Patterico's Pontifications

5/3/2021

The Endgame of the Ahmari-French Wars

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



To the Very Online Right, the “Ahmari-French Wars” is a thing. It started with Sohrab Ahmari writing a piece a couple of years ago titled “Against David French-ism”. It’s garbage and doesn’t even deserve an extended block quote, but you can read it if you like. Ahmari’s basic thesis is the usual Trumpy thing we hear all the time from Trumpy Very Online people: we are in a culture war, a battle for our very lives, and we don’t need “soldiers” who are going to go around being polite to people, by gum! You don’t win a war with patience and calm, respectful discussion! You fight to win! To use an actual quote from Ahmari’s piece, you have to “fight the culture war with the aim of defeating the enemy and enjoying the spoils in the form of a public square re-ordered to the common good and ultimately the Highest Good.”

All of this revolved bizarrely around a “Facebook ad for a children’s drag queen reading hour at a public library in Sacramento.” Not that David French is for that sort of thing, mind you, and not that he had expressed any views on it before Ahmari’s broadside . . . but Ahmari knew that French would not take the position that Ahmari preferred: “We must stop drag queen story hours at all costs!” if it undermined French’s beliefs in First Amendment principles. Here’s what French later had to say about it:

I don’t like drag queen reading hours, but I also want to preserve for all Americans the First Amendment-protected right of viewpoint-neutral access to public facilities when those facilities are opened up for public use.

To fans of David French-ism, like me, that sounds eminently sensible. To the Ahmari culture warrior, this is SURRENDER.

Very Online people love this sort of thing, and the mindset is reaching endgame with this:

That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? As long as the Chinese hate David French, they’ve got what it takes to lead the world.

The “own the libs” mindset means you will accept almost any evil that owns the libs (see: Donald J. Trump) while you will oppose anything that you are convinced is something the libs like. Hence the new GOP messaging strategy against Biden’s family leave proposals, as reported in the Washington Post this weekend:

Days after President Biden rolled out his American Families Plan — a sprawling $1.8 trillion proposal to expand federal investment in child care, higher education, employee leave and more — Republicans have, alongside their deep fiscal misgivings, launched a broad social critique of the plan.

Key GOP voices are accusing Biden of engaging in a stealth attempt to reshape American life, trying to reframe their opposition to the plan away from dollars and cents toward the culture-war terrain on which they have recently been much more politically successful.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday responded to Biden’s pitch, made in a joint address to Congress, by declaring that the new administration “wants to jack up taxes in order to nudge families toward the kinds of jobs Democrats want them to have, in the kinds of industries Democrats want to exist, with the kinds of cars Democrats want them to drive, using the kinds of child-care arrangements that Democrats want them to pursue.”

Nobody cares if a program costs trillions. OK, not nobody. To quote Luke Skywalker: “I care.” And so do dozens of others.

But a lot of Trump voters like big government and big spending and getting goodies. How to get them to oppose Biden’s new spending on family leave? The GOP has figured out how: tell them it’s what the libs want.

If they believe you, they’ll oppose the new spending.

But if you tell them the libs hate something, they’ll support that thing. If you could somehow convince the Very Trumpy and Very Online right that this same Biden family leave bill was kryptonite to the libs, they’d march in the streets to get it passed. In fact, they’ll support anything that they believe represents a rejection of a lefty position in the culture wars. Family leave, big government . . . and if necessary, Chinese authoritarianism.

Whatever it takes to own some libs and oppose David French-ism.


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