CPAC is a gathering of conservatives from across the country. The opinions of those at the conference is in all likelihood a good sample of grassroots conservatives. What troubles and confuses me is that the base of the movement I consider myself apart of is ok with using this kind of hate speech. Judging from the YouTube video, the audience liked it when Ms. Coulter called a former U.S. Senator and major Presidential candidate a faggot. They are thrilled with hate being directed towards homosexuals. This is a telling fact of where the movement is right now. I think this is a sad day for Conservatism. The message sent is that homosexuals are not welcome in the conservative movement. Maybe that is the intention, and maybe conservatives are ok with that.
Rod Dreher point us to this analysis in The American Conservative that is deadly accurate.The young men and women of the Right aren’t reading much Richard Weaver these days—nor much Robert Nisbet or Russell Kirk, to name two other seminal conservative thinkers critical of modern warfare. The time when Young Americans for Freedom wore badges blazoned with the slogan “Don’t Immanentize the Eschaton” has long passed. Now College Republicans parade in shirts proclaiming “George W. Bush Is My Homeboy.” The campus Right has almost always been more activist than intellectual, just as the wider movement has been more political than cultural. But where once students were at least familiar with the names Kirk and Weaver, or Mises and Nock, today they look to Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter for guidance. They’re little acquainted with the wisdom of the contemporary Right’s founding generation, and it shows.
The truth hurts. It is uncomfortable for me to face this fact. I don't see a lot of intellectualism among young conservatives. If you asked them, they would tell you Reagan is the greatest President without knowing why. It is what they are told to think. I don't think classical conservative thought plays any role for most young conservatives. They probably dont know any of the thinkers listed above, or Edmund Burke, or probably even Milton Friedman. I do count politicians like Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan as intellectuals, but most young conservatives I come across have not read they're books.
People like Rush Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, are not serious thinkers. If someone were to talk about "The Limbaugh Doctrine" in an academic setting they would be laughed out of the room. (I know the response will be that academic types are liberal and attack anything conservative, but aside from that being a lame absolutist argument that requires a massive burden of proof, people like Burke or Russel Kirk are taken seriously in academic settings and various settings of higher dialogue.)
This leads me to my larger critique of the discourse on the conservative blogosphere. The hope for blogosphere a few years ago was that it would provide a massive market of opinion and a rigorous debate of the issues. The "debate" is largely ad hominem attacks. Blog readers read blogs that affirm their beliefs and they get in informational ghettos. It is hard for people to get outside of their ideological comfort zone. Sites like free republic attract kooks that use stupid little phrases like the "DemonRats" and other childish comments we see on conservative blogs all the time. This from a comment on Mark Foley: ""One more queer gone from leadership. A good thing even though he wasn't a dimorat."
I see this echoed in opinion journalists like Coulter.
What I hope to see is that conservatives distance themselves from Coulter. I dont want to hear that these comments are bad because they hurt the GOP politically. I dont want to that Ann's delivery was off. I want to hear conservatives face the fact that this is the state of the conservative movement today.