Reason Over Passion: In Defense of Charles Krauthammer
by Aaron Goldstein
29 March 2004
Neo-conservatives like Krauthammer are an important part of the conservative coalition. A response to Matt Abbott's Neocon Critics of the Passion of Christ.
Conservatives sometimes disagree with one another.
Most of the time the disagreements are civil. At other times when one conservative
is at odds with another, he will deem the other person not a conservative. Sometimes passion rules over reason.
Speaking of passion, Matt C. Abbott recently penned an article titled 'Neocon' Critics of the Passion of the Christ.
In the article, Abbott takes “neoconservative” writers Charles Krauthammer,
William Safire, Lev Navrozov and Scott Shore to task for their criticisms
of Mel Gibson’s film. Abbott, a former executive director of
the Illinois Right to Life Committee, questions Krauthammer and company about
their conservative credentials:
A neoconservative, to me, is the same as a “fiscal conservative”.
In other words, neoconservatives/ fiscal conservatives are, in reality, not
conservatives at all; they are liberals, albeit a bit more sophisticated
in their arguments than the ordinary, run-of-the-mill liberal.
They support Republicans insofar as Republicans promote a particular type
of foreign policy, or a particular view of economics. But neoconservatives
seemingly have little or no concern about the moral law and the evils that
are destroying our culture – abortion, contraception, assisted suicide, pornography,
and the homosexual agenda. And, for all practical purposes, they
Abbott is certainly correct when he states that Krauthammer and friends
support the Republicans because they promote a particular type of foreign
policy or economics. Just as Abbott (presuming that he supports the
GOP) might support the Republican Party because they promote a particular
type of policy concerning traditional family values and the sanctity of life.
People support the Republican Party for many different reasons and any political
party with such a large tent might very well include people who under normal
circumstances might not agree on what time of the day it is. But such
is the function of the political parties; to mobilize a broad based coalition
based on shared principles and values.
of course, there will always be differences. It is very
possible that Abbott has been conservative from the get go.
There are other individuals that were liberal or socialist in their inclinations
before embracing conservatism and I certainly include myself in this category.
Indeed, there was a time when Krauthammer was writing speeches for Walter
Nowadays, Krauthammer writes a great
deal about foreign policy. But he also writes about other subjects
and dare I say even subjects that Mr. Abbott might care a great deal about.
On February 27 of this year, Krauthammer wrote an article concerning gay
marriage in the wake of events here in Boston and San Francisco and points
in between. While Krauthammer supports civil unions and opposes the proposed
constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between members of the
opposite sex he takes gay rights activists to task:
(T)hey deserve to be excoriated when, having thrown their cultural Molotov
cocktail and finding that the majority of Americans have the temerity to
resist, they cry: culture war!
Last August, Krauthammer ripped New York Senator Charles Schumer for his
effort and that of Senate Democrats to thwart the appointment of Alabama
Attorney General Bill Pryor to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Pryor is on public record in deeming both abortion and Roe v. Wade to be
abominations. Krauthammer ridiculed Schumer’s reasoning
for opposing Pryor’s appointment:
An amazing litmus test: deeply held beliefs are a disqualification for high
judicial office. Only people of shallow beliefs (like Schumer?) need
apply. Of course, Schumer’s real concern is with the content of Pryor’s
beliefs. Schumer says that he would object to “anybody who had
very, very deeply held views.” Anybody? If someone
had deeply held views in favor of abortion rights, you can be sure that Schumer
would not be blocking his nomination.
Mr. Abbott still think Krauthammer is not conservative at all? Consider
Krauthammer’s thoughts on stem cell research back in 2001:
(I)t is important to recognize the gravity of providing government money—and
thus communal moral sanction—to the deliberate destruction of a human embryo
for the purpose of research. It violates the categorical imperative
that human life be treated as an end and not a means.
Abbott, is of course, entitled to disagree with Krauthammer’s position on
The Passion. However, as the evidence above
would suggest, he goes too far in deeming Krauthammer not a conservative.
Besides, since when is supporting a strong foreign policy and traditional
family values incompatible? William Bennett writes forcefully about
both subjects. Indeed, Pat Buchanan considers Bennett a neoconservative.
Does Abbott believe Bennett not to be a conservative? What about
the ultimate neoconservative Norman Podhoretz? Podhoretz, the patriarch
of Commentary magazine, while having written extensively
about foreign policy, has also ventured into areas of concern to Abbott.
Indeed, Abbott might want to read Podhoretz’s book Ex-Friends.
Podhoretz writes of his time in New York with such people as Jack Kerouac,
Norman Mailer, Lillian Hellman and Allen Ginsberg. Abbott
might be interested in Podhoretz taking Ginsberg to task for his homosexuality,
arguing that he was escaping familial responsibility.
Conservatives call themselves such for many reasons. More often than
not conservatives will share common ground. When conservatives are
at odds with one another the debate ought to remain civilized and cordial.
For one conservative to label another conservative unfit for the movement
pulls the common ground from under both sets of feet.
Aaron Goldstein, a former member of the socialist New Democratic Party, writes poetry and has a chapbook titled Oysters and the Newborn Child: Melancholy and Dead Musicians. His poetry can be viewed on www.poetsforthewar.org.
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