NRB vs. FrumForum: Gee, I Wonder Who’s Telling the Truth?

David Horowitz and David Swindle have decided to can one of NewsRealBlog’s contributors, Alex Knepper. Knepper, who also contributes to David Frum’s FrumForum, claims that he was punished because “Horowitz is not interested in posts that take Ann Coulter to task over the war in Afghanistan,” and Frum eagerly repeats Knepper’s claims, taking them as—surprise!—more evidence that right-wingers are circling the wagons around their “extremists.”

David Swindle responds to Knepper’s allegations here, explaining that the tone of his Coulter critique, not simply the act of critiquing her, was the issue with his final NRB submission, and that either way, he wasn’t simply fired over a disagreement over tone—it was the last in a string of disappointments (including some, um, interesting views about sex) from Knepper. Knepper fires back here.

As NRB’s editor, Swindle is in a much better position to respond to the specifics if he so chooses than I am, so I’ll leave that to him. But I do have a couple thoughts about which side has more credibility.

First, the idea that NRB can’t take criticism of Coulter is preposterous. I should know—my very first post for the website did just that.

Second, the website is extremely comfortable with passionate disagreement among contributors on a lot of issues, many of which are arguably bigger than what somebody thinks about a particular pundit. A few examples:

Third, as I pointed out last week, we already know that David Frum’s standards of honesty are scandalously low – up to and including REPEATING SLANDER against people if it supports Frum’s agenda. Until Frum owns up to his past misdeeds, every word that appears on FrumForum should be read with extreme skepticism by the handful of readers who still waste their time there.

Speaking of Ignoring the American Founding…

Concluding NRB’s recent drug legalization debate is a post entitled, “This is What Happens When the Founders’ Philosophy of Government Is Ignored.”  Setting aside the fact that just how the Founders would have treated drugs remains very much an open question, it seems to me that, given another recent NRB debate, a reminder of what else can happen when America’s founding principles are disregarded is in order. (Content Warning) Read the rest of this entry »

Conservatism Can’t Survive Without the Pro-Life Movement, Part II

In Part I, I argue that it would be politically foolish for the Right to further backpedal or abandon the pro-life cause. Here I want to make the case that the right to life truly is inseparable both from core conservatism and from any meaningful effort to advance conservative ideas—that, in fact, pro-abortion tendencies actually endanger the prospects of those who value limited government, the free market, and strong national defense.

As I explained on June 15, abortion is an affront to the Declaration of Independence. As the unjust taking of a human life, it is wrong for the same reason slavery, theft, assault, honor killings, rape, eminent domain abuse, and individual health insurance mandates are wrong: they are all violations of human liberty and natural rights.  Accordingly, society justly protects its citizens from them via law for the same reason.  As long as conservatism still “holds these truths to be self-evident” that all men have “certain unalienable rights” to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and as long as conservatism still accepts that “governments are instituted among men” for the purpose of “secur[ing] these rights,” then philosophically-consistent conservatives have no choice but to oppose legalized abortion. Nobody can support abortion in good conscience without either honestly confronting this conundrum head-on, or asking himself what definition of “conservatism” he’s been operating under all this time.

That pro-choice views are an egregious exception to conservatives’ and libertarians’ pro-liberty rhetoric should be obvious. What may be less obvious—but is no less true—is that such dubious thinking cannot help but undermine other core conservative principles and efforts. Read the rest of this entry »

Conservatism Can’t Survive Without the Pro-Life Movement, Part I (Updated)

The more I reflect on The Great NewsReal Abortion Debate, the more convinced I am that I made a critical error.

I want to revisit the issue of whether or not the pro-life cause is central or peripheral to the conservative movement.  I made clear where I stood on that question—as an egregious deprivation of human rights, abortion should be opposed by every lover of liberty with every fiber of his or her being—but I fear I didn’t go nearly far enough in explaining the implications of the answer.  This essay will explore the practical aspects of the matter; my next one will address the moral and philosophical.

I conceded that I could “basically support” the kind of ‘truce’ David Swindle was talking about, i.e. candidates centering their campaigns on the “two unifying issues” of the free market and defeating Islamofascism. That’s more or less how wartime Republican presidents since Ronald Reagan have run for office anyway (in Reagan’s case swapping out Islamofascism for the Soviet Union), and that’s okay.  I don’t have a problem with our candidates emphasizing some issues more than others to put voters’ most immediate concerns front and center, or to address crises that demand immediate resolution.

However, that doesn’t exempt a candidate from talking about the right to life at all, or from being pro-life.  I have already argued that pro-life principles are inseparable from core conservatism, and that abortion cannot be regarded as merely one issue among many, and I’ll elaborate more on those points in the next post.  But it’s also important because whether or not one is capable of recognizing abortion for the evil that it is, and is willing to do something about it, tells us something about what he or she is made of. I know there are exceptions (Ron Paul is pro-life but deranged, Joe Lieberman is radically pro-abortion, but firm on the war), but I truly believe that strongly pro-life candidates will tend to be of a higher caliber than pro-choice candidates in several qualities that will benefit public servants, and the American people, in all areas: Read the rest of this entry »

Pro-Life: Not Down, Never Out

As promised, here is my response to David.  However, he also made another point that needs to be addressed, so let’s tackle it here:

The Anti-Abortion Movement has had decades to convince people and change minds. It’s failed […] There isn’t some magical argument that the anti-abortion movement is going to stumble upon that’s suddenly going to change the tides.

