Using Conservative Jujitsu on Progressives
Readers of American Thinker are well aware that conservative thought has made considerable advances with respect to identifying the theoretical shortcomings of Establishment power.
While there is still plenty of work to be done in this area, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that eventually theoretical gains must be translated into practical advantage.
This contribution suggests, by way of examples and two simple, general principles, ways to convert theoretical insight into practical political gain.
The approach is Alinskyite in terms its rhetoric and the function of ridicule.
It cannot be denied that Alinskyism has proven very successful; Establishment institutions are through and through "Alinskyfied."
The essence of Alinskyism when developed was to subvert the Establishment by directing its energies against itself.
A major reason why Alinskyism succeeded is because politics has always been (and still is) more about personalities and power than policy and reason.
The conservative view should always be that reason should triumph in politics, but what good is reason without the power to back it up?
That said, reason allows us to identify simple -- and very practical -- means to undo Alinskyism by way of rhetorical jujitsu.
To see how, it helps to recognize an overarching principle that is difficult to deny if closely considered: Progressivism (it's actually Marxo-Fascism, but I will not argue the point here) is riddled with internal contradictions that can be easily exploited by informed people with sharp wits and a sense of humor.
Recognition of this principle (as well as one below) is intended to serve the overriding practical goal of: unmasking the hypocrisy, cynicism, and true agendas of Progressives.
So, what is our strategy?
Consider: there's plenty of chatter about how big the GOP tent should be, but how many people are reflecting on how capacious the Progressive tent is?
What an uneasy collectivity of "victim groups" Progressivism is! What a strategic opportunity this presents!
I'm about to present a couple of examples that exemplify the strategy.
Before doing so, though, allow me to emphasize that the examples are simply intended to serve as guides; they have not been fashioned under the illusion that they constitute some sort of magic key.
That is, the examples are meant to be more about drift and less about detail.
The first example has to do with gay marriage.
It applies what should be an obvious subsidiary principle, which is, to wit, that in order to expose the Establishment, it is necessary to stir the pot.
Let's summon a hypothetical encounter with Progressive "intellectual" Mr. Christopher Matthews:
MATTHEWS: Tonight, we've invited [ADROIT Conservative] on the show so I can flay the skin from his/her very body by [mixing metaphors] delivering a bunch of "homophobia" allegations. Nice to have you on!
ADROIT CONSERVATIVE (who for purposes of this example happens to be white): Thanks. This time it really is great to be here.
MATTHEWS: OK...so you are...I mean...Isn't opposition to gay marriage just another form of racism...I mean...it's similar...what isn't similar to racism...I mean...this is hardball...so what I'm asking is...why are conservatives so homophobic?
ADROIT CONSERVATIVE: Well Chris, gay marriage certainly is important to those who are Progressive and "Forward-looking", right?
MATTHEWS (brightening in response to the "Progressive" and "Forward-looking" stimuli): It is.
ADROIT CONSERVATIVE: Since it's such an important issue, Chris, it's important that we hear from many voices, right?
MATTHEWS (with smug self-satisfaction): Sure. Why do you think you're here?
ADROIT CONSERVATIVE: Yeah. Thanks again for having me on. What I meant is, if support for gay marriage is so Forward-looking and Progressive, and we want to hear from many voices, shouldn't we be asking, and talking to, blacks in California who overwhelmingly opposed Proposition 8? I mean, you're not insinuating that blacks are throwbacks or Jesus freaks, are you? Or, does the fact that a substantial majority of blacks oppose gay marriage have something to do with the slavery of the Founding Fathers?
MATTHEWS (initially a bit astonished, but recovering quickly to launch an attack): There you go with the race card again. Why does everything have to be racist with you conservatives?
ADROIT CONSERVATIVE: Well Chris, you tell me: why am I on your show instead of an articulate African-American who opposes gay marriage? Or what about a representative of a widely held Muslim-American view on gay marriage? Where are they?
Here is another hypothetical example.
MORGAN: (British scholar of the American Constitution; incidentally, has anyone asked him what his views on Northern Ireland are?) So, the good people at Google have reminded us that today is Cesar Chavez day. My guest, ASTUTE Conservative, is here to discuss the importance -- particularly to the Hispanic community -- of Chavez' accomplishments for the labor movement. Welcome.
