by Julie Kelly
The column, written in the heated aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, sounded like a typical anti-American screed published in the New York Times or posted on MSNBC.
“Racism in America is a fatal wound,” the author lamented. “Every time another incident occurs we put a Band-Aid on it, but the Band-Aid keeps falling off. Band-Aids are not enough to ever stitch this country back together.”
She went on: “Nothing can bring George Floyd back to life. But if his horrific and needless death proves to be a turning point to make Americans finally end the ugly racism that stains our nation’s history and afflicts us like a cancer of the soul, he will leave behind a legacy we sorely need.”
That inflammatory, crude condemnation of America—not to mention the glorification of Floyd, a man with a criminal record who was doped up on drugs and committing another crime when the fatal encounter occurred—was made by Kay Coles James, president of the Heritage Foundation. James, the first woman and first African American to head the conservative think tank, like so many on the performative Right, jumped on the Left’s latest anti-America crusade while betraying the constituency her organization purports to represent.
Embracing the Left’s Language
It is a reflex, unfortunately, that’s commonplace on the establishment Right, an infuriating capitulation to our country’s most insidious foes. The Left intends to destroy the nation and use race as the carpet-bomb—and that approach is working even as blacks continue to make solid economic, occupational, and educational gains.
So, what was James’s point? There is no evidence Floyd’s death had anything to do with race. One incident, or even a random handful, hardly proves her diagnosis that racism is a “fatal wound” to America. The unfolding mayhem and chaos that followed Floyd’s death would have been a perfect opportunity for James to explain why conservatives, not radicals on the Left, have better solutions to improve the lives of all minorities. James, after all, has a triumphant personal story of her own; her success is a testament to our country’s unparalleled progress on matters of race and equality.
But at a pivotal moment, James instead chose to invoke the language of the Left. And she wasn’t alone.
A few days after James’ column was posted, Tucker Carlson detailed a marquee roster of “conservative” leaders who lined up to reprimand a racist America and, in effect, condone the Black Lives Matter insurgency. The list included James, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. Carlson even called out Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s national security advisor for jumping on the time-for-soul-searching bandwagon.
Defending the Left’s Language
Predictably, the same outlets and pundits that surface whenever the Left needs backup rushed to cover for the race-baiting “conservatives.” Carlson’s monologue was labeled a “misleading attack on prominent conservatives,” by Ramesh Ponnuru, an editor at National Review.
In a rebuke that was part strawman, part cherry-picking, and part rambling word salad, Ponnuru failed to make his case. But no matter, Ponnuru—a visiting fellow for the American Enterprise Institute, another what-have-you-done-for-me-lately conservative think tank populated by NeverTrumpers—had achieved his goal of shivving Carlson while defending race-hustlers on the Right. (Ponnuru, however, was filled with praise for Joe Biden’s response to the Floyd killing, cooing over Biden’s “old-time liberalism” and decency in the midst of crisis.)
Speaking of National Review, some of its editors and columnists continue to play footsie with the Left—unsurprising behavior considering NR contributors have been invaluable allies to Democrats in their crusade against Donald Trump. Just consider their work as foot soldiers in the effort to perpetuate the Russian collusion hoax; bolster Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into imaginary crimes; warn about surges in “white supremacy”; oppose the president’s emergency declaration to protect the southern border; and back impeachment—to name a few. Not even the Covington Catholic High School pro-life students were spared an immediate condemnation and thrashing from National Review’s “conservatives.”
Confederate statues, argues the magazine’s editor-in-chief, should not be protected by conservatives. People like us, opines Rich Lowry, “reflexively oppose politically correct campaigns to destroy anything giving offense. They fear where the slippery slope of woke iconoclasm will lead—first it’s Jefferson Davis, ultimately George Washington. This impulse, though, is a mistake.”
That same day, vandals in Portland wrapped the head of a statue of George Washington in an American flag, set it on fire, and tore it down. Statues of Francis Scott Key and Ulysses S. Grant were destroyed in San Francisco. On Sunday, New York City’s American Museum of Natural History announced it would remove a statue of Theodore Roosevelt in an effort to erase a “painful legacy of colonial expansion and racial discrimination.”
Like many Surrender Conservatives embarrassed over their impulse to assemble some sort of Leftist Lite alternative to defining political matters, Lowry later presented an unrealistic compromise. “The upshot is that we are going to have to fight like hell to keep Thomas Jefferson and George Washington regardless of what happens to the Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart statues,” he wrote.
Fight like hell, you say? Fight who—and how? What united front has establishment conservatism built over the past few decades with the exception of unified opposition to Donald Trump, and perhaps the pro-life movement?
Conservatism Inc. Bends the Knee
As I wrote last week, our current crisis speaks as much to the failure of the conservative movement as it confirms the victory of the Left. It is they, not Trump, who have left conservatives nearly defenseless at this moment, yet they still pretend there’s a third way, that some parcel of imaginary common ground exists amid the rubble and ruin.
Over the weekend, American Greatness contributor Ned Ryun confronted a top Heritage staffer, demanding an explanation for how the elite organization prepared for this moment: “[W]ay to waste that $1.25 BILLION you raised between 2001-2018. What are you gonna do to beat the Left? Swat them with your white papers?”
No, these Surrender Cons will do what they always do: Pretend a debate about Confederate statues is actually about Confederate statues and not about the inexorable destruction of our country’s history that eventually leads straight to the Founders and the Constitution. Placate the Left with meaningless canards about race and social justice that feed the flames of racial division the Left has been seeking to stoke in order to burn down the country. Bend the rhetorical knee before Black Lives Matter for fear of being called a racist while hanging your own supporters out to dry. Assign weakness to Donald Trump rather than own up to their own failures.
At what point will the benefactors of the Surrender Cons understand they are supporting a con job? Or, better yet, when will the subscribers and regular donors catch on? James is right about one thing: Band-Aids won’t stitch this country back together if that’s even possible. Joe Biden certainly won’t. The only small hope is that freedom-loving, America-defending people on the Right unify to reject every single demand of the Left.
There is no compromise or common ground with people who hate the foundations of this country. The slippery slope Lowry downplayed is already thoroughly greased. In fact, if legacy conservatism had its own statue, it would be one big slippery slope curving left and capped with a white flag.
The careerists in the establishment Right can surrender if they want; that’s their prerogative. Just don’t expect the rest of us to join in bending the knee.
– – –
Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness.
Photo “Kay C.James” by The Heritage Foundation. Background Photo “Heritage Foundation Building” by Ser Amantio di Nicolao. CC BY-SA 3.0.