Wherein a few loose ends are explored.
(Updated to clarify meaning of terms.)
1. The GOP has a bigotry problem. Those who are genuinely trying to combat it have my sympathy, if not my confidence. A commenter at TC who goes by Muslim Conservative has been patiently doing a lot of heavy lifting in that regard, and has managed to dislodge some damaging admissions, to wit: Former Republican candidate for Sheriff Greg Ahlemann has stated once again that he categorically does not “vote for or support candidates who support or practice Islam.” He also stated that he would never vote for or support “a homosexual.”
That statement might surprise those who read my interview with him on Equality Loudoun back in 2007, in which he talked about Muslim friends and gay friends in a way clearly intended to dispel the rumor that he harbors bigotry. What might also surprise you is that his views haven’t changed since then, and that he doesn’t see any contradiction. He genuinely believes, I think, that these statements do not constitute bigotry, and he is not alone in this view.
The argument goes like this: Greg is just saying that he votes according to his faith, and that a “conservative Christian” candidate who shares his beliefs will always be more likely to take policy positions that are consistent with those beliefs. What’s wrong with that, he wants to know. That’s not bigotry.
He’s right. Nothing is wrong with that. Everyone votes according to whether they think a candidate will take positions that are consistent with our
beliefs beliefs and values. What else would you base voting on? The problem is that one of these things is not like the other.
The behavior that was identified as bigotry is not the straw man “voting on the basis of shared
values beliefs and values.” No, what was correctly identified as bigotry is the sentiment that any member of a particular group, simply by virtue of being a member of that group, is unqualified to hold public office. If you state that you would categorically never vote for a [fill in the blank], you are stating that, to your mind, no member of that group should be able to participate in governance. You are stating that all members of that group should be relegated, by virtue of being a [fill in the blank], to a status of second-class citizenship. That is what bigotry is. The kerfuffle over there of trying to conflate the straw man with the actual position I just described is an interesting window into the problems of people who want to hold on to their prejudices without being thought of as prejudiced.
Anyway, it’s clear that David Ramadan’s woes with regard to the “Anti-Shariah Task Force” crowd did not end with the defeat of his primary opponent. With these sentiments being treated as reasonable, and with promises of an impending mind-blowing exposé on the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” (again, people: Not at Ground Zero, and not a mosque) coming from within his own party, his troubles are just beginning.
Advantage: Mike Kondratick, a well-qualified and engaging candidate who is neither the target nor the perpetrator of this self-inflicted mess.
2. We hear often that the primary process favors the radical and extremist “on both sides.” If true, it looks pretty one-sided from here. In the 13th (if you believe the spin), the vote was not split between PW-based FitzSimmonds and Stirrup, handing the victory to Black, but instead the radical extremist vote was split between FitzSimmonds and Black. Republicans in the newly drawn district, excepting limited parts of Prince William, clearly are not interested in having a “moderate” candidate – if that’s even what Mr. Stirrup was. It’s hard to see any daylight between his positions and those of his opponents; my guess is that he failed to express an adequately visceral opposition to “female liberty” (a disturbing phrase with no analogue, for which I give credit to our commenter who goes by the handle “Republican”). In any case, the arguments in favor of Mr. Stirrup were of the classic postmodern variety, being that what made him a superior candidate was not his positions (by most accounts just as radical as Black’s), but that he hides them from the general electorate better. I’m still waiting for a reality-based Republican with the courage to say that those positions are actually wrong, and not just damaging to the illusion of moderation when one expresses them too openly.
Advantage: Shawn Mitchell, whose mainstream, moderate appeal does not need to be constructed. It’s actually based on his positions.
3. Finally, I wish I could say that I respect my colleague Barbara Munsey for invoking Pastor Niemöller in the defense of her friend David Ramadan; it’s certainly justified in light of the unreconstructed bigotry he’s been subjected to (and will continue to be, from the looks of things described above). Unfortunately, what we are getting is an object lesson in situational ethics. When the target of vile rhetoric is someone she supports, Ms. Munsey invokes Niemöller. When the perpetrator of vile rhetoric is someone she supports, however: Sound of crickets.
I’m pretty sure that Ms. Munsey doesn’t give a rat’s ass whether I find her moral line in the sand credible or consistent – and boy is that a good thing.