NRO UPDATE: “The Conservative Case For…” Giving in to the Left

NRO UPDATE: “The Conservative Case For…” Giving in to the Left

This article originally appeared on 28 February 2018, but given National Review’s latest foray, it warrants an update.

The conservative case for…Time for a Compromise on Transgenderism

At present, it feels we’re still in the immature, demagogic phase. In some quarters, it remains fashionable to act theatrically repulsed by transgender people, emphasize their weirdness, and make populist appeals to the preposterousness of women asking to be called “him” or surgeons amputating penises and so forth. Yet this seems more cathartic than anything, in the same way that showy judgment of gays did a generation earlier. As with homosexuality in the 1980s and ’90s, the loud revulsion of critics conceals a fading interest in actually attempting to “solve” transgenderism, as even those most offended by it seem to quietly regard purported cures as quackish and authoritarian…

Part one of the compromise will be borne by cultural conservatives and traditionalists. It asks for broad tolerance for the reality that transgender men and women exist, and are entitled to basic human dignity, just like everyone else. This does not mean having to morally endorse behavior many may believe runs contrary to God’s plan for a just and healthy society, but it does imply that acts like ostentatiously calling people by pronouns they don’t want, or belittling their personal struggle, are boorish and petty.

Update to the Update: NRO contra NRO.

Somewhat amusingly, we’re now reliant on progressives to make the conservative case. Pace The ‘gay cake’ fight: why the bakers had a right to refuse this order.

In 2014 Gareth Lee, an LGBT activist, asked Ashers bakery in Belfast to make a cake decorated with images of the Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie, together with the slogan: “Support gay marriage”. Ashers declined the order as the message ran contrary to the owners’ Christian beliefs.

The Equality Commission, to whom Lee took his case, sued Ashers for discrimination. The courts found the bakery to have unlawfully discriminated against Lee on grounds of sexual orientation and religious belief or political opinion. Last week, the supreme court heard Ashers’ appeal against that decision. It’s not expected to deliver its verdict for a few months…

“Although I strongly disagree with Ashers’ opposition to marriage equality,” the veteran LGBT and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has observed, “in a free society neither they nor anyone else should be compelled to facilitate a political idea that they oppose.” He is right.

Here, of course, the left will brook no compromise. You must not only bake the cake, but decorate it. It’s as if progressives don’t believe there really are such things as non-progressives, that they are real people, and that their feewings might be hurt (yes, it’s a joke, in anticipation of comments that might be made).

Perhaps we ought to have a search and discover which progressive point has not been adopted by conservatives. I can’t think of one. Can you?

Original article begins here:

Do a search for “The Conservative Case For…” (we met this phrase before). Know what you’ll find?

Almost exclusively, articles about how to graciously surrender to the left. About how progressive positions can be seen, if viewed in just the right light, as conservative after all. About how if we capitulate the culture wars gracefully, our progressive masters will love us and speak well of us.

Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

A few recent examples (all emphases mine).

  • The conservative case for a carbon tax in Canada.” Author admits conservatives are “nearly unified in their opposition to the implementation of a carbon tax, or carbon pricing.” But by surrendering to the left, “Conservatives can show that they really are interested in conservation and sustainability, opening up the Conservative brand to a wider range of the voting population, while not being forced to abandon their principles.” Except the principle of avoiding unnecessary and confiscatory taxes.
  • Conservative Case for Gay Marriage“. From a Senior fellow at the Brookings Institute comes the argument that because some (public) conservatives disrespected their own marriages, therefore so-called same-sex marriage “is part and parcel of a re-commitment to family values, not a flight from them.” Thus “Same-sex marriage is socially conservative.” Never mind that sodomy is a sin that cries out to Heaven for justice.
  • The Conservative Case for Women’s Issues.” Author says “The culture war is over and we lost.” Which is why conservatives should support “policies addressing family medical leave, paid parental leave, workplace discrimination, gender wage discrimination, an earned income tax credit, childcare incentives and food tax reform.” Conclusion? “There is nothing to fear and everything to gain for conservatives to pursue the quest for happiness for everyone.”

There are many, many more. “The conservative case for single payer,” “The Conservative Case for Unions,” “The Conservative Case for Overturning Citizens United,” “Paul Ryan and the conservative case for President Trump to keep DACA,” “The conservative case for SSM,” and on and on. Try it yourself.

It isn’t only conservative-case-for keywords that signal retreat. There are many ways of advertising submission. The most common is to feign exhaustion. To claim the tide is so overwhelming that there is no use in fighting. Best to abandon the cause and save our energy for another battle.

