Many years ago, when I interviewed the great avant-garde saxophonist Charles Gayle, I asked him about bitter criticism he had received for his tendency to preach a pro-life message in the middle of his concerts. "Yeah," he said with some amusement, "they always call me 'right-wing.' Man, I ain't got no wings!" Neither do I. And as the events of the past week have shown, I am not "right-wing," either; nor, by the standards of some of the organizers and chief figures of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), am I a conservative.
Throughout my public career, of course, the mainstream media has insisted that my colleagues and I are indeed "right-wing," and often even "far right." Since the "far right" is the label generally given to advocates of authoritarian government and racist discrimination, this label, as common as it is, is a sheer calumny, since we are not only advocates of neither one, but opponents of a system that advances both. If working to defend the principles of the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law is "far right," then we should all be "far rightists"; but in reality this label is just a tool of the foes of those principles, used to discredit those who defend them.