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above: Rob Smith, who describes himself as "America's favorite black, gay Republican," speaking with attendees at the 2019 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. [Image by: Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons, resized]

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Conservatives Foolishly Play the Diversity Game

Characteristic of Conservatism Inc. for several decades now has been the practice of having politically correct spokespersons expressing its talking points. Fox News is full of black guests who are encouraged to say what the white hosts are terrified of stating lest they be accused of racism or sexism. Candace Owens, a very attractive black conservative woman, was allowed to observe what scared, white, self-styled conservatives would never say, namely that George Floyd had a long criminal record and may have been high on drugs when a policeman pressed down on his neck with a knee.

There is also an assortment of gays and lesbians on Fox News to comment on LGBT affairs and to create a properly diverse environment. When Fox News all-star Guy Benson, a self-identified gay, announced that he was entering a gay marriage, his colleagues swooned with joy and approval. Benson’s progressive union undoubtedly enhanced his credibility as a critic of extreme transgenderism, which the conservative movement is presently attacking as detrimental to gay identities and particularly upsetting to lesbians. Bruce (Caitlyn) Jenner was also presented on Fox News as a proud transgendered Republican. This came after the channel showed initial reservations about embracing the transgendered Jenner as one of its own.

Why does mainstream conservatism engage in this bizarre practice of featuring designated victim minorities to say what they would not allow vanilla-white Christians to utter? The left does not care how many minorities the right boasts of on outlets like Fox News; they will merely mock these guests as sell-outs. When conservatives play the diversity game, they are dealt useless cards.

There are historical reasons conservatives continue to persist in this delusion. In 1993, a widely publicized incident occurred at the University of Pennsylvania, thereafter, known as the “Water Buffalo affair.” An Orthodox Jewish student named Eden Jacobowitz grew irritated when 15 black girls outside his room began to make noise. Jacobowitz, who was trying to study, became so annoyed that he darted out of his dorm room and told the girls to be quiet. He also fatefully called them “water buffaloes,” which may have been a very loose translation for the Yiddish word “bahemah," meaning a dumb beast. His remark was genuinely offensive, although those at whom he shouted may have been more mystified than insulted by what he said.

The girls complained to the administration and Jacobowitz was expelled from the university. Keep in mind that if a minority had said something far worse to a white student, in all probability nothing would have befallen the offender. Jacobowitz or his supporters, led by Professor Allan Kors, a known defender of free speech at the university, threatened to bring legal action against the school. After some wrangling, Jacobowitz was let back in on the condition that he apologize to those he had offended.

Some observers have noticed salient aspects of this affair. A sizable segment of the Jewish journalistic community, from the neoconservative magazine Commentary to the leftist magazine Daily Forward rallied to the “Yeshiva boy” (meaning a student at an Orthodox Jewish school) pushed around by unfriendly gentiles. Jacobowitz attracted favorable attention because of his background from those who felt a demonstrable ethnic attachment to his cause.

Around this time, another student named Greg Pavlika white, Christian, malehad also been pushed around by UPenn and threatened with expulsion after he wrote critically about Martin Luther King, Jr., in the student newspaper. Although Kors went to bat for Pavlik, this student clearly did not have the support community that rushed to Jacobowitz’s defense. One could easily imagine that those who ignored him might have acted differently if Pavlik belonged to an ethnic, racial, or sexual minority group. Then the conservative establishment, by championing Pavlik, could have made it appear that it was championing an historic media-certified victim of discrimination.

It might also have helped the image of Pavlik if he had not identified himself as a paleoconservative and admirer of Patrick J. Buchanan. There is after all the right and then there is Conservatism Inc., which holds the cards. Pavlik chose his allies imprudently.

It appears that establishment conservatives took from the Pavlik incident a critical idea, namely that they needed more fashionable representatives. If the movement identified with groups claiming a history of discrimination, the public might view them more sympathetically. It is also probable that the Water Buffalo incident suggested how the conservative media could develop their own outreach strategy to minority audiences.

They could feature minorities as spokespersons for their talking points, and as they came up with ever more daring forms of diversity, their standing even on the left would improve. Since then conservative elites have offered as examples of diversity Jewish homosexuals, lesbian feminists, and transgendered Republicans, and this list continues to grow.

By now, however, the strategy has run its course and begun to look silly. 

Paul Gottfried

Paul Gottfried

Paul Gottfried is Editor in Chief of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is also the Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for 25 years. He is a Guggenheim recipient and a Yale Ph.D. He is the author of 13 books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents.

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Southern_Lawyer
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"It appears that establishment conservatives took from the Pavlik incident a critical idea, namely that they needed more fashionable representatives. If the movement identified with groups claiming a history of discrimination, the public might view them more sympathetically." This just begs the question, at least to me, what exactly establishment conservatives think they have gained by playing this game for all these years. Has this strategy employed by the "conservative" American political party resulted in, you know, "conserving" anything recognizably American since it has been in use? Other than head pats from the media and cushy think tank sinecures, of course. There's nothing more cringe inducing than a so-called "conservative" appealing to liberal sentiment to win an argument, yet this is Fox News's entire raison d'etre. Pathetic.
 
 

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Georgia
"Establishment Conservatives"? They are like the team that plays the Harlem Globetrotters. Set up to lose. Part of the Uniparty -- they are used to strip power from actual Conservatives and little else -- basically Leftists in disguise -- not much of a "disguise" generally...let's stop pretending otherwise and taking them seriously -- they are controlled opposition.
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Claire Khaw
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Conservatism is now a meaningless term as meaningless as Liberalism. To call oneself a Conservative or a Liberal is to identify oneself as a political dinosaur. To be a nationalist is to want government in the national interest. Once nationalism has been rehabilitated and generally accepted that nationalism is government in the national interest, it will be easier to argue against liberal policies. How is uncontrolled immigration in the national interest of any nation? If people fear the racism, xenophobia and antisemitism of 20th century old school nationalism, it can easily be explained to them that racism, xenophobia and antisemitism is not in the national interest either. If Hitler and Mussolini did not quite know what was in the national interest of their countries who suffered military defeat as a result of their imperial wars, then it is easily argued that nationalism does not mean waging imperial wars that end in the defeat and disaster of your country. Britain who fell into its Thucydides Trap again in WW2, did not fare well either. Most people do not know what is good for them, and neither do most nations if they think that can remain unguided by God in matters of government and foreign policy. It should be noted that WW1 and WW2 were waged for unIslamic reasons. How prepared is Chronicles to discuss whether the Founding Fathers were in fact proto-Muslims?
 
 

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Egerber2991
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Excellent, as usual, Paul. At some point along the way, pointing out the hypocrisy of liberals who claim to stand for diversity gradually shifted to conservatives pretending they *actually* care more about diversity than their liberal opponents. This makes about as much sense as a left winger claiming that *actually,* liberals care more than conservatives about upholding traditional social mores.
 
 

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