After reading this execrable bit of bigotry and preening martyrdom by Kathleen Parker – who apparently has discovered that the magic formula for “instant media love” is “going maverick on your own tribe,” – I am considering adding her to my list of Media Whores and Sad She-Clowns who – in excessive spurts of spirit brought on by sudden media praise – cross lines and go way too far.
Parker, who had her right-wing, “Christianist” Conservative moments until she found her Smart-Kid-Inclusion sword while participating in the Great Big Piling-On of Palin ’08, is now running free on a ragged field, inviting attention by waving the blade a bit recklessly.
As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.
Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.
I’m bathing in holy water as I type.
To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.
Oh, no! Poor Parker has to bathe in Holy Water, to ward off the evil thoughts being projected her way by the Christians. Later she talks about having her “last cigarette,” because obviously, the Religious Right – all of whom look and act exactly like Carrie White’s mother – will destroy her for speaking out against what she perceives as the unhealthy dominance of religious expression within the GOP.
Parker may actually be making a point worth considering when she argues that the Religious Right is a bit louder than it (or any distinct interest) should be in a political party – and that their exuberance may be off-putting to secularists and those who practice a quieter sort of worship – but she discredits herself, and her argument, in the way she makes it, which is by calling such people gorillas and lowbrows:
Which is to say, the GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows.
Aw, all the folks who consider themselves intellectuals (or who wish the victorious-left would) are so put off by the commoners filling the ranks of the right! Those “oogedy-boogedy” Evangelicals.
As a Catholic, I can’t say I am always comfortable with Evangelical expressions of faith, but I certainly think they’re entitled to them, if it’s what they like. Parker seems to disagree on that point, and she does it the ugliest of ways. I’ll put her and this column right up there with Tina Brown’s infamously prejudiced Reverence Gone Up In Smoke, written upon the election of Pope Benedict XVI, which Brown decried in a streaming bit of bile that brought up old, bitter chunks of leftover Election ’04:
…Oh no! Cardinal Ratzinger! His very name was ominous, a cross between Ratso Rizzo and William Zanzinger. His election was like the sharp rap of a ruler across the knuckles by a punitive nun. It was as if you expected Barack Obama and got Bob Dole. The more that cardinals and Vatican watchers lined up on “Larry King Live” to say what a friendly, conciliatory guy he really is (the most appealing detail that emerged the next day was that he looked “a little forlorn” as he entered the Room of Tears to change into his papal vestments), the more he seemed to emerge as a 19th-century throwback, stridently opposed to liberalism, doubt, internal argument within the church. And the Bavarian background doesn’t help. As one of Larry’s callers who identified himself as an amateur historian of the Holocaust put it, “Couldn’t we have let this generation of Germans pass into history?”
Like Parker, Brown too – convinced of her own brilliance because, after all, she eats with the cool kids – bemoaned the lack of rigorous intellectualism in the church, neglecting Benedict’s own impressive intellectual pedigree or the scores of challenging and brilliant publications put for by the book-loving professor turned pontiff:
Secularists, humanists and quiet worshipers of an unpoliticized God have felt beleaguered, frustrated and unfairly disrespected. There’s no energy on the non-zealot side of the cultural debate. There’s no Voltaire, no Clarence Darrow, not even a Lenny Bruce to balance the stifling, censorious religiosity — not even a Bill Clinton or a Jimmy Carter to show that religion doesn’t have to resemble some Tom DeLay combination of contempt and pious hypocrisy.
Yeahhhh…until the Christians start acting like the secularists, who know everything, and the church stops teaching ideals and encouraging us to strive for them, they’re all hypocrites and ignoramuses.
Brown’s column invited what I now admit was an equally bilious response from me, which some liked and some thought a little too relentless. But I am not inclined just now to fisk Parker’s posing piece. As I read it I got an image of her at her desk, reading her prose with a crisp and fake midlantic accent recalling Katharine Hepburne, but with fluttering eyelashes, and that image sort of speaks for itself.
I’m not the only one who found Parker a bit bigoted, here. Jonah Goldberg handily hands Parker her set-down:
I don’t know what’s more grating, the quasi-bigotry that has you calling religious Christians low brows, gorillas and oogedy-boogedy types or the bravery-on-the-cheap as you salute — in that winsome way — your own courage for saying what (according to you) needs to be said. Please stop bragging about how courageous you are for weathering a storm of nasty email you invite on yourself by dancing to a liberal tune. You aren’t special for getting nasty email, from the right or the left. You aren’t a martyr smoking your last cigarette. You’re just another columnist, talented and charming to be sure, but just another columnist. You are not Joan of the Op-Ed Page. Perhaps the typical Washington Post reader (or editor) doesn’t understand that. But you should, and most conservatives familiar with these issues can see through what you’re doing.
Kathleen Parker aspires to be Dorothy Parker, soaring with ease amongst the tricky-to-catch trapezes of acerbic wit and genuine insight. She is a talented and smart writer, but all she can manage in this piece is a Brownian and ungraceful splat into the crowd, which seems both horrified or amused, but sadly not amazed.
UPDATE: I’ve had a few emails from people who thought I was a little harsh on Parker. If I am cruel, it is only to be kind. I would hate to see Parker deluded into thinking she has actually won the respect of the press because she has become “one of the good ones…”
You remember, Archie Bunker right? He was the bigot who hated blacks and if he was talking about his African American co-worker, whose name escapes me, he would say the man was, “you know, one of the good ones…”
When Kathleen Parker, famously joined the “Palin Pile-On” she went – in the estimation of the press and some others – from “Who’s Kathleen Parker,” to “the intelligent and brave Kathleen Parker…you know, one of the good ones…” who would dare to dissent with the always-wrong right. Her column today, gleefully moving from reasoned argument to unreasonable and ugly caricature, reads like Sally Field playing to a desired audience and saying, “you like me! You really like me!”
John McCain was “one of the good ones” too, for a while. The press liked him! They really liked him!…until he ran for president…at which time he was nothing but a bad old, stupid, mean-spirited, enfeebled, out-of-touch and possibly evil conservative, again. Parker should take note, that’s all I’m sayin’!
Ace calls Parker cutesy. Now that’s harsh!
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