(Cue: drum roll) Here is something that seems a bit bizarre to contemplate. GetReligion readers, I bring you the journalistic team of Rod Dreher and Alexander Cockburn. It will take a moment to get to the second half of that equation.
Dreher, as many readers will know, is a conservative Catholic on the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News and a friend of this blog. In the photo he is shown with, of all people, the enlightened historian Garry Wills.
In the wake of the post-11/2 earthquake in the mainstream media, Dreher pounded out a personal column trying to explain to other journalists that, out in flyover country, the election was seen as a whisper of sanity, not the revenge of what he called "Shi’ite Baptists and the Taliban Catholics." A liberal friend even
wrote Dreher to compare the Bush victory with the 1933 burning of the Reichstag in Berlin.
Dreher is not the kind of man who hides what he thinks. He says the left, at the moment, is being tempted to engage in the "same hysteria as the McCarthy-era
right-wing paranoids who saw a crypto-commie inside every liberal." There’s more.
You love to blame us and the Republican leadership for being "divisive."
Yet it wasn’t our side that cheered when the Massachusetts Supreme Court
overturned the ancient and settled definition of marriage in a single moment,
and we were not the partisans who staged illegal and intentionally provocative
gay wedding ceremonies on the steps of city halls.
Well, last week Middle America was provoked, and provoked right back. What
did you expect?
This may come as a shock to liberals who don’t peer outside their cultural
cocoon, but believing that marriage is something exclusively between one man and
one woman is … normal. In fact, the opposite is radical by any historical or
social measure. It is also not a bizarre and reactionary act to vote for the presidential
candidate who believes it is immoral to allow a form of abortion that sucks the
brains out of partially born babies, instead of the presidential candidate who
voted to keep that kind of thing legal.
At the moment, many on the left (including more than few voices in the media) have decided that moral and cultural conservatives are not just wrong, but downright evil, the spiritual blood brothers of Osama bin Laden.
Dreher says that what this country needs, right now, is some culturally conservative — Democrats. America needs more politicians who care about old-fashioned progressive values.
Frankly, as a social conservative who worries about what GOP stewardship of the
economy is doing to families and communities, I long for the day when the
Democratic Party speaks to the concerns of people like me without derision and
condescension. You need a Harry S. Truman, an old-style populist Democrat in
sincere touch with small-town values.
Unfortunately for you — and for America — if Harry S. Truman were alive
today, y’all wouldn’t give him the time of day. For that matter, if the 1971
version of Teddy Kennedy walked in the door, those pro-life convictions would
end his career as a Democrat before it got started. Think about
As you might imagine, Dreher has been receiving some email. As you might imagine, his claim that many liberals have demonized cultural conservatives struck a nerve. Here is a sample.
Let’s clear up a few obvious errors in your screed: it is nativist
know-nothing self-righteous christians who herald America’s dark ages. Not
Christians of any sort, as in folks who walk the Christ talk with integrity and
meekness, but nominal christians such as yourself who wrap the cross in a flag
and use it as a spear to impale those who disagree with you or threaten your
peace of mind with, oh my, thinking. … And do I think in your America Jews and other non-Christians will have
their religious and civil liberties curtailed? I am quite certain of it.
Why? Because you are part of a belief system that condemns non-believers and
dissenters to hell.
All of this sounds rather like the thesis of an earlier Dreher piece in Touchstone magazine entitled "The Godless Party." In it, Dreher called attention to what sociologists Louis Bolce and Gerald De Maio of Baruch College in the City University of New York call the new "anti-fundamentalist voters." More than anything else, these voters are motivated by a stunning antipathy toward traditional religious believers.
Apparently, the Bolce and De Maio data even reached the desk of one major journalistic voice on the candid left. Check out this reference from Alexander Cockburn on the role of "moral values" in the election. We can debate his reference to America being a "Christian nation." He said it, not me. I happen to disagree. Here’s Cockburn.
… this brings us to the well-known fact (greeted with amazement
on Wednesday morning by the pundits) that the United States is a Christian
nation. Tocqueville noticed this some time ago, and anyone driving today down
any county road or state highway will see a lot of churches, still well ahead of
casinos which are facilities also predicated on a relationship with Providence.
The 2002 edition of the University of Chicago’s regular surveys reported that
the adult population of the homeland is 53 per cent Protestant, 25 per cent
Catholic, 3 per cent Christians of some other stripe, 3 per cent other
religions, 2 per cent Jewish and 14 per cent holding "no religion". Of the
Christians, 25 per cent go to church once a week or more.
Even though the highest reading on any chart of Intolerance is that nourished towards Christians by secular liberals (after all, Christians believe in forgiveness and the possibility of redemption) I suppose we’ll have to put up with much earnest journalism from sensitive liberal writers driving into the Christian heartland to inspect and commune with the natives. I read one patronizing prospectus from a Californian free-lancer that sounded like an
application by an anthropologist in 1925 for funding to inspect an African tribe.
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