http://centralsanity.blogspot.com/ Pete Abel

    kritter,

    No, you’re absolutely right, the reality of it happening on both sides of the spectrum is not an excuse to ignore it. And I do think, as a moderate right-winger, that it (cruelty) happens more often on the right than the left.

    jwest,

    I agree that the conservative philosophy promises better results; but I also think those results can be achieved without hate or hateful thought/speech.

  • jwest

    Kritter,

    If someone was walking along, fell down and broke a leg, the liberals would treat the symptoms.

    They would try to make the person as comfortable as possible, cry with them in empathy, perhaps do an interpretive dance to warn others of the danger of walking and make provisions for their long term care because their misshapen leg will be an inspiration to the greater community of walkers.

    They would re-engineer the city streets to prevent walking hazards, pad the curbs and outlaw fast walking. Walkers would be educated, tested and licensed so as not to be a hazard to others.

    Conservatives would give the person a piece of rawhide to bit down on while they set the bone. As they walked away, they would turn and say “be careful next time�.

    Does the conservative approach seem cruel to you? Which method would be best for the victim and society at large?

    Pete,

    Not to get into an argument of degrees of hate speech between the left and right, but are you lumping impassioned discussion of political/policy/social issues in with personal vindictive?

  • kritter

    I agree that the conservative philosophy promises better results; but I also think those results can be achieved without hate or hateful thought/speech.

    And I don’t think we have to go back to the days of LBJ’s War on Poverty to help less-fortunate citizens help themselves. Community grants, and small business loans work, and don’t require a lot of bureaucracy. It doesn’t have to be either or. But it seems like now we live in a “winner take all society”- social darwinism at its finest.

  • kritter

    Guntoting- and conservatives fire up their base by calling liberals morally bankrupt, the party of no ideas who can only criticize conservatives.

    jwest- so its ok for you to issue generalized cliches about the differences, but not Pete? Because that is exactly what you are doing.

  • jwest

    There seems to be a generally accept premise here that “hate speech� is commonplace on the right. People have conceded that this occurs on the left also, but for now let’s concentrate on the right because this article highlights it.

    Maybe I’m missing something because I don’t know what to look for. Could someone define what “hate speech� is and perhaps cite some specific examples?

    Also, it appears that the concept of conservative equals racist is accepted as a given here. Are there any articles, websites, broadcasts etc. that you could point me to so I could see where these ideas come from?

  • JWC

    I don’t normally comment over here – but while impressed with the original post, I was surprised with some of the comments. I guess it just proves the point with original post.

    As a used to be moderate/centrist type – I have moved decidedly to the left in the last six years. I can’t stand Limbaugh, Colter, or any of the other mean spirited “voices” on the right. I don’t want to be associated in any way with them.

    I have two “conservative” brothers. Neither of them are anything like the examples given in this post. One is a real Christian, who spends his Saturdays cooking and serving a hot meal to street people – and has for 15 years!!!

    As long as the conservative movement elevates such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann C., they will have NO credibility with me. You are known by the company you keep.

  • jwest

    Kritter,

    You’re absolutely right. My generalization was meant to convey a point while attempting some lame humor. (Did you like the “interpretive dance� part?)

    The best specific example of inhuman cruelty, blatant racism and self-serving indifference to suffering is the Washington D.C. school district.

    Untouched by conservative hands since inception, with the highest per-pupil expenditures of any public school (higher, in fact, than over 92% of private schools), the D.C. schools condemn thousands of children each year to life of ignorance and poverty.

    All efforts of the compassionate conservatives to remedy this democrat-run slave ship to misery have been fought with a passion generally reserved for life threatening situations.

    Why?

  • http://www.cosmoetica.com cosmoetica

    Jwest:

    ‘Which group stripped an entire segment of our society of dignity and doomed them to generations of dependency?

    Which group so relies on a voting block of teachers that they ignore the children’s deplorable results in inner-city schools?

    It isn’t the “hateful voicesâ€? that are the real danger, but the misguided voices of naive, compassionate, guilt-ridden elites who exhibit true racism by never really accepting people as equals.’

