The Ugly Immaturity of the Young America’s Foundation

Do you recall that before the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, Samuel Adams—cautious about having to collaborate with men of different Christian denominations—announced a declaration of disassociation? Anyone who would not embrace Congregationalism of the sort Adams favored was to be disinvited from that momentous gathering, and they were to be further humiliated in that the announcement was made public, in various newspapers.

“How can we trust any man,” Adams reasoned, “not sufficiently averse to princes of the church and popery?”

Oh, you don’t recall that particular event? Well, of course not. Because it didn’t happen.

On the contrary, Samuel Adams, the father of the American Revolution, proposed that these various souls gather together in prayer, despite their denominational differences. Objecting to remonstrances from others, Adams observed that he could hear a prayer from “any gentleman of Piety and virtue, who was at the same time a friend to his Country.”

Conservative Cancel Culture

The Young America’s Foundation, for all the good work it does, and all the bravery it shows taking the truth to college campuses, engaged in a shameful act of “cancel culture” recently by disinviting Michelle Malkin from its events. The group made matters far worse by engaging in a gross act of guilt-by-very-distant-association, opining ominously “there is no room in mainstream conservatism or at YAF for holocaust deniers, white nationalists, street brawlers, or racists.”

Catch that? Michelle Malkin—a “street brawler”? A “white nationalist”? A “holocaust denier”? A “racist”?

At the heart of this accusation would be Malkin’s support for the border control rhetoric of a fellow I had never heard of before last week—someone named Nick Fuentes

I’m willing to wager most of you haven’t heard of Nick Fuentes, either. But the point shouldn’t be lost on you by now that you must be very careful about agreeing with anyone on anything these days, no matter how limited your agreement, because if they have even one Twitter or YouTube skeleton in their closet, you own that too, buddy—you, you, you holocaust denier

We’re not like the Left, remember. We don’t get away with dumping female campaign staffers off Chappaquiddick bridge or wearing blackface because we’re Ted Danson. We’re the Right. We have the entire Bill-Buckley-to-Charlie-Kirk continuum enforcing ideological and associational purity. We’re a political Sunday school of the politically ineffective, but ideologically pure, because as this chapter proves, we’re not only responsible for our own communication but also for that of anyone with whom we’ve ever associated.

Remember the entire National Review brigade who predicted the death of conservatism with Donald Trump’s nomination? This the same prissy political denominationalism that works hard, every election cycle, to make sure we maintain the Republican brand of losing with grace and gentility. 

Apologize to Michelle Malkin, Young America’s Foundation, and let’s get back to work restoring this republic.

Michelle Malkin, a fearless champion of conservative values for decades, the commentator who describes herself as the “little brown woman with the big mouth,” gets publicly disinvited from Young America’s Foundation gatherings on the basis of having limited common cause with an untouchable who asks Charlie Kirk difficult questions? 

You mean a few conservative young men might wonder what bake-the-damn-cake identity operatives have to do with restoring a free republic? We can’t have that. 

That might make it difficult for Ben Shapiro, a Young America’s Foundation featured speaker, to establish his own campus street cred, fighting an “alt-right” racism and bigotry that is so minuscule as to be virtually non-existent. Ben, please: what general shows up for a battle apologizing for his own internal rogue soldiers no one seems to even know?

No Enemies to the Right

Can we all be adults here, and state the obvious? There is not a single racist, bigoted voice on the Right with any real influence, much less a movement

On the other hand, Barack Obama courted a genocidal racist in Louis Farrakhan, and sat under the spell of the racist rantings of a black liberation theologian in Jeremiah Wright with absolute impunity. Multiple Democratic congressmen voice ugly fear of a white nationalism that doesn’t exist and engage in boycott rhetoric of a Jewish state merely for protecting itself. The bigotry and racism you fear are on the Left, Ben and Charlie, not on the Right.

I wonder how we’ve enjoyed the benefits of the Trump economy and Trump’s ongoing transformation of the judiciary with all this ideological preening. A lot of the very same folks who subjected Michelle Malkin to cancel culture were people who held onto their NeverTrump prissiness right through to the general election.

For my young American friends, a little story: I have a friend who was invited to a party at the home of a very prominent conservative who once considered himself a hard-left student activist, even a Marxist. My friend was scandalized to turn around and see Gloria Allred standing behind him. Yes, Gloria Allred, the hard-left, cause-du-jour ambulance chaser. It doesn’t surprise me that former hard leftists, now conservatives, still have some loony friends from the old days, because real conservatives are the people who actually believe in persuasion and dialogue. It’s the other side that can’t have a conversation because the facts don’t support their conclusions.

So a little strategic wisdom for young conservatives in the fight today: attack the Left, not the Right. 

There are no enemies to the right. This is not to say that you can’t disagree with people to your right or that you can’t tease out the differences between you in good faith debate. But canceling people because you differ with them? Ridiculous. It sounds simple, but in practice it’s not, and people as smart as William F. Buckley and Ben Shapiro fall into the trap of thinking, “Look! The Left will see us cleaning our own house and respect us for it.” 

They won’t. The Left thought the Bushes were a family of fascists. The Left thought Mitt Romney was a fascist. The left thought Bob Dole was a fascist. If you think you’re going to get credit for pointing out a few freaks and nuts on our side, you only give the enemy time and focus they don’t deserve. The Left doesn’t get in ragged, virtue-signaling spats about the extremes of Antifa or the Marxists in their midst. They know that would only bolster our impression of their problem. So they pretend they do not exist.

And, in reality, we have a lot more credibility pretending the fringes of our movement don’t exist, as a matter both of truth and strategy, because we have a lot fewer nuts in our squirrel cage.

Apologize to Michelle Malkin, Young America’s Foundation, and let’s get back to work restoring this republic.

About James Patrick Riley

James Riley is the owner and operator of Riley's Farm in Oak Glen, California and the creator of "Courage, New Hampshire," a television drama seen on PBS stations across the country. The father of six children, Riley performs "Patrick Henry" and supervises a living history program visited by hundreds of thousands of school children. He holds a degree in history from Stanford University.

Photo: Zach D. Roberts/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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