10 Historical 'Facts' Only a Right-Winger Could Believe
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3. Women were better off before they got the vote.
Perhaps because they are not usually associated with the extension of rights to the disenfranchised -- or because American women tend not to vote the way they want -- conservatives are a little squirrely about women's suffrage. Some rather defensively insist that "conservatives and libertarians played central roles in drafting and ratifying" the 19th Amendment, so there. Others, like National Review 's John Derbyshire, Ann Coulter and the editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal , affect to be against women's suffrage, either in clumsy emulation of H.L. Mencken's playful remarks on the subject, or because they're assholes.
But among conservatives a consensus is forming that women were better off when they didn't have the vote. The notion does not seem to be based on the premise that women don't deserve the vote, mind you, but that it is extraneous to their real interest, which is to live in a pre-feminist society.
Last year Jacob G. Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation asserted that Americans were freer in the 1880s than they are today. When called on it, Hornberger said okay, maybe black people and women weren't so free. But this prompted George Mason professor Bryan Caplan to ask, "In what ways, then, were American women in 1880 less free than men?" Their lack of franchise, sexual autonomy, etc. struck Caplan as irrelevant: Such women lived in an era before gun control or the Department of Education, so, he judged, they were by definition more free than now.
Discussion generally ran against Caplan, but he had his high-profile defenders. At the Atlantic, Megan McArdle said, "The overwhelming majority of women in 1880 would be positively horrified by the prospect of living my life. Not only is it flagrantly immoral, it violates much of what they themselves thought of as the core of womanhood. Should we get excited about women being denied the right to go to medical school, who did not want to go to medical school?" We may imagine 19th-century women who did not want to go to medical school raising their fists in approval.
Others suggested that if conservative women didn't come out ahead, then women's rights were merely ephemeral. Last year Concerned Women for America celebrated the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment thus: "Women Won the Right to Vote 90 Years Ago; Conservative Women Still Fighting the Media for a 'Place at the Table.'" "90 years after the 19th Amendment," wrote Lori Zingano at RedState, "Democrats are actively seeking to figuratively repeal the amendment" -- that is, by promoting "the myth of a wage gap" between men and women and disapproving of Sarah Palin. Thus, she said, Democrats "are striving for a form of reverse-suffrage, wherein every woman must walk in lockstep with their ideology, or you are not a 'real' woman."
It is probable that, put under harsh lights and in front of a crowd, any of these people would declare himself or herself an avid women's suffragist. But among themselves they almost never mention women's rights without observing how insignificant they are alongside their own idea of the way things ought to be.
2. Darwin is a menace to Western Civilization.
You will from time to time hear about how some conservatives, at least, are cool with Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. But they're usually discussing the science of evolution -- and on that score, they still can't bring a majority of Republicans onto their side.
On the philosophical implications of man evolving from monkeys, prominent conservatives have long believed and still believe that, in the words of Center for a Just Society Chairman Ken Connor, Darwin would have us believe that "God is simply a creature of our imagination. Human beings emerged gratuitously from the primordial ooze. Since we are the product of mere chance, we have no inherent dignity, value or worth." And that just ain't right.