Conservatives have lost their way

June 14, 2017

Re: “Are conservatives incapable of revulsion?” Michael Gerson, Other Views, May 31:

When David Brooks spoke at Trinity University recently, I went to the microphone to ask a question and mentioned that Mr. Brooks is the only conservative I respect. It is now time to add Mr. Gerson to this list.

He asks whether conservatives are incapable of revulsion. Some are capable, such as Mr. Brooks, Mr. Gerson himself, John McCain and George F. Will, among others, but most of them seem to care only about getting publicity, making money or getting re-elected.

I have begun to wonder what “conservative” really means. It should presumably be someone who wants to preserve things. A good example would be Theodore Roosevelt, the Republican president who started the national park system.

Now, President Donald Trump and many members of Congress have no interest in conserving anything — only short-term profit. Trump recently canceled Obama-era rules preventing the dumping of mining waste into streams, claiming this would bring back coal jobs. This will not happen — coal cannot compete with fracked oil and gas. The coal companies will make more money — sickened people will pay the price.

Of course, so-called “conservatives” do worse than that. Some of them make up lies and publicize them, such as those claims that President Barack Obama was a Muslim not born in the United States. I recently learned from the CBS show “60 Minutes” of a smear campaign against the founder and CEO of Chobani Yogurt, Hamdi Ulukaya, a Kurdish immigrant.

Mr. Ulukaya, who came here to learn English, became a billionaire philanthropist who gave jobs to thousands of people — refugees as well as Americans. In my naïveté, I would have assumed that such job creation would have won him praise. In fact, right-wing radio host Alex Jones accused him of “importing migrant rapists,” without any evidence. Mr. Ulukaya sued him and won.

Something the Founding Fathers knew but we seemed to have forgotten: With freedom comes responsibility.

Thomas L. Arnow has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, a master’s degree in computer science from UTSA, and a master’s and doctorate in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.