It’s time to call out a major Republican theme of how politics should be practiced in a democracy: the supposed right to be free from criticism. It may sell wonderfully inside the conservative closed-information loop, but it’s a nasty idea that sorts exceptionally badly with democratic politics.
In case you’re unfamiliar, the right to be free from criticism is the core idea behind what used to be complaints about “political correctness” and which have now morphed into the conviction that some accusations are too terrible to be made. See, for example, former Heritage immigration expert (or is that race-and-intelligence obsessive?) Jason Richwine. As he told conservative reporter Byron York:
The accusation of racism is one of the worst things that anyone can call you in public life … Once that word is out there, it’s very difficult to recover from it, even when it is completely untrue.
What does “difficult to recover” mean in this context? Richwine, after all, is the protégé of none other than Charles Murray, who has been accused of racist writings for … well, for decades. And yet Murray has “recovered” just fine, at least if book sales and think-tank posts and other traditional markers of success are concerned. Richwine surely knows that. So what’s his complaint? It is the same as most complaints about political correctness: that some people won’t consider his actions respectable.