The leaders of CPAC are playing the ‘No True Scotsman’ scam…. (More)

“Hateful, left-wing fascist group”

I was delighted when the Faculty Senate said they wouldn’t send me to cover CPAC this year. I think they decided it was like back in World War II when the few aircrews who survived a quota of bombing missions were sent home to train other crews. I’m pretty sure I reached my quota several CPACs ago. My first one, back in 2010 should have been enough. It wasn’t, or maybe they kept changing the quota, like they did for aircrews in World War II. Whatever, I’m here and not there …

… and that means I don’t have to upchuck macadamias on the CPAC floor when I hear stuff like this:

“There is a sinister organization that is trying to worm its way into our ranks,” said Dan Schneider, the executive director of the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC. “We must not be deceived by [a] hateful, left-wing fascist group.”

There was an irony to Spencer’s expulsion on the same day the conference featured White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon, the former CEO of Breitbart News, who once called the site “the platform for the alt-right.”

Irony, indeed. Anyway, Schneider insisted the alt-right are really leftists because, umm….

Over seven tense, perplexing minutes, Schneider argued that the alt-right was philosophically left-wing because it departed from a conservatism in which “the individual” was sovereign.

“They hate the Constitution. They hate free markets. They hate pluralism,” Schneider said. “Fascists tend to want big government control.”

The argument wasn’t unique to Schneider. In 2009’s Liberal Fascism, the National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg drew a zigging line from the fascism of the 1930s to the welfare state liberalism of the Clinton/Obama era.

Goldberg’s book was a barrel of bullshit, and conservatives like that so Schneider dragged out the same argument. In conservatism, you see, “the individual” is sovereign … unless that individual is a woman, or a person of color, or Muslim, or a union worker, or transgendered, or …

… you get the point. The conservative “individual is sovereign,” and the rest of us should do as we’re told.

“It’s not what the elites in the Republican Party want to talk about”

A cottage industry has grown up to turn definitions upside-down and inside-out and explain why conservatism isn’t really about the wealthy white Christian male supremacy that conservative policies seek to achieve. The key is to never admit that the foreseeable consequences of their policies – more power and privilege for wealthy, white, Christian men, at the expense of everyone else – are exactly what conservatism seeks to achieve. They twist pretzels into Calabi-Yau manifolds trying to deny that obvious connection, because they know it’s politically toxic:

On Thursday, white nationalist Richard Spencer was thrown out of the Conservative Political Action Conference. As security escorted him to the door, a college junior in a blue blazer and fashy haircut followed him. “I’m representing the alt-right club at Penn State,” said James O’Mailia [leader of the self-styled ‘Bull Moose Party’], who then invited Spencer to come and speak. “Please come!” he said. “We’ll host you and everything.”
O’Mailia was resentful that people on campus had called his group racist. “In this new social justice warrior–dominated society, people will look at someone waving the American flag as being a white supremacist,” he said. That may be, I replied, but he just invited Spencer, an actual white supremacist, to speak at his school. “I just think it’s a good idea to bring his opinion into it,” he shrugged.
After O’Mailia followed Spencer to the door, I asked him if he thought there was an alt-right subculture at CPAC. “Yeah, I think there is,” he said. “Definitely. It’s kept hidden, because it’s not what the elites in the Republican Party want to talk about. At the end of the day, politics is about winning votes, and someone who talks about ethnic cleansing isn’t exactly a person who would bring in the votes for a large group of people where we need it.” You can say this for the alt-right: At least they’re honest.

And that honesty is precisely – and only – why CPAC shuns them. Conservatives are happy to court racists, misogynists, and wingnut theocrats, so long as that happens in the discreet tradition of courtly love: a flowery letter here, a noble quest there, but never an outright marriage.

“No true Scotsman would do such a thing!”

That chivalric façade allows conservatism to peddle a particular kind of lie that I learned from my Highland ancestors, the No True Scotsman fallacy:

No true Scotsman is a kind of informal fallacy in which one attempts to protect a universal generalization from counterexamples by changing the definition in an ad hoc fashion to exclude the counterexample. Rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it by rhetoric, without reference to any specific objective rule (“no true Scotsman would do such a thing”; i.e., those who perform that action are not part of our group and thus criticism of that action is not criticism of the group).

The classic example was offered by British philosopher Antony Flew in his 1975 book Thinking About Thinking:

Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the “Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again”. Hamish is shocked and declares that “No Scotsman would do such a thing.” The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again; and, this time, finds an article about an Aberdeen man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion, but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says: “No true Scotsman would do such a thing.”

And so it is with conservatism and using the machinery of government to reinforce privilege. Conservatives don’t support racial discrimination, oh no. They just don’t believe government should stop racial discrimination. Thus, anyone who comes out and says “Of course government should protect white supremacy!” – the predictable consequence of gutting civil rights laws – is “not a true conservative” but a “liberal fascist” … never mind that actual liberals are working to end white supremacy.

It’s not that the alt-right aren’t really right-wing. It’s that they’re too honest about what the right-wing wants.


Image Credit:


Good day and good nuts