John Nampion had a good retort:

Basically you’re saying the Pro-Lifers should just give up because they haven’t succeeded in their cause. Are you kidding? Israel hasn’t been very successful in swaying world opinion towards its side…so it should just yell “Uncle”? Please…if the fight is valuable, it must and will go on!

Excellent point!  One wonders if David thinks we should apply the “unless you win in X number of years, you must surrender” standard to any other political causes.  Dismantling ObamaCare?  Decriminalizing drugs?  Reforming the federal role in education?  Immigration policy? (24 years have passed since Reagan’s amnesty bill, and the border still isn’t secure.)  Israel? (62 years since declaring independence, they’re still persona non grata in the international community’s eyes.)

Indeed, American slavery was not abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment until 1868—92 years after we declared independence! And it took another 96 years after that to pass the Civil Rights Act.  The 36 years since Roe v. Wade don’t look quite so definite now, do they?

As I pointed out in the article, abortion has on its side a tremendously powerful propaganda machine (plus plenty of self-professed “conservatives” and Republicans fixing to purge the Right of social conservatives).  And even so, American support for life is moving in the right direction.

I’ll take my chances with principle, thank you very much.

PS: David wraps things up here.

The Abortion Debate at NewsReal

David Swindle’s latest entry is here.  I didn’t know what to expect from his inevitable response, but honestly, I’m disappointed to see this argument resurrected once more.  Stay tuned to NRB for my response.

Update on Hamas Sympathy at UCSD (Updated with Fresh Lies)

Jumanah Imad Albahri, the UCSD student who refused to condemn Hamas in a Q&A session with David Horowitz and said she’d be “for” a second Holocaust, is now claiming that the Hamas question is too complex to simply condemn or endorse unequivocally (they say patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, but I say nuance is the first), and that she didn’t really mean “for it” in response to Horowitz’s question about a new a new Holocaust:

Towards the end of the exchange, I became emotional. I could no longer hear Mr. Horowitz speaking and so did not even hear his injection of Hezbollah’s credo of “rounding up” Jews in his last tangent.  I could no longer contain my anger at being implicitly and improperly labeled a terrorist, an anti-Semite, and a proponent of genocide. The answer I was coerced into giving grossly misrepresented my beliefs and ideologies.

My answer, “for it,” in the context in which it was said does NOT mean “for” genocide. I was referring to his initial question that asked me for my position on Hamas, a topic that for his own political reasons he was relentless in pursuing. “For it” was not a legitimization of Hezbollah’s or anyone else’s credo for that matter that Jews should be exterminated. In fact, Mr. Horowitz’s intent was to entrap me with his barrage of questions so that he could avoid answering my question, and construe any answer that I would provide as anti-Semitic, genocidal hate speech in order to further his political agenda.

The original video & transcript make clear that Albahri was not even remotely “entrapped” by anything Horowitz said.  Everything Horowitz said was clear, and her reply of “for it” sounds composed and deliberate.  Even if she didn’t really mean it (which seems questionable, given her Hamas apologetics), it’s telling that she cannot take responsibility for her own (supposed) failure to convey her “true” beliefs accurately.

(As for whether or not it’s reasonable to ask for a simple for/against judgment on Hamas, you tell me.)

David Swindle has another good question for our “victim”:

[I]f you oppose anti-Semitism and you oppose Islamists’ quest to instigate a second Holocaust what have you ever done to challenge these tendencies within the MSA itself and Islam as a whole? If you do not hold such views yourself, why are you a part of an organization who regularly hosts speakers who call for the destruction of Israel and the extermination of the Jews?

UPDATE: David exposes even more lies from Albahri, including an amateurish attempt to talk up her credibility AS SOMEBODY ELSE.  Pathetic.

“If I support Hamas, because your question forces me to condemn Hamas. If I support Hamas, I look really bad.”

David Swindle has the scoop on a disturbing exchange between David Horowitz and a member of the Muslim Students Association at UC San Diego, in which the student refuses to condemn Hamas and says she’s “for” Hizbollah’s efforts to bring about a Jewish genocide:

The murderous, radical tendencies among campus Muslims is one of the most shocking, urgent stories of the decade, and yet today’s pitiful excuses for journalists are instead obsessed with whitewashing them and slandering peaceful Americans in their place.

Conservatism Must Not Abandon the Cultural Front (Updated)

My NewsReal colleague David Swindle has been debating Pajamas Media’s Mary Grabar on the subject of drug legalization.  I side with the arguments made by Grabar, Ann Coulter, and others against legalizing drugs, but I’ve honestly never cared enough about the issue to explore it in depth.

