April 29, 2005

Hate Speech

Since 9/11, we've established that one can not call dissenters from American foreign policy - even the most wacked-out dissenters, people who actively support our enemies - "Anti-American". Indeed, as the bumper sticker says, "Dissent is patriotic".


Could we grant faith the same pass?

Oh, don't get me wrong; the left is just fine with people of faith - as long as its adherents can't be heard, much less consider their faith more important than their government. Unitarians, liberal Catholics (think Daniel Berrigan) and mushy-left Protestants are just fine, of course, but you don't have to go too far to the left - by no means to the fringe - to find anyone outspoken about the role of faith in their life and their political leanings (if they're to the right) compared to the Taliban, called Jihadis, and so on.

I started noticing during the eighties; the "cynical, hypocritical fundie minister" was a most frequent, convenient villain on TV and in the movies.
Far from passing from use, the stereotype drove much of the left in the last Presidential election. The "Jesusland" meme was the most obvious symptom, the anti-semitism rampant in the American academic left, and the continued portrayal of faith as being some sort of base, benighted aberration are just leading indicators of a simple observation; the American "elite" is developing a full-blown, Klan-level bigotry against people of faith.

Howard Kurtz in the National Review has a cutting article on the topic. Predictably, leftybloggers are not amused.

There’s a real venom on the Left against conservative Christians.

Harper’s Magazine’s May cover stories about “The Christian Right’s War On America,” frightened me, although not the way Harper’s meant them to. I fear these stories could mark the beginning of a systematic campaign of hatred directed at traditional Christians. Whether this is what Harper’s intends, I cannot say. But regardless of the intention, the effect seems clear.

The phrase “campaign of hatred” is a strong one, and I worry about amplifying an already dangerous dynamic of recrimination on both sides of the culture wars. I don’t doubt that conservatives, Christian and otherwise, are sometimes guilty of rhetorical excess.

I'd be a fool not to agree.

But Kurtz is right to add:

Yet despite what we’ve been told, the most extreme political rhetoric of our day is being directed against traditional Christians by the left.

It’s been said that James Dobson overstepped legitimate bounds when he compared activist judges to the Ku Klux Klan. Yes, that was an ill-considered remark. I hope and expect it will not be repeated. But Dobson made that comparison extemporaneously and in passing. If that misstep was such a problem, what are we to make of a cover story in Harper’s that systematically identifies conservative Christianity with fascism? According to Harper’s, conservative Christians are making “war on America.” Can you imagine the reaction to a cover story about a “war on America” by blacks, gays, Hispanics, or Jews? Then there’s Frank Rich’s April 24 New York Times op-ed comparing conservative Christians to George Wallace, segregationists, and lynch mobs.

These comparisons are both inflammatory and mistaken. Made in the name of opposing hatred, they license hatred. It was disturbing enough during the election when even the most respectable spokesmen on the left proudly proclaimed their hatred of president Bush. Out of that hatred flowed pervasive, if low-level, violence. I fear that Bush hatred is now being channeled into hatred of Christian conservatives. The process began after the election and is steadily growing worse. This hatred of conservative Christians isn’t new, but it is being fanned to a fever pitch.

For those keeping score, let's recap:
  • If you support the terrorists in Iraq, who actively seek the return of fascism to a nation of 30 million? Not anti-American.
  • If you believe America brought terrorism upon itself by not being sensitive enough to eliminationist sects of Islam, and by daring to succeed where most of the world has failed - Not anti-American.
  • If you condone sending thugs to scare your political opponents, actively corrupt elections and actively pine for more American deaths - yep, Not anti-American.
  • Believe in God more than government, believe in life over optional convenient death, and support your nation - and maybe the GOP? Not only "anti-American", but in line with the very worst of human behavior; victim of a pathology, maybe, but still beneath contempt.
Read the whole article.

Posted by Mitch at April 29, 2005 06:14 AM | TrackBack

The following may be a touch overboard but, I feel they will be talking about how dangerous people of faith are while they are rounding us up and transporting us in cattle cars for the final solution to the faith question.

Posted by: billhedrick at April 29, 2005 11:52 AM

If I could get our friends on the left to give up two bone-headed ideas about the religious right they would be:
1)Evangelical = Fundamentalist.
They are not the same. The simple version: Evangelicals believe that living a Christian life means that you are a Christian all the time and informs all that you do. A fundamentalist believes that every word of the bible is true. Minnesota's ELCA is evangelical and is one of the most liberal of the mainline Protestant denominations.
2) Religion in Gov't = fascism.
This is such a misreading of the word "fascism" that it boggles the mind. Fascism, like communism, is a response to modernity from the class-stratified European society of the last century. The idea, explicitly layed out by Messr's Mussolini & Hitler, was that the best way to make a stable, legitimate government (since the idea that God ordained the social order had fallen out of fashion) was not to eliminate class, but for the classes to acknowledge that above class loyalty came loyalty to the State. The State takes the place of God and determines what is right and wrong, moral and immoral. The only place for religion is to support the legitimacy of the state.
I suspect that the reason many on the left associate fascism with, well, everything they hate is that they are steeped in the standard Communist description of fascism. The commies (I'm talking here of the old Soviet commies & their fellow travelers) said that fascism was a creation of the capitalists and that its purpose was to legitimize the existence of class stratification. This idea is wholly wrong.

Posted by: Terry at April 29, 2005 12:47 PM

> The following may be a touch overboard but, I feel they will be
> talking about how dangerous people of faith are while they are
> rounding us up and transporting us in cattle cars for the final
> solution to the faith question.

