Staggering bigotry of Kathleen Parker – UPDATED

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’!

Meanwhile, The Doc is In wonders about the sharp divide between Christianity and Socialism. I’ve pondered that myself from time to time.

Patterico: Between Parker’s martyrdom and Barack Obama’s “Being the President (Elect) Is a Lonely Job” schtick, we’re surrounded by selfless, courageous people, aren’t we? It’s a very special time.

Ace calls Parker cutesy. Now that’s harsh!

Allahpundit has more

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Jean Balconi

    What annoys me about Parker’s piece is her dictatorial tone. Religion should stay in one’s “heart, where it belongs.” I’m growing tired of op-ed pieces that sound like they’re written by a cross between Auntie Mame and the warden of a girls’ reformatory.

    But admit I did smile a little at the end, specifically at this: “And the nonreligious won’t get religion through external conversion. It doesn’t work that way.”

    In other words, give up preaching and spreading the Good News because it doesn’t work, silly Christians. :)

  • Aitch748

    Kathleen Parker does play up the “oh look at me, I’m up on the barricades while my former comrades-in-arms are calling me witch and bouncing stones off my heaving bosom” thing a little too much. I keep hearing that “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” tune playing in my head. Either she’s deliberately parodying herself or there’s something wrong with that woman.

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  • DWiss

    Yikes! Considering myself well-informed, I was surprised to hear myself say, “Who’s Kathleen Parker?”. Wikipedia says she’s a conservative columnist: OK, I’m getting the context of things now.

    We’ve come to an interesting fork in the road when we say that G-O-D is a problem. Exactly how upside down do we need to be to say that? See, I think the message of the Gospel is that we need to jettison ANYTHING that makes God a problem. He’s the alpha and the omega (I didn’t make that up), and so He should be the starting point and the goal of whatever we do.

    God is a problem? I’m most tempted to despair when I see all the moral underpinnings of our society being kicked away. And when I say moral I mean religious because religion is where morals come from. So we reject religion because it’s intolerant and stuffy (we want to be FREE!), and then it’s easy to also reject morals because where’d those silly ideas come from anyway? I’m all for free speech and expression, etc., but wasn’t there a time when people would muzzle themselves? I mean, just because some things some things are so absurd that they’re not even worth saying. God is a problem? It’s like saying oxygen is a problem or water is a problem. If that’s true, how are we going to live? But if we are at the point where we can ask those things as though they are questions worthy of discussion, well, where are we?

  • Bender B. Rodriguez

    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

    Yes, they can be loud. And sometimes they actually end up harming the cause more than helping it — sometimes because of their loudness, sometimes because of structure of their argument (which at times is more grounded in the Protestant emphasis on authority, rather than the more Catholic approach appealing to reason).

    And yet, it is hard to criticize them too much. After 35+ years of slaughter in the womb, after seeing the on-going destruction of the family, after seeing, on issue after issue, the culture swirling around the toilet, it is to be expected that they would be a little bit frustrated and annoyed and, hence, rather loud and insistent. Even so, they are hardly the brown-shirts that have taken to the streets today to “protest” the democratic decision of California voters to protect marriage. They have hardly adopted the riot and smash-things tactics of A.N.S.W.E.R.

  • semicolon

    I read the entire Kathleen Parker piece. I’ll admit to being one of those right-wing evangelical conservatives, but oogedy-boogedy? Am I a “low brow” anti-intellectual because I don’t even know what that means. Or is Ms. Parker making up adjectives so that she can accuse me and Sarah Palin both of having a limited vocabulary?

    If the Republican party decides to purge the evangelicals in hopes of winning the next election, I wish them luck. Well, no, I don’t really wish them luck. But I doubt they will have any success with that strategy anyway. And Ms. Parker needs to check her demographics. Has she read Mark Steyn’s America Alone? Religious conservatives, Catholics, evangelicals, and Mormons, are the ones having the babies. We may not make up a majority, but we will be needed by any political party that wants to have a majority in the future.

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  • Russ

    Why out of all the groups in the country is it the Christians that are always told to shut-up? Speak up! It is your right. Stop letting everyone else change the rules. They would like nothing better than to have us muted while they get to continue speaking on any subject. You cannot be a light unto the world if you never open your mouth. For way to long we have listened to people tell us to hush while the adults speak, which has lead to death and destruction. We are the adults, we have the truth, why on earth would we need or want to shut-up?

    [But then again, Russ, we were also told the world would hate us. So, you comes with the gig, so there should be no whining! :-) Admin]

  • righty64

    As an Episcopalian, I do not disagree that I sometimes find the evangelical expressions a bit much for me. But, I am with them on their understanding of the role of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in their lives. This reminds me of the mocking Mitt Romney got when he went right on social issues. He was pandering. But Miss Parker goes left and she is enlightend. Go figure! I will ask Miss Parker, et al, where are the Republicans/conservatives going to find a more enthusiastic group of voters if the social conservatives are thrown overboard? As for myself, I consider myself a CONSERVATIVE, period! When we stop ghettoizing ourselves, we can take the message out to the people. Kind of like that Ronald Reagan fellow did.

  • Susan K.

