NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T o be a conservative is to wake up every morning to a new insult. It makes life more fun. I never know exactly what I am until I open up Twitter every morning. I can be a reactionary vermin, an ignorant caveman, an ultra-Catholic primate, or a neoliberal scorpion. It’s fascinating how far the language reaches on the left when it comes to labeling the Right. Today we conservatives are racist for not wanting to kneel before anything but God, just as yesterday we were fascists for defending law and order, the only way to guarantee freedom — incidentally, one of many words that has gone from being associated with the Left in the 1970s to being the provenance of the Right in our day. Today, Snow White is “sexist,” Gone with the Wind is “racist,” Scrooge McDuck is “ultraliberal,” and Tarzan . . . Oh my God! It’s all happening at once!
The other day, without going any further, a guy told me with contempt that Benedict XVI was “an ultra-Catholic.” Apparently, he meant it as an insult. I shrugged my shoulders, guessing that part of the Left must really expect the pope of the Catholic Church to be “moderately Catholic.” Perhaps they are right. At least if we consider that Marx, for example, was a bit ultra-Marxist.
For years I have studied the insults the Left has hurled at those who do not think like them. And what is most astonishing is the ability to adapt the outburst over time. In May ’68, in their heyday, European anti-war singer-songwriters (the most feared terrorist organization in the world) targeted men’s neckties. We will never know how fascist ties might be, with their limited ability to express political views, but the Left’s great discovery during the Summer of Love was that everything that was not theirs automatically became “fascist.”
It doesn’t matter if it’s a necktie, a child, or biology itself; one of the great progressive contradictions, even though leftists claim to believe more in science than in religion, is that the sciences are far more authoritarian than, say, Christianity. But ’68, the epitome of progressive thinking, was a huge self-contradiction: Many of the chronicles from that time tell of bourgeois children dressed as hippies while calling veteran cops, who had fought Nazism so they could grow up in a free world, “fascist bastards,” over university barricades.
In the years of the student revolts, the French, probably the most promiscuous beings in the universe, chanted things like “the more I make love, the more I want to start a revolution.” Just the opposite of what’s happening to Sanders! Anyway, even the Left itself would radically oppose this slogan today. First of all, who do you make love to? Second, what about explicit consent of the other party? Third, why do you objectify your partner? Fourth, why do you sexualize the revolution? Fifth, what about the condom? And sixth, why do you standardize the assault on the oppressive patriarchy? Nancy Pelosi, who called President Trump a “potty-mouth,” would think of 70 or 80 more objections and questions.
In the United States, on the other hand, already in 1968 the Left was churning out triumphant slogans such as “never trust a man.” Today, though, it would probably have to be updated to “never trust a man unless he is the Democratic candidate for the White House.”
Generally speaking, the new Left attacks almost everything. Big cars pollute, football is sexist, eating meat is anti-animalist, compliments are sexist, globalization is imperialist, and wealth generates fear of the poor — this stupidity was spouted by the Communist vice president of Spain this week, who wants to criminalize “hatred of the poor” and who has a house 20 times the size of mine and who has 100 percent more swimming pools than I do. If you don’t believe in the environmentalist religion that tripled Al Gore’s weight, you are a denialist. If you don’t believe that the West is a horrible thing, you’re ethnocentric. In a way, the new Left embodies H. L. Mencken’s definition of puritanism: “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
If you wake up one day and don’t know what insult to put on, try opening the New York Times. There’s a lot to choose from. Their favorite is “fascist.” The Left generally has a problem distinguishing between law and order, on one hand, and authoritarianism on the other; many leftist intellectuals consider the police, judges, and schoolteachers to be fascists. When I was a child, the Left devised a campaign against testing in school, and I supported it to the death because I wanted to get out of math tests. I dreamed of the day when the teacher would say to me, “Itxu, do you feel very strongly that you really know mathematics?” I’d say, “Yes, I feel that way with all my might.” He’d reply, “Great, Itxu, congratulations; you’ve passed math.” But that day never came, even with the socialists. Damned fascists.
Another favorite insult is “Islamophobe.” In the wake of 9/11 and the Islamist attacks of recent decades, progressives seem more concerned about Islamophobia than about the victims of such attacks. That explains why leftists, while condemning conservatives as “Islamophobes” for defending Western values of peace and freedom, simultaneously support Islam, ignoring the chauvinism, hanging of homosexuals, and maltreatment of women that are unfortunately too common throughout the Islamic world. They are able to call you “Islamophobe” and “sexist” in the same sentence, as if by some sort of miracle. In Europe, for example, the Left slaps the label “xenophobe” on Europeans in poor neighborhoods who protest against the illegal immigration that’s supported by the social-democratic elites in Brussels — and leftists render this verdict from their luxury housing estates that illegal immigrants are banned from entering.
When the Right is in power, the Left often says that the conservatives are “undemocratic.” It’s true; many conservatives do not deify democracy. In fact, we believe that the majority can be very wrong, even tyrannical. However, democracy is still the most effective way to avoid civil war and, in that respect, we like it. When Hillary Clinton wanted to insult Trump and cause a media stir, she said he was “the inspiration for authoritarian politicians around the world.” But Trump arrived through democratic means and will leave the same way. The same cannot be said of Castro, Chávez, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, Kim Jong-un, Xi Jinping and so many other idols of yesterday and today who have in common their identity as left-wingers and their total disregard for democracy.
Sometimes progressives call us “reactionary,” but I don’t know where the insult is. I don’t think the left-wing revolution will improve family, society, or life. We are no longer free or happy. In Europe, suicide rates increase the closer you get to countries with more progressive policies. I am happily reactionary when progress is killing babies in the womb, or murdering old folks who get in the way, as in the Netherlands, or when the future is China’s one-child policy, or when the modern thing is to deceive children by telling them they are not male or female, that the corkscrew that sprouts from between their legs is a figment of their imagination, or that their desire to play football is a sexist impulse. In the end, the conservative is reactionary against anything that makes things worse. In that sense, reactionary, more than an insult, is an honor.
Another insult I love and am often blessed with is “old-fashioned.” A few years ago I wrote a column in Spain titled “I am more classic than James Stewart’s shoe laces,” and it made my progressive readers cross themselves — or whatever it is that secularists do now when they are shocked — and wave their hands above their burkas. I don’t know; I wrote some pretty crazy stuff there . . . that I like to have combed hair with a part, that I don’t like smart appliances, that I prefer classic ties to blindingly garish ones, and that I hate most movies shot after 1940. Many of my readers tried to insult me by calling me “old-fashioned”! And that made me feel great. Old is the Sistine Chapel. Old is French Burgundy. Old is Don Quixote, and John Ford’s movies, and the Cadillac Eldorado, and the Grand Canyon. Old is beauty, laughter, and good manners. For all those things, I’m happily old-fashioned.
I am happy to be conservative, to be associated with all these things, and to be deemed worthy of all the insults that the Left wants to throw at me. Especially when I think that the alternative to my old-fashioned Donna Reed might be the modern Nancy Pelosi.
Translated by Joel Dalmau