Daily Telegraph on Bibles and Guns

Britain’s Daily Telegraph is much the best read for comment on American politics. I guess I’m prejudiced because, having lived over there for 25 years I got to enjoy the Telegraph as the best paper in the world. In this article  Toby Harnden points out that President Obama’s tactic of saying the Tea Party right wingers are stupid will probably backfire. He notices that the elitist Obama echoes European liberal anti Americanism, for the ‘intellectuals’ of Europe love to portray ordinary Americans as dumb, Bible totin’, gun slinging, sister marryin’ yokels.

What they don’t seem to get is that Americans actually value the common man. If you want to understand the American view of the blue collar worker take a look at Norman Rockwell’s pictures. Unlike European elitists who still treat their lower classes like unwashed peasants, most ordinary Americans look up to the working man. They don’t look down on him. They think he (and all persons) have an innate human dignity, and the smartest American politicians have always portrayed themselves as ordinary fellows who got lucky. George Bush Jr. was portrayed by the intellectuals as dumb, but he was smart enough to cut away from the East coast, Yale background, move to Texas, marry the local librarian and pretend to be just an ordinary Texan rancher. That’s why Americans liked him, and he didn’t much mind if people in Paris, London and Milan thought him a dumb hick because guess what? They didn’t have a vote.

Obama did best when he tapped into the hopes and aspirations of ordinary African Americans and the mainstream Democrat voters. The more he reveals his true colors as an East coast elitist intellectual the more his political stock will drop.

Intellectuals here and in Europe will never understand the mentality of the ordinary, conservative American voter.  The intellectuals love themselves, and they just can’t understand why ordinary folk don’t like them. These people who are supposed to be so smart never actually take the time and trouble to understand people who are different from them. Instead they simply write them off as ‘angry, bitter and clinging to their Bibles and guns.’ Ironically, this famous quote of Obama’s in which he mocks ordinary Americans, pretty much explains the whole thing.

Conservative Americans do cling to their Bibles and guns, and those two things symbolize exactly what the marks them as Conservative Americans. First of all, they cling to their Bibles because they believe in God and his Son Jesus Christ. This is something incomprehensible to the intellectuals in the USA and Europe, and if they believe in God and his Son Jesus Christ, they do so with a passion and fervor which influences everything else they believe and do. Even if they fail, they want to be good Christian folk, and they want to have a society where they can practice their Christian beliefs and values, and they believe that their society will be happier and healthier and safer and better if everyone else did too. They cling to their Bibles because they’re Christians, and their Christian faith gives even the most ignorant of them more of a coherent and consistent world view and philosophy of life than the smuggest atheistic nihilist intellectual who has no philosophy of life but cynicism and no worldview but individualistic hedonism.

Are these good Christian people ‘dumb’? They might have less formal education. They might be prejudiced and ignorant about the wider world, but they’re not stupid. They’re smart, and furthermore, what the intellectuals who dismiss them also miss is that there are plenty of Christian conservatives who are anything but dumb and uneducated. America is full of smart, savvy, shrewd, highly educated and articulate Christian conservatives too.

What about guns? They cling to their guns not because they want to go around shooting everyone, but because they fear somebody else will. In other words, they cling to their guns as a method of self defense because they believe in original sin. That is to say, they believe that there are bad people out there who might want to take what belongs to them, and those bad people might be robbers and thieves and bandits, but they might also be the local militia working at the commands of a tyrannical ruler. It may be that they are given to paranoia. It may be that the extremists among them are dangerous, but their clinging to their guns is their way of expressing their distrust of the ‘big guys.’ The ordinary American conservative doesn’t trust the government. They think less government is always a good thing–no matter who they elected.

If you want to understand where Americans are ask where they came from. Those who came to America were refugees, pilgrims and homeless immigrants. They came from around the world escaping from pogroms, political and religious persecution and the attack of the wealthy, aristocratic, educated elite. It’s deep in the way they’re wired to distrust the big guys.

They don’t trust politicians and bankers and fat cats and all the networked, educated, power elite. They think  those people who rule the world are almost always out for themselves and want to control the little guy for their own good. Furthermore, the big guys are the ones who start the wars, control the money and rule the world.

Conservative Americans don’t like them and don’t trust them.

Are they so wrong?

UPDATE: Toby Harnden gives this blog a link on his blog. Nice! Go here.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14816606591731828295 Sarah R.