    The end of your article brings up the issue of Christianity/socialism. In my mind, simplistic as it is, Christianity is about personal responsibility to the eternal God, which in turn gives in responsible actions and thoughts to my world, near and far. Socialism, it seems to me, is an impersonal philosophy which deems your responsibility is to me, not my responsibility is to you. Socialism creates layers of others between me and thee, so that the “personal” is nearly not there.
    As far as Katherine Parker goes, who’s she, anyways? Let’s just imagine Christians taken out of all society’s responsibilities – government, education, the homefront. See where that takes us. Yes, there are “bad” Christians with motivations just as greedy as anyone else. But most of the Christians I know look at life with God in the middle, including how they perceive their
    citizen responsibilities. In this election, both parties gained from the “God” factor.
    And, by the way, on another note that I apply to Parker, etc., when was the last time she read through the Constitution? The high-brow, highly educated founders (many of whom had some seminary training) crafted a wonderful, readable document that puts bills written by congressmen to shame. My homeschool high school class just read every word (not the amendments) and understood the content. Take God out of the equation? Most of the founders were Christians or deists, and our founding documents (Declaration of Independence, Virginia Religious Bill of Rights, Preambles to state constitutions) reflect their philosophic foundations.
    And somehow I do not think our founders were ashamed of God.

  • Matteo

    If it were really the case that this is a country that doesn’t need Christians to be open and active about their faith (and, in fact, needs them not to be), then what good is this country, anyway? What is the good that would be served? Good riddance to such a country! Thankfully, Parker doesn’t know what she is talking about. But that’s the price of admission for the club she is striving to join…

  • Gayle Miller

    The Republican Party either has or does not have principles. If, in fact, Republicans DO have principles – then they should proclaim them loud and clear and not waver. And if someone like Parker doesn’t like it, then maybe she should hop on over to the Druid Political Party where her total lack of relevance will be appreciated! After all, 87% of Americans affirm that they DO believe in a Deity!

  • Ruth H

    I just feel sad about Kathleen Parker. Sometimes trying to be sophisticated just comes off as being sophomoric and that is true in her case. I am just sorry and embarrassed for her to be doing this.

  • culperjr.

    In a year of truly amazing developments, perhaps none is more amazing to discover that, having gone to bed a High Church Episcopalian with intellectual pretentions (heck, my wife is an opera singer, for crying out loud!), I awoke to discover that I am a knuckle-dragging Pentecostal troglodyte. Who knew?

    Kathleen Parker, that’s who!

    Thanks for setting me straight, Ms. Parker. I thought that, after years of mealy-mouthed, wishy-washy, double-talking politicians, I might have admired Sarah Palin for practicing what she preaches. Little did I know! Nope, it was because we are fellow snake-handling, tongue-speaking, holy rollers. Yep, that’s it.

    Glad we got that straightened out. Now I can go back to drinking corn likker out of a Mason jar and praying that Jim Bakker will become king.

  • Maura

    You’re not being too hard on Kathleen Parker!

  • TheHobo

    The founders guaranteed freedom of religion not freedom from religion. There is a big difference. That someone brings up the evangelicals as a problem misses the point or points. Thus my issue with Parker.

    When she was whining about Sarah Palin she sounded just like a high school girl hating on the ‘pretty girls’. I wrote her and told her so, so she soon prints an article that was even more shrill. (Not that I think I caused the column. I didn’t.)

    Here is the crux of the matter put to me by one of my professional mentors. He said the he finally understood why Liberals were so darn hard to reason with. He said:

    ‘I had an epiphany the other day. Conservatives think Liberalism is a political philosophy. Conservatives think Conservatism is a political philosophy. Liberals think Conservatism is a political philosophy. Liberals think Liberalism is “Enlightenment”.’

    All Parker is doing is petitioning for membership in the smart kids club. Same for Chris Buckley and the rest if the RINO’s gone to the zero side.

  • Russ

    No whining indeed! Just a refusal to shut up when the part of the country that lives in darkness tells me to. What I was trying to say was to expect it, laugh at it (how about pray for them), and continue talking. I do expect the hate. I just have a hard time with the church trying to be liked to the point of putting a basket over their light. You are going to be hated, but keep on message anyway.

  • Russ

    On a less grumpy note, your site has become a daily read for me. Thanks for putting in the effort to keep it going.

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  • Patrick

    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.

    …and will no doubt feel soooooo brave when nothing happens to her.

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  • pendell

    While Kathleen Parker is blaming people like me for the defeat at the polls, I would ask where’s the blame for the pollster who put Mccain up by 12 in Pennsylvania? And the campaign whose most charismatic spokesman was a plumber who wasn’t even on the ticket?

    If this were a football game, it’d be a 35-7 route in which Defense, Offense, and Special teams outright sucked. So naturally we must blame the team’s boosters in the stands.



    Brian P.

  • newton

    I know you don’t want to be too hard on her, and I don’t blame you.

    Leave it to me.

    You know, that woman reminds me of something my husband says sometimes: “Opinions are like a*****es, everybody has one.”

    But with her, I can see there is a fine line that can be crossed between having one… and being one!

  • Ronsonic

    I’ve asked people and thought and read to try to figure out why Christians seem to annoy so many people so. Yes, Evangelical zeal can sure get to be a bit much, but then in a world where I cannot walk out the door, turn on a TV or radio or fire up the computer without someone trying to tell me what to buy, drink or think, they hardly stand out.

    If it were really a fear of a threatened theocracy they would hate the Muslims instead and those who are annoyed by Christians make it a point of approving Islam.

    I finally figured it out and it is simple: they fear we Catholics and other Christians are right. They have no fear of the Muslim or Buddhist on this point. But they take the words of Christianity as a rebuke. Such is the power of the Word. This is why it should not be thrown around carelessly and must always be accompanied by love and acceptance. People know they are sinners and resent the reminder and despise those who are confident and secure in the faith.

    The Tina Browns want a Pope like Mr Rogers who loves her just the way she is. Which of course Benedict does, but he asks more of her or he should. And she knows he would be right to ask it. These people are a bunch of sullen 12 year olds who snap at their mom before she has said a word because they know she will / should / would be right to tell them to go clean their rooms.