Who’s purging whom?

Rick Moran thinks I’m trying to set myself up as “an arbiter of ‘true conservatism,'” or trying to read Charles Johnson out of the movement. This isn’t remotely the case. Obviously, I don’t even have that kind of influence.

I’m not angry at Charles Johnson and even if I were angry at him, so what? Compared to Johnson, I’m as inconsequential as a flea on the ass of an elephant — LGF has 10 times my average daily traffic.

On the other hand, Johnson is trying to kick Pam Geller and Robert Spencer out of the conservative movement, and I’m trying to understand, and to explain, why he’s doing it. Perhaps my understanding and my explanation are wrong. But I didn’t start studying politics yesterday, and I’ve seen this “urge to purge” scenario played out over and over again through the years.

You cannot build a successful political movement by a process of subtraction, and building a winning coalition is impossible if you organize on losing principles. Allowing your opposition to dictate the terms of acceptable discourse is a losing principle, as Jeff Goldstein has striven to explain. Ergo, Johnson manifests a defeatist tendency when he pronounces Geller and Spencer “untouchables” because they attended a European conference whose promoters included some unsavory characters.

Was there any genuine danger that Geller and Spencer would return from Brussels singing the Horst Wessel Lied as they goosestepped down Broadway arm-in-arm with David Duke? Or, as I think far more likely, was Johnston concerned that the presence of a neo-Nazi element at Brussels would be used by liberals to discredit mainstream conservatism?

This is the kind of Republican flinch reflex — “Oh, we can’t say that, it might make the liberals angry!” — that annoys the crap out of me. Look, we’ve all been officially branded “Rightwing Extremists,” so what’s the point of this fearful, defensive, cringing quest for “respectability”?

If we are confident that our policy goals are worthy and decent, and that our tactics are honorable and democratic, why should we give a damn what the sneering elitists and smearing propagandists say? Why allow liberals to decide what is scandalously “extreme,” while they ignore or dismiss all of Obama’s extremist associations? This is not to endorse a “no enemies to the right” strategy, but rather to advocate the pragmatic approach to coalition-building exemplified by Ronald Reagan.

During his 1966 run for governor of California, Reagan was endorsed by, and given campaign contributions by, a right-wing group whose members and leaders had a clear history of kookiness. The newspapers made a big deal about this group and its connection to Reagan. So Reagan called a press conference where he was naturally asked about this “scandal,” and his response was simple: “They endorsed me. I didn’t endorse them.” End of scandal.

Candidates for public office cannot be held responsible for the opinions or actions of every person who supports them. Nor can Pam Geller and Robert Spencer be held responsible for the opinions and actions of every person who attended the Brussels conference. The Left has certainly never applied that kind of standard to Democrats, and if conservatives are going to operate under self-imposed standards intended to pre-empt liberal objections, then liberals have won the game before the first whistle blows.

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