I know there’s an argument that true conservatives should recognize that arresting people for voluntary drug use goes beyond the proper role of limited government.  But y’know what?  We’ve got plenty of cases of government overreach and violated rights in this country that don’t involve destructive behavior—stolen property due to eminent domain abuses, innocent babies destroyed in the womb, politicians constantly looking for new excuses to paw through their constituents’ wallets—that frankly, the tribulations of potheads fighting for the right to light up register pretty low on my sympathy meter and priority list.

But hey, maybe the Founding Fathers really would side with the libertarians on this one.  I’ll read with open-minded interest David & Mary’s continued exchanges, but I have to strongly disagree with one of David’s assertions:

John McCain lost to Barack Obama because of politics, not culture. Obama was a more exciting candidate who ran a much more effective campaign. It’s that simple.

A conservatism that can win is one which understands itself and defines itself as a political movement, not a cultural one. To do otherwise is to begin to destroy a functioning coalition that has been vital to defending America since Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley Jr., and Ronald Reagan brought it together in the 20th century. Conservatism must take the same approach to culture as the Constitution does — neutrality. Such an attitude worked for the document which has guided and protected our country for centuries and it will work for the Movement who has the same objective.

Far be it from me to read too much into the defeat of John McCain, the poster boy for almost everything a Republican shouldn’t be.  2008 was the culmination of years of GOP incompetence and lack of principle, and for reasons completely unrelated to ideology, Barack Obama was perfectly positioned to seize upon it.

But it’s another thing entirely to assume that culture played no part in Obama’s ascendance.  A culture that worships gratification (particularly sexual) without responsibility or constraints, that believes truth is personal and relativistic rather than grounded in permanent wisdom, that has been conditioned to expect everyone else to provide for their every need and clean up after their every mistake, that sneers at traditional morality and religious belief…these trends and attitudes cannot help but play into the Left’s hands.

Simply put, a narcissistic, relativistic, secular, ignorant culture will always be receptive to a political movement that promises to give them things paid for with other people’s money, affirms their “if it feels good, do it” mentality, and assures them that supporting statism and “environmental consciousness” are the only forms of morality or compassion they’ll ever really need.

A conservatism that disregards our culture will not win; indeed, its political prospects will only diminish further still.  I grew up in a public school system completely dominated by the Left.  I have seen time after time how easily the average apolitical teen, bereft of solid core values and spoon-feed the consensus of popular culture, assumes the Left’s claims on government’s role and conservatives’ evil to be true, to say nothing of every liberal myth from man-made global warming to the military-industrial complex.

More importantly, I have seen the Right’s feeble response.  This is a battle in which the conservative movement is largely—and the Republican Party is completely—AWOL.  How many conservatives are formulating strategies to break the Left’s stranglehold on education, both K-12 and college?  How many are drawing attention to the corruption of Church teachings on compassion?  How many on Capitol Hill are challenging the Left’s poisonous sexual dogma, or publicly illustrating the connection between the Democrat Party and the cultural forces it cultivates and feeds upon?

Republican electoral failures cannot be attributed to a nonexistent emphasis on culture; indeed, it’s far more likely that our woes are intimately tied to our dereliction of duty on this front.  The same old tactics—conservatives talking to the same radio audiences, writing in the same magazines, and posting on the same blogs, all mostly to each other—will win converts to the Right from time to time, but not in numbers that can even begin to compare to how many people are unwittingly fed liberal presuppositions about the world by stealth in their schools, TV shows, music, and churches, all of which form an echo chamber, reaffirming the messages for one another.

Republican strategists tend to think short-term: what will get us back into power in the next couple election cycles? Say what you want about Democrats (Lord knows I’ve said plenty), but they see the big picture, and play for keeps.  Conservatives need to open their eyes to it, as well, and settle in for the long haul. Any real, lasting return to the conservative values of the American Founding will require comprehensive strategies and solid commitments to oppose liberal encroachments on every front.

David invoked President Reagan in his post; let me conclude by doing the same.  In his Farewell Address to the American people, Reagan said:

I’m warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let’s start with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual. And let me offer lesson No. 1 about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins.

UPDATE: David has responded here. It seems the differences between our positions are less than they initially appeared, and I certainly agree with his central point, that the force of law is not an instrument of value enforcement.  I’ll have more thoughts later, but thanks to David for his thoughtful reply.

A Special Announcement

Ladies & gentlemen, I’m thrilled to announce that I’m embarking on a new chapter in my career as a conservative pundit: today I have joined the great team of bloggers at David Horowitz’s NewsReal!  I’ll still be blogging here at CFO about the usual mayhem & merriment, but my contributions to NewsReal will focus on the goings-on in the world of cable news.

I’d like to express my most heartfelt gratitude to David Swindle, David Horowitz, and everyone else at NewsReal for this tremendous opportunity; rest assured I won’t let you down.

My friends, sit down, strap yourselves in, and enjoy the ride.

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