Extremely Extreme Extremists, Part Two
For some, the only thing worse than the Left’s goals is doing something about the Left’s goals.
Christopher Mathias’s Living with the Far-Right Insurgency in Idaho is a classic in the extremism-by-association genre. Far-right conservatives are said to sleep with fascists and hence to adopt fascist goals and methods. Their specter hangs over the state and the country.
This extremism-by-association aims to stigmatize conservative policies. "Life-long Republicans" or "life-long conservatives" or normal Republicans help Mathias develop his indictment.
Mathias’s forgettable piece of propaganda reveals the dilemma for such supposedly normal Republicans. They cannot state what they are for. Normal Republicans sometimes condemn the goals of conservatives in the article. They sometimes condemn the methods or tactics of conservatives. But they cannot explicitly endorse the goals of the Left without undermining their political viability in a Republican state.
So normal Republicans claim to oppose “far-right” Republicans in the name of conservatism. Normal Republicans are the true conservatives! How can they criticize conservative goals without embracing the goals of the Left? Three strategies emerge.
Mathias presents discussions of CRT in the schools and degenerate children’s literature in the libraries.
The Right’s position on both of these things is clear. CRT is in the schools and it undermines reasonable patriotism. Degenerate children’s literature is in our libraries and it sows gender confusion that undermines decent family life. Conservatives hope to stop the state from promoting these ideologies.
The Left’s position on CRT and libraries is also clear. CRT is in the schools and is good because it just teaches the truth that Western civilization is systematically racist. Sexualizing children’s literature in the libraries is good because it teaches tolerance, ends repression, and makes people comfortable with their bodies. The Left wants to promote these ideologies in public institutions.
How do “normal” Republicans want?
First, normal Republicans associate the anti-CRT, anti-degenerate books with what they take to be extremist positions. People who want to stop CRT in the schools want to end “public education altogether,” as Mathias’s piece contends. People who want to get degenerate books out of Idaho’s public libraries want to “jail librarians,” as Mathias writes. Or, as the Pres. Pro Tem of the Senate has said, it is “craziness” and “mischief” to deal with degenerate books in our libraries.
There is a variation on this theme. Normal Republicans feign taking CRT or library books or gender reassignment surgeries seriously, but find some other sacred conservative value that would have to be violated if we did anything about them. Local control, for instance, becomes sacred if it protects library books or CRT, but local control matters less when the state locks down the economy due to the coronavirus.
The only thing worse than the Left’s goals is doing something about the Left’s goals.
Second, normal Republicans deny that the Left is accomplishing anything in Idaho. This involves downplaying the presence of CRT in the schools or in our higher education institutions and not looking at our public libraries. Idaho, they pretend to think, has some special power to repel CRT or LGBTQIA+ books.
These normal Republicans are complacent about the future of the state.
Third, normal Republicans say nothing about the goals of the Left and nothing about the goals of conservatives, but they bemoan the tactics of conservatives. But they only bemoan the tactics of conservatives when conservatives embrace them. When the Left uses the same tactics or worse, the normal Republicans are silent.
This double-standard is consistent with the rest of the normal Republican program: its thoughts, words, and actions assist the Left in achieving its goals.
Normal Republicans end up being Republicans In Name Only. That such a species exists cannot be doubted. Whether conservatives are good at spotting it is another question.