Wednesday, January 14, 2015

You Can't Change The Direction Of The Wind, But You Can Adjust The Sales

"Conservative movement." More and more, I think that statement is a contradiction in terms.

Not the first part. There are plenty of self-styled conservatives out there. The problem is with the second word. What is happening cannot be called "movement."

Movements have direction, and they move continuously in that direction. This is why the left is so successful. They want to do things like transform society to the point that we look weird and scary to everyone else, and they know exactly how to do that- by imposing their collective will on the rest of us.  

Meanwhile, conservatives spend so much time being down that anything else looks like up to them. I have always hated this tendency of right wingers to act like horny high schoolers, looking for that one moment where someone will look past how pathetic they are and take them seriously.

This is why so-called Principled Conservatives, who might even be otherwise intelligent individuals, still believe against all evidence to the contrary that Kathleen Wynne will somehow realize that she can't spend money forever and say "My God, what have I done?" instead of realizing that she is deliberately crashing the economy because she prizes people's feelings over actual fiscal realities. 

It's also why, for four years, these same people forgave whatever Rob Ford did "so long as he cuts my taxes", and why we have a PC Party of Ontario leadership race where Team Nicey-Nice are currently the prospective frontrunners. 

In all three cases Conservatives are so grateful that they aren't being ignored that they are ignoring the massive truck-sized problem in favour of something completely beside the point, which is the 100% no-fail method I use for determining when something terrible is about to happen. 

I'm coming back to the Danielle Smith defection for just a moment (another outrage which has become old news because the conservative movement cannot walk and chew gum at the same time), to remind everyone of the reason she gave for why she did it. In her warped mind, she had done everything she had set out to do, which was apparently getting Jim Prentice to pretend like he cared about balancing the budget. Once Prentice stopped treating the Wild Rose with Redfordian contempt, well, that's it then. The government was actually doing something that resembled listening, and that meant the show was over and there was no need to pay lip service to this ridiculous notion about being a movement. 

It looks increasingly like the whole point of the Wild Rose, or the PC Party of Ontario, or the Manning Centre, or any of the other unaffiliated, out-of-power, barely there conservative "movements" is to make big, stinky tantrums about crankish non-issues under the pretense of "holding the government's feet to the fire." If you can get your big, stinky tantrum on Sun News or in the National Post or on some held-together-with-tape-and-popsicle-sticks conservative news site so that people will give you a few donations for your trouble, you've basically won the lottery. That's about as much as your poor little abused mind can handle for the next few months.

And now, with all this preamble in mind, let's get to the point. As you all know, 12 French journalists were murdered because violent and stupid individuals took exception to Mohammed being mocked in cartoon form. And even though the usual gang of idiots vilified the MSM for jumping on the #JeSuisCharlie bandwagon, I think an equally good case can be made for the fact that the conservative media decided they were going to have themselves a great, huge, Category-5 big stinky tantrum instead of taking the legitimate anger felt by everyone who wasn't a committed social justice warrior over the attack on Charlie Hebdo and building a movement that would answer the very valid question that was, "What the hell are we doing to send a message to these murderers that they'd better not try it again?" 

Or maybe the conservative movement would rather they tried it again. It makes for great ratings on Sun News. Ezra and Mark Steyn can get really fired up, Rush can have a great rant, and for a couple of days people will actually not be overtly hostile to the idea of freedom of speech. Quick! Let's ask for donations to "keep the fight alive" before everyone forgets about Charlie Hebdo and starts talking about the Kardashians again! 

Meanwhile the social justice warriors, undeterred and (comparably) unconcerned about donations, got on their Twitters and Tumblrs and stuck to their guns.

No, Islam is not the problem- anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe is the problem.

No, freedom of speech is not what we should be talking about- instead we should be talking about that NAACP office that was bombed on the same day.

No, Charlie Hebdo was not actually a bastion of free speech- they fired a guy for being an anti-Semite. Also, double standards about free speech exist, apparently, so the whole argument in favour of it is invalid. 

My favourite of these was how the same people who will tear you to shreds for implying that a woman who was assaulted was asking for it because of the way she dressed were saying that well, nobody's condoning murder or anything, but maybe the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists shouldn't have been so darn racist if they didn't want trouble.

Think about for a minute, because the social justice warriors won't- you must understand that their movement is moving so fast that they have no time. 

And so, when Charlie Hebdo published its next issue, it should have not surprised anyone that the opinions of everyone that mattered lined up with those of the social justice warriors, and news outlets showed the magazine with the cover duly blurred out (if they showed it at all). The end result was, no, the consequences for speech should not include being murdered except yes they kind of do now.Terrorists win!

But that's OK, because the marginal right wingers who did publish the cartoons can be proud of themselves for winning a moral victory which isn't a victory at all, and they can ask their base for more donations, which is really all you can do, isn't it? 

Once upon a time, I had the privilege to hear Patrick Muttart, the former Deputy Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, tell a story about the 2004 federal election. The story goes that some brilliant strategist had the idea that Harper would fly above what I think was the Toronto waterfront in a helicopter before landing and making an announcement. And when Harper did land and spoke to reporters, the first question they asked him was about abortion. The second question was about abortion. The third, fourth, and fifth questions were about abortion. It was, as Muttart memorably described it, "a press conference about abortion with a helicopter blade turning slowly in the background." 

That's the conservative movement a decade ago, and, majority government nothwithstanding, that's the conservative movement now. Stuck in one place. Aimless. Getting asked awkward questions about issues we can't and don't win on, having no response. 

In some pocket dimension, possibly his own personal hell, Harper is standing there still with reporters asking him if he would keep women from terminating their pregnancies instead of asking whether the Liberals were mostly corrupt, slightly corrupt, or all the way corrupt, as that ridiculous helicopter blade twirls in an endless circle.

And that's why the Charlie Hebdo killings were not the wake-up call the conservative media so fervently hoped they'd be. They sit around waiting for the moment when people say enough is enough. While they sit, a lot more people are going to die, and a lot more donations are going to be made. 

1 comment:

  1. how about we adopt the conservative principles we espouse and shout them out when dealing with the press and others of a liberal socialist stripe.