    That libs have done dumb things is beyond dispute, but the Con answer to welfare is a minimum wage job at McDonald’s or Wal-mart, for glass ceiliungs are still extant, and w/o quotas there would be even less women and minorities in key positions in private enterprise.

    As for inner city schools, having gone to one of the worst, a few decades back, they are better today, and your average kid in inner city Chicago, NYC or LA, is smarter and has vastly more skills than their counterpart 25, 50, or 100 years ago. Then, only the upper elites statistics were counted, so the idea that the nation was more literate then is skewed by comparing the top half of a sample with the whole of a sample. It’s just silly. And the argument against teacher’s unions is equally a canard. W/o unions teachers would be even more dependent upon the whims of dumb parents who feel their children shd all be geniuses, and are never satisfied wihen they bring home a C.

    C children are the average. It has always been and will always be that way. Only this PC obsession, which you ironically buy into, has fostered the notion that all children are capable of the Honor Roll- bushwah! The same idiots you recall from shop class are still in school, and they will always be there. Realism is needed in approaching the subject, and if you are so concerned with ‘the children’- as if children’s desires are somehow more important than adults’, and the children that depend upon their breadwinning, then I hope you support allowing the innovative teachers to dowhat they do best. It’s always the Cons who wanna straightjacket innovation if, Heaven Forfend, a teacher steps outside the box, just as the idiot Left rails against Huck Finn as racist.

    Racism is on both the right and left. Both are deplorable, but whereas the Left’s is in the snide glances at different folk who act, look or think differently, the Right’s is usually at the end of a noose, or worse. The former can lead to the latter, but the latter’s is where the real damage is done.

  • http://www.cosmoetica.com cosmoetica

    Jwest:

    What if the DC school system had not been blighted by white flight? If tax dollars leave a city, and only the poor are left, then it does not take a scholar to figure out that the best and brightest teachers will not want to work there. Life occurs in rerality, not a vacuum, a thing too many extremists on both sides ignore.

  • jwest

    “The soft bigotry of low expectations�

  • jwest

    “……….the Right’s is usually at the end of a noose, or worse.�

    I can’t believe your computer accepted those words when you hit “enter�.

  • kritter

    Maybe I’m missing something because I don’t know what to look for. Could someone define what “hate speech� is and perhaps cite some specific examples?

    jwest- since you have no trouble identifying it on the left, I have no doubt of your ability to find it on the right as well. Especially since you seem to find most of the comments here beneath you- must mean you are our intellectual superior.

    And I’d have tp disagree with your comment that some people are equating conservatism with racism- racism exists to some degree in everyone of differing political persuasions- its not something you can generalize about.

  • jwest

    Cosmoetica seems to have a different idea concerning conservative racism.

    See Above.

  • jwest

    Kritter,

    If I didn’t think most of the people here were sincere in their desire for political/social discussion, I wouldn’t be here.

    I was serious in asking for examples of hate speech.

    If a Limbaugh or Hannity argues against affirmative action, is that hate speech?

    I really would like to know what is being included in the definition.

  • kritter

    Well, its probably in the eyes of the beholder- but for me- when Rush accused the Edwards of using her cancer to get a bump in the polls- when Coulter said that the problem with the Oklahoma bombers were that they didn’t blow up the NYT’s, Coulter’s comments about the 9/11 widows enjoying their husband’s deaths —that kind of stuff. On the left– the bloggers that wished ill-fortune on Tony Snow when his cancer returned, Ward Churchill’s comments about 9/11… you get the idea.

  • http://centralsanity.blogspot.com/ Pete Abel

    Jwest has clearly made some new friends here. :-)

    And that includes me, the one who offered the original ” breathtakingly shallow collection of clichés and stereotypes.”

    Despite that, I think jwest — and several other commenters — have raised a number of interesting and important points.

    I can’t respond to all of them today, but I will later, possibly in a follow-up post tomorrow or next week. In the meantime, thanks for taking the time to punch back on this issue. I believe it’s worth debating and clarifying.

    PS — Jwest, I sincerely enjoyed your hypothetical example of how right and left might respond to someone who was walking along, fell down and broke a leg. Fair or not — and some of it probably is, while some isn’t — it was funny.

  • jwest

    Kritter,

    Thank you.

