Jonah Knox Interviews John Hawkins On Social Issues / GOProud

(Intro from John Hawkins: Jonah Knox disagreed with my decision to sponsor Homocon. He let me know that and asked me if I’d be willing to do an interview that would hopefully run at Accuracy in Media. I agreed and did the interview, but Accuracy in Media passed on it. So, I gave Jonah the option of running it here. He agreed and here it is!)

Disclaimer: Jonah Knox conducted this interview. Accuracy in Media has posted several of Mr. Knox’s columns. However, this interview has no connection to Accuracy in Media and the views expressed by Mr. Knox are his own and in no way reflect the views of Accuracy in Media.

There is some history of conflicting views between Right Wing News (RWN) and Accuracy in Media (AIM) over GOProud and conservatives. This column will address the conflict of views starting (conveniently enough) with the column I wrote, “Treason, Bradley Manning, and Army PC,” published on August 24, 2010 at AIM.

In my column I write that, “John Hawkins and his Right Wing News (RWN) are the latest to support the homosexual agenda with the announcement that RWN is supporting Homocon. . . .” The RWN column that caused me to write my sentence was, “Big Announcement: Right Wing News Is Sponsoring Homocon” (August 16, 2010). This RWN column (combined with an earlier RWN column) made the argument that the GOP and the right should welcome groups like GOProud because they support most or many conservative positions.

The impression I received from these two columns is that he personally disagreed with many beliefs of GOProud but still welcomed GOProud and its effort to advance its agenda. I fundamentally disagree with that, but I understood what he was trying to impart.

RWN later published, “Why Right Wing News Is Sponsoring Homocon” (August 23, 2010). What I got out of reading that column is that Mr. Hawkins is morally against the agenda that GOProud pushes (which is different from disagreeing or merely being opposed) but that he still welcomes GOProud and does not believe it right for anyone to reject the group for its moral beliefs. This I do not understand and I asked him for an email interview. Mr. Hawkins agreed and I sent him a series of questions relating to his column(s) and the issue of the right and homosexuality in general. The questions and answers are as follows.

1. I don’t understand how one can morally oppose same-sex “marriage,” homosexuals in the armed forces, and the very act of homosexuality while still welcoming GOProud and other homosexuals into the right without requiring them to drop their agenda. My opposition to homosexuality is a moral stance and I cannot compromise on that. Do you believe that I and other conservatives have a moral obligation to accept those who fundamentally oppose what we believe, and who are working to undermine and destroy it? (And I would categorize GOProud as such a subversive organization.)

Not every gay American supports gay marriage or gays in the military, but I don’t think anyone should be surprised that homosexuals support those policies at a higher rate than the general population. That’s how life works. People tend to support policies that they believe, rightly or wrongly, benefit them. So, is GOProud a subversive organization? Not in any meaningful sense. I think they’re gay conservatives who would certainly like it if more people agreed with their stance on gay issues, but I don’t think they’re trying to trick anyone.

As far as an “opposition to homosexuality” goes, I believe that as a Christian, even when we morally disagree with things that people do, we should still be able to have a conversation with them. It has bothered me in the past that I’ve had gay conservatives speak to me in private with a sheepish attitude, almost as if they expected to be rejected out of hand, no matter what they said, because they’re gay. I think we should be able to disagree morally with people without rejecting them as human beings.

For example, I think abortion is as morally wrong as it gets. So, should we not even have conversations with women who have abortions? Should we not allow them in the Republican Party? I don’t think so. I think it’s one thing to reject a moral position and another to reject someone as a human being.

2. You wrote in “Why Right Wing News Is Sponsoring Homocon” that, “As Billy Graham has said, ‘God will not judge a Christian guilty for his or her involuntary feelings.’ We mere mortals shouldn’t do it either.” I have multiple issues with that judgment but the one I want to address is if you really believe that rejecting the acceptance of the homosexual agenda into the right is somehow judging homosexuals for involuntary feelings? And if so, would it be wrong for people to reject any groups that promote adultery, incest (between consenting adults, of course), prostitution, etceteras?

What I was specifically driving at with that was if someone has been attracted to the same sex from birth, I don’t believe God would judge him as having sinned JUST because of that. Point being, there’s a difference between saying something a person does is bad and saying that means he’s a bad person. A person can change his behavior, but an irredeemably bad person is lost and forever unreachable.

