My sister from another mister touched on the Williamson firing at the Atlantic, but I thought I would add my two cents. I’d be remiss if I didn’t start this whole discussion by asking why we need more conservative voices to begin with. Conservatives currently hold the Presidency, the House, the Senate, right wing voices are dominant on the Supreme Court and should someone drop dead, even more so. They control the overwhelming majority of state legislatures and governor’s office, control AM radio, have their own national news network on television and via Sinclair are closing in on dominating local television, and this doesn’t even get into all the wingnut welfare ventures like Red State, the Daily Caller, Breitbart, the Federalist, and so on so forth. So it’s not like anyone in this country is missing out on hearing conservative viewpoints.
At any rate, Noah Berlatsky hada good piece the other day in the Huffington Post titled “Bad Ideas Aren’t Worth Debating“:
The issue is not left intolerance. The issue is that conservative intellectuals make bad, often nonsensical arguments, and spout opinions that are hateful and harmful on their face.
Nor is this a surprise, given the last several decades of American history. Anyone looking objectively at the GOP’s record in politics over the last 30-odd years would reasonably conclude that conservatism is a bankrupt and harmful ideology, built on bigotry and a fetishization of tax cuts for the rich. The previous Republican president, George W. Bush, presided over an unnecessary and catastrophic war, a horrifyingly incompetent hurricane relief effort, and a historic, devastating financial collapse. The current Republican president is an incompetent would-be authoritarian whose main accomplishments so far have involved empowering a fascist police force to harass and deport innocent people. The Republican Congress put forth incoherent health care plan after incoherent health care plan, before ramming through a similarly incoherent tax cut for the wealthy.
Conservatism in office has brought Americans war, financial disaster, misery, and rising fascism. Conservative pundits, meanwhile, write column after column propounding ill-informed, bigoted, and cruel solutions to problems that don’t exist, while denying the existence of real injustices and misery.
This is not some sort of coincidence. Conservative governance is a disaster because conservative thinking is bankrupt. Giving more space to conservative thinkers is not going to make our polity more diverse and vibrant. It’s going to fill our public sphere with prejudice and ignorance. Ibram X. Kendi challenges and enlightens. Kevin D. Williamson does neither of those things.
So not only are we deluged with conservative ideas, they’re usually bad ideas not even worth debating. Actually, they are pretty much always bad ideas. Actually, they’re not even ideas. Modern conservatism doesn’t have actual ideas, they have self-reinforcing belief systems, and feelings, and an ever shifting concept of us vs. them. They don’t actually debate whether climate change is worth dealing with, they just deny it’s happening or claim it’s made up and then bring snowballs into the well of the Senate to prove… I have no idea what they are trying to prove. And it’s like that with EVERYTHING.
I mean, name an actual new conservative idea from a prominent conservative intellectual in the last decade. Go ahead. Alright, now try to name a new conservative idea or approach from anyone. Yeah. You can’t. And there’s a reason for that- there haven’t been any.
For all the bluster about conservative intellectualism, there just isn’t really any. Hell, look at the role of George Will, David Brooks, Bret Stephens, etc. They aren’t thought leaders, they just try to put an intellectual veneer on the same old horseshit that comes seeping out of the stupid right. They’re wingnut whisperers. Human babelfish for rightwing babble. It’s why all they talk about is liberal intolerance or why every other column by Bret Stephens and Will is a weak jab at climate change. It’s quite literally all they have.
And if you look at it that way, I guess you can give Kevin Williamson some credit for calling black people primates and for lynching women who have abortions. While not new ideas in any sense of the term, they are new to mainstream publications, so there’s that.