[FORUM]Right has a long way to go

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[FORUM]Right has a long way to go

The conservatives of Korean society today are lax and at times cowardly. The Grand National Party, the so-called conservative columnists and even those figures who are said to lead the “new right” movement are almost all the same.
As the support rate for President Roh Moo-hyun’s operation of state affairs remains at the bottom and the governing Uri Party messes things up, the Grand Nationals take it for granted that the next administration will easily come into their hands. We can hardly find the tension and urgency in the Grand National Party today as we did when it was defeated in the presidential elections twice.
It was ugly to see the party dispirited with a sense of defeat early in the present administration and immediately after the legislative elections for the 17th term of the National Assembly in 2004. However, now it is steeped in groundless optimism that whoever becomes its presidential candidate, whether Chairwoman Park Geun-hye or Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak, that candidate will win the election without making any particular effort.
Recently, Justice Minister Chun Jung-bae’s criticism against some conservative columnists while under the influence of alcohol has become the topic of conversation. Of course, his remarks, which even included abusive words, were inappropriate. But there are also parts of what he said that should be ruminated over.
We should look back on whether there were columns that “jeered” at the president as Mr. Chun said they did, whether they compared the president to a “hoodlum in the street” and defined the present administration as a “pro-North Korean government,” and whether the columnists wrote articles that urged the public to overthrow the government. Some of the press harshly criticized the president in return for his violent criticism against some newspapers.
They excused themselves by saying that they could no longer bear to see the Roh Moo-hyun administration ruin the country, or that it was unavoidable if they were to survive. And what was the result? They just ended up playing a complicit role in making our society shallow. The criticism of intellectuals and the press should not be propaganda. It should be refined and calm.
When his remarks became problematic, Justice Minister Chun apologized, saying that he was sorry to have caused trouble for the public with his unrefined expressions unfit for a government official. I did not, however, see any writer apologize properly from among the so-called conservative columnists who unconditionally sided with the stem cell researcher Hwang Woo-suk in the turmoil of controversies over his fabricated papers.
They regretted the “suffering” that Dr. Hwang had to endure, comparing it with that of Admiral Yi Sun-shin, who was caught in the trap of being named a traitor during the Japanese invasion in 1592. They also criticized the government and the president, which in fact provided excessive support for Mr. Hwang, for “cheering the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation’s program, ‘PD Notebook,’” and laughed at the “ignorance” of MBC producers for thinking Dr. Hwang’s research, which was recognized by internationally famous scholars, could be fake.
Did they not protect Dr. Hwang unconditionally so as to attack the present administration and the liberals and MBC? Or, blinded by the term “national interest,” did they not, as intellectuals, side with Dr. Hwang regardless of the facts and the truth? If they do not reflect on their faults and offer words of apology, but instead make excuses, it amounts to giving up being intellectuals. If they are conscientious, they should at least give up writing for a while.
The political party that professes to be conservative indulges in complacency and the conservative writers are not equipped with the minimum attitude expected from intellectuals. There is no hope if those who speak for conservatism are at such a level. Don’t swear that the present liberals are second-raters. The conservatives are merely third-raters. Moreover, they don’t have a strong base either.
Disappointed with the democratic fighters involved in the present administration, the liberal camp has already organized think tanks here and there to make liberalism a “constant and irreversible” principle of social operation. How about the new rightists in comparison to this? It seems they depend on a few renowned people and emphasize actions and events rather than building philosophical and ideological foundations. They give the impression that they are more intent on the next presidential and legislative elections than playing the role of a think tank for conservatism.
Not a few right-leaning figures in the political community view the next presidential election with pess-imism. This is because the conservatives at this present time do not have a clear vision for national administration, have a shallow philosophical foundation and do not inspire confidence in terms of their morality.
If this is truly so, the conservatives still have a long way to go.

* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Du-woo
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