Watch out! Conservative ideas might subject you and your family to thuggish home invasions. Even more creepy, conservative ideas might get you erased from your own personal history. As we observe American conservatism from the outside here at ILYBYGTH, we’ve noticed the steady stream of conservative complaints about persecution. Today’s crop of victim alerts, though, rises to a new level of weirdness.
As one sophisticated and good-looking regular reader of I Love You but You’re Going to Hell (SAGLRROILYBYGTH) noted recently, conservatives are not the only ones to emphasize their own status as victims. Patrick asked,
Who doesn’t emphasize their own victimhood these days? Perhaps the question should be why doing so has become an American tradition. One way of looking at it is to point out that we are an optimistic bunch, perpetually hopeful that if we consistently expose unfairness and hypocrisy, we will help solve the problem by raising awareness of it. Why else would the news always be so depressing?
It makes intuitive sense that every side in our tumultuous culture wars would complain loudly about their own suffering. It is the same dynamic as any family squabble. Victims get justice. Aggressors get punished, at least in theory.
Bubbling up from the conservative commentariat this morning we find two new claims to victimhood. In Wisconsin, we hear, conservative activists have been subjected to jackbooted attacks. And one high school has taken steps to erase its memory of one of its conservative graduates.
First, to Wisconsin: David French’s exposé of hardball culture-war politics tells the story of mild-mannered conservative families subjected to brutal attack. In the aftermath of Wisconsin’s Act 10, conservatives have been targeted as part of a concerted campaign to embarrass and humiliate them. In short, according to French, Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm pushed a “John Doe” investigation of Wisconsin conservatives.
In this kind of investigation, proceedings are kept secret. Investigators have wide latitude to seize relevant documents. As a result, conservative activists had their homes invaded by terrifying police agents. Doors were pounded on. Floors were stomped on. Children were shaken out of bed. Neighbors gathered and gaped. Conservatives were threatened. Computers and phones were seized. Dogs barked.
As French put it, “For select conservative families across five counties, this was the terrifying moment — the moment they felt at the mercy of a truly malevolent state.”
These raids turned at least one Wisconsin conservative into an outlaw, in her imagination at least. As she explains,
I used to support the police, to believe they were here to protect us. Now, when I see an officer, I’ll cross the street. I’m afraid of them. I know what they’re capable of.
Conservatives targeted for home invasions precisely because of their conservative activism. Police used as intimidation agents, to harass and intimidate political activists. All bluster aside, these are profoundly disturbing charges.
Even more bizarre, though, is the story coming from a Baltimore high school. Ryan T. Anderson, an outspoken opponent of gay marriage, was first lauded, then removed, from his high school’s Facebook page.
Anderson had been the subject of a front-page story in the Washington Post. The article called Anderson a “fresh voice” for traditional marriage.
At first, according to a story in the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal, Anderson’s high school posted news of this alumni success on its Facebook page. Later, the school took down the post. Why? In the words of school head Matt Micciche,
I can understand why the belief that Mr. Anderson’s views were being endorsed by the school would be deeply troubling to some members of our community. The nature of these views goes beyond the realm of abstract political ideology and calls into question the fitness of same-sex families to raise children and the right of gay and lesbian citizens to marry the person they love. While Mr. Anderson undoubtedly has the right to express such views, by posting this article we created legitimate confusion as to whether or not they were being validated by the school.
Maybe it is less scary to be removed from Facebook than to have one’s house broken into by aggressive police, but the implications of this Baltimore story are, IMHO, more sinister.
By removing notice of the significant conservative accomplishments of Anderson, his alma mater, in effect, suggested that conservatism is somehow shady, illegitimate, disreputable . . . even shameful.
I don’t say this as an endorsement of Anderson’s ideas. Nor do I claim to understand the intricacies of Wisconsin’s culture-war politics. For those of us trying to understand conservatism and the culture wars, though, both these stories raise important questions:
- Is it legitimate to oppose same-sex marriage?
- Do conservatives have a claim to victimhood?
- Do these strange stories offer proof that conservative thinkers and activists have been uniquely and unfairly persecuted?