As to the idea that people who promote things we morally disagree with shouldn’t be allowed to be a part of the Republican Party, I can’t agree with that position. Yes, you do have to draw a line somewhere, but you’ve got to be extremely careful about where you draw it. For example, I have strong moral objections to illegal drug use and abortion. So, should I demand that Libertarians and pro-abortion Republicans be kicked out of the party? Then, let’s say you have a big moral problem with gambling and gays in the military. Do we kick those people out next? Where does it stop and do we have more than 20% or 30% of the population that we’ll allow in the Republican Party when it does? You can’t run a political party by telling millions of people engaging in moral activities that may be objectionable, but legal, that they’re not welcome.

Thanks for answering those questions. There are other issues I have with the “Why Right Wing News Is Sponsoring Homocon” column but I want to move on and ask questions regarding conservatism and homosexuality in general. The questions are as follows:

1. John Biver at Champion News has written numerous columns on the “social issues” and how it was not the right that brought up the “social issues,” but rather the left. Possibly his best column is, “The GOP and the social issues: Civilization is behavior”. Why do you think the left gets away with labeling the right as the side that is “obsessed with the social issues” and the side that “needs to drop it”? And why do you think the right accepts the left’s labeling and its insistence that we “drop the social issues”?

ALL LAWS are based on some form of morality. For example, opposing abortion is certainly a moral stance. But if you don’t believe abortion should be illegal, then by default, you are making a moral judgment that abortion either isn’t morally wrong at all or is of such small consequence that there’s no point in legislating it. Liberals and Libertarians like to try to disguise the fact that they’re making a moral judgment by calling it “choice,” but those same people would never buy that same language if it was applied to other issues. How does this sound, for example?

“I’m personally opposed to murder for hire, but people should be allowed to make their own choice.”

As to why the Right accepts the Left’s labeling — some of us don’t. Hopefully, over time, more of us will call them on their hypocrisy.

2. Every time a conservative says he opposes abortion or homosexuality, and that there is no place for either of these positions within the right, some libertarian inevitably confronts him and lectures him about the need for a “big tent”-and that if conservatives don’t quit “trying to get into peoples’ bedrooms” then we’re going to drive away all the libertarians. Where do you think libertarians are going to go if they leave the right? Do you think they’ll go to the left and Democrats? To the left who wants to control what people eat, how much salt one can intake, what type of health care people can (possibly) get, what type of car people can (maybe) drive, when people are allowed to fly, what light bulbs people can use, what type of house people can live in, how much electricity one can use, how people can raise their children, how many children people can have (if they are the “right” people and can have them at all), etceteras? What are your thoughts on this?

I don’t blame Libertarians for trying to shift Republicans away from social issues. Most human beings want to convince more people to share their views. I also think that from a Libertarian perspective, it makes more sense to be inside the Republican Party, where they have some influence, than outside the Republican Party where they’re going to be written off and ignored. As to the “big tent” argument, I do think the Republican Party has plenty of room for people with different views. Whether it’s Ron Paul, Susan Collins, Charlie Crist, David Brooks, or the folks over at Reason, I welcome them into the Party.

That being said, it would be political suicide for the Republican Party to abandon an extremely large, loyal block of socially conservative voters to appeal to a considerably smaller group of voters who have proven to be extremely fickle. Libertarians are so far apart from the two mainstream parties that they will always have a lot to be unhappy about and so, it’s hard to predict whom they’ll vote for. Moreover, as we saw in 2008, when we had a champion of Republican moderation, John McCain, up against a far left-winger like Barack Obama, moderate Republicans aren’t reliable either. Social conservatives? You know where they stand. People like Meghan McCain, David Brooks, David Frum, Colin Powell, Kathleen Parker, Charlie Crist, Mike Castle, Dede Scozzafava, Arlen Specter, etc., etc.? You never really know where people like that will be when it counts. They may support you, they may support the other side, they may switch parties — that’s why it is absolutely impossible to build a successful political party around people like that.

3. Conservatives have defended and answered questions about our moral beliefs from libertarians ad nauseam. I realize you may not consider yourself a libertarian, but I’m curious if you could answer the following questions that libertarians need to answer:

a. Do you think libertarians are prepared to drive away millions of Christians and other conservatives from the right by forcing a dropping of the “social issues” in order that they (libertarians) might attract thousands of people who want the right to offer a “big tent?”

I think some Libertarians would very much like to drive social conservatives out of the party. Of course, that’s a terrible idea, but if those people were all that politically savvy, they probably wouldn’t be Libertarians in the first place (And, yes, there are a few exceptions to that rule, but in my experience, there aren’t many.)

b. Do you believe libertarians think it the “right thing to do” to lose millions of Christians in favor of thousands of “fiscal conservatives but social liberals”? If so, how do you think libertarians will rationalize this against their constant assault on Christians and others for being “so stupid as to cling onto rigid moral views at the expense of attracting more people”? In other words, how do you think libertarians will justify their view that it is “morally right” to lose millions of Christians in favor of thousands of libertarians after criticizing Christians for our “rigid moral views”?

