DATE: 1/25/2005 10:12:00 AM
Vox Blogoli 2005 - Ah, yes. Another question from Mr. Hewitt. I'm glad he decided to continue this exercise in blogging after the election. Today, he's asking bloggers to consider this passage:
"On balance it is probably healthier if religious conservatives are inside the political system than if they operate as insurgents and provocateurs on the outside. Better they should write anti-abortion planks into the Republican platform than bomb abortion clinics. The same is true of the left. The clashes over civil rights and Vietnam turned into street warfare partly because activists were locked out of their own party establishments and had to fight, literally, to be heard. When Michael Moore receives a hero's welcome at the Democratic National Convention, we moderates grumble; but if the parties engage fierce activists while marginalizing tame centrists, that is probably better for the social peace than the other way around."The quote is from a story by Jonathan Rauch and is from the "Atlantic" magazine. The first thing that strikes me is the subtle positioning of religious conservatives as terrorists and of leftist protesters as fighters. Religious conservatives are described as "insurgents and provocateurs," while leftists are described as "activists" who "had to fight to be heard." Perhaps I'm reading too much into Rauch's use of language here, but it's a particularly sensitive issue considering that before and after September 11, it was considered funny on the left to refer to Republicans as the 'American Taliban.'
Even now, the language of religious intolerance is used to paint religious people as the villains of history. Whenever religion and politics is discussed, and Christians are the subject, references to the Crusades, the puritans, the Salem witch trials and other such historical events will be made. It is a common tactic of the left to smear contemporary religion with the actions of those in the past.
The use of such language also shows a disturbing moral equivalence by Rauch. He's drawing a parallel between the violence of the modern-day terrorists in Iraq and the past violence of misguided pro-life advocates. Rauch obviously has a dim view of religion and conservatives. His if not A then B approach to the issue suggests that he sees all of us who call ourselves evangelicals and are involved with the political process as potential abortion clinic bombers or terrorists.
In Rauch's view, religious belief leads to violence, but liberal activism leads to social change. This view conveniently ignores centuries of history in which religious belief led men and women to end slavery and oppression, open hospitals, universities, orphanages and feed the hungry, house the homeless and clothe the naked. That Rauch ignores the voluminous history of Christian charity is a telling sign of his worldview regarding faith - that faith is a dangerous component to society that needs the boundaries of a political party to peacefully coexist with the culture.
What does it say about the Atlantic? First and foremost, that the loss of the sane voice of Michael Kelly has hurt the overall voice of the magazine. Under Kelly, the magazine was a voice of political moderation and a pleasure to read. Now, it seems to have fallen into the swamps of leftist bigotry against people of faith.
Most of all, though, this quote from Rauch shows that the left still has no idea what motivates Christians to get involved with politics, and no understanding of modern American Christianity. When violence was used by a very few pro-life supporters, it was rare and widely condemned by those in the church. Although American Christianity does have its fringe element, those who espouse anger and hatred are consigned to the sidelines, not invited to the conventions.
The quote also shows how little the left has learned from its loss in November 2004. They are being advised to grow more radical, when they should be looking at ways to appeal to the center they so badly lost last year. Celebrating the acceptance of Michael Moore is not a sign of health within the party. Quite the opposite. When Moore and his deceptive ilk were allowed into the mainstream of the Democrat party, it indicated a moral unseriousness in the Democrat party.
Rauch is combining anti-Christian sentiment with bad advice for the Democrats. If his thinking is widely accepted, 2006 and 2008 are sure to be good years for Republican candidates.