Patterico's Pontifications

4/13/2014

The GOP In Sin City

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:12 pm

[guest post by Dana]

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As the GOP is currently considering holding its 2016 convention in Las Vegas, the religious right faction of the party is concerned about the party’s image being tarnished. After all, they don’t call it Sin City for nothin’.

What if the Christian delegates display an inability to exercise self-control when exposed to prostitution, strip clubs, and various other temptations? It could result in the MSM taking advantage of the opportunity to smear the party – including video manipulations, innuendo, and out-of-context reporting. However, shouldn’t we be far more concerned about our elected officials’ inability to exercise self control while in office, rather than John and Jane Delegate living it up for a few days? After all, Family Values!

Here are a few excerpts from social-conservative leaders’ letter to Republican Party Chairman Reince Preibus citing concerns about Las Vegas potentially hosting the 2016 GOP convention:

“In spite of ‘family-friendly’ outreach in the past decade, Las Vegas remains a metaphor for all things decadent. And looking at the yellow pages, one can see that it still delivers. With 64 pages of escort services and countless gambling casinos, it remains a trap waiting to ensnare.”

“At a time when the base needs to be motivated, this is no time to mute or offend them in any way. It may seem strange, silly even to some that conservatives would object to something that COULD be so innocuous. Surely there are shows and great restaurants and beautiful hotels. … What could possible go wrong? The answer is obvious, and wisdom dictates the chance not be taken.”

“There are several wonderful venues being considered. We are not advocating for any of them. But we urge you to reject Las Vegas and celebrate the vibrancy and strength of the Republican Party in a place not at odds with its values.”

The other concern is the possible appearance of the GOP cosying up to billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who donated nearly $100 million to GOP candidates and causes in 2012. After all, a suggested obeisance to one of the party’s biggest donors would be a dream come true for Harry Reid. Oh. Wait. Harry Reid and his side don’t care if it’s real, perceived, or flat out made up – they will smear no matter what.

From Red State,

It is embarrassing. A party that is trying to show it represents Main Street, not Wall Street, and the middle class, not the American aristocracy, should not put itself in a position where all the news stories suggest they want a convention in Vegas to placate a donor.

What a conundrum. How awful it would be if there was a perception that the GOP showed favor toward a big donor, or if some adult participants took Sin City literally. Because neither of these things has ever happened before, right?

If the GOP is so at odds over where to hold their convention, one doesn’t have much hope that they will be any less at odds over the more pressing issues that divide the party and have a direct impact on voters: budget, economy, jobs, massive debt, Obamacare, foreign policy, and government reform. And, if the GOP is so concerned with the optics of Las Vegas and the possible bad behavior of adults, they might be smart to first consider the optics of patronizing and infantilizing party members – especially in light of the more serious conflicts the party currently wrestles with.

“Ooh, Las Vegas, every time I hit your crystal city, I know you’re gonna make a wreck out of me.”

–Dana

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Excellent post. I would like to chime in with this apropos musical reference:

Having An Honest Conversation Requires Being Honest

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:14 am

[guest post by Dana]

Today, Ross Douthat addresses the lack of honesty that permeates the cloudy justifications from both Mozilla and Brandeis University.

What’s particularly interesting about this column are the comments generated. A great number of them exemplify, without the slightest hint of self-awareness, the point Douthat closes with: I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.

EARLIER this year, a column by a Harvard undergraduate named Sandra Y. L. Korn briefly achieved escape velocity from the Ivy League bubble, thanks to its daring view of how universities should approach academic freedom.

Korn proposed that such freedom was dated and destructive, and that a doctrine of “academic justice” should prevail instead. No more, she wrote, should Harvard permit its faculty to engage in “research promoting or justifying oppression” or produce work tainted by “racism, sexism, and heterosexism.” Instead, academic culture should conform to left-wing ideas of the good, beautiful and true, and decline as a matter of principle “to put up with research that counters our goals.”

No higher-up at Harvard endorsed her argument, of course. But its honesty of purpose made an instructive contrast to the institutional statements put out in the immediate aftermath of two recent controversies — the resignation of the Mozilla Foundation’s C.E.O., Brendan Eich, and the withdrawal, by Brandeis University, of the honorary degree it had promised to the human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

In both cases, Mozilla and Brandeis, there was a striking difference between the clarity of what had actually happened and the evasiveness of the official responses to the events. Eich stepped down rather than recant his past support for the view that one man and one woman makes a marriage; Hirsi Ali’s invitation was withdrawn because of her sweeping criticisms of Islamic culture. But neither the phrase “marriage” nor the word “Islam” appeared in the initial statements Mozilla and Brandeis released.

Instead, the Mozilla statement rambled in the language of inclusion: “Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. … Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions. …”

The statement on Hirsi Ali was slightly more direct, saying that “her past statements … are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.” But it never specified what those statements or those values might be — and then it fell back, too, on pieties about diversity: “In the spirit of free expression that has defined Brandeis University throughout its history, Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.”

What both cases illustrate, with their fuzzy rhetoric masking ideological pressure, is a serious moral defect at the heart of elite culture in America.

The defect, crucially, is not this culture’s bias against social conservatives, or its discomfort with stinging attacks on non-Western religions. Rather, it’s the refusal to admit — to others, and to itself — that these biases fundamentally trump the commitment to “free expression” or “diversity” affirmed in mission statements and news releases.

This refusal, this self-deception, means that we have far too many powerful communities (corporate, academic, journalistic) that are simultaneously dogmatic and dishonest about it — that promise diversity but only as the left defines it, that fill their ranks with ideologues and then claim to stand athwart bias and misinformation, that speak the language of pluralism while presiding over communities that resemble the beau ideal of Sandra Y. L. Korn.

Harvard itself is a perfect example of this pattern: As Patrick Deneen of Notre Dame pointed out when the column was making waves, Korn could only come up with one contemporary example of a Harvardian voice that ought to be silenced — “a single conservative octogenarian,” the political philosophy professor Harvey Mansfield. Her call for censorship, Deneen concluded, “is at this point almost wholly unnecessary, since there are nearly no conservatives to be found at Harvard.”

I am (or try to be) a partisan of pluralism, which requires respecting Mozilla’s right to have a C.E.O. whose politics fit the climate of Silicon Valley, and Brandeis’s right to rescind degrees as it sees fit, and Harvard’s freedom to be essentially a two-worldview community, with a campus shared uneasily by progressives and corporate neoliberals, and a small corner reserved for token reactionary cranks.

But this respect is difficult to maintain when these institutions will not admit that this is what is going on. Instead, we have the pretense of universality — the insistence that the post-Eich Mozilla is open to all ideas, the invocations of the “spirit of free expression” from a school that’s kicking a controversial speaker off the stage.

And with the pretense, increasingly, comes a dismissive attitude toward those institutions — mostly religious — that do acknowledge their own dogmas and commitments, and ask for the freedom to embody them and live them out.

It would be a far, far better thing if Harvard and Brandeis and Mozilla would simply say, explicitly, that they are as ideologically progressive as Notre Dame is Catholic or B. Y.U. is Mormon or Chick-fil-A is evangelical, and that they intend to run their institution according to those lights.

I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.

–Dana


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