The Corner

Re: CPAC Blunders

I agree that CPAC’s accepting sponsorship from the John Birch Society is a huge mistake. But the problem is not the specifics of most of the Birchers’ policy concerns. As some of the comments at the article Jonah linked to suggest, lots of conservatives are frustrated at the fecklessness and cowardice of the Republican party, and even much of the conservative establishment, and so are willing to consider alternatives that should be out of bounds. In my experience, this is also the case with many people outside Washington who call themselves libertarians; unlike the Cato and WSJ types, they embrace American sovereignty and reject open borders — but they’re sick of more mush from Republican wimps and so they’re open to people offering more sweeping solutions.

The grant of immunity from American law to Interpol, for instance, is something that will no doubt drive Birchers crazy, and with good reason. Getting the U.S. out of the U.N., likewise, looks better every day. And obviously I’m all for tougher border security. I don’t want to get rid of the Fed or repeal the Real ID law, but they’re certainly legitimate subjects for intra-conservative debate.

The problem, rather, is the central role that conspiracy theory plays in the Birchers’ worldview. This is a sign of political immaturity at best, and disordered thinking at worst. If you really think Eisenhower was a Soviet agent, or that the World Trade Center was brought down in a controlled demolition, the problem is not that you’re factually incorrect or that your value priorities are different from mine. The problem is that you are simply clueless about how human society functions and you have no business being taken seriously.

Obviously, there’s a double-standard here. Oliver Stone and Rosie “metal can’t burn” O’Donnell are just as disconnected from reality as the Birchers, but since they’re on the left, they get a pass. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is. So, while we shouldn’t be quizzing potential supporters as to whether they believe in the black helicopters, no organization based on the notion of a vast, global conspiracy has any business being admitted to conservative councils.

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