As we discuss the responsibility conservatives have for cleaning up the Republican Party, it’s appropriate to write more than a few words to investigate why this conversation is even necessary. Why aren’t conservatives all about political action? The answer is found through a bit of psychoanalysis.
For a number of years it has been a popular pastime to bash the French — especially among American conservatives. It’s easy to find a “there they go again” commentary after each French action that offends or annoys those on the political right. The sad fact, however, is that American conservatives need some time on the psychologist’s couch too so they can delve into the real cause for their overwhelming disdain for the Frogs.
If they wish, I can save a lot of these conservatives time and money with this column. The very behavior that disgusts American conservatives about the French — are the very same behaviors demonstrated by conservatives when it comes to grassroots politics and the information war.
Here’s your diagnosis, my fellow conservatives, free of charge: you suffer from “psychological projection.” This is the way Wikipedia defines it:
Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in themselves, while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude.
So when an American conservative takes pleasure calling the French “cheese-eating surrender monkeys,” you now understand that most likely that individual is projecting on France their own failure to be a responsible citizen by engaging in the political process.
Yes, the French haven’t been America’s best friend in a lot of ways. I remember well France denying our Air Force permission to fly in French air space on the way to bomb Libya in 1986. France opposing our entry into Iraq in 2003 was big news. And now conservatives enjoy bashing the Frenchies for how they’re handling Islamic terrorism in the wake of the murders at the magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Anti-French sentiment in the United States has its own page at Wikipedia, where you can read the history dating back to, well, I guess the day the Revolutionary War was over. You know, that was the day the war was won because of the help of the French.
This column isn’t written to defend the French or French history. I get the jokes. A few years ago a guide on a famous battlefield near Bastogne, Belgium told the group I was with that if there were any antique gun collectors among us, they should look to buy French guns “because they’ve only been dropped once.” We all laughed because it was funny.
Speaking of humor, the above linked Wikipedia page references a column by National Review’s Jonah Goldberg, where Goldberg includes a few laugh-out-loud lines:
Indeed, since the inception of this column, I have been adhering to Al Bundy’s immortal fatwah, “It is good to hate the French.” I have made The Simpsons-derived epithet “Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys” an accepted term in official diplomatic channels around the globe.
. . .
As it has been pointed out before in this space, time and again, the boulevards in Paris are lined with trees so Germans can always march in the shade. I have translated almost every single French phrase from hors d’oeuvres to “C’est la vie” to mean, “I surrender!” Or, “Yes, officer, the refugees are in my basement, I’ll show you the way.”
That Goldberg guy is so clever. Maybe I should sign up for the next National Review cruise so I can meet Jonah, and we can discuss those terrible French…and the lousy congressional Republicans…and the dishonest media…and that dastardly Obama…and…
Or maybe I can try to get Goldberg to understand why conservatives are getting slaughtered in the information war. If I succeeded, then he can write a version of that hilarious column, this time aimed directly at the cowardliness of American conservatives. It’s one thing to write op eds for the National Review at 30,000 feet. It’s quite another to see the real world need for a ground-level political counterinsurgency that conservatives are too chicken (or ignorant or lazy) to fight. Vive la France!
Give me a second as I once again put on my political kindergarten teacher hat. Okay, I’m ready — let’s do a quick review. All of our society’s major institutions that disseminate information are controlled by radical liberals: the k-thu-college schools, the dominant media, and the engines of pop culture. Republican elected officials — even the conservative ones — mostly fail to engage the battle to win over public opinion. Conservative talk radio and the growing conservative presence on the Web existed before Obama won the first of two terms, so we know they can’t save the day.
So, if we’re to reach our uninformed and misinformed neighbors in large numbers, let alone enforce policy discipline within the GOP (as we discussed last time), organizing politically is required so we can win street by street.
If you think that’s wildly idealistic and naive and that not enough conservatives will join the fight, what’s your alternative? Religious revival? Sure, I’m all for it. But do you think we’ll see that with the current condition of most American Christian churches? Yes, all things are possible with God — but when the Continental Congress decided to field an army in 1775, they prayed — and then waged war.
Can we be honest? Conservatives play the role of “surrender monkeys” because they don’t want to do the work. They’d rather eat their cheese, drink their wine, and walk down their shaded street to purchase a freshly made baguette. Oh, wait, that’s the hated French.
American conservatives are the ones who pretend that “we the people” doesn’t apply to them, and the dirty work of politics is for others. Some, instead of doing something useful, send Karl Rove millions of dollars so he can get richer by producing and running TV ads few people see. You should know, by the way, American liberals, like the ones running Organizing for America, laugh at you about these kinds of decisions just as you laugh at the French.
Conservatives from coast to coast succeed in business and industry and in every field imaginable. They’re creative, daring, and they’re better informed about history and human nature than liberals.
Yet they refuse to apply their good sense and work ethic to the political battlefields. Instead, they are Olympic gold medal complainers. No one screamed louder than conservatives when John McCain received our party’s nomination for president. What you didn’t hear afterwards was the sound of conservatives boots on the ground that so we could avoid another nominee like McCain. So we got Mitt Romney and a second Obama term.
The latest conservative energy expenditure is appropriate criticism of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. What we need is more genuine activism from conservatives, not just writers and readers of blog-posts decrying the failure of Republican leadership.
Conservatives know better than anyone, history is packed with valuable lessons. As I close out this article (which was unusually lengthy for me), allow me to recommend a little study for those conservatives unfamiliar with what the French Army did during the World War I Battle of Verdun. Then skim through how in post-WWI Europe, things changed in France, and the next generation failed to use the largest army on the mainland to squash, while they could, the outnumbered and sexually troubled creeps that answered to der Führer.
One generation wins at Verdun — the next looks nothing like its fathers. American conservatives love America’s founding generation — too bad they don’t emulate them, but rather, behave more like the French they so despise.
France’s failure was a failure of will, not ability. Sound familiar? Unlike many American conservatives, however, the French knew it was their responsibility — and when they failed to act — they knew the suffering which followed was their own fault.
I’m not sure who American conservative surrender monkeys will blame if they fail to act. Maybe they’ll blame those other American conservatives — you know, the ones referred to in the words “we the people.”