First step: Outlaw all private guns. You know ... so those poor misguided "people of faith" can't "hurt themselves" with those "dangerous nasty guns." "We don't want them to get hurt."

Posted by: RBMN at April 29, 2005 12:49 PM

Uhm, there's a whole lot more to the evangelical-fundamentalist divide than that, Terry, and my short comments are only a beginning.

First, many evangelicals DO believe that every word in the Bible is true (a position called "Biblical inerrancy"), not just fundamentalists.

While there are some doctrinal differences between the groups, both embrace doctrines of historic orthodoxy (salvation through faith in Christ alone being perhaps numero uno).

Fundies are much more likely to see the church as opposing the culture at large, and being oppressed by it. They also tend to operate more with a chip on their shoulder than evangelicals.

While evangelicals are more likely to engage the culture than fundamentalists, both enthusiastically build institutions and cultural practices parallel to the world at large.

The best (sympathetic) observers of evangelicals and fundamentalists may be Mark Noll and James Davidson Hunter. They do a good job of pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of both groups of Christians.

Posted by: The E-Man at April 29, 2005 03:41 PM


Conservative mainstream Protestants who are still in mainstream churches (yes, all five or six of us) lost one of our most impassioned advocates this week:

Posted by: Pete (Alois) at April 29, 2005 04:43 PM

As a non-Christian, liberal person of faith, I have two words for you:

Quit. Whining.

Do you honestly think that the greatest threat to religion right now lies in the hands of the left? Really? Because, you know, there's so much power in the hands of the left right now.

No, the greatest threat to religion lies on the right, in those who hold an extremely narrow view of what religion is. Think banning contraception, banning gay authors, and redefining marriage.

These people aren't Lutherans, and they're not evangelicals (and yes, I'm familiar with the distinction between evangelical and fundamentalist. Which is why I don't use the former term). And they're not mainline American Catholics.

They're the hard-core diehards. The Dobsons. The Falwells. The Robertsons. And yes, they're wrong, and they are dangerous to our country, and I'm going to fight them to the end.

But contrary to popular belief, Christianity is not under attack in this country. Believe me, it's quite a bit more unsettling to be a non-Christian now than it was five years ago. Fundamentalist Christianity is on the rise, and frankly, I'm a lot more concerned that I'm going to be shepherded off in the dark of night than any of you.

Posted by: Jeff Fecke at April 29, 2005 05:22 PM



Um, yeah, right.

They're coming... to... take you awaaaaaay!

Dobson, Falwell et al. don't want to stuff your head and your body into two separate bags. So if'n I were you, I'd worry about Zarqawi (who does want to do precisely that). And then, one happy day, when all those homicidal terrorists are no longer with us, we can worry about all the nasty folks who pray in those big airplane hangars on the outskirts of town...

Posted by: Pete (Alois) at April 29, 2005 05:31 PM


Believe me, I'm worried about the terrorists. I may not have always agreed with the tactics used in the WoT, but I've never disagreed with the need to fight it.

But quick question--who is Zarqawi closer to philosophically? John Kerry? Or James Dobson?

Posted by: Jeff Fecke at April 29, 2005 07:46 PM

I wouldn't count large portions of the ELCA as evangelical. There is a pretty big schism running the ELCA.

The seems a movement right now to try and Identify all evangelicals with the little known not at all influential domnionist movement. This is pretty sad, its about the same as saying all leftist religionists are Raelians.

Posted by: rick at April 29, 2005 09:29 PM

Well Jeff, you made a foolish error indicating your lack of understanding. Zarqawi is closer philosophically to John Kerry. After all, Kerry want the US out of the Middle East, so does Zarqawi. Kerry and Zarqawi agree that human life is not sacred. On the other hand, Dr. Dobson is a committed Christian and therefore one of the “Crusaders” hated by Zarqawi. He is also a staunch supporter of Israel and the Jews, another object of hatred by Zarqawi. Who would Zarqawi prefer as leader of the US, Kerry or Dobson? The answer should be obvious even to you.

Posted by: moneyrunner at April 30, 2005 08:47 AM

"But quick question--who is Zarqawi closer to philosophically? John Kerry? Or James Dobson?"

Well, I'll take a stab at who you'll guess, Jeff, but to compare someone who sanctions sawing off heads and car-bombing schools with either of them is obtuse to the point of absurdity.

If Dobson is "closer philosophically" to Zarquawi, then so am I. Doesn't fly.

Posted by: mitch at April 30, 2005 08:53 AM


That article is by Stanley Kurtz. Not Howard Kurtz.

Posted by: Doug at April 30, 2005 09:46 AM

hmmm where to begin.... First of all I have seen many many many many articles in christian publications abut the homosexual agaenda and their war on America. I dont recall anyone in the left calling for the death of christians they way fundamentalists are calling for execution of unrepetant homosexuality. Also I dont recall the leaders of the left being involved in overt hate like Dobson who claims gays caused the holocost, Falwell who campaigned in the 60's to keep interacial mariage in illegal, and I need not even point out what a fool Pat Robertson is. The speech from the christian right particularly against gays makes what the nazis said about the jews look mild. The never JUST say its a sin its always something like "This sick vile horrendous abomindable sin". Also it is the opinion of many fundamentalists that when it speaks of dogs in the bible it is talking of homosexuals/ Yet you say the people on the left are perpitrating hate? Take a look outside the church every now and then and know you are on the wrong side of morality and the wrong side of history. One day my children will look at fundamentalist leaders of our day the same we we look at Wallace standing in the doorway of ole miss. And our chidren will as us why did these people hate so much. And I wont know what to tell them.

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