MORGAN: So Chavez really was a hugely important figure in American politics, right, and perhaps he doesn't receive enough credit or discussion?
ASTUTE CONSERVATIVE: Well, do you mean Hugo or Cesar? And now's really not the time for the joke where you say "the dead one."
MORGAN: Right, very funny...so...
ASTUTE CONSERVATIVE: Maybe in looking back on the life and work of Chavez and what he meant for the labor movement, it's good if everyone pauses to reflect on some of the specific things he said regarding labor.
MORGAN (projecting phony persona of "gentleman" ever-ready for debate under Marquis of Queensbury rules): So, he's really a figure for all of us, in particular Hispanics, to look up to, right?
ASTUTE CONSERVATIVE: Anytime someone achieves the measure of influence Chavez did, their views should be considered carefully. So, in that regard, what should we say about the fact that Chavez was strongly opposed to illegal immigration Piers? I don't think he referred to illegal immigrants as "undocumented workers", did he?
MORGAN: Well, that was a long time ago, and I'm sure that today...
ASTUTE CONSERVATIVE: Just a moment. A long time ago? Slavery was a long time ago. You're not saying that's irrelevant, are you?
MORGAN (a bit flummoxed): Well, no, I mean...of course it is, and we've discussed it plenty of times right here on this show...
ASTUTE CONSERVATIVE: Yes, well, I'm not sure I see why it is that people who talk about moving "Forward" all the time spend so much time looking in the rearview mirror, but back to immigration...shouldn't we be talking about the reasons behind Chavez' attitude toward illegal immigration?
MORGAN: I don't think that's...
ASTUTE CONSERVATIVE: Why not Piers? Is that too off-script?
I hope that the general points are clear even if you don't like the particular examples. Opportunities are everywhere to do this kind of thing, but even conservatives all-too-frequently fail to exploit (yes, exploit) them.
In a related vein, can anyone explain why any conservative, or even any Republican, lets Democrats get away with lionizing FDR?! FDR was a fellow who, in a flagrant violation of the Constitution, forcibly placed a racial minority (American citizens of Japanese descent) in concentration camps as recently as World War II for crying out loud.
In fact, conservatives should view every mention of FDR as a potential opportunity to discuss the way the Democratic Party treats Asian-Americans (the fastest growing minority in the country).
Conservatives should take every opportunity to expose Progressive hypocrisy about, and cynicism toward, the very culture they themselves are creating--sucker punching when necessary.
The second overarching principle is related to the first.
The principle is: Conservatives must get prominent Progressives on the record as saying truly outrageous things -- things that are outrageous even for Progressives and to many Progressives.
This is another way to create division among Progressives, but it's also a way to unmask their cynicism and their true agenda.
It's really not so difficult to do this; the key is to be ever-vigilant for the opening that invariably presents itself if one is patient.
The strategy exploits the fact that nobody so far has really managed to get prominent Progressives to admit to just how Progressive they are, and the fact that Progressivism is actually a crazy-quilt patchwork of interests that is unified only to the extent that the varying interests are forced together by brutish power.
In short, what Progressive can tell you what "Forward" really means? Just how "Forward" are they? Get them out on the proverbial limb!
Conservatives should foresee Progressive rhetorical moves, poison the well, and see to it that the next Progressive idea is, ideally, effectively denounced before it's even circulated.
Take, for example, the issue of women in combat, and issue the salience of which was easily foreseeable. At this point, though, depending on the forum, a smart conservative might engage their interlocutor by saying something like "well, if women are serving in frontline combat positions, I don't see why they shouldn't compete athletically on a level-playing field with men. Shouldn't the NFL be gender-integrated? Perhaps there should be gender quotas on NFL teams? Why should male and female basketball players take the court at different times?
If you think these ideas are outlandish, please remember that if we are to defeat Progressivism, we need to think like Progressives, and for many of them, if the preceding idea is outlandish other ideas very much like them are not.
The point is to probe and divide; to put them in as many no-win situations as possible. If certain Progressives don't like the idea of gender-integrating the NFL, why not?
If they say they do, ask them, for example, who won the WNBA championship last year, and what the last game they watched or attended was.
Summing up, the message is: rhetorically scatter them to the four winds; sucker-punch when necessary.
Destroy them, but do it with a smiling form of verbal jujitsu.
Jason Kissner is associate professor of criminology at California State University, Fresno. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.