Against Conservative Cultural Defeatism

David French recounts the legal advances made by conservatism since 1981, then pivots:

It is very true that we continue to face cultural challenges, often in the form of public shaming and corporate activism, but it’s important to remember that those who shame and boycott are exercising their own constitutionally protected rights. The answer to their bad speech isn’t the exact kind of government censorship and control that civil libertarians spent three decades successfully fighting. Instead, it’s personal courage. It’s better speech. It’s choosing to withstand the mob.

(One of the many ironies of this moment is that many conservatives look to the Trump administration as the tough guardian of American Christianity, even as Trump’s own vice president did more to enable corporate intimidation than virtually any living American. When all he had to do was endure a news cycle of negative coverage after Indiana passed its own version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, he caved. He retreated. He taught the corporate Left how to win.)

Yes, the Left wins many fights. No question. It has enormous cultural power. But the idea that the Right is weak — and that classical liberalism is a dead end, a source of that weakness — is pure fiction.

David French

I think it was Mr. Dooley who said the Supreme Court reads the election returns” (although he said it in some kind of stylized dialect), so the cultural ascendancy of liberalism is not a trivial matter. But neither are the legal advances of conservatism — and we can still hope for a massive backlash against the emerging progressive crybullies and callout-culturalists (a backlash that I almost certainly will find a mixed blessing).

June 5, 2019


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