No, I didn't attend the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). I don't go to conferences of any sort; I develop all sorts of tics and socially unacceptable behaviors when compelled to endure the company of more than four persons at a time. But I did follow developments there...and the reactions of nominally conservative persons to what might be the most significant of news items from there.
In the convention-closing straw poll of possible Republican nominees for president in the 2016 election, Senator Rand Paul (R, KY) handily outdistanced the field, garnering nearly thrice the votes of second-place finisher Senator Ted Cruz (R, TX). Even though such straw polls are of only tenuous relevance to a nominating convention more than two years distant, the result has evoked considerable commentary from interested parties. Some of that commentary, to put it mildly, has been both stupid and hateful.
In response to this Roger Simon column, in which he expresses both interest in and (otherwise) general approval for Senator Paul, we find this clinker:
Unfortunately for Paul, in this area in particular he is in a position where the most minor of his tea leaves will be read. I was concerned, for example, that he referenced lyrics by Pink Floyd, and therefore Roger Waters, in his CPAC speech, when Waters has been closely associated with the anti-Semitic BDS movement in the last few years. I sincerely hope this was a mistake or an oversight.
Gentle Reader, I've seen a great deal of foolishness in my travels through American politics, but this imputation of guilt by rock-lyric association has added a new page to the book. Worse, the early comments to Simon's column focus almost exclusively upon this ridiculous intimation of anti-Semitism. Worst of all, several of those commenters added to Simon's fatuous worries over rock lyrics the seemingly mortal sin of Senator Paul's choice of a father: retired Congressman Ron Paul, who was frequently slandered as an anti-Semite on guilt-by-association grounds.
No one can produce even a single statement from Senator Paul that can credibly be interpreted as anti-Semitic or hostile to the future of Israel. So those who want to diminish his stature among potential presidential candidates must resort to this sort of idiocy. But what's the real issue?
Senator Paul does oppose foreign aid as outside the Constitutional powers of Congress. He's openly called for the gradual phasing-out of all foreign aid, regardless of the recipient. Israel does receive foreign aid from the U.S., largely in the form of purchase credits for American-made military goods. Thus, when Israel procures such goods from American defense companies, the bill is paid, in part, from the U.S. Treasury. And of course, the defense companies on the receiving end of those dollars are very happy to get them, and would like to go on getting them.
Le's not forget, amid the torrents of Democrat cronyism and corporatism we've endured these past five years, about Republican cronyism and corporatism. There might be somewhat less of it; it might be focused mainly on military matters; it might even be partly defensible, if we allow the defenders certain dubious postulates about contemporary military needs and international tensions. All the same, it exists, and it bears the same moral and utilitarian taints as the Democrats' variety.
Does any Gentle Reader think that might just have a connection to these attempts to paint Senator Paul as a closet anti-Semite?
I make no secret of it: I feel a great contempt for persons who vent caustic opinions onto the Web from behind pseudonyms or anonymizing monikers. I have never done so, and I never will, because I stand behind my own words. I want to be associated with them. This is most important on those occasions when I'm proved wrong, because I consider it a moral obligation to admit to my mistakes.
Nearly all the comments imputing anti-Semitism to Senator Rand Paul are made from the shelter of anonymity. This is a vicious and indefensible practice. Indeed, it would be no better were the target some scrofulous leftist. He who imputes evil motives or deeds to another should be willing to do so openly, that he might be compelled to prove his case or apologize, and perhaps pay damages. But in our day, the notions of justice and civility having been battered into whimpering submission to the demands of political combat, the anonymity afforded by the Web makes this sort of thing de rigueur.
That supposed conservatives should be doing such things is worse than disgusting. It's to be expected from the Left, whose morality reduces to do anything to win. But conservatives routinely proclaim an attachment to traditional moral norms about the treatment of others. Surely that includes not bearing false witness, especially about someone with whom they're not personally acquainted. Such persons deserve to be publicly stripped naked and flogged, that they might experience some of the pain they inflict upon those whose reputations they besmirch and whose prospects they undermine.
Yes, I stand behind those words as well. Make of them what you wish.
It's certain that we'll see more of this. We can expect the Left to deploy all its forces against whichever Republican candidate moves to the front of the pack. We can also expect intra-party sniping, as each candidate jockeys for position against the others. All of that is to be expected, given the state of politics in this year of Our Lord 2014. But for conservatives to fling accusations of racism or anti-Semitism at other conservatives, without the best imaginable substantiation, should be grounds for ostracism, at minimum until the offender learns the error of his ways and publicly apologizes for them.
If we want the general public to prefer us to the Left, we'd be well advised to leave such scurrilities to the Left. To do otherwise is self-destructive madness.