Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Very Different Conservative....

I wanted to post on this yesterday but deferred in observation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Day.

I got the lead from James Wolcott of Vanity Fair who, in turn, directed us to the American Conservative columnists Heather MacDonald(bio here). MacDonald is a different kind of conservative, you see, she's an atheist. In her blog, Gene Expression, she explains why and the discussion is incredibly revealing. Here are some snippets:

I wrote The American Conservative piece out of frustration with the preening piety of conservative pundits. I attended a New York cocktail party in 2003, for example, where a prominent columnist said to the group standing around him: "We all know that what makes Republicans superior to Democrats is their religious faith." This sentiment has been repeated in print ad nauseam, along with its twin: "We all know that morality is not possible without religion." I didn't then have the courage to point out to the prominent columnist that quite a few conservatives and Republicans of the highest standing had no religious faith, without apparent injury to their principles or their behavior.


As I was pondering whether any of these practices could be reconciled with rationality, the religious gloating of the conservative intelligentsia only grew louder. The onset of the Iraq war expanded the domain of religious triumphalism to transatlantic relations: what makes America superior to Europe