Friday, October 29, 2004

Christian fundamentalists

Today I attended the Dorothy L. Thompson Lecture series on Civil Rights given by the President of the ACLU, Nadine Strossen.

Sadly, this had none of the excitement of a Lou Douglas Lecture. The lecture was a relatively sober critique of the Patriot Act.

The most telling part of Strossen's lecture came when she said that the single most controversial part of the Patriot Act was the secret seizure of library records. In a world confronting the possibility of terror attacks apocalyptic in scale, be satisfied that the most compromised civil right is the 1-and-a-halfth amendment: “Library records shall not be infringed upon.”

In the Q and A portion afterwards, a person I recognized as a Lou Douglass regular asked a question that basically accused President Bush of adopting the “Patriot Act” for religious reasons. Specifically, Bush supposedly thinks that all people are sinners and so must be punished by intrusive, regulative policies. Nadine lapped this up. The questioner also alluded to the real threat. He gestured toward the Student Union, where, “even as we speak, Christian fundamentalists are gathered” *insert ominous music*.

The utter condescension and smug superiority with which he referred to these “fundamentalists” (saying, “how can we convince people like them”) offended even a die-hard Democrat sitting by me. Not to mention the disgusting use of the word “fundamentalist” to describe groups of mainstream Christians meeting together in faith; a startling debasement of a word that shouldn’t be employed lightly in an era of Islamic fundamentalist terror.

Hard leftists feel truly threatened by the religiosity of the Republican Party in general and Bush in particular. They see it is an alien and incomprehensible concept: “he hears God talking to him? Is he insane? Is he possessed?” They are so ignorant of any moral perspective in the area of religion that a person professing an open, unashamed belief in God must be equivalent to the Wahhabi extremist.

George Orwell, an enemy of such moral equivalency, wrote in his essay "The Lion and the Unicorn":

There is not much freedom of speech in England; therefore there is no more than exists in Germany. To be on the dole is a horrible experience; therefore it is no worse to be in the torture-chambers of the Gestapo. In general, two blacks make a white, half a loaf is the same as no bread.

Many Christians think homosexuality is sinful, therefore they must be like the Islamist who would stone homosexuals. Many Christians believe a modicum of decency is beneficial for society, therefore they are like the Islamist that advocates the burkha and prevents woman from venturing outside the household. Christians like to pray, therefore God is telling them to hijack planes with box cutters and fly them into the nearest building.

As much as leftists berate Bush for being unable to see shades of gray, they are no stranger to simplistic thought.


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