Today, the National Review published an article from young writer Ian Tuttle. As far as articles go, it wasn’t that interesting on the surface. By that, I mean it is pretty standard “conservatarian” dullness. Conservatarian being a word for people who’ve given up the traditionalist element of Conservatism, and stick to interventionism and libertarianism, while staying anti-abortion because solely they need to. National Review Online Editor, Charles C.W. Cooke wrote a very boring book advocating this position last year.
This article, however, does a great job of showcasing the intellectual dead-end present at the National Review and other donor-funded boondoggles which claim to represent the entire spectrum of acceptable right-wing opinions.
Let’s see if you can tell me what’s wrong with this quote:
It’s ironic that, as conservatives rage against the overlords of their preferred online realms, they are also, in another context, fighting to shield business owners’ right to free association in the marketplace. Jewish bakers should not have to bake cakes for Skokie’s swastika set, &c. We should permit similar liberty to Mark Zuckerberg, or Twitter’s elusive “Jack.”
That’s right, Ian Tuttle directly compared his fellow conservatives to Nazis. You don’t have to read Aristotle to know that’s a failure of rhetoric. It is so incredibly stupid to do such a thing, you have to wonder what he was thinking.
In the whole article, Tuttle only ever uses Nazis and Conservatives as groups of people who it is legitimate to discriminate against. That is an incredibly limited view of freedom of association; you’re only free to discriminate against people for non-religious, non-sexual thought patterns. If he has a wider conception, he should come out and say so. This limited conception makes him seem like he is either unwilling to follow his conviction to it’s natural conclusions, or he simply holds the same view on the issue as progressives.
Political views are an incredibly important part of people’s identities, especially for people like Ian Tuttle, who fall outside of any left-approved identity group. In essence, Tuttle refuses to demand that society gives his identity as much respect as others receive for their identity. That makes him seem weak and under the thumb of greater forces. I don’t care if Ian Tuttle doesn’t have any racial or ethnic identity, but in a world of identity politics, he should fight to ensure his own identity, whatever that is, is as valid as anyone else’s. Conservatives are the only sorts of people who would accept being discriminated against by a corporation serving hundreds of millions and agree that they should be free to do so.
Of course, that brings up another problem with conservative thought: it often refuses to engage with reality. We live in a world where freedom of association is limited. The writers of the National Review agree with most of the country that freedom of association needs to be compromised on certain issues. Once you’ve given up the idea of an absolute freedom of association, you have to deal with that reality. If we are living in a world where freedom of association is limited, it ought to be limited in such a way that it protects everyone equally.
Finally, this article plays into a tired trope about conservatives: they are always looking for a way to surrender. Ceding the ground of social media would just be another in a seemingly unending series of conservative withdrawals whenever there is the slightest bit of trouble or friction on their part.
Instead, what Tuttle offers, is the continued isolation and balkanization of conservatives into yet another nicely regulated island that only conservatives pay attention to, and fails to convince anyone to join the cause.
The strength of social media for those on the right is that it enables people of all political stripes to engage with one another, and allows us to rub the noses of snobbish progressive pundits in their own idiocy. That isn’t worth giving up lightly.
This article, on its face, may not seem so bad. The principle of the thing is in the right place, but it exposes so many of the flaws of the conservative movement, it might as well have been written by @DemsRRealRacists. If conservatives are trying to figure out what they are doing wrong and look towards improving in the future, looking at the failures of this article is a good place to start.