Blogs > Liberty and Power > Jesse Walker on Futile Conservative PC Crusades

May 11, 2006 2:01 pm


Jesse Walker on Futile Conservative PC Crusades



At Reason Online, Jesse Walker describes the steep price paid by conservatives, such as Michelle Malkin, when they try to beat the campus left at its own game. He particularly focuses on the blowback created by the “watermelon” fiasco at Bellevue Community College:


Conservatives used to say they wanted to tear down that sprawl. These days, a lot of them just want to take it over. The neocon activist David Horowitz even toyed with the idea of"adding the categories of political and religious affiliation to Title IX and other existing legislation," thus making conservatives an officially protected class. He eventually gave up on that notion, but he's still pushing an"Academic Bill of Rights" that would let students lodge official complaints against professors for the topics they choose to explore in the classroom.

Which brings us back to Bellevue. The incident that finally fused the left and right wings of P.C. came at Bellevue Community College last month, after the black Republican Wayne Perryman protested a stupid and racist joke embedded in a math question. (It began:"Condoleezza holds a watermelon just over the edge of the roof of the 300-foot Federal Building, and tosses it up with a velocity of 20 feet per second.") The affront to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was noted, and several right-wing pundits publicized Perryman's crusade. Hundreds of angry e-mails poured into the college.

As the cliché goes, the solution to bad speech is more speech. It's fine for the professor's offended students to protest. It's also fine for sympathetic outsiders to join in, though it's hard to imagine how one idiot's joke at one obscure school could rile up anyone not plugged into the perpetual outrage machine. But the end result of the protests was not so fine. With the college chastened, its Pluralism Steering Committee offered a series of recommendations, including:

•"a Community Pluralism Committee reporting to the President, an integral part of our original Pluralism Initiative Structure that never solidified."

•"The college creates and fills the position of Vice President of Equity and Pluralism."

•"The college provides increased funding for pluralism training and development including hiring Glenn Singleton for the Beyond Diversity workshop at least once, and maybe several more times."

In other words, Perryman's protest became an opportunity for bureaucratic expansion…. So this isn't simply a case of people on the right taking advantage of the structures put in place by the left, nor of building a parallel apparatus of their own. It's a case of a conservative campaign that actively helped those original structures grow, even landing a professional diversity hustler a job. Left and right were already co-dependent; now they're in a full-fledged clinch. I wonder how they'll feel in the morning.


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Craig J. Bolton - 5/11/2006

Interesting but probably historically inaccurate in the American or British context. How would you, for instance, classify people like Frank Meyer, Frank Chodorov, or even Barry Goldwater given the hard dicotomy you seem to want to draw?

As I recall, most libertarians in the U.S. called themselves "conservatives" up until the Vietnam War, the Drug War and the great divide in YAF. Despite some debates about trying to find a new label for what was effectively neoclassical liberalism, I believe that the "conservative" label was more or less universally used, even used by groups like FEE. [Sadly, the individualist anarchists other than maybe Bob LeFevre, did not come back until later.]


Anthony Gregory - 5/11/2006

Conservatism has always meant a fondness for the Old Order—war, police statism, mercantilism, theocracy and imperialism. There are no libertarian connotations to "conservative." Conservatives have always been for big government. The mis-labeled "Old Right" was anything but conservative—it was in fact a loose coalition of liberals and radicals.

Malkin is a conservative of the first order.


Craig J. Bolton - 5/11/2006

To describe someone who authors a book length defense of "interning" an ethnic class en mass as a "conservative" is to strip that term of what remaining libertarian connotations it may still have. Perhaps that is appropriate given the disconnect between "conservatives" and liberty these days, but why not use the more descriptive and less ambiguous term of "raving fascist?"