The Hammerjack website ain’t the place where I normally post stuff like this, but due to circumstances beyond my control, it’ll have to do. So here goes!
My Twitter timeline has been ugly over the last 24 hours—and before you go saying, “Dude, where you been?” let me stipulate that it’s been uglier than usual, making me feel like a kid hiding upstairs in his room while mom and dad have a fight.
It started off when David French from National Review posted this:
Short thread. It's absurd that I have to do this, but my wife @NancyAFrench is the subject of a vile tweets by @julie_kelly2 from a MAGA publication called "American Greatness." For background, my wife is a victim of childhood sexual abuse 1/: https://t.co/5inlLZLLlQ
— David French (@DavidAFrench) December 18, 2018
The thread goes on to reveal the molestation French’s wife Nancy suffered as a minor at the hands of her pastor, a clear case of abuse inflicted by a trusted steward of the church—one of the most terrible violations of trust imaginable. Nancy French wrote about that experience in an article for the Washington Post, published at the height of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation battle, with a very straightforward thesis: If Kavanaugh had attacked Christine Blasey Ford as a teen, he is unfit to serve on the Supreme Court—no matter how exemplary a life he had led since then.
Her point was that sexual assault leaves lasting scars on the victim, and French was using her own trauma as a way to relate to how Ford must be feeling, if her accusations against Kavanaugh were true. This is an entirely justifiable position—indeed, it’s a moral one as well, as anyone with a heart would understand. The problem, however, was that the media was also filled with activists who insisted it that didn’t matter whether Ford’s recollection of the events was fuzzy, or that none of her named witnesses could back up her claims. The pain of women everywhere who had suffered sexual assault automatically made Kavanaugh guilty.
Julie Kelly, a friend of mine who writes for the website French cites above, responded at the time with a harsh tweet:
OK – Nancy French screwed around with her preacher when she was a teen, so IF Kavanaugh groped a girl 36 years ago, he can't be on SCOTUS?
Again, ladies: Your personal experiences have nothing to do with this. And shame on you for exploiting it to help destroy a decent man. https://t.co/AIjK1lvniI
— Julie Kelly (@julie_kelly2) September 21, 2018
To me, this is a crude mischaracterization of what Nancy French stated in her article. With all the vitriol going around during the confirmation, however, and with so many victims—many of whom happened to be leftists dedicated to sinking Kavanaugh’s confirmation—projecting the rage from their experiences onto a man who had nothing to do with hurting them, I would imagine that Julie Kelly was angry. A lot of us were. A horrible injustice was befalling a good man and threatening to ruin his life, and Democrats were playing politics with it. French’s article seeimingly added a conservative imprimatur toward that effort, which probably figured into why the Post ran with it—and probably why it made Kelly so upset.
David French, meanwhile, didn’t cause a stir about it—not until yesterday, almost three months after the fact, when he posted his tweet thread. In turn, that led to a lot of other conservative personalities on Twitter to pile on Kelly. John Podhoretz called her a terrible person. Jonah Goldberg called her “twisted” and suggested she get help. Most telling, though, is this tweet from Noah Rothman that suggests a concerted effort is underway to discredit Julie Kelly as a conservative pundit:
Hyping a piece that stands on the shoulders of Julie Kelly's work is the kind of thing your comms professionals shouldn't let you do, but what fun is that. Ride the lightning, Senator. https://t.co/IKZrZJLDlq
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) December 18, 2018
The question is, why now? Why not back in September when Kelly originally posted the offending tweet?
French says that he felt compelled to respond for this reason:
She has spent part of yesterday and today doubling down on her false claims. People are reaching to me for comment. For an example of what Kelly says, read this thread 6/: https://t.co/dray1D0v8P
— David French (@DavidAFrench) December 18, 2018
While that’s certainly plausible, I can’t help but think there is a more coordinated feel to the tweetstrom Kelly finds herself in. For one thing, French characterizes American Greatness as a MAGA site and puts the name in quotes, which implies that it’s a fringe site that he’s barely even heard of. Point of fact, his National Review colleague Victor Davis Hanson is a regular contributor to the site as well—and Hanson is hardly a fringe figure. Additionally, the fallout of tweets against Julie Kelly appeared hard, fast and wide—par for the course on Twitter, I guess, but it almost seems as if her detractors were all waiting for the same moment to attack. And now there is a movement to discredit Kelly’s entire body of work.
A body of work, by the way, that includes a recent series of articles that document how money from wealthy leftists is starting to infiltrate conservative media outlets—including the now-defunct Weekly Standard. I’ve been following this story closely, because I find it terrifying that the conservative stalwarts upon whom I depend for honest analysis could potentially be influenced by cash pouring in from leftist billionaires. It would mean that the left, after having failed to defeat conservatism with their ideas and policies, are actively seeking to corrupt it through that oldest of methods—by tainting its institutions with money.
It’s a question that many of these conservartive stalwarts are not so inclined to address. When I pointed out that the uber-liberal philanthropist Pierre Omidyar was a patron of Bill Kristol, Jonah Goldberg didn’t think it was relevant:
I don't think it's guilt by association when you accept large amounts of activist cash from a man who is dedicated to left wing causes. It's kinda more guilt by taking the money–and a rather salient point.
— Hammerjack (@MarcGiller) November 17, 2018
Is it really such a stretch that those on the receiving end of that largesse might have a strong motive to discredit the person who is calling attention to it?
Please understand, I’m not saying this is what’s happening. But there is enough evidence out there to be a cause for concern—and conservatives need to deal with the issue openly and honestly. As we’ve seen countless times before, even the appearance of impropriety can be enormously damaging to our institutions. Conservatism is already in a crisis with the battle lines drawn over Donald Trump, and mistrust abounds between those who support him and those who don’t. Not dealing with this in a forthright manner will only exacerbate that mistrust—perhaps beyond the point of repair.
That’s something we can’t allow to happen. Not when we‘re already engaged in a fight with the left for this nation’s future.
Instead, we should de-escalate where we can. For Julie, as a friend, I suggest taking the rhetoric down a notch. There are ways to call out the disingenuousness of fake conservatives who are more interested in seeing Trump fail than conservatism succeed. Admit if and when you stepped over the line—because there is no virtue in holding steadfast if you’ve gone too far. As to Julie’s critics, most if not all of them have had their own intemperate moments on Twitter—so quit with the judgementalism already. Also don’t attack her personally and try to dismiss her work while not bothering to address the substance of it. We rightfully decry those tactics when the left uses them, and they have no place in reasoned conversation.
And for God’s sake, people, let’s redsicover what unites us instead of focusing on the divisions, however personal those might be. If we’re going to rebuild our relationship, that will the place to start.Share