A great demonstration of this from a (said-to-be) conservative author is in the article “It’s Time for Legalized Prostitution.” This was in Slate, where the author then played the same role as does David Brooks does now at the New York Times.

This is Lent, so go to Confession, repent of your sins, and if you are not ready to thrown in the spiritual towel, you can click here to finish the fight.


  1. Great illustration of the fact that “conservative” does not mean anything any more.

    Right vs. Left is also meaningless.

    All your examples are simply neoconservatives sweeping away all Normal opposition. They have changed “conservative” till it now has no meaning.

    The only core belief of neoconservatives, and so, American Conservatism, is absolutely required to be included in their clique: Total support of war-forever-in-the-Middle-East.

    Everything else is negotiable, or ready to be tossed overboard.

    2nd Amendment? Whatever…

    Economic issues? Who cares…

    Taxes? Raise ’em!

    Cultural war? We’re all in for social justice!

    War! War! War! in the Middle East and wherever Netanyahu points! Now! That’s the only core belief–which, coincidentally, American “Conservatives” share with “Liberals.”

  2. Joy

    There never was such an animal as a Conservative.
    Only conversationally. Political arguments which rely on a group mentality and a failure to conform to that group mentality of any given individual are arguing tribally.

    Just saying “the conservative case for…” Is a provocative. it contains the assumption that ‘conservatives’ think the same way. Clearly they don’t, nor do Liberals.
    High time the ones who want the old right and left divide back learned this. Trump and his supporters understood this patently obvious loophole, or truth about how opinions know no loyalty, except self consciously, sycophantically or by some other double think.
    If opinions become strong enough about any given subject or cause, allegiance to right or left is meaningless. Everybody has different priorities, different information, unfortunately, different cultures under one nation. That’s a big problem and it is only going to get worse.

    It’s going to get nastier and more cut throat. Especially if the media has any say about it.
    People don’t want to be sensible they just want a fight. They too have different priorities.
    “arbitrary binning”. (Mike D)

  3. Ken

    RE: “Do a search for “The Conservative Case For…” (we met this phrase before). Know what you’ll find?
    “Almost exclusively, articles about how to graciously surrender to the left.”

    Tried that — those articles seem to be (based on what is admittedly a small sample size), overwhelmingly written by those on the Left. Many, most?, don’t seem to have clear authorship (e.g. a publication, yes, but individual or even their title such as ‘editor’ often absent). Many are clearly by those on the Left where they discuss “conservative” from a perspective and in terms one can easily see applied verbatim by a biologist describing the behavior of some beetle … as if a “conservative” was some foreign species, not humans with a different opinion.

    “The Conservative Case for Trump” was a curious exception penned when Trump’s political position & values were being debated (e.g., was he an ex-liberal or a liberalish Republican or what???). There the authors clearly had something to work with…

  4. Ken

    I’d bet that almost all of those “conservative case for” articles are by Leftists or those leaning that way.

    Try finding the opposite, something like, “The Liberal Case for Guns in Every School and Mandatory Marksmanship Training for All.” Conservatives don’t really play that kind of Alinsky-ish propaganda con game … maybe they should…

  5. Joy

    …It’s right here where you read the propaganda mirroring mainstream medias antics… Masquerading as satire, usually.

    “Bad blocking, aka arbitrary binning, aka dividing of the data into a priori subsets, is the principal source of bias in any type of analysis, not just the statistical kind. Very dangerous, too. Leads to wars, Holocausts, confiscatory taxes, shoes that don’t fit, and a variety of other evils, small and large.
    We don’t hand churn data anymore like Granny churned butter. We have computers now to do it for us. Give me all the data all the time. I’ll deal with the problems of autocorrelation and lack of independence. Don’t block me up.
    Don’t get all jiggy about the extreme data points. There are no such thing as outliers, there are only ordinary liars.”

    Mike D.

  6. Sheri

    As Ken notes, all seem to be written by the Left. They are believed by very timid or weak people on the Right or those on the Left that need reassurance that Conservatives will never win. I agree that there really is no such thing as a “conservative”, but when you’re trying to convince people to submit to you, as does the Left, everyone on the other side needs a label that is universal and negative in connotation. “Conservative” serves that purpose for the Left. It may be why many “conservatives” never use that term to describe themselves.

