A Letter from a Frum Reader

That David posts on his blog.  Pretty creepy stuff.

A portion:

We have a strong feeling that there now exists a “Heartland conservatism” – in the Reagan tradition –  and an “East Coast conservatism” that is seen as increasingly “elite” and out of touch with our values.   The message you are trying to send to us, to change our message, we are reflecting back at you (all).  Here’s the problem, our numbers area far, far greater.

Most of this alienation and frustration, I believe,  has been exasperated by the very public criticism, from “conservatives”,  of Gov. Palin,  who “out here” is very well liked.  We “get” her David, but we don’t “get” you (all) anymore, it’s that simple.

This is a job for Larison to exegete more fully, but I’ll just point out the chilling tone that what matters is our numbers will overwhelm you line of attack.  Notice there is no mention of whether those values is in for any sort of self-examination.  Whether they have helped bring effective public policy in or not.  No, Palin is our girl period.  We get her, we don’t get  you; hence you must be elitist.

Well in the coming intra-party bloodbath to be had in the Republican party and conservative movement more generally if that side wins (the side represented by the reader’s letter), then the GOP is in for long term, and I mean L-O-N-G T-E-R-M wilderness status.  Sullivan makes a similar point.  The cultural exclusivism and postmodern (in negative sense) cultural fundamentalism sensibility (“my culture right or wrong”) of that statement is something to behold.

The feeling of being abandoned by one’s (formerly) own and besieged from all sides is potent in the letter.  Politically channeled, such feelings are usually problematic.

On a broader look, as globalization continues, as Olivier Roy points out, there is a move to batten down identities.  One can no longer assume someone has a traditional identity because of where they come from, where they work, etc.  Roy’s work is on Islam of course and talks about re-Islamization since one can no longer assume just because one is from a traditionally Muslim society (e.g. Indonesia or Middle East) that therefore one is Muslim.  Even if one born and raised Muslim.  There has to be re-Islamization, a conscious choice, expressly described and validated in public to gain legitimacy.

Similar things are going on here with this neo-fundamentalism (in Roy’s terms) relative to these self-identified US heartland cons.  The traditional lands and environs of conservatism can no longer be trusted–I mean God’s sakes Frum works for AEI, used to work for Bush II, coined the Axis of Evil phrase, and writes on The National Review!!!–but he is breaking with the identity orthodoxy, he is committing heresy here and is to being told in no uncertain terms that the only way back into the good graces of the believers is to repent and public flagellate.  None of those creds he would normally point to matter in this case because identity/cred is not built through such traditions or connections.  Only through personal expression of the beliefs of the community and the Palin thing is a line in the sand for these heartland cons.  Doesn’t matter if she is qualified or not.  Doesn’t matter if she is has policy sense or the temperment for national office.  She is one of them and criticizing her is criticizing them. End of story.



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