Calvin Freiburger

Is Michael Medved Brave? Yes, But…

Posted on May 3 2010 5:00 pm
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.
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At FrumForum, Tim Mak has an interview with Michael Medved that hails the prolific commentator as “the bravest man on radio.”  It’s hard to disagree—Medved is one of the fiercest, most unapologetic advocates of conservatism around, and his show features dissenting callers more than most, regularly devoting entire “Disagreement Days” to letting disgruntled callers take potshots at him on whatever they like.

However, that’s not what Medved’s receiving a hero’s welcome for.  No, in Mak’s eyes, Medved’s courage comes from taking on—you guessed it—other conservatives.  He says a right-wing version of political correctness is setting in, he accuses Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck of saying “stuff that almost everyone knows not to be true, but nonetheless proves provocative and entertaining,” warns that the Republican Party, while not racist, is pursuing a losing strategy of “chasing more white votes”; and he believes the Tea Party needs to learn the lessons of the 1970s anti-war movement—“demonstrations accomplish nothing”:

Medved argues that the protests against the Vietnam War were counter-productive because they turned voters against the anti-war position and led to support for Nixon.  “Nixon reached the peak of his popularity after the mobilization on Washington on November 15, 1969,” said Medved. “Why? Because Nixon was so great? No! Because people hated the hippies!”

In essence, what Medved would most like to see changed about the tea party movement is to change their methods of engagement. Drawing from his own experience, he said: “What works is shaving your beard, putting down your sign, dropping your guitar, and going out and working precincts… joining the Republican Party and getting involved in Congressional races. Protest does not lead to power. Politics leads to power. “

I’m not about to argue that the conservative grassroots should be beyond criticism, and that it deserves some every now and then—this year’s CPAC deserved heat for the John Birch Society’s sponsorship, there is reason to question the firmness of the Right’s commitment to defending the country from her enemies, the Birther nonsense plays right into the Left’s hands, and let’s not forget “tea party” candidate Debra Medina.

But who on the Right opposes criticizing the movement’s excesses?  On all these issues, there are no shortage of voices at NewsReal Blog, National Review, Red State, Hot Air, Pajamas Media, Big Government, and other firmly-conservative, grassroots-approved outlets who have proven their ability to honestly assess their own (heck, no less a “crazy con” than Glenn Beck torpedoed Medina and has taken on Birthers, and regular FrumForum boogeyman Mark Levin has criticized Beck for his excesses, as well).

If we really want to get into how closed-minded or politically-correct the Right is, I could point out that in 2008, we would up giving Rush Limbaugh’s sworn enemy the presidential nomination, or that, while National Review is currently taking heat for what David Frum thinks is too little support for Jim Manzi in his recent attack on Mark Levin, it’s hard to square a groupthink narrative with the fact that NR has no problem continuing to publish him at all, despite his dissent from the conservative line on global warming. (I have no doubt that many more examples could be found without too much effort.)

(Say, if hostile reaction to Medved in Townhall’s comment sections is indicative of right-wing political correctness, what should we make of FrumForum’s commenters, several of whom find Medved not “rational” enough for their tastes because he has expressed skepticism toward evolution?)

Ultimately, what’s braver: risking the ire of disgruntled callers and web readers, or going against the grain of virtually the entire American media establishment and the prevailing sentiments that dominate American popular culture and public education?  I’m all for independent thought and dissenting views, but please, spare us the narrative about what a dangerous undertaking it is to dissent from mainline conservative sentiment—especially when such dissent is guaranteed to be met with showers of accolades from the “respectable” press.


Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

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