Monday, November 04, 2002


[Voice of Jeff Foxworthy]:
Being conservative means accepting traditional values on trust; until you come across enough evidence to reject one of these values, you will not. But if you cling to traditional values, come what may, no matter what the evidence against them, then you might just be a reactionary.

Being conservative can include finding inspiration in religion for your values. But if you take the pronouncements of your religion as enough to reject good reasons against your values, you might just be a reactionary. If several times a year your voice becomes shrill and you say, "I don't care, God says not to do that, that's all!" then you might just be a reactionary. Conservatives think God is reasonable and won't advise us to do things that don't make sense. But if you are prepared to protect something that obviously doesn't matter "because it's holy," then you might just be a reactionary. In fact, if you vote Republican and think that morality stays what it is whether there is a God or not, you're a conservative. If you think God is the basis of morality, then you're definitely a reactionary.

If you are pessimistic about human nature and are tragically prepared to accept a non-utopian society as the only one possible, you're probably a conservative. But if you feel your gut tighten and your pulse race when you think about ushering in a society of perfect liberty or holiness, then you might just be a reactionary. If you are tragically prepared to sacrifice some of your precious values as the situation changes, in order to fulfill as many of your values as possible, I have no doubt that you're a conservative. But if you cling to certain principles, bound for glory, while you let other principles go to hell, it's just possible that you're a reactionary. You might not be. You might be principled, it depends on the case. If you see slippery slopes everywhere, you're definitely a reactionary.

If you are prepared to look at the facts as they come in, such as that some towns have cut crime with downtown surveillance camaras without men in black making townspeople disappear, that blacks are people, that there's nobody home in a brainless zygote, that we evolved from monkeys, that large sections of humanity are evil, etc., and if you are prepared to adjust your moral judgments so that they fit the facts, you are certainly a conservative. That is, you are if you are tenaciously committed to your values and won't alter them because of new-fangled technologies such a reproductive cloning or sperm banks, trendy New Age movements, or trendy multiculturalism - all admittedly exciting phenomena for some but no factual evidence to alter our values. But if you won't listen to anything new because you've already made up your mind, you're a reactionary. And if you first ask yourself how the facts square with your morality or religion before you accept them as facts, you're definitely a reactionary, and a little loopy, too, if you don't mind my saying. Something's amiss if you will laugh at Zen meditiation without knowing what it is or you will crush a skin cell to relieve an itch but will let a woman die before crushing a zygote because zygotes are holy. If that's you, you're not a conservative; you're a reactionary, at least a little, anyway. Sure, a person can be a little reactionary, we all are. But let's all try to be a bit more conservative.

Leftists are reactionaries, too, by the way. No, I'm serious. Economic equality, come what may! Bound for glory! Oh, yes, and they won't accept biology any more than the "I-ain't-come-from-no-monkey" right. That whole sociobiology thing.

What makes a conservative: undaunted acceptance of fact and devotion to truth, plus allegiance to traditional, tried-and-true values, as long as they are not found to be refuted by the facts. We moderate amongst our values, like beloved children - we nurture them all as much as we can. We won't make any radical moves that would jeopardize any of them. I looked up "conservative" in the dictionary today. It said, "moderate." Oh, my word!