Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thoughts from Jonah Goldberg

Prior to last night, the Left, the liberal establishment, the mainstream media, Hollywood -- I know, I know: This strikes some as a redundant list, like a rabbi talking about how you can't eat ham, or pork, or bacon, or swine -- were determined to push a palpably false storyline.

As I mentioned in the Corner, I was on Fox yesterday debating some woman named Nancy Skinner who couldn't get her brain around the idea that if there is no evidence confirming her position and ample evidence disproving her position, then her position must be untenable.

This was of course just one minor example. No doubt everyone reading this "News"letter knows what I'm talking about. We say, "Two plus two is four," and they respond, "Yes, but a vest has no sleeves."

It's all so incredibly exhausting, like trying to explain trigonometry to a fern. No, scratch that. Trigonometry is hard to explain to anybody. It's like trying to tell a fern it shouldn't buy the premium cable package, with Cinemax and Showtime and all that, since it doesn't really watch much TV. Okay, maybe that doesn't work perfectly either, because the point I'm getting at here is that it's impossible to explain anything to a fern once it's decided that it isn't going to change its status as a non-sentient vascular plant.

Likewise, it is impossible to have a serious conversation with people who have locked onto an interpretation of reality that isn't dependent on facts.

But at the same time, if you don't push back, a false conventional wisdom concretizes. Not only does this completely ruin an already ludicrous extended arguing-with-a-fern analogy, but it also does massive damage to the country. The idea that Kennedy was killed by a "climate of hate" survives to this day, despite the fact that it's a complete lie. The early success of that lie made the Great Society possible. If left unopposed, the lie pushed by the asshat chorus this week could easily have dealt a mortal wound to the new GOP House, conservatism, never mind the whole country.

That's one reason why conservatives should be very reluctant to buy the "discourse" discourse. Yes, it's absolutely true that folks on our side -- and every other side -- say things they shouldn't say from time to time. It happens. And it's worth criticizing, condemning, or excusing, depending on the substance and the context. But often what the Left calls hate speech is really simply unwelcome honesty.

Before the age of the Internet, talk radio, and cable TV, the establishment could have gotten away with turning Loughner into a tea partier, just as it turned Goldwater into a psychopath, Father Coughlin into a right-winger, and the Soviet genocide into an accounting error.

They still try, but there's room to push back now.