June 21, 2006

A waste of trees

Oh joy! I just knew there was something missing from my personal library, and now, it seems, my search is over...

Right in time for everyone's summer reading list comes the four pound, 997-page American Conservatism:An Encyclopedia. According to today's New York Times, this massive tome is an attempt by "true" Conservatives to redefine right-wing ideals as different from those being forced on the nation by the individuals currently guiding the party. Even the book's publisher, Jeffrey O. Nelson, stated that,
If conservatism is going to succeed... it's got to look more like the conservative tradition as expressed in this book than the conservatism currently practiced in Washington.
In that light, the book takes pains to omit contributions from, or mention of, Tom DeLay, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, and even ol' Turd Blossom himself. So I suppose I should be respectfully congratulatory of what appears to be an honest plea to the American people along the lines of, "Hey, these fanatics don't represent us either."

Sorry, Jeffrey. Too little, too late.

Because if anything is true, it is that these cleverly omitted zealots have been the unopposed voices of the Conservative philosophy since 1994. And if they (and others of their ilk) aren't featured prominently in something daring to present itself as an "encyclopedia" - even as subjects of criticism for their bastardization of what we're to believe is "true" conservatism - then this hefty anthology has the familiar scent of Republican hypocrisy that pervades every speech, essay, sound-bite, policy, and action of the Right.

In fact, it smacks of a work rank with revisionist history.

According to the Times, there's further evidence of a rose-colored view of the Conservative ideology in the book's treatment of historical GOP racism:
It describes the "courtesy and dignity" of Strom Thurmond, who as a South Carolina governor and senator led the South's effort to preserve segregation. It does not mention that Mr. Thurmond had a black daughter whose existence he kept secret.

George C. Wallace, who became governor of Alabama pledging "segregation forever," was "always more complicated than his critics allowed." The discussion of "Southern conservatism" pays tribute to the region's "precious Anglo-American continuity" and says nothing about Jim Crow.
Must just've been a small oversight, eh?

The last thing we need right now is yet another whitewashing of the sinister nature at the heart of modern Conservatism - especially one masquerading as a scholarly and objective compilation of the "real" leaders of conservative thought. If DeLay, Coulter, O'Reilly, Rove, et al are so objectionable as to be excluded from the history of the Right, then I have to wonder why they weren't relegated to history's scrap heap long ago by the book's contributors.

Instead, they have been allowed to become the public face of modern Conservatism, and their fanaticism has not only gone on unchallenged, but has, in fact, been openly applauded by those who would now distance themselves from its most influential missionaries. As I've said before, this very silence of those calling themselves "moderate" or "true" Conservatives has been nothing short of a tacit endorsement of the Ruling Party's un-American excesses.

So while I generally decry those who would judge a movie or a book without ever having seen or read it, I've already decided this is one hardcover I'm going to skip. It sounds to me like one more misleading ploy by the Ruling Party to paint itself in warm, benevolent hues - instead of acknowledging that it is the political ideology that's come to represent torture, warmongering, homophobia, religious fundamentalism, corruption, cronyism, incompetence, hypocrisy, intrusiveness, and intolerance.

This bunch has had 12 years in control of our government, and look what it's gotten us. If we're to believe the contention of Mr. Nelson that, "We've gone from history's adversary to destiny's child," I have to wonder aloud when, exactly, the good times are going to kick in. And after a decade-plus in which there's been ample time to craft this utopian Conservative society, a book claiming "Oh that's not true conservatism in action so if you stick with us a while longer we'll show you how terrific it really can be" seems like a thousand-page waste of valuable trees.

Besides, I just don't have the time to read it. I'm too busy trying to make ends meet in Bush America.

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