As a general rule, I think human beings have a tendency to overestimate how many people there are who share their views. Liberals do this all the time. Conservatives do it, too, sometimes. See the Christine O’Donnell race in Delaware, which was lost the moment she won the primary, as a perfect example of that. I think that Libertarians and non-socially conservative Republicans are making that mistake in a very big way when they believe that they can flush large numbers of socially conservative Republicans out of the party without massive electoral consequences.

4. No one worried about “excluding” from the “big tent” of the right during the Cold War. In other words, we didn’t worry that we might lose those “who leaned communist but otherwise would have joined us if only we ‘moderated'”. We simply stood up for what is right and welcomed anyone who wanted to join with us, so long as they didn’t try to subvert us with views and positions contradictory to our core beliefs. Why doesn’t the right simply say that everyone is welcome to join, but that we are not willing to sacrifice our core issues-and I include the “social issues” as core issues-in order to get others to join?

I think there’s a big difference between saying, “This is what we stand for; join us if you like,” and saying, “This is what we stand for and you have to agree with all of it to join.” You can build a vibrant political party with a big tent using the first philosophy, but the second philosophy will lead to an exclusionary, shrinking political party that can never hope to gain and hold a majority in a free society.

5. Why does the right want GOProud and other “moderates” when “moderates” have proven time and again that they are stealth leftists who turn against the right and the GOP when given the chance? (For example, Kathleen Parker, David Frum, David Brooks, David Weigel, David Brock and phony Tea Partiers. Or Arlen Specter, Lincoln Chafee, Dede Scozzofava, Charlie Crist, Lisa Murkowski, and Mike Castle, the last four even being unwilling to back conservative Republican candidates who defeated them in primaries.) Do you believe that GOProud will be different from any other “moderates”?

All those people you just named? I’m happy to have them IN the Republican Party. I just don’t want them running anything in the Republican Party. In other words, I want the same arrangement the Democrats have: Liberals make up less than half their party, but they provide almost all of the volunteers, money, new media, ideas, and energy; so they run everything. In our case, conservatives make up well over half of the Republican Party and the overwhelming majority of the volunteers, money, new media, ideas and energy; so I want us controlling every significant lever of power.

6. I don’t believe that GOProud ever denounced the leftists that attacked Target, and by association, Tom Emmer, the Republican nominee for Minnesota governor this past election cycle. Nor am I aware that GOProud ever supported Emmer. Why not? If GOProud won’t support a Republican candidate just because he supports morality, then doesn’t that show that GOProud is no different than the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Log Cabin Republicans, or any other homosexual group? After all, Emmer supported (judging from the American Spectator piece) the fiscal responsibility and small government that GOProud alleges to support. And if the right is supposed to side with “someone who agrees with 80% of what I believe and disagrees with 20%,” then why do you think that GOProud did not support Emmer and denounce those denouncing him?

You’d have to ask GOProud about Tom Emmer and Target. But, I do remember their endorsing Sean Bielat, who is anti-gay marriage and anti-gays in the military, over Barney Frank. They also strongly defended Willow Palin against charges of homophobia and publicly accepted Carl Paladino’s apology that he issued “for sweeping comments he made about gay and lesbian people.” So, it’s not like GOProud hasn’t ever stuck up for conservatives that liberals have accused of homophobia.

7. I wrote, “Will the Tea Party Tackle the Moral Crisis?” on November 5, 2010. In it I wrote about how GOProud joined with the Democrats and left in denouncing Republican gubernatorial candidate, Carl Paladino, by sending GOProud Board Chair Chris Barron on Ed Schultz’s MSNBC television show. Does this interview show that homosexuals, in the long term, will not allow the right and GOP to embrace both them and pro-morality Americans? And should the way that GOProud “supported” Paladino-the Republican candidate for governor in New York-serve as a template for how conservatives should support “social liberals” and other “moderate Republicans” in the future?

Carl Paladino is a talented man in a lot of ways, but he was a terrible candidate and whether GOProud liked him or not, he was doomed from the start because he’s temperamentally unsuited to be a politician. Even if you agree with what he said about gays, it was a really dumb thing for someone running for the governor of New York to say. If Chris Barron ripped him for that, he wasn’t alone. However, on the other hand, it also should be noted that when Paladino apologized, GOProud issued a statement that read, “People are entitled to make mistakes and are entitled to second chances. GOProud takes Mr. Paladino at his word and accepts his apology.” So all in all, GOProud probably helped Paladino more than they hurt him.

