Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 07:42 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 07:42 | SYDNEY

Whither the American right?


Sam Roggeveen


13 January 2009 09:41

Joe the Plumber, made famous by his confrontation with Barack Obama and his subsequent championing by John McCain in a presidential debate, is in Israel. The conservative online media organisation, PJTV, sent him there to report on breaking events, though evidently, he thinks that's not actually his job:

I don’t think journalists should be anywhere allowed [near] war. You guys report where our troops are at. You report what’s happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it’s asinine. I liked back in World War I and World War II when you’d go to the theatre and you’d see your troops on the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for them. Now everyone’s got an opinion and wants to down soldiers. You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers. I think media should be abolished from reporting. You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say: “Well look at this atrocity,”‘ well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it.

That sound you hear is the last, desperate choke of a dying political movement. What has characterised the modern right since the Reagan-Thatcher era is a sense of siege, which manifested itself in a number of ways. In universities,  it took the form of a largely legimitate effort to draw attention to the influence of post-modernism and critical theory. In media, the right took on a stultifying and self-satisfied left-liberal orthodoxy. In politics, society and the workplace, political correctness was the enemy.

The Bush era and the events of 9/11 gave renewed life to this movement, adding Islamist extremism to the array of forces apparently threatening Western civilisation. But as the Palin nomination implied, the right's siege mentality had become extreme beyond reason, with the right degenerating into an authoritarian movement suspicious of all learning and which, as Joe the Plumber suggests, defends ignorance.

Can America now say goodbye to all that, and hope for the emergence of a more civilised right?