Wednesday, December 06, 2017


Lefties regularly say that right-wing media figures sustain the conservative movement through the daily generation of outrage. We argue that conservatism at the grassroots level consists almost entirely of this outrage -- there are no ideas on the right, only resentments.

Right-wingers might protest that there's more to conservatism than that -- but today Mark Bauerlein, a right-wing CNN commentator, essentially gives the game away, in a piece titled "Why Trump Is Still Winning."

It's debatable that Trump is winning, but he's retained most of the fans who put him in the White House. How is he managing this? Bauerlein explains:
You see, Trump has an invincible ally at the far end of the ideological spectrum ... people on the far left who see the world only through the lens of race, gender, sexuality, and victimhood.

In the Chronicle of Higher Education last week, Brittney Cooper, a professor at Rutgers had this critique about the legacy of Galileo, Newton, Pasteur, and Einstein: "The history of Western thought and science is predicated on the argument that African and indigenous peoples are inferior races."

That's right -- all those inventions and discoveries that we honor and the geniuses we remember had a racist underside, by her lights. Elsewhere in the article she wrote, "No questions have ever been off-limits for white scholars," a statement that would surprise every white scholar I've ever known.

People who still can't assimilate the ascent of Trump need to pay closer attention to these accusations. They're not uncommon. Sensible liberals shrug them off as, well, kind of true but not really significant to health care, the environment, reproductive rights, and other progressive planks.

But people who voted for Trump have become especially attuned to such charges, and it only takes a quick playback by Rush Limbaugh or Tucker Carlson of the day's denunciation of America, white males, or the West by Professor X, Opinionator Y, or Celebrity Z to stoke their sense that the intellectuals loathe them. The more the accusers talk, the more rock hard Trump's base becomes.
There it is. Bauerlein quotes an obscure article by a professor who's unknown to the general public. He links to the piece, which the general public won't even read, because it's behind a paywall. He acknowledges that many liberals have concerns other than what professors write.

So the publication of Cooper's article isn't a major political event in America -- and yet, as Bauerlein triumphantly says, once Limbaugh or Carlson plucks an article like this from obscurity, conservatives' blood will boil all over America. The result: Trump's base becomes (ahem) "rock hard." Rank-and-file right wingers will rally around a tax bill that takes money from their own pockets, will welcome Russian interference in U.S. elections, and will hail their president as a god-emperor. Outrage generated. Mission accomplished.

We've known for a long time that this is how conservatism works. What's unexpected is that someone on the right is bragging about the process.

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