    I haven’t surrendered since I was two years old and don’t intend to start now. There were strategic retreats, followed by new offensive take-down tactics (takes time to build a trojan horse), but never surrender. Good luck to politicians into talking me out of 59 years of NEVER SURRENDER.

  7. Anon

    My hobby horse is the good thief, which I think encapsulates the “I too am cool” protestations of conservatives. Jesus is on the cross flanked by two thieves, also on crosses, also on the cusp of their mortal demise. The penitent thief understands that he did the crime, and his punishment is worthy (hard for us moderns to wrap out jelly brains around). The second thief—equally guilty of the crime–joins the crown in jeering Jesus, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.”

    The motivation of the bad thief was not that he cared about the truth, but for some perplexing reason he wanted to appear cool and with-it to the crowd, even as the shadow of death is darkening.

    As with the thieves, the truth is evident. Conservatives should be primed and ready to see and accept it (more so than other populations). Instead of siding with the truth and carrying its banner, they look down at the crowd and for the same perplexing reason they want to get in good with them. The truth is standing right there next to them, but their heads are swiveled with the dreams of being invited to all the right parties and having all the right kind of friends.

    The dirty secret is that no matter what acrobatics that conservatives take to be attractive to and accepted by the crowd, the crowd stills hates and reviles them. In the end, they end up with nothing, and likely will not end up in paradise.

  8. Sander van der Wal

    If Conservatism does not exist, so-called Conservatives must be part of some other political movement. Which is?

    From a European point of view, this is quite weird. We have proper Liberals, Christian-Democrats and even one or two Social Democrats that can be seen as conservatives (deliberate small c). There’s even a Socialist Party that is conservative, i.e. trying to preserve the Welfare State.

    American Conservatism doesn’t appear to be grounded in a political movement. Even the British Conservatives are proper Liberals.

  9. Kalif

    “Everybody has different priorities, different information, unfortunately, different cultures under one nation”
    That is the case for just about any place on this planet, to a larger extent even (because the rest of the world is much, much older and complex).

    My experience has been that most people capable of some sort of independent thinking are somewhat on a spectrum b/w left and right with varying ratios. That is very good, really.

    Of course, most are just sheep that follow the checklist from their respective parties and expect someone else to tell them what to prefer/think, etc. Mob/lynch mentality at its finest, especially when it comes to topics that exceed cranial capabilities of the majority of any population.

    What irritates me most is the hyped up ‘polarization of America’ (or similar slogans).
    Let’s not forget the numbers:

    US population: 327 Mil. and change
    Eligible to vote in 2016: 210 Mil. I believe
    Voted for Her: 63 Mil.
    Voted for Him: 61 Mil.

    Voters combined 125 Mil. +/- soaking wet.

    125 out of 327.

    Polarized what again? 🙂

  10. “The dirty secret is that no matter what acrobatics that conservatives take to be attractive to and accepted by the crowd, the crowd stills hates and reviles them. In the end, they end up with nothing, and likely will not end up in paradise.”

    Wow! What horse of hate did you ride to the party?

    “The crowd” you describe is exactly the Politically Correct Progressive belief system. It’s the easy way–the cool way–the virtue signalling way.

    To follow the Normal-American way, the “conservative” way is to be derided, scorned, reviled.

    Are you living in the USA?

    The media, academia/education, and Hollywood are the transmission belts of hatred for Normals. They define and transmit “cool.” And yet…..

    PC-Progressives are a minor fraction of our country.


    38% of Americans identify as Conservative (whatever that means), and only 24% as “Liberal.”

    While a super-majority 76% reject PC-Progressivism, the “cool” kids in the media, education/academia and Hollywood demonize Normals.

    The “crowd” is with us, but it ain’t cool.

  11. Joy

    I don’t mean to be picky Kalif but it would be 124 out of 210, hung out to dry, 125/210.
    Which goes to show that not everybody cares a fig about politics or even nation or the price of fish. Some very clever people don’t vote at all, for reasons they can always make up on the fly but want moaning rights retained.

    How come she got more votes? Constituencies? or the US equivalent?
    As to spectrums. There cannot be on spectrum which handles all the various political causes.

    Of course I understand the traditional Conservative and the ‘conservative approach’ to a given thing. I am one myself. Had I a vote I would have voted for Trump and am still thrilled that he’s in charge.
    Long may it continue.

  12. Mike D.

    Dear Joy,

    I wrote that pithy comment at WMB nearly 10 years ago and promptly forgot about it. But you remembered. And quoted me lo these many years subsequent!

    I am humbled. You are a peach. I heart Joy forever.