    I’m familiar with both the Coulter articles you cited and can see that if those passages were taken alone as serious (as opposed to humor in the full context), they would also qualify as a form of “hate speech� to me.

    The reference to Rush would probably also qualify if he had used Edwards illness in the manner outlined, but of course that didn’t happen.

    Perhaps it’s the way people’s words are characterized by others that makes the “hate speech� problem escalate. When one group hears what they think is an accurate account of someone’s statement, they feel they have a license to engage in the same type of speech.

    Some in the media claim the internet has increased the hate speech (and I’m sure they have a point) but maybe now that people have a way of checking the source material to get the actual quotes, the incidence of words being twisted will subside.

    Pete,

    You’ve got a great writing style and a good sense of humor.

    Part III of your series should be titled: “Why do Conservatives Hate Puppies?�

    I’ll be back for that one.

  • Lynx

    Oh yes SUPER TIMING for me to press submit on accident. Before you roast me, let me say the comment is NOT complete. Pete, I’d REALLY appreciate you deleting it. I’ll post the full one after this one. Sorry!

  • Lynx

    So how did a discussion on why the meaner members of the conservative movement seem to be the most visible ones morph into an argument that is basically “Your side is nastier� “No, YOUR side is nastier� “Oh yeah, well you have cooties!� “Nya nya nya nya nyaaaaaaaa!�?

    How about we all agree that conservatives are all ignorant, backwards, ultra-fundamentalist freaks who somehow manage to be backwater hicks and ultra-rich elitists at the same time, all the while enjoying their favorite sport; throwing rocks at poor single mothers.

    Lets also agree that liberals are all aging hippy, pot-smoking, ivory tower elitists who think partial birth abortion is super but cry when they hear a rare lizard has been run over by a car. Any failure by anyone (other than a conservative or, perish the thought, a Christian) is not their fault, but the product of the evil white male world. Murderers need their mothers love, not jailtime. They don’t play sports but take great joy in inserting as many gay references as they can into children’s movies.

    Well, having gotten that out of our system, can we please move on?

  • MichaelF

    I have to say JWest is spot on. Also, I would like to add that the present
    domination of Conservative talk show hosts has not always been the case. When I was a teen growing up in the Boston area there was a real dearth of Conservative voices. The local radio shows as well as the national ones were dominated by people who were left of center. I remember how refreshing it was when David Brudnow and Avi Nelson offered a Libertarian point of view. But they were few and far between

    Long before the hyperbolic present talkmysters Lefties claimed that any stance against affirmative action made one racist. You were mean spirited if you spoke out against a welfare state. The Left denied what Conservatives had forewarned in regard to dependency. The fact that Clinton helped enact some of the very changes Conservatives and Libertarians had been calling for years does not speak well for so called Liberals. It means they allowed the damage to go on for decades before admitting to the results. Also, Liberals have fought bitterly to negate the impact of Welfare reform. Yet now the have the nerve to try to take some of the credit. It’s actually laughable.

  • kritter


    On the March 22, broadcast of his show, Limbaugh suggested that the Edwards presidential campaign intentionally “leak[ed]” false information — that Edwards would “suspend” his campaign because his wife’s cancer had recurred — to Politico reporter Ben Smith in order “to jump-start the campaign.”

    jwest– how would you interpret what Rush said any other way? You already know that Rush, Sean and Ann say things that outrage most people but please their own audience. That’s why they do it. And they have a huge following. Can we stop pretending now?

  • http://www.cosmoetica.com cosmoetica

    Jwest: So, generalizations and cliches are the sum of yr argument. Great.

    As for ‘hate speech’, it’s a silly definition. It’s akin to ‘hate crimes’, or punishing motives. If one murders, it’s the act which kills, not whether it was done for money, sexual deviance, religious reasons, or plain sadism. What Kim cites as hate speech is more mere stupidity.

    But, generalizations and cliches avoid realities, such as white flight’s being behind some of the poor school systems that cause….drum roll, ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations.’

    Cymbal crash.

  • jwest

    Kritter,

    What was the source of that quote?

    Cosmoetica,

    I would love nothing more than to have a detailed debate on why teacher’s unions, liberal attitudes towards the learning capacity of poor, black children and the desire for democrats to maintain a permanent underclass constitutes cruelty.

