Re: [asa] Why the opposition to global warming

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sun Feb 04 2007 - 22:20:32 EST

Since conservatism has been mentioned here, let me take this opportunity (since I don't especially want to watch Prince's Super Bowl halftime show) to suggest a parallel with a serious mistake the conservative movement made 40 to 50 years ago. I preface it by saying that while I don't claim to be the final authority on conservatism or to have been especially high up in the movement, during that period (& later) I was a YAF belonging - National Review subscribing - Goldwater applauding -conservative candidate door knocking - card carrying conservative. So I know a bit about it from the inside.

& one of the tragic mistakes the conservative movement made was failure to give appropriate support to the civil rights movement. This was not because all conservatives - & especially the serious political & intellectual leaders of the movement - were racists or unaware of some of the racial injustice in the country. But there were lots of apparently good reasons for shying away from the efforts of MLK & other black leaders. Sure, it was wrong for hotel & restaurant ownners &c to refuse to serve blacks - but a person does have a right to do what he wants with his private property. (No one said his/her back then.) Sure it's wrong to refuse to sel a house to a black person but "a man's home is his castle." There seemed to be sound conservative arguments against the federal government interfering with a state's criteria for voting & the Supreme Court's decisions on school intergration.

& there were dubious things about the civil rights movement. Some of its leaders had socialist ideas & liberal theology. Communists were in favor of it, & communism was the most serious threat the country faced at the time.

So conservatives could oppose civil rights legislation & make marriages of convenience with people who in fact were racists & intent on maintaining the status quo in the south (though the ones respectable conservatives cooperated with generally had the good sense not to wear their klan outfits in public). I don't think we were stupid or intentionally dishonest but we were naive about some things, like imagining that gradual & individual approaches to some of the problems would overcome entrenched & determined resistance. We were wrong.

Politically, conservatives traded black support for southern white support (broadly speaking). Perhaps that was a short term pragmatic gain. Morally, to put it as generously as possible, we were short sighted. (I'm talking about reasonably intelligent & principled conservatives. The movement also served - & serves - as a cover for racists & various types of nuts whom I have no wish to defend.) In terms of actual results, conservative opposition didn't stop legals remedies for racial injustices, but the failure of conservatives to contribute positively to many of them meant that some unfortunate social features resulted.

Conservatives like to recall Santayana's statement, "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it." Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.


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Received on Sun Feb 4 22:21:49 2007

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