8. GOProud made news recently by getting a bunch of Tea Party leaders to sign a letter with it calling on the Tea Party to “avoid the social issues”. Yet at the same time, GOProud on its homepage calls for the repeal of the military ban on homosexuality. I find the hypocrisy enormous yet at the same time I can feel no ill-will towards GOProud for this. In fact, congratulations to them for getting a bunch of people on the right to be dupes who advance its (GOProud’s) agenda while at the same time undermining conservatives. What are your thoughts on this?

Honestly, I don’t agree with the substance of the letter, I thought it was completely counterproductive, and I thought it was particularly hypocritical for GOProud to sign on to that letter when they’re still out there actively pushing for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. So I think that’s an area where GOProud and I probably wouldn’t see eye-to-eye.

9. Mike Adams has written on the homosexual movement and the reasons why he opposes homosexuality (see, for example, “Why homosexuals should not adopt or teach children”). He’s also been one of the growing number of people who seem to see a link between homosexuality and pedophilia (or ephebophilia, hebephilia, etceteras). (See, “Legislating morality, Part II,”) Others such as Matt Barber (“Unmasking The “Gay” Agenda”), columnists at American Thinker, and, of course, Cliff Kincaid of AIM have noted this as well. And, of course, when the “safe schools czar” actively promotes homosexualizing school children, it adds a great deal of weight to the argument that, yes, homosexuals are after kids. Do you believe that homosexual-pedophile link is a fair connection to make?

I think it’s fair to this extent: A straight adult male who sleeps with a teenager is probably going to sleep with a girl while a homosexual male in the same situation is probably going to sleep with a boy. That’s why the Boy Scouts are very wise not to allow gay Scoutmasters and why the Catholic Church should follow its own rules and not allow gay priests. That’s not to say that every gay man would sleep with a teenage boy if he could get away with it. That’s certainly not true. But, we wouldn’t want a 25 year old man spending a lot of unsupervised alone time with a group of 16 year old girls. That’s just common sense. So why would we trust a gay man in the opposite situation, where he’s spending a lot of unsupervised alone time with a group of 16 year old boys?

10. I read your column on how, at least for the Senate, social conservatism and fiscal conservatism are inseparable. This is similar with what Jonah Goldberg and Terence P. Jeffrey have said. Do you think it possible to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal? If not, do you have second thoughts on inviting GOProud and others advancing the homosexual agenda to be members of the right? And if you don’t have second thoughts on inviting GOProud and others advancing the homosexual agenda to be members of the right, why not?

What I actually said in that post was this:

In the wilds of the Internet, it’s not unusual to find Libertarians who are diehards about fiscal conservatism, but tend to be socially liberal. They wouldn’t call themselves socially liberal, of course — but they are. For example, if you favor making crack and abortions legal, you are making just as much of a moral judgment about those issues as social conservatives do in order to formulate your position, even if you don’t want to admit it.

In any case, because there are plenty of people on the Internet and a few in government at the state level (See Mitch Daniels and Chris Christie) who are fiscally conservative, but not socially conservative, DeMint’s quote has caused a bit of upset in some quarters. After all, isn’t it OBVIOUSLY wrong? Moreover, don’t we all KNOW that most social conservatives aren’t fiscal conservatives? We’ve certainly heard it enough times, right?

Here’s the thing: I reject the conventional wisdom and agree with DeMint — at least when it comes to Congress. From what I’ve seen of Republicans on Capitol Hill, the fiscal conservatives and social conservatives tend to be one in the same. On the other hand, if you show me a Republican who’s not socially conservative, I’ll show you a Republican who’s probably not fiscally conservative either.

People who are fiscally conservative and socially liberal certainly exist, but there are very, very few of them in Congress and most of the ones that claim to fit that definition turn out to be lying when you look at their voting records.

As to GOProud in particular, it’s worth noting that their last 3 press releases are about what you’d hope for from a fiscally conservative group:

* Joint Statement of GOProud and the Club for Growth: Resurrecting the Death Tax Will Prove to be a Jobs Killer

* GOProud Praises Decision Striking Down Healthcare Mandate

* GOProud Urges Conservatives to Reject Tax Deal

So, do they care a lot about gay marriage and gays in the military? Undeniably, they do. But unlike say, the Log Cabin Republicans, their entire organization doesn’t revolve around those two issues.

*Jonah Knox is the pseudonym for a noncommissioned officer and analyst in the United States Army Reserves. He is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran who recently returned from an eight-month active duty tour in Iraq where he helped in the counter-improvised explosive device (C-IED) fight. Mr. Knox has also worked for the Army as a civilian contractor

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