    Shall we do it here or see if our hosts will start a new thread?

  • kritter

    jwest- its right on this site- in an article by Joe Gandelman titled : “Cancer Survivor WH Tony Snow Special Perspective”. Just scroll on the right margin of the blog on topics until you hit Rush Limbaugh- its the second article.

  • http://www.cosmoetica.com cosmoetica

    Great, and afterwards, we can speak of classism, the power elite, and why big business, oligopolies, monopolies, Right Wing (not truly conservative) bigotry, and religious stupidity, always try to keep information from being disseminated to the masses, opposes all remedies to social problems- most often caused by myopic and outdated systems of governance, capital apportionment, and generally opposes any amelioration of the conditions that most but the top few % of people in this nation (much less the world) suffer in; and all in the name of patriotism, states’ rights, or other jingoistic nonsense.

    Don’t wait: GO!

  • jwest

    Kritter,

    This will probably give you the best recount of what was actually said:

    http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_032807/content/01125109.guest.html

    Once you see how this was twisted around, you will begin to appreciate how some of the other instances of accused “hate speech� were distortions by people who didn’t find the facts.

    Cosmoetica,

    I see you would like to expand the D.C. school subject to include a few other topics.

    Fine with me.

    Could we make it for another time? As a conservative, I have a few a people I need to oppress before they return to their hovels. Clubbing baby seals is out of season and I’ve only a few hobos to set alight, so the rest of the weekend if free.

  • kritter

    jwest- I used to listen to Rush every day when I had a job where I drove a lot- and one thing I learned is that he tries to be as offensive to liberals as possible- every thing any liberal says or does is always interpreted in the darkest light possible, while the administration’s errors were put in the best possible light. He also offended me when he questioned whether Michael J Fox was purposely exaggerating his symptoms during campaign season.

    I picked that quote because it offended me, what I failed to mention is that his entire biased point of view offends me. But thanks for the link, anyway.

  • http://www.cosmoetica.com cosmoetica

    Jwest:

    It would have been easier to type, ‘….’ and listen for the rustle of the tumbleweeds. Even your attempted humor is old as Henny Youngman’s.

    But while you’re being served pina coladas and looking for answers, actually read up on white flight- Google Robert Moses, and the real world today, where minorities are still harassed and discriminated against far out of proportion to their representation (I’ve worked years in retail and see the harassment daily). When news reporters actually reported on things other than pop culture there were exposes on this behavior that allowed folks to stay in touch w planet Earth.

    And I’m hardly a bleeding heart. I’ve ripped PC and Leftist Academics more than just about anyone online, but your posts are akin to those who rail about the 1960s’ ‘excesses,’ always forgetting about the Jim Crow 1950s that brought us that nonsense, and whose reality still far more infects the policies of todays than remanent hippy values.

    Word out to T-Steel, re: our prior convo on how to deal with online silliness. Here is Exhibit A.

  • G. Weightman

    I don’t care to get into the substance of your debate with Jwest, but he’s trouncing you on style points so far. His riposte about bums and baby seals was quite amusing.

    You responded with an invidious comparison to Henry Youngman. Let me tell you, sir, Henny Youngman got more laughs in three minutes than a stiff like Lewis Black gets in three hours.

    Two other gratuitous pieces of advice for your upcoming steel-cage death match with Jwest:

    Pack your rhetorical toolbox with more than just hyperbole.

    Assigning a name to an entity, e.g., the power elite, doesn’t prove that entity’s existence.

  • http://www.cosmoetica.com cosmoetica

    GW:

    ‘I don’t care to get into the substance of your debate with Jwest, but he’s trouncing you on style points so far. His riposte about bums and baby seals was quite amusing.’

    If you have not heard them ten thousand times before, like the rest of the cliches he’s deployed in this post. Welcome to 2007.

    Only in vaudeville wd Jwest get any laughs or style points, but say hello to Gracie. And I don’t dabble in hyperbole, which is why Jwest never answered specific comments on the DC schools nor white flight’s role in such.

    And if you think the power elite does not exist it’s either because you are them or you are too dizzied by I-Pods and other cybertoys to realize the people at the other end of your strings. As for death matches, Jwest’s tights are already loosened. Three count. It’s over.