  13. Sylvain

    Considering that you and most member of this blog demonstrate on a daily basis the committing of the sin of pride, the worst of the seven deadly sin, you really should go to confession and maybe practice self-flagellation so you have a chance to redemption.

  14. Mike D.

    OMG the commie troll is still a-pestering! Way to hang in there, Syllie. You are a peach, too.

  15. Sander van der Wal


    But deadly sins do not exist, so why should anybody be bothered by commiting them?

  16. wlad

    Can you find an instance of
    “The LEFT Case For…” giving in to the CONSERVATIVE ?

    That says it all!!!

  17. Joy

    Ah, Mike D,
    I curtseyed…

  18. Ken

    Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
    Mayor: What do you mean, “biblical”?
    Dr Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff.
    Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
    Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling.
    Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes…
    Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave.
    Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together – mass hysteria.

    That’s from Ghostbusters, but seems like it could be from Briggs, and those like minded, who cannot tolerate toleration for gays, etc., and see such toleration leading to the demise of society.

    Lets say he/they had their way and all that kind of tolerance & openness was shoved back into the shadows (because it will not actually go away or stop — it has always been there and always will be), so what? Same people, same society but with a pretentious veneer of wholesomeness falsely masquerading as reality. Would any more be ‘saved’? Seems unlikely because individual’s feelings/orientations/etc. remain — and that’s enough to be condemned (recall Matt 5:28).

    What’s really needed to smooth all this out is a single homogeneous religion forming the basis for social values, which are then enshrined in society’s law. Pesky Constitutionally-guaranteed rights such as freedom of speech and religion that contribute to toleration of religiously unsupportable behaviors and values will necessarily have to go. Then the new utopia, wholly consistent with God’s values, can be forced upon us all thereby establishing joy & happiness.

    First though, is the determination of the official religion and what’s in and what’s out per that.

    Briggs cites “Christian” religion as the basis for excluding LGBTs … but then there’s the Episcopalians who have openly accepted them for a long time — their first gay bishop was consecrated in 2003 and gay marriage was approved in 2015 (Episcopalians are hardly the only denomination having concluded the Founder accommodates so). Episcopalians and bakers can both cite their “Christian values” and one will marry a gay couple while the other claims it cannot even bake a cake for them. This is one niche area where there is not supposed to be any accommodation for diversity, there is “right” and there is “wrong” doctrine, and yet one finds that so-called “Christian” doctrinal diversity runs the gamut.

    “Christians” are, in A. Lincoln’s words a “house divided” and need to clean their doctrine up, weed out the heresies that have turned “Christianity” into the “any size for any customer” smorgasbord it now is, and get it down to one true doctrine — this jihad is long overdue. Actually, reviewing Corinthians one finds such “weeding” was necessary from the outset — that never should have stopped.

  19. “…who cannot tolerate toleration for gays, etc….”

    There are a couple of huge issues hidden in that little clause. Your identification of your enemy (those “intolerants”) sets up a dichotomy. And the result is inevitably death and destruction.

    On one side is you and your band of merry Tolerants–so nice, kind, humane, welcoming, accepting, peace-loving, tolerant.

    On the other side is the hating, racist/sexist/homophobic rabble of Deplorable Intolerants.

    Gosh, it’s pretty clear whose side people should be on, isn’t it?

    Once you’ve set up that dichotomy, the only limit to actions taken to ensure peace and Tolerance is man’s imagination. And that’s quite unlimited. See the Gulag Archipelago as a reference.

    The other huge issue hidden in three letter is “etc.”

    Where does the Toleration of the beautiful, beneficent, and wise Tolerants end?

    Do you Tolerate sado-masochism? Tolerate pedophilia? Tolerate necrophilia? Tolerate bestiality? Tolerate cannibalism? Tolerate incest? Tolerate slavery? Tolerate murder? Tolerate theivery? Tolerate….?

    Lots of ceteras in that et cetera, aren’t there?

    Where do you draw the line? Any pervert has “feelings/orientations” for their chosen perversion that you Tolerants can cite to excuse their perverted actions.

    What is the basis of deciding what’s Right and what’s Wrong in the society of the Tolerant?

    Is it okay to be Intolerant of those whose feelings make them Intolerant of one or more flavors of pervert?

    If you can’t accept other’s feelings/orientation that require them to be Intolerant of perverts, does that make you Intolerant?

    Are you ready to live with cognitive dissonance forever?

  20. Yawrate

    Oh yes, Ken, you don’t seem to understand what your assumptions imply.

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