February 27th, 2017 was the day I was targeted by a political smear operation, one that has in many ways defined my journey and search for wisdom over the next six months of my life. It was Student Government election day, and I was running for Senate. On that day, a senior at my college by the name of Nicholas Trevino posted a long rant on the Davidson College Facebook page disparaging me for my outspoken conservatism, quoting fragments of articles that I had published on the Web to support his attack. His post was crafted specifically to convince college students not to vote for me. I lost my race for Senate. He graduated in May.
I remember my friends gathered around my dorm room, staring intently at the screen, monitoring the situation with laser-like focus, as if in a war room. The blinds were closed; the door was shut. They were all looking at each other as the comments streamed one after another, knowing that not only they but half the school was watching everything unfold; then one of them tried cracking a joke.
“This is only like the tenth time you’ve been through this, eh, Kenny?” he said.
My friends all looked back at me, the glow of the screen illuminating my face like a pallid lantern, casting the spotlight on me in the dimly lit room.
“More than that,” I replied grimly.
But still I knew, even though I had been through the social media wringer many times before, that this time it was different. Before, it was an article that I wrote, an idea I put forth, and I could separate my ideas from myself. But this one was a character assassination; it was aimed at my very person. It was aimed at taking me down, every part of me, deconstructing me and reducing me to whatever vision of the college Nicholas had where I never existed, where I had instead accepted my scholarship to Wheaton College and lived 4 years in a cloistered Christian environment, never to bother people like him and his friends with my toxic “views.”
It was at that moment when it finally clicked, that I had done something. A swell of pride erupted from within me, and I thanked my God for His beneficence.
Give credit where its due: Nicholas had, in his blatant attempt to damage me, instead awakened in me something irreplaceable, that only comes upon a select, blessed few: my honor.
Honor is a difficult concept to define, but at its core, it is adherence to the good, the right. It requires both a solid knowledge of what is good and right and a devotion to that knowledge. American college students largely live in a dishonorable world, one where the reality of one Truth has been shunned in favor of the more socially passable falsehood of multiculturalism, of the logically laughable but appallingly insurgent celebration of “subjective truths.”
The challenge of the conservative is to, as William F. Buckley says, “stand athwart history, yelling stop.” It is to sift through the lies harped on by our educational establishments and our news media and guide them to truth. It also comes with great social cost. Standing up for truth will inevitably mean fewer friends, fewer likes on Facebook, and a smaller dating pool. I once received a 5000 word essay in my inbox from a girl who hated my guts so much she swore to tell her friends not to befriend me – all because I published an article about masculinity.
That’s why I believe conservatives need to recover the sense of honor that I was blessed to receive on that February day. If conservatism is the ideology of truth, then liberalism is the ideology of peer pressure. Socialism is what looks cool to hipster liberals who fawn over Che Guevara and his genocidal mania. White Privilege is an empty ideology nothing more than popular white people virtue-signaling that they are “woke” before they get their job in banking.* Social Justice is no justice at all, but a rhetorical strategy that sounds nice when you’re trying to hook up with that girl at a frat party. Liberals have popularity, coolness, and the backing of the administration on their side… what do conservatives have if not their honor?
And yet that honor is enough. A conservative’s guide is his moral and truth compass, and that is enough. Conservatives now risk so much just to say the truth in the middle of a sea of hatred and intolerance of their views. It makes a conservative that much stronger in life to go through these trials, to have to endure violence and hardship for the sake of standing up for truth. It also makes him a leader. Conservatives should take pride in the amount of hate that we get. When my Black Lives Matter hall counselor assailed me for saying that America is the greatest country in the world, I was ready to back up what I said with facts and figures – but she didn’t want to hear it. She just wanted to silence me. But I won’t be silenced. I have enormous pride in what I believe in – because unlike most progressives, whose intersectionality narrative is so intellectually fragile they have to censor other people to keep it afloat, I’m confident that what I believe in is true. I don’t have to shut you down to know that I am right (though feel free to debate me. I’ve never turned down a debate!)
Not only should conservatives recognize the sufficiency of their honor, but they should recognize its desirability. Among men, the true conservative has no equal – devotion to one’s faith, self-discipline, and confidence being its essence. While progressives show how easily manipulated they are by the media, going berserk over something so inane as a mostly-Caucasian White House intern photo, conservatives can take quiet assurance that their views at least don’t stoop to this level of baseness and cynical identity politics. Our calmness in times of trouble, our steadfastness, are rare and attractive qualities in an infantile America, “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” (Ephesians 4:14)
Because of our honor, we are made freer and more golden than our liberal counterparts. The Biblical wisdom never fails: “you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) Our devotion to truth gives us the freedom to release ourselves from the chains of social status and become trailblazers. I have no better example to quote than myself: ever since breaking free of popular opinion, I have been able to express myself in ways I would have never else thought possible. And with every hateful comment I receive in return, there is one who privately messages me, telling me to keep it up. On the other hand, the Leftist is chained to his community, unable to say anything nonconformist for fear of pissing someone else off. The spark that I see light up in the freshmen’s eyes when they first come to a Young Americans for Freedom conference can sustain me five, ten years.
We are also made more beautiful by our honor. And I mean that in every sense of the word. Conservative women are by far the most beautiful women I’ve ever met. I have to agree with The Federalist’s Henry Scanlon here when he says “The young women who attend CPAC are spectacular. No kidding: What’s up with this concentration of incredibly attractive young, conservative women?” (In rather hilarious contrast, he also points out that the conservative men generally look like they “seem to be trying out for the part of the overtaxed congressional aide in this season of ‘Veep’.”) Conservative women, who understand and exploit the wonderful God-given differences between men and women, carry themselves with such poise and grace that we lucky men cannot help but fall for them. And instead of talking like a perpetually harried soul buried by the tracks of the patriarchy, they talk like truly liberated women, utilizing every tool in their uniquely feminine vocabulary to make idiot men like me chase after them like drooling dogs fighting for the bone on the other side of the pond. Ladies, it has been an honor to be friends with so many of you, and to even have the occasional privilege of taking a gracious few of you on dates.
(By the way, if you’re triggered by that previous paragraph, you should really come to a conservative conference.)
Finally, a conservative’s honor is worth it in it of itself. We are the people of our generation standing up for truth amidst a post-truth world (a fault on both sides of the political aisle). There is no guarantee of America’s freedom – no divine endowment upon America, no Abrahamic promise. We are the only ones standing between our country and its ruins, tossed in the wind and left to be excavated as the Roman Empire was, due to moral decay and the destruction of truth.
Oh, there is so much to do! A conservative’s strength is in his honor – but we must not waste it. We must clamber on, driving forward, standing strong, a mast in a heady wind, a rock amidst rain – that is the only way we can save our country. That is the honorable man’s responsibility.
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