Rod Dreher needs a little perspective

Here’s a little counterfactual for you. Suppose the CEO of a retail chain that is predominantly patronized by cultural conservatives published an op/ed in which he announced his support for abortion rights. Then suppose some of the customers of his chain decided to boycott because they were opposed to abortion. Would Rod Dreher write a post like this?

Well, of course not. Part of that is because Rod is himself opposed to abortion. But another part, the bigger part, is because it’s liberals complaining and getting political, and not conservatives, and to many conservatives, cultural liberals getting political is inherently malign and distasteful. The issue here isn’t just that Rod disagrees with them. The issue is that he writes as if there is something wrong with them expressing their democratic rights at all. Look, this is difficult to talk about independent of ones own ideological biases, but I get this attitude all the time, that when conservatives act up politically, a la the town hall protests, it’s invigorating, principled and right, but when liberals do the same, it demonstrates how distasteful and annoying they are. I see it all the time.

I guess it just goes to show once again that believing in tropes that are disrespectful to conservatives is elitist, crude and bigoted, but believing in tropes that are disrespectful to liberals is gravy. It’s wrong to mock the crude rubes, it’s duty to mock the faggy coastals, and the time for cultural war is always.

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13 thoughts on “Rod Dreher needs a little perspective

  1. Freddie:

    Not only do I think you’re right here, I’ll even go so far as to give you some evidence to support your counter-factual.
    http://blog.beliefnet.com/crunchycon/2008/04/absolut-reconquista.html

    That’s Dreher arguing that people who wanted to boycott Absolut last year for the “Absolut World” Mexico ad should not be mocked (he’s evasive about whether he’d support a boycott).

    Semi-O/T: The above statements aside, I would like to say that I categorically oppose (though by no means think they should be illegal) secondary boycotts. By that I mean boycotts of advertisers or of businesses that do business with the target company. I don’t like the idea of essentially obtaining leverage over Company A by punishing Company B since direct leverage over Company A is impossible. This sort of thing comes up when people get upset about a radio or television show that they don’t listen to or watch in the first place. Nonetheless, I still support the repeal of existing laws prohibiting secondary boycotts in the labor context (ie, Taft-Hartley).

    Also semi-o/t: One complaint about the article that is at the root of this story – it seems purely based on anecdotal evidence of a small number of people, so it does a very poor job of telling us whether this boycott movement is of a meaningful size or if it’s just a few stray people. If the movement is in fact becoming a meaningful size, then the article does a disservice to the movement by failing to give any picture of its scope; if the movement is just a handful of people, then the article is making much ado about nothing (and people opining on it are making a mountain out of a molehill).

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  2. You wish to suggest that preferring a particular mode of medical insurance should be a gorge-rising as favoring the practice of abortion? You have been immersing yourself in wonkish discussion too long.

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  3. In all fairness, Freddie, though I see where you’re coming from, there are nevertheless a lot of conservatives out there who have piped up in opposition to numerous stupid things other conservatives do. I realize you’re aware of this, and that you’re speaking more in terms of the mainstream, but I thought I should point it out.

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    • I mean something more specific. It’s not a question of conservatives not questioning stupid things conservatives, it’s a question of knee-jerk reactions to political activism by one side or another. And I think the divide is centered on which side gets to wage unapologetic cultural war. The key here is that these are Whole Food customers, and more, the cultural baggage we are meant to associate with them. It comes back to Sarah Palin and Barack Obama, really. To openly consider Palin or her supporters rubes or unsophisticated was off-limits in a way that it wasn’t if you consider Obama and his supporters sneering elites. Both sides engage in unfortunate stereotyping, but one side is permitted to do it openly.

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      • Could it be that subconsciously there is more of an aversion to “rubes or unsophisticated” people than there is to “sneering elites?” Just a thought. I mean, perhaps those rubes actually don’t like to think of themselves as rubes. Maybe in their circles they actually think of themselves as pretty savvy, on the ball, with some good ideas. Certainty ignores facts, after all. Whereas the people who are tarnished as elites – well – maybe they don’t like to be called names, but hey, if you’re going to be called a name it may as well be “elite” right? In other words, maybe they take offense to the “sneering” bit more than they do to being called elitists, since on some level they actually do think of themselves that way. Whereas the rubes don’t.

        Something to consider in any case, regardless of the merits of either claim.

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  4. The problem is there always seems to be more rubes than sneering elites, regardless of the comparative ease of either camp, at any given time.

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  5. Point taken, but limited by the fact that Mackey wasn’t opposing improved health coverage; he was proposing an alternative means to get there. A pro-choice CEO and his pro-life customer base, on the other hand, would be rather severely opposed: one wants to allow abortion, the other does not. So I do reserve the right to think that the Whole Foods boycotters are using a far faultier logic (and, with respect to that aspect of it, more deserving of criticism) — their target didn’t say, “Everything’s fine and dandy with health care,” but, “We need to improve and expand coverage; here’s my idea of what might work; let’s talk.”

    And Mark: for what little it’s worth, there’s a pro-boycott Facebook group that’s at 9,000 strong and growing. (I was bored waiting for the “Mad Men” premiere last night.)

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