Saturday, February 17, 2007

Christian-Bashing Democrats

From Opinion Journal, some observations on the bigoted anti-Christian rhetoric that two of the bloggers in the John Edwards campaign spewed forth, and the broader reality of the Democratic Party.
Heavens, it’s getting crowded in the pews these days--at least with Democratic presidential candidates. Here is Sen. Barack Obama in California’s Saddleback pulpit at the invitation of mega-selling pastor Rick Warren. There is Sen. Hillary Clinton with downcast eyes in Newsweek, praying before the cameras in New York’s Riverside Church. And there preaches John Edwards, also in Riverside Church, weaving his personal faith into everything from AIDS to the minimum wage. Clearly the push is on to show that, for now anyway, the Democratic hopefuls are just plain folks in the religion department.

All the more reason to plumb the curious episode of Amanda Marcotte, that blogger for the Edwards campaign who resigned on Monday and was followed out the door Tuesday by another technical consultant, Melissa McEwan. Both quit thanks to circulation by conservatives of some of these former staffers’ Internet musings. That is to say, in Ms. Marcotte’s case especially: scatological Catholic-baiting rants about “theocracy” marked by leering references to the pope and liberal use of the F-word.

So far, so unremarkable. Just being a bilious feminist with a potty mouth doesn’t much distinguish one in the blogosphere these days. What does matter is something else: We have here a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern moment, in which the fate of bit players becomes emblematic of a larger drama.

For what the blogger tempest really illuminates is a fact that could come to haunt the Democrats as they vie for national office: namely, that their past few wilderness years have also been boom years for the church-loathing liberal/left punditry. As a result, anti-Christian invective now graces (or disgraces) many of the books, magazines, Web sites and blogs to which liberals, including the Democratic elite, habitually look for ideas. One motto of this cottage industry is that the most serious threat to the American republic can be found in, no, not those religious fundamentalists, the ones that first leap to mind after 9/11; but, incredibly, certain other believers--our nation’s Christians.

The cover of Damon Linker’s 2006 “Theocons: Secular America Under Siege,” for example, declares: “For the past three decades, a few determined men have worked to inject their radical religious ideas into the nation’s politics. This is the story of how they succeeded.” Again, he is not talking about al Qaeda. Other books in a similar vein include Michelle Goldberg’s “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism,” praised on its cover by Katha Pollitt for exposing “the ongoing takeover of our country by right-wing Christians.” There is Kevin Phillips’s “American Theocracy,” which identifies in its subtitle “radical religion” as a “peril” facing the nation. Enter also Randall Balmer’s “Thy Kingdom Come: An Evangelical’s Lament,” which opens with the unfortunate metaphorical notion that evangelical faith has been “hijacked by radical zealots” and closes with a vow about “taking America back.”

To repeat, this apocalyptic rhetoric is not being heaped on, say, bomb-toting Islamists but on your churchgoing neighbors next door. Some authors even argue that those neighbors and Islamic “fundamentalists” are joined at the hip. Mel White’s “Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right” is one; he warns that Christians want to “forcibly” take back the country.

Not to be outdone is the recent tome “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America,” by New York Times reporter Chris Hedges. It delivers more of the same, studded with that tonier F-word, “fascism.” Yet despite the book’s conflation of prayer groups and jackboots, Publisher’s Weekly awarded “American Fascists” a starred review and praised its attentiveness to a supposedly “serious and growing threat to the very concept and practice of an open society.”

Of course, whatever has been hurled against Christians in books and magazines has been positively restrained by the standards of the blogosphere. Like Ms. Marcotte’s more embellished arias, a lot of blog commentary cannot be printed in a family newspaper.

Sophisticates and secularists have always titillated themselves by despising the Bible Belt. But professional Christian-bashers have never been as “embedded” in the liberal mainstream as they are today. And therein lies a problem for Democrats. More Amanda Marcottes are not what the party needs as it scrambles to re-establish its religious bona fides with wary red-staters. No wonder so many Democratic candidates are in church. Now they really have something to pray about.
The author of this piece, Mary Eberstadt, politely fails to be explicit about the vitriol that Marcotte (and McEwan) posted.

But just to give a taste of the vile stuff she posted, here is a sample.
Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?

A: You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology.
And via Sykes Writes, Michelle Malkin does a dramatic reading of Marcotte’s rants.

People like Edwards and Hillary and Obama may not, in their hearts of hearts, be anti-Christian bigots. But they are tolerant of anti-Christian bigotry. They will accept from their supporters and campaign operatives nasty rhetoric that they would never accept if directed toward blacks or homosexuals.

A lot of Democratic operatives and pundits claim that being a Christian and voting Democratic are perfectly consistent; that any notion that the Democrats are anti-Christian is some kind of misperception.

But it’s not a misperception. The Democratic party is the party of those who hate Christians -- and those who will tolerate hatred toward Christians.

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