Friday, September 22, 2006

Hinkle lectures pseudo-conservatives

Now comes A. Barton Hinkle to remind today’s pseudo-conservatives, neoconservatives and opportunistic right-wingers that with the Cold War in the rear view mirror some of them have wandered many miles from the high road traveled by Barry Goldwater when he was establishing the modern conservative movement in the 1960s. In an OpEd piece, “Defining ‘The Good Guys’: In War on Terror, U.S. Embraces Great Terror’s Techniques . . . ,” in Friday’s Richmond Times Dispatch Hinkle opens with this:

“So this is what conservatism in America has come to. The movement that spent half a century loudly and rightly denouncing communism for the sadism of its torture and the savagery of its gulags is now -- with some notable exceptions -- advocating that America embrace them.”

Hinkle then drives his point home:

“...Well, say the administration’s defenders, unlike the Soviets we're the good guys. That begs the question, doesn’t it? What made the Soviets the bad guys? They had a ridiculously inefficient economic system, yes -- but most conservatives were rather more exercised by the sadism of the Lubyanka and the gulag than they were by the labor theory of value or Gosplan’s theory of productive forces. Defending torture by saying we’re the good guys is an oxymoron.”

Bringing the piece home Hinkle invokes the name of the Godfather of American conservatism’s rather Libertarian answer to post-Depression liberal thinking:

“...No, the torture question is a straightforward one about right and wrong and choosing between the two. It is about whether this country still believes in abiding by its moral duty no matter the cost. ‘Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,’ as Barry Goldwater said. ‘Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.’”

This well-crafted essay about right and wrong in the post-9/11 world should be read in its entirety. It left me wondering if many of President Bush’s neoconservative advisors have the slightest idea of what the expression, “the moral high ground” even means. It also left me wondering how many voters today have any sense of what the term “conservative” meant before we began to be told every day by the Bush administration that 9/11 had changed everything.

If it’s true that 9/11 destroyed our ability to know that in our hearts that it’s right to stand against torture and wrong to defend it, we, as a people, have indeed lost our way ... what used to be the American way.

1 comment:

Elvez73 said...

I read that piece in the Dispatch, and I couldn't agree with your analysis more. Goldwater is turning over in his grave at the state of the conservative movement today. The GOP has been taken over by fundamentalists and neo-cons, both of which would have been anathema to Goldwater, I'm a Democrat, but I have always respected the libertarian wing of the GOP which has shrunk to a tiny minority.