    And, before you dabble in polysyllables again, actually, well, look up the words you wield. Anyone who would use ‘invidious’ in reference to Henny Youngman reveals a lack of humor and intellect.

    Crash those cymbals!

  • kritter

    jwest- didn’t see you actually admit that Rush uttered the quote that was attributed to him, you just linked to his justifications for saying that in the first place-so now you are claiming he was justified in saying what he said about Mrs. Edwards because of the way others in the media were handling it?

  • G. Weightman

    That’s a start. As Dr. Yen Lo, the Red Chinese brainwasher in The Manchurian Candidate, said “A little humor, my dear Zilkov, always with a little humor.â€? Now dial down your outrage meter by several clicks, and I might actually be interested in hearing what you have to say about white flight.

    Oh, and by the way, say what you will about me. But don’t you dare disparage the King of the One-Liners

  • http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-cjQ4r_Y_cqXPXpxyIWQePYrgXHbB nicrivera

    I don’t see how writing posts entitled “Cruel Conservatives” is going to foster any meaningful debate. As I’ve mentioned countless times before, the terms “liberal” and “conservative” have evolved to such an extent and are used so inconsistently, that one could define these terms to mean just about anything–whether good or bad.

    I can just imagine what types of overgeneralizations would be included in a post “entitled “Cruel Liberals.”

    When people act like jerks, let’s just call the individual miscreants out on their garbage rather than making sweeping generalizations about an entire political philosophy. Similarly, if we’re going to criticize conservatism or liberalism or libertarianism or centrism, let’s point to the flaws in the arguments supporting these political philosophies instead of merely tearing down some of the more notorious personalities that are purported to believe in these political philosophies.

  • http://itsthe21stcenturystupid.wordpress.com Jim Satterfield

    Views of the modern conservative comes about from one basic weakness of their philosophy. They put ideology above all else. Anyone who fails economically in this society has no one to blame but themselves because our system is perfect in that anyone (Read this in the conservative rule book as everyone.) who works hard and follows the rules will be successful. While this sounds good it fails to pass the hard test of reality. While it works for many it is not a hard and fast absolute and the insistence on acting like it is some kind of law of nature is one of the primary failures of modern conservatism.

    When a conservative of this school does admit that there must be help for the poor they believe that it should be private charity or families that take care of the poor. What’s wrong with this belief? The extent of the problem is so great that these solutions just won’t work. Private charities don’t have the money. Families have changed in ways that the ideologically straight-jacketed just don’t realize make as big a difference as it does. Families are smaller. They often are more geographically dispersed. In other words the familial infrastructure just ain’t what it used to be.

    So then the question becomes should society, with the federal government serving as its agent establish systems in an attempt to help those caught in economic tides beyond their control. This is in fact the general view in contradiction to the conservative viewpoint.

  • http://www.cosmoetica.com cosmoetica

    GW:

    Obviously you need to ‘hear’ things, not read things, for, as I was having fun w Jwest’s nonsense, I was also shining you on.

    There is no outrage that in bear in such posts. It’s just a blog. As for Henny, I love him, and grew up watching the Dean Martin Roasts, which is why I said the use of the word invidious with him is silly!

    Nic: Again you’ve got it right. Political terms are so bastardized it’s ridiculous. The Liberals are bigger censors now than the Right. So-called Conservatives are obsessed with people’s sexual habits, and Libertarians care less about individuals’ civil liberties and more about Big Business. It’s a shame.

    Jim, excellent points. I’d only add that while I agree with the Con view that a government should only provide those things that individuals cannot provide for themselves, as society grows and complexes, that burden also grows and complexes. But, it should always be as small as can be. But gov’t in 2007, has to be much larger than in 1907 ot 1807.

  • http://itsthe21stcenturystupid.wordpress.com Jim Satterfield

    Precisely, cosmoetica. I named my blog “It’s the 21st Century, Stupid!” for exactly that reason. The number of people who think that the same institutions and solutions work in our current world that worked for those one or even two centuries ago astonishes me. How they expect the same things to work for 300,000,000 plus people in a post Green Revolution world and in a country that is moving into the totally unknowable future that appears to be a post-Industrial world just stumps me.