We’re in a Culture War, But Only One Side Is Fighting
America’s left showed its ugly intolerant face in the Kavanaugh confirmation fight. It’s only bound to get uglier as we approach the National Impeachment Referendum on November 6. (That’s the right term for what some call the “mid-term Congressional elections.” They’re about impeaching Trump and even Kavanaugh, and nothing else at this point.)
When you’re facing ruthless opponents who are in many ways stronger than you, you face a moral dilemma. How much should you “rise above” their blatant and brutal tactics, and hope to win converts and sympathy? Or else, should you see that your very survival’s at stake, and “get down in the mud” and fight?
Or should you do a little bit of both? And where do you draw the line? What would taint our efforts with the same guilt as our opponents? And what would amount to appeasement?
These are complex issues, and I’m not a philosopher. However, I did write a book on morals that entailed extensive research. The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins looks at the ancient Christian tradition of analyzing temptations in terms of sectors of human conduct. It also draws on Aristotle, whose notion of the “Golden Mean” is crucial. It’s tempting, but foolish, to avoid a deadly sin by rushing to the opposite response, which is often equally evil. As I wrote there:
At the opposite pole from deadly Wrath is not holy Patience, but masochistic Servility, which teaches us to let aggressors win and bullies triumph, whatever the cost to the next victim that blunders into their paths.
In the case of American politics, we need to keep this balance. Not just for strategic reasons, but also for moral ones.
Achieving the Golden Mean
So let’s lay down some ground rules:
- We can’t be evil. We can never do something that is intrinsically (always and everywhere) wrong. No matter the provocation. If the left uses phony rape charges against our judicial nominees, that doesn’t give us license to do the same to their nominees. If the left starts murdering our congressmen, we can’t start murdering theirs. Sorry, guys!
- Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. There’s a big difference between “intrinsically evil” and “tacky, maybe uncivil.” Norms of civility differ according to the situation you’re in. Let’s say you step into a boxing ring wearing gloves, expecting to go by Marquess of Queensbury rules. And your opponent takes off his gloves, then starts kicking you. You realize, “Oh, this must be an MMA fight.” Then you lose the gloves and play by the rules that are actually in force. With the Kavanaugh fight (really, long before) the left took off the gloves.
- Don’t get trolled into overplaying your hand and outraging good people. I think President Trump has learned this lesson in office. Mostly. Right now, the left has clearly lost its marbles, and it’s scaring the general public. A classic maxim runs: “Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake.” And never distract people from your opponent’s outrages by acting the fool yourself.
- Learn from your opponents’ tactics. Consider using any of them that aren’t intrinsically evil (see Rule 1.) A longtime Communist activist, Douglas Hyde, wrote a classic book Dedication and Leadership, which distills the effective, non-evil means which leftists have used for decades. He shows how to “pack a meeting,” and how to turn lukewarm volunteers into dedicated zealots. Get it. Read it. Just remember Rule 3, especially if there’s a public double standard in place.
- Don’t vilify your allies for differing with you on what is prudent. We need a broad variety of approaches, to see what will work. Let a hundred strands of spaghetti hit the wall, to see which will stick. Let somebody be the Good Cop who nobly adheres to the faded, broken norms to shame your opponents — as long there’s also a Bad Cop, who will make them pay the price for shredding those norms. (Again, without breaking Rule 1.) Historical example: Rev. Martin Luther King transformed America with his non-violent tactics. But we might not have listened if Malcolm X weren’t lurking in the background, urging black folks to defend themselves “by any means necessary.” Imagine how much more violent the left would be today, if there weren’t groups like the NRA ensuring that millions of patriotic citizens had the means of self-defense.
Should We “Get in Their Faces”?
Okay, I’ll apply these rules to a current case, to see how well they work.
As the Daily Caller reports: “Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono on Sunday refused twice to answer whether she thought harassing Republican senators in restaurants was taking things a bit too far.”
How should we respond to that? It’s tempting to say that we should unleash angry right-wingers to follow Democrat senators to bistros, and scream at them as their supporters scream at ours. But that would violate Rule 1. Those senators might deserve it. (Certainly Hirono does.) But the other patrons at the restaurants don’t. Neither do the owners or the waiters, who’ll have to deal with the blowback. And it also could hurt our cause, violating Rule 3.
However, just saying “Tsk, tsk!” and issuing high-minded statements violates Rule 2. It brings a butter knife to a gun fight. That’s Jeb Bush, John Kasich stuff.
So what response would thread the needle and hit the Golden Mean? In my opinion it’s this. We should find out where Senator Hirono eats. And have protestors ready. They should march into every such restaurant, decently dressed. They should walk up to her table, camera phones running, and politely but loudly demand the answer to one question:
Senator Hirono, do you agree that it’s wrong for political opponents to hound U.S. senators in the private lives — as we are doing now?
If she says yes, thank her politely and leave. If she doesn’t, ask her why not. Pull up a chair and sit with her, until the management tells you to leave. Then do so, in a quiet and dignified fashion. And get the whole thing on video, then share it with the world. Rinse and repeat, every time Senator Hirono tries to eat in a restaurant, until and unless she agrees.
If you disagree with me, and try some other tactic, so long as it isn’t intrinsically evil, I won’t criticize you. As long as it’s non-violent, I certainly won’t vilify you. You’re an American, too. You’ve every bit as much right to throw spaghetti at the wall as I do.
And by the way, if you don’t think we’re really in a war, I’ve got a movie you need to see. In fact, I’m in it, as a commentator. Steve Bannon made it. The title is Trump@War. And you can watch it free. Be prepared: the violence and profanity of the violent left are shocking. Truth hurts. But we have to deal with it. As Bannon recently said:
The fight for Judge Kavanaugh became a proxy fight for Trump’s presidency — the same howling mob intends to stop his agenda if they win in November. That display of the anarchy to come is what has galvanized and united the right, the grassroots and the establishment in a final drive to victory.