Rhetoric the Right Should Repudiate

In the course of wondering whether an increasing federal role in health care will change the character of the American people, a perfectly sane thing to worry about, National Review’s Mark Steyn offers some questionable assertions, and links to arguments that are offensive to a degree that you don’t often see.

Here is the initial post that Mr. Steyn wrote.

An excerpt:

Ever since this health care “debate” got going, I’ve worried that American conservatives underestimate the ability of Big Government to transform the character of a people. After all, the Euro-weenies weren’t always Euro-weenies – else how would they have conquered the entire planet?

This is a rather strange considering that when various European countries built colonial empires their governments were far more tyrannical, and their people less free, than is the case today. Does Mr. Steyn believe a right-thinking American would be more at home in monarchical Spain prior to the defeat of the Spanish Armada, or Napoleonic France, or the England of King George, or the Germany of Bismarck or Hitler, than the prosperous social democracies that exist today? Mr. Steyn and I share a number of disagreements with the public policies embraced by many European countries, but yearning wistfully for the character that Europeans had at the height of their imperial power is ahistorical nonsense of the kind I’d never have expected from one of Western Civilization’s most prolific columnists before his affiliation with Rush Limbaugh’s radio show began.

In Mr. Steyn’s second post on this subject, he writes:

Even in the 13 colonies, a majority of people were not of an actively “revolutionary” disposition. In the last 40 years, the left didn’t hollow out every important American institution from the grade school to Hollywood because they represented mass opinion, but because they wanted it the most. The question is whether opponents of Obama’s dependency culture are up to their own “long march”.

The strange nostalgia is now aimed at Hollywood and elementary education circa 1970, as though they were whole then and hollow now. Again, I’ll bet Mr. Steyn and I would agree about a lot if we were both to critique the public education system circa 2010, but these sweeping assertions about recent history and the left’s “long march” would be a lot more persuasive were it grounded in specific complaints rather than talk radio style bluster.

This brings us to the post that Mr. Steyn excerpts (he leaves out the most offensive line) and links.

Kathy Shaidle writes (emphasis in original):

…the trouble with the Tea Party movement is that they tend to target their anger at only one source: Big Government.

However, angry Americans really need to face the unfaceable: that most of their fellow citizens are just as corrupt, incompetent and compromised:

Rahe talks about the American Revolution and so on. But the nation’s ethnic makeup is different now, for one thing. Way more residents/invaders/settlers from “manyana” cultures. More illiterates, more people with no sense of history.

Plus there’s the Katrina Culture. Did any of those “Help Us” types waiting on the “gubmit” to rescue them look capable of crossing the Delaware to you? They’d have been more inclined to steal Washington’s boots.

I’m honestly surprised that Mr. Steyn would link this. Even if he were comfortable with its casual bigotry against Hispanics and blacks — and I’d like to think he isn’t, though he shows no sign of objecting — he should be embarrassed by the ahistorical implication that Latin American cultures are too lazy to rebel against their governments, not to mention the hilarious sentence where Ms. Shaidle complains that people today have no sense of history, even as she asserts that there are more illiterates in today’s United States than there were in America circa 1776.

And if you want a perfect distillation of why the right has trouble attracting minority votes, here you have it: imperial Europeans were praiseworthy, Hispanics are “residents/invaders/settlers,” Katrina victims would just as soon steal George Washington’s shoes as help him, and together they’re responsible for the decline of American culture. Are these really the arguments for American decline that Mr. Steyn wants to uncritically pass along to Corner readers?

If anyone think that these are the strongest arguments for the proposition that a large federal role in health care at some point transforms the character of a people, please reconsider. Time permitting, I’ll have another post up making a stronger case for that plausible if uncertain proposition in the next few days.

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7 Responses to “Rhetoric the Right Should Repudiate”

  1. Mark Wierzbicki Says:

    Well done. I read that “Katrina culture” excerpt he posted yesterday on The Corner and I said to myself, “Wow, that’s just straight up racist”.

  2. Kathy Shaidle and ‘Casual Bigotry’ : The Other McCain Says:

    […] Arthur KoestlerKathy Shaidle and ‘Casual Bigotry’Posted on | April 6, 2010 | No CommentsConor Friedersdorf wants Mark Steyn to “repudiate” Canada’s answer to the Tasmanian Devil after Steyn linked a post in which Kathy […]

  3. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Sorry you don’t like Shaidle’s take on “mañana cultures, and the notion that every day is margarita and party time is something not part of the upper latitudes of North American culture, where something actually needs to get done on most days. Too bad. But indeed we have millions of uninvited guests whose cultural contribution beyond picking cucumbers and murdering ranchers and bedeviling the social services system need at long last to account for their presence here, along with some forced confessions from politicians on both sides of the aisle who with one hand mockingly dare to even fund the Border Patrol and with the other hand beckon hither to suck from the nation’s nipples these wonderful lactate dictates from our collective energies on the backs of the average Joe. Not all that much money, some argue? What about the matters of principle? What about the ERs on the border at the exhaustion and break points, and the mess California is in, with her laughable attempt to not only fund otherworldly state employee pension plans not found in the private sector as well as the medicating, feeding, clothing, and other social servicing of millions of human beings who should not be here. Janet Napolitano now reminds us it’s OK that the so-called border leaks like a spaghetti colander.

    As to Things Euroweenie being morally superior to the rough bruisers and lashers of the old ways, and today’s pasty effete Brits in particular, superior to the Hail Britannia or Victorian Age, when Euro conquest of all types ruled the earth and midwifed other democracies planetwide? IF the “tyrannical” Euro nations were always such hellholes, it begs the question why their imperial adventures often left the places of conquest somewhat better than they found it. India considered the Brits at first to be nothing but a bunch of uncultured ingrates and Swiftian Yahoos. But this was said by the loving Rajas and jewel encrusted killers of the average man, was it not? And India was transformed into a democracy, however imperfect, while Britain did NOT take on the moral squalor of Caste and monkey and cattle worship and squabbles among the princes. (they had the princely squabbles, but that was long gone by the early 1800s).

    Less free under the “Tyrannical” European systems of old? Confuting Conquistador Spain with Ye Olde Tyme Britain, are we?

    I’d say that Ayn Rand was right on Britain and much of the rest of Europe. Britain used to be the proudest and freest nation in the world, and has now sold out core freedoms for free dentures. Hope’s it’s worth it.

    Those old times were far from perfect, and gave much ammo I’m sure on their domestic fronts for all manner of frets and worries and tall tales from the likes of everyone from Karl Marx to the Christmas charmer and tear blotter Charles Dickens. But it also gave rise to the industrial revolution. What is unsaid about those ages is that were it not for the stanching power of socialism that came about after WWII, Europe would be in far better shape today than the beggar’s colony it’s become.

    It was lack of technical prowess that we should understood was the proximate problem for many of the Euro nations that made life hard for the average citizen in those days–not lack of freedom. The two issues often get confused. The days of Laura Ingalls Wilder here stateside likewise were characterized by many hardships unknown to the fatass legacy of modern food and funtime productions. But I’m not here to say we have more “freedom” than in the days when Charles Ingalls settled Walnut Grove.

    Under the supposed Darkness at Noon of Tyranny at the height of Imperial possessiveness, subjects in Britain perhaps had the right to defend themselves with guns, be free of health ninnies inspecting food pantries, could have mounted a collective defense to the Sons of Allah barking in the streets and chasing down the cops, and had something along the lines of government involvement in the economy less than 65% in some Brit districts. Also, they could have moved toward a freer economy rather than one where all decisions now are about the sumptuous benefits to be doled out to politicians, the NHS (world’s third largest employer after Red China’s army and the Indian National Railways, respectively) and avoided turning into a giant California for public liability.

    To their credit, one supposes(as far as the Left is concerned) Britain and the rest of Europe DID avoid Cally’s and Massachusetts’s budgetary woes by just taxing the living hell out of everyone with two dimes to rub together, and this is apparently tantamount to “progress” in the liberal mind’s eye. I guess.

    But freedom. Oh, fie, sir. I’d rather not even DREAM of the dreary moment of being forced to start a business anywhere on the shores of the motherlands of Europe. Please. Quit the absurdist goads.

    Once again, the Left confutes food and comfort and government-mandated vacation and other goodies that flow from the shrinking pool of compliant slaves that get handed out to the multitudes with “freedom.”

    But no question the best slaves are the ones with large tax bills sometimes, rather than large whip marks. Still, be that as it may, while following the Lefty path to government now making lives more comfortable than free with endless distractions, amusements, and entitlements for which the bill will soon come due far beyond even the ability of Swedenic tax rates to pay for once certain demographic trends take better root, I’d still say that those cultures whose legacies of putting men in large boats and sometimes in space are superior to those–however loving–that put bones in their noses.

  4. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    PS–forgot to mention I’d rather be conquered by Victorian Brits than live in squalor and mud huts.

    Yes, conquerers are conquerers if by that term you mean occupying land. But to equate these new squatters pouring in through the Southwest with either the Conquistadors (whom I admit were probably less moral if more technically profficient) and Imperial Englsih ambitions, is absurd.

    The Imperial Age, however ugly and contradictory, brought us the modern world.

    Having Mexicans treat the Southwest as some giant parking lot because the mother nation can’t get it’s economy together and has copied the South American model for making ends meet (doing something next to nothing) is indeed a type of “invasionary force” but hardly akin to Her Majesty’s regiments bringing order and parlaimentary democracy to the edges of the map and projecting that heirarchical power.

    Even liberals like William Henry III commented on this superiority of…well…having things done….mañana.

    Uncritical puffery about “multiculturalism” is an obvious and naked fraud, and we all know it, and we all know it was sublimely accepted on those grounds.

    Not only should the Right say it (the Left sure as hell won’t) but it should say it louder than ever.

    Let’s be honest here. We all take the advantages whence we can. NASA’s prowess got off the pad (literally) with more than a few technical readouts from German scientists who might have ended up SHOT in any other context, science was brought to this world by the West and tiger bone remedies were gradually replaced with advanced meds, the Romans gave culture to Europe by fire and sword and turned hooting bands of Celts into statesment, and in turn the European conquest of the globe gave us structured law beyond the regular laws of the woods here in America and elsewhere.

    I doubt we’re getting any kind of dose of positive outcome from people who (while understandible) are here to anchor their bambinos on the welfare system.

  5. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    PS–forgot to mention I’d rather be conquered by Victorian Brits than live in squalor and mud huts.

    Yes, conquerors are conquerors if by that term you mean occupying land. But to equate these new squatters pouring in through the Southwest with either the Conquistadors (whom I admit were probably less moral if more technically proficient) and Imperial English ambitions, is absurd.

    The Imperial Age, however ugly and contradictory, brought us the modern world.

    Having Mexicans treat the Southwest as some giant parking lot because the mother nation can’t get it’s economy together and has copied the South American model for making ends meet (doing something next to nothing) is indeed a type of “invasionary force” but hardly akin to Her Majesty’s regiments bringing order and parliamentary democracy to the edges of the map and projecting that hierarchical power.

    Even liberals like William Henry III commented on this superiority of…well…having things done….mañana.

    Uncritical puffery about “multiculturalism” is an obvious and naked fraud, and we all know it, and we all know it was sublimely accepted on those grounds.

    Not only should the Right say it (the Left sure as hell won’t) but it should say it louder than ever.

    Let’s be honest here. We all take the advantages whence we can. NASA’s prowess got off the pad (literally) with more than a few technical readouts from German scientists who might have ended up SHOT in any other context, science was brought to this world by the West and tiger bone remedies were gradually replaced with advanced meds, the Romans gave culture to Europe by fire and sword and turned hooting bands of Celts into statesmen, and in turn the European conquest of the globe gave us structured law beyond the regular laws of the woods here in America and elsewhere.

    I doubt we’re getting any kind of dose of positive outcome from people who (while understandable) are here to anchor their bambinos on the welfare system.

  6. brick60 Says:

    The National Review has become a rag, an utter embarrassment. “Casual bigotry” indeed.

  7. brick60 Says:

    When you check Shaidle’s website, it seems she’s unashamed of being racist, but at the same time resents being called a racist.

    Oh, and she thinks you have a funny name too.

    http://www.fivefeetoffury.com/:entry:fivefeet-2010-04-05-0003/

    And how about this for disingenuous (from her website about your criticism):

    “He even claims Mexicans don’t vote Republican all because of little old me, when everyone knows that’s the fault of Steve “We don’t need no stinkin’ Mexicans” Sailer. Sheesh.

    Wow, I’m more powerful than I ever imagined. Henceforth, I insist that you ALL refer to me as “the Mexican Whisperer!”

    ….

    The spinning sound you hear is WF Buckley in his grave at news of what his magazine has become.

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