By Jonathon Van Maren
For days, the only story that progressives have wanted to talk about regarding the provincial election in Alberta is the “explosive” interview between radio host Charles Adler and United Conservative Party leader (and former Harper cabinet minister) Jason Kenney. The Canadian commentariat seems to be of a single mind on the resulting exchange: Charles Adler, good friend of Jason Kenney and staunch conservative, consistently body-slammed his errant friend on an assortment of LGBT issues and took him to task for leading a party full of “knuckle-draggers” and for attracting the sort of Albertan that progressives love to sneer at. Kenney and the throwbacks he represents were educated on exactly why they are bigoted, and the punditry and progressives have been giving Adler fawning praise ever since. He has spent days on Twitter retweeting it and hearting it while agreeing enthusiastically with their analysis of his courage.
Of course, with friends like Adler, one scarcely needs enemies—especially when those friends obediently follow the NDP script to a tee. Adler takes it for granted, for example, that to be pro-life is misogynist, and ignores the wide body of evidence provided to us by embryology that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is a real human being that is being aborted. He also takes it for granted that anyone who believes that marriage is between a man and a woman—something every nation on earth believed prior to the year 2000—is a damnable bigot, and grew confrontational and sanctimoniously scornful whenever Kenney attempted (however ineffectively) to point out that parental rights and the freedom of schools to organize according to their own values are an essential part of Canada’s multicultural framework. In short, if you are an orthodox Christian, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, or Sikh, your views render you a hateful “knuckle-dragger” in Adler’s narrow mind.
Adler was utterly disinterested in discussing the nuances of issues such as parental rights in education, the right of private Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, and Christian schools to teach their faith traditions to their children, or even whether those substantially large populations of Albertans should have anyone who represents their views in the legislature. As far as Adler is concerned, the UCP and Jason Kenney specifically needed to be taken to task for not holding the same views on these matters as the NDP and, more importantly, himself. Adler repeatedly calls Kenney a friend, but apparently remained unaware of the fact that Kenney has an extremely well-known record as a social conservative stretching back decades, and even those who are not his friends are very well aware of the fact that he is a practicing Catholic. But Adler, with the condescension peculiar to those who know they will be praised to high heaven for courageously asking questions that everyone will approve of, graciously gave Kenney the opportunity to apologize for his views and past actions. If you are going to be a Catholic in public life, you see, Adler and his ilk insist that you be a shameless hypocrite.
If you think I’m perhaps being unfair—there are, after all, fiscal conservatives who are socially liberal—all you have to do is take a quick jaunt over to Charles Adler’s Twitter feed, where he is graciously accepting praise and tweeting furiously at Jason Kenney, hoping to keep his new status as a champion social justice warrior alive for a few more news cycles. To one woman, who complimented him on not being part of the “new ultra right-wing,” Adler responded that those people “don’t view me as a conservative. I am not angry all the time. I respect too many teachers, scientists & humanitarians. I don’t throw enough red meat. Heck, I don’t even eat red meat. Can’t be a real conservative.” Got that? Charles Adler, the “conservative,” describes conservatives—and not just the “knuckle-draggers” who believe the same things their parents and grandparents did—as people who don’t respect teachers, scientists, and humanitarians, and are angry all the time. This guy claims to be acting in good faith, while chortling all over social media about the red-meat-eating-angry morons who won’t let him be a conservative because he’s just too good of a person. What a joke.
I hope genuine conservatives of all stripes listen to the interview, peruse his Twitter feed, and learn a few important lessons about Charles Adler. First of all, he has no interest in discussing complex issues—he simply wants people to apologize and grovel for not holding precisely the same views as he does. Secondly, he is clearly not acting in good faith, as he is only too happy to caricature conservatives when talking with progressives. And finally, he views the enormous number of religious Canadians who hold different views on a wide range of issues—be it how we should treat human beings in the womb or whether parents have any say in what their children are taught—with utter contempt. In fact, he surged right past the Clintonian “basket of deplorables” and settled on the condescending “knuckle-draggers” when searching for a way to describe the unwashed voters he clearly despises. From now on, I suggest conservatives leave Mr. Adler to hang out in his carefully-constructed echo chamber of self-congratulation with those who will tell him what he wants to hear.