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On Conservatives And Culture

Well over a year ago while filling in for Glenn Beck I said this on conservatives and culture:

Here’s a lesson for conservative artists, too: as Dez Dickerson told me (he played guitar for Prince), be judged on the merit of your work, not because of your ideology. Make your art beyond reproach. Going out and buying crappy art from someone just because they are a conservative is as disingenuous as what Hollywood is doing now. It’s not conservative to expect other conservatives to like your work because you are also a conservative. It’s hypocritical to feel this way because then you’re telling progressives to not judge you because of your politics while simultaneously asking conservatives to judge you because of your politics.

All the stuff I mentioned above? Rocks already. That they’re also conservatives is icing on the cake. It’s a progressive mentality to think you’re owed something. We are conservatives. We rage against the society that tells us everyone gets a trophy for participating. No they don’t. Some people are just bad. Some are really, really good. And that’s OK.

There is a belief on our side that in order to succeed we must agree on everything. I disagree — in fact, I’d say our inability to do so is our strength. Our contentious interparty back and forth about what’s best for our country results in better policies from which to choose. We support competition in every other aspect of life, why not ideas?

I’ve seen on Twitter that some are angry at Ben Howe for criticizing a trailer/promotional video whatever it is released by the Tea Party Patriots. I’ve known the players of the TPP since before they were a group. Several years ago we were all on the very first phone call discussing how a motley crew of us were going to protest nationwide for the very first time. They’ve done a lot for the movement and I consider them friends. I also consider Howe a friend.

Howe wrote a piece for Buzzfeed critical of the above-mentioned release. I’ve watched some craftily manipulate this as signifying an attack on the entire tea party movement which I find as intentionally disingenuous as anything I’ve ever read from Media Matters. Howe based his criticism on his opinion and his background in viral marketing. He’s done more videos and trailers than most of the seasoned players on the right are aware of and knows what works and what doesn’t. Even if he didn’t have this perspective, would not his opinion be valid because it’s his? Tea Party Patriots have criticized Republican candidates and not everyone has agreed with the group’s stances but are they any less valid because they may not always be universally shared? I’ve before defended them from crucifixion for their endorsements based on the same principle.

Others have criticized Howe for publishing on Buzzfeed. From what I can deduce, Howe wanted to avoid the circle-the-wagons mentality that protects conservative artistic endeavors based on politics, not quality, thus the venue. The outrage from some in response to the venue would only serve to validate his point. Furthermore, attacking his motive as opposed to simply disagreeing with his opinion is precisely a reason why we as a movement struggle to refine artistic expression. Critique isn’t fun, neither for the creator nor the critic. What does it matter where it was published? It doesn’t make the opinion less valid, no more than publishing on a conservative site a critique on another member of the conservative community. Buckley published in Playboy. Other conservatives have published in Huffington Post.

It’s sad that it’s a risk to offer reason-based criticism within the right. Some have definitely made it difficult as there are cases of purely off-the-wall criticisms with no basis even in opinion, but it’s important for us to not conflate the two.

No battle was ever won by staying in the camp. No opponent was ever turned by refusing to engage them and sticking only to conversing with your own side. I think it’s wonderful if anyone can plant any sort of seed on websites that may normally be hostile to our viewpoints. Are they using us or are we using them? I guess that’s subjective according to your prejudice.

From where I stand, Ben Howe’s only crime was that he shared an opinion and didn’t practice political correctness. With respect to all, hysteria over such a thing hardly seems in keeping with what we preach daily on the matter. After all, more voices, not less.

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