When it comes down to it, I don't hate conservatives. Hell, I used to be one. Many on here were. In The Conservative Mind Russell Kirk famously claimed that conservatism is not an ideology, but an anti-ideology - meaning that it is not a blueprint for how to make the world perfect, but an acceptance that it will not ever be perfect and that our best intentions often have the most disasterous results. Conservatism, by that measure, should be experience over belief and prudence over reckless innovation. If conservatives still (or ever) believed that, I might still be one of them. It is the wanton disregard for the Constitution and the basic principles that weave the fabric of America among many screechers on the right that has me spooked. Fortunately, some conservatives do still have a few principles left. Just look at the response on Redstate.com to the Prager brouhaha for a good example.
Dennis Prager, a Rush Limbaugh wannabe "conservative" bag of hot air and hatred is up in arms over the fact that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, wants to take his oath of office on the Koran. Several other diaries have been written about this here, here, here, and here so I won't rehash why this is an outrageous display of hypocrisy and ignorance of the plain meaning of the Constitution.
The larger point that interests me is that ideological movements, whatever their original values, sometimes become so rotten to the core that they embrace antithetical principles. It happened to many of the communist movements in Europe in the last century. It happened to much of the religion that Christ founded centuries ago. It has happened to conservatism today. It would be hubris to assume that it couldn't happen to us. You could argue that the goal of conservatism was always to make redistribution of wealth to the top palatable to the majority, and for some powerful people it was. But some liberals are more interested in attorneys fees and sweetheart deals than the ordinary American. The fact is, there were principled conservatives but they were drowned out by people who were willing to do anything, ANYTHING to win.
Conservatives know that they have gone astray. The blogosphere is overburdened with Jeremiads about where the Republicans went wrong. Usually, the claim is that they should have just rammed the agenda through a little more forcefully - missing the point that everything that was allowed by law and more was done to remake the country in George Bush's image. Some wish that Republicans had moved more slowly and reached out to the center. However, this is a debate over tactics; if the agenda is the same, it doesn't really matter how soothingly they had choked the country to death. What you don't often see is a conservative who still values anti-ideology principles and will call a spade a spade. That is the reason why I turn to Redstate.com from time to time. Every now and then you will find a spark of intellectual honesty, integrity, and fairmindedness that is missing elsewhere. Take a look
I agree that this has a lot to do with multiculturalism and political correctness, but you know, God bless Keith Ellison for sticking up for his beliefs.
To quote Article VI, paragraph 3 of the Constitution:
The . . . Representatives before mentioned . . . shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
That Keith Ellison is a muslim and wants to take his oath on his holy book does not offend me. It's refreshing to see someone stand up for their beliefs. But, what we should be concerned with is whether Ellison is offended that he serves with Christians and Jews.
Yeah, he goes on to question whether Ellison will be hostile to America just because he is a Muslim, but it is (unfortunately) refreshing to see a conservative standing up for freedom of religion for once. There is more in the comments:
What if he'd refused to take the oath on any religious book? What if he wanted to take the oath on a copy of The Little Engine that Could? Frankly, it's not an issue, and your analysis and Constitutional reference are excellent!
There is no Holy Book of the United States. While I disagree sharply the current restrictions on religion in the public sector, I just as fervently disagree with forcing a muslim, a hindu, or an atheist to take the Oath of Office with a Christian Bible.
I honestly don't care what book you choose to take the oath on, and I agree-what is far more important is how one intends to fulfill that oath, not what book it is made on.
Not to mention, if the guy isn't a Christian, would taking an oath on the Bible mean anything anyway-that seems sort of like the equivalent of kids crossing their fingers when making a promise, so they can renege.
Prager is a fool. He writes things that probably make him feel very good about himself, getting himself and his fans riled up, but it's all on emotion.
But, if Ann Coulter can have fans, then I guess he can, too.
It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones. -- Calvin Coolidge
There are A LOT of muslim small-business men in his district and the country that have issues with borrowing money among other things and finally having a representative that doesn't think they are whacko STRENGTHENS our democracy and shows the WHACKOS in the middle east EVERYONE gets to participate here.
Sure I have cherrypicked the comments that were not bigoted screeds, but if you will look you will see that that was the dominant tone of the conversation. We need a conscientious core within our opposition. We need people on the other side who will accept basic principles of human dignity and rule of law, almost as much as we need champions for our own views. We need to be able to move past our struggle to preserve the most basic protections of the Constitution so that we can move on to a more substantive debate about what are the best means toward an agreed upon end. And if, God forbid, our own party becomes eaten from the inside out by the parasites that call themselves Democrats, we need a safe alternative.