    I like this post a lot. I have always thought that the intellectual liberals are making a mistake by writing off the conservative Christians.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17915066381658225713 Rachel B

    Thank you, Father. Well said.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08382718252584555371 Rachel Alvelais

    Father, I comment on your post without reading it completely, to respond to your comments about us "common Americans." Husband and I grew up in California, and have only flown across the country to the East Coast until this past summer, when we borrowed a 24-ft RV and took our 3 girls across country to the Ohio River Valley and back in a month-long gypsy experience.We discovered much (which must be blogged about elsewhere), but the most incredible thing to us urban Catholics from Liberal Coasts was this: away from the edges of the country, in small towns bisected by state and county highways, beautiful Catholic Churches sit as prominent buildings,empty in the middle of the week but with doors UNLOCKED, ready to receive and refresh the weary and harried traveler with uninterrupted repose. In the larger cities, the Cathedrals had staff on hand and schedules for opening and closing, of course. But in Woonsocket SD, and the middle of Kansas, and many other places, the Church was unlocked and welcoming to us.I think this particular aspect of our trip made the strongest impression on our children, who recognized something about the communities through which we were passing: we met people of many different backgrounds or appearances, but the evidence showed that those people share many things and clearly respect each others differences.Thank you for your own contributions, by the way.Mrs. Montoya

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17886970380683614542 George

    It seems the elite have perfected standing before their god, as the Pharisee stood before God in the Temple looking down on the publican. They voice how good they are while looking down on others and thankful they are not like the little people.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08383178253798427977 Anthony Brett Dawe

    thank God for such words by Padrethere is still hope in AmericaGod blesws the USA

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    Since being on blogger, I would say Americans are generally much better educated than the average British person.It's a shame when very clever people get puffed up in their learning and use it as a stick to beat the lesser read with.God gives His wisdom to the humble though, and that is the real pearl of learning to go after, albeit through study, as well as prayer, but not for study's sake, for love's sake.Doesn't scripture say that all knowledge is going to pass away anyway? So, all we will have for brain power in eternity is the wisdom of God, I say 'all' but it's probably going to be more than sufficient ha-ha!East coast intellectuals sound like terrifying people who never smile to me. No humour, not my type of creature at all.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08383178253798427977 Anthony Brett Dawe

    for nigh on 20 years aprox one major 'diablic' i.e. 'splittin in sunder' attack on the usa political scene is:hard-working lower income 'blue collar' traditionally voting Democrats being compelled to vote for their party which has repeatedly at the barrel of numerous 'poilizei' gun barrels and 'bubble laws' enforced their allegiance and economic support of:ABORTIONthat is WRONG

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06684142528414196410 JM

    Fr: L:You are on a roll. Well-done and encouraging pieces. Thank you.JM

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16418313032611579940 Niall

    I think many people, particularly athiests and progressives, don't understand the very important distinction between different kinds of intellectual gifts.Lots of people are very intelligent and very clever without being very wise or perceptive. I would say that Richard Dawkins is an excellent example of someone in this category: cleary very able intellectually, with a great deal of expertise and knowledge in his discipline, but utterly lacking in wisdom or real insight, and despising those who do possess such qualities.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09627986880884206811 flyingvic

    So, Father, does your chasuble have built-in pockets for a gun and a Bible, as well as for a mobile phone?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr Longenecker

    Vic, surely you know that chasubles don't have pockets.I do, however, keep a Beretta in my biretta.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02645173524517798088 Amy Giglio

    I had the wonderful opportunity to be in London this summer and meet up with a girl I had gone to college with (we're both American-she lives in London now) and her British husband. I found it amazing that as wonderful as he is, he was completely unwilling to acknowledge that New York and LA do NOT represent the whole country. His attitude was that our big cities speak for all of us and that Europe wasn't willing to listen to voices that don't come from the coasts. He was unwilling to hear that half of our population doesn't live on the coasts and that those people have ideas that are completely different from those you might find in NY or LA-as if it was quite impossible. This was the hardest thing to wrap my head around while we were abroad, Father, and it was exactly as you described: Americans tend to lift up the common man and the Europeans tend to put him down.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07331688544544080299 Mitch

    This is exactly why America is the perfect place to really give distributism a try, our respect for the common man. Also after reading this post I am inspired to go listen to Fanfare of the Common Man. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rnHpNWy7KE&feature;=related

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12594214770417497135 Suburbanbanshee

    Re: gunsAlso, because venison is tasty and a deer in the freezer feeds your family for a large chunk of the winter. Maybe in Europe, hunting is an elite thing (or they try to only allow rich people who can go to other countries to do it). But in the US, it's for food as well as fun.Of course, tipping poor but proud people over the edge, from self-supporting to needing food stamps, may be a feature and not a bug for those who want guns banned.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09627986880884206811 flyingvic

    Father, I hate to say this, but you're behind the times! Some of the latest clerical catalogues here make provision for a mobile phone pocket in the chasuble if required. Naturally I had assumed that they were already regulation issue across the pond, since all your bad habits seem to find their way over here in time…And by the way, I must protest! Never ever have I accused Americans of marrying their sisters. Well, not all of them, anyway.