Tuesday, January 25

Voxing with Rauch

Hugh has kicked the ball rolling with another Vox Blogoli (Virtual Symposium) here. He asks us to comment on a Jonathan Rauch (New Atlantic) piece, to comment on the quote, and what it says about the author.
On balance it is probably healthier if religious conservatives are inside the political system than if they operate as insurgents and provocateurs on the outside. Better they should write anti-abortion planks into the Republican platform than bomb abortion clinics. The same is true of the left. The clashes over civil rights and Vietnam turned into street warfare partly because activists were locked out of their own party establishments and had to fight, literally, to be heard. When Michael Moore receives a hero’s welcome at the Democratic National Convention, we moderates grumble; but if the parties engage fierce activists while marginalizing tame centrists, that is probably better for the social peace than the other way around
Mr Rauch manages to be wrong in not just a few ways all at once.

The first major fallacy is that religious conservatives are or have ever operated as "insurgents" or "provocateurs". In today's political climate, "insurgent" as we know is Reuters code word for "terrorist", which makes the comparison to American religious conservatives more than a little insulting. It has been popular of late, for the left elite media types to spend a little expense account money and venture timidly out into the frozen tundra of the "red states" in flyoverland. Mr Rauch apparently didn't want to put too much pain on the expense account and decided to mail it in. Mr Rauch, allow me to explain, all but a vanishingly small number of religious conservatives exhibit anything resembling "terrorist" activities. The average religious conservative does not only never bomb abortion clinics, he doesn't even know anyone who knows anyone who has. Painting religious conservatives with that brush is either rhetorical smoke or dumb ignorance. Acting from the "political inside" is how we normally operate.

The second fallacy is that the 60's and 70's "street warfare" by the left was because they were locked out of the political halls of their party at the time, and were not a counter-cultural movement which wished to make its statements bypassing the political arena. He proposes that what should have been done, was to allow those views front and center stage in the political arena. That if given the chance, it would have been a better thing if the "kill the pigs" activists were given political power and control of their party in that era. Hmm, yeah, that's right to control the wacky anarchists, give them the reigns of power. Exactly how Mr Rauch keeps his job as a columnist is begining to become a mystery.

The third fallacy, is not exactly a fallacy so much as bad advice. It is a chancy thing to take "advice" from your opponent, and Mr Rauch shows us why. Mr Rauch is of the left, he writes for a leftist rag and does not disguise his leftist bent. His advice for the right, is to give full stage to the radicals on the right, instead of the more moderate voices. This certainly would benefit his agenda. He points to how Mr Moore was given center stage at the Democratic convention. He, I guess, points to how successful that strategy was in the previous election season and wishes that we on the right would follow suit. Gee, thanks for your thoughts, Mr Rauch, I think we'll just have to give that the consideration it deserves.