An intra-conservative war broke out this week between Ann Coulter and WorldNetDaily after the site disinvited the well-known writer from a conference it was hosting after it learned that she had agreed to speak at a similar event sponsored by gay conservatives.
Coulter had agreed to be a featured speaker at “Homocon 2010,” an event put together by GOProud, a group of conservatives and libertarians who are gay or support gay rights, a position which WorldNetDaily saw as improperly validating “a brand of materialistic libertrianism” according to the site’s editor Joseph Farah.
“Ultimately, as a matter of principle, it would not make sense for us to have Ann speak to a conference about ‘taking America back’ when she clearly does not recognize that the ideals to be espoused there simply do not include the radical and very ‘unconservative’ agenda represented by GOProud,” Farah said in a statement posted on WorldNetDaily’s website.
After being dumped in a very public fashion, Coulter shot back via email to Daily Caller reporter Chris Moody saying that as a public figure she was willing to speak to all kinds of groups with whom she disagrees and that WND had dropped her for publicity reasons only. She also blasted Farah for promoting the idea that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and is thus ineligible to be elected president, an idea commonly derided as “birtherism.”
“He could give less than two sh-ts [sic] about the conservative movement — as demonstrated by his promotion of the birther nonsense (long ago disproved by my newspaper, Human Events, also Sweetness & Light, American Spectator and National Review etc, etc etc). He’s the only allegedly serious conservative pushing the birther thing. For ONE reason: to get hits on his website.”
The Coulter-Farah tiff has attracted a good deal of attention but one group has been particularly quiet on the matter. Conservative blogger Matt Lewis emailed a number of prominent social conservatives for comment but got few responses. As Lewis noted at the end of an item he wrote yesterday:
“Despite reaching out to social conservative activists and groups, few were interested in commenting on this story — a point which is, in itself, telling. Several young conservatives I spoke with also drew a sharp distinction between opposition to gay marriage and being ‘anti-gay.’ And many who oppose gay marriage said they would be fine with domestic partnerships or civil unions.”
Lewis’s point on this subject echoes one made by the Politico’s Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith: in the age of Obama, the size of government has become issue that animates people:
Much of the right — including the noisy and influential tea party movement — sees greater and more immediate danger from this administration and Congress on issues related to the role of government and the very meaning of America than from the old “social issues.” For while Obama has avoided single-issue fights on issues such as gays in the military and federal funding of abortions — angering parts of his base, in the process — he has, in the minds of conservatives, pushed a comprehensive agenda, and that is far more threatening. [...]
One influential figure, Fox News’s Glenn Beck, reacted with visible incredulity when fellow Fox host Bill O’Reilly asked him whether he considered same-sex marriage “a threat the country.”
“Will the gays come and get us?” Beck asked. “I believe what Thomas Jefferson said. If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?”
”Honestly, I think we have bigger fish to fry,” he continued. “You can argue about abortion or gay marriage or whatever all you want. The country is burning down.”
There’s lots more in the piece that I think is accurate however Martin and Smith incorrectly conflate the issue of gay marriage and other non-economic political topics. I’d say that the decline of conservative opposition to gay unions/marriage is perhaps the only social issue where there’s been an actual shift of opinion. On the other more traditional issues, if there has been a shift in the country’s opinion, it’s been toward the right.
Last year, according to Gallup, for the first time ever, a majority of Americans identified themselves as pro-life. Similarly, the growing debate over immigration, concern about the role of Islam in politics, and skepticism about far-left racialists like Jeremiah Wright show that American conservatives’ appetite for social issues has not diminished. They simply aren’t as interested in opposing things like gay unions, marriage or blocking homosexuals from military service.
There are plenty of reasons for this shift: the growing pugnacity of the professional gay left against foes like the Mormon church likely intimidates some. That can’t account for it all, however, especially for someone like Glenn Beck, a man who routinely addresses all kinds of controversial topics and is also a Mormon himself.
I’d say there are two main reasons for this shift: the first being that as gay marriage has become legal in several states and other countries, people have noticed that the world hasn’t ended. Fire did not come down from heaven to destroy Vermont or Massachusetts. Last we heard, Mexico, South Africa, and all of the other countries that have recognized same-sex marriages are still standing. Anyone who thought that this was going to be a problem has clearly been proven wrong.
The second reason is that in the face of treasury-crushing debt, unending bailouts, union cronyism, and a failed “charm offensive” foreign policy, is it any wonder that conservatives aren’t particularly interested in the minuscule number of same-gendered people who want to call themselves married?
It’s also worth noting that for her part, Coulter is actually an opponent of same-sex marriage but she correctly realizes that being homosexual has nothing at all to do with one’s political ideology. One can feel very strongly that same-sex marriage is wrong but to assert as Farah does appears to that gay people cannot be conservative is the height of absurdity and just as preposterous as saying that everyone who opposes gay marriage is an mind-numbed robot. There is more than enough room in the conservative movement for each side of the gay marriage debate.
Update 14:18. In the comments below, Farah charges that I have misrepresented his views on whether a person can be a conservative and also homosexual. He does not explicitly state this in his public expressions, however, it is very apparent that he believes GOProud is an insidious group that ought not to have a place in the conservative movement. A relevant excerpt from the letter linked in previous graf is below:
Meanwhile, we have people – homosexual and heterosexual – who take pleasure in the increase of this abomination and its acceptance, just as Paul said.
This is how homosexuality literally destroys societies.
I know you don’t want to see America destroyed. I’ve read all your books, and I’m a fan of your columns. I know you want what’s best for our country – and I believe you’re a sincere Christian. [...]
The only way you might change some minds and hearts at Homocon is to confront them with their sin. I don’t get the impression that is what you are being paid to do. These are folks who are being sheltered from the consequences of their sin. By giving a standard conservative rah-rah speech to them, you are embracing them as part of the conservative movement.
GOProud truly represents a blight on the conservative movement. The more the movement embraces them and accepts them, the more it will render the conservative movement useless and irrelevant.
I don’t believe that Farah or any other person has the right to decide who people should be talking to and who they shouldn’t. I extend that principle to WND itself. Some on the right have called for the site to be boycotted because of its position regarding President Obama’s birth certificate. Nonsense I say. Let people decide for themselves who they think is legitimate and who they think is not.
Since Farah did not explicitly state that gays cannot be conservative, I've changed the above text to reflect that. He clearly does believe conservatives cannot support gay rights.