This is the Carmen Miranda monkey. Why did I post her? Because I ran across this painting on the Internet and simply couldn’t believe someone had painted it. I saved the picture because I find it luridly fascinating. Art really is in the eye of the beholder.
So, too, are politics. Over at Gay Patriot right now, commenters are deeply embroiled in a debate about how inclusive of diverse opinions that blog should be. Blogger I Love Capitalism, who’s doing a great job as a new member of their team, wonders if readers and commenters truly understand what the motto on its masthead means. “The Internet home for the American gay conservative” indeed attracts all kinds.
Some are diehard social conservatives, who don’t think any other kind of conservative exists. Some (like ILC) are libertarian conservatives. Some are confused about exactly what sort of conservative they are. And some are liberals. Even the liberals aren’t all there, I don’t think, for the same reasons; some come simply to agitate, while others probably really want to learn.
I’m a libertarian, period. I’m no longer sure I’m a conservative at all, as the term is commonly understood. The reason for this is that there no longer seems to be a clear meaning to the term. I’m on the Right side of the political spectrum, but probably at the Left end of the Right.
I sometimes describe myself as a liberal conservative – using conservative as a noun, and liberal as its modifying adjective. A better term would be classical liberal – but when I identify myself as such, nobody but other libertarians understand what I mean.
Our Western, Judeo-Christian heritage is a treasure I believe must be cherished and defended. But it is inherently a progressive, forward-moving tradition. It is impossible to freeze it in one spot and honestly say you’re conserving it. “Conservatives” who attempt to do that fail to understand or appreciate what they’re conserving.
In order to know which direction is forward, we must have a reliable compass. Our tradition gives us that compass. Leftist liberals, steeped in socialism, have thrown the compass away. They don’t seem to know backards from forwards or up from down, so they never have any idea — other than what the current fads or their own, fickle emotions tell them — which direction to go. When they call themselves “progressives,” it is meaningless, because they have no real standard to use in determining what progress is.
Even though some conservatives are confused about which way is forward, they at least have a compass to steer by. That is, if they’ll only bother to use it. If they refuse to trust in that compass’s guidance, then what they’re attempting to conserve is not our Western, Judeo-Christian tradition but some fantasy they’ve cooked up in their own, fevered brains.
Realizing, for example, that God made gay people as we are, and striving to treat them justly, is perfectly in keeping with our tradition. Is it compatible with other traditions, such as the Islamic? Probably not. Which conservatives tacitly admit – even though, whenever that admission becomes inconvenient to them, they turn around and try to deny it. We are advancing on gay rights – as are other nations, like Israel, which have a Judeo-Christian culture – precisely because that is true to our tradition.
In Islamic art, the Carmen Miranda monkey would probably be an abomination. She may be an abomination to artistic sensibilities in the West, but we would never behead the artist who created her. Would I hang her on my wall? Probably not. But I’ll proudly post her on my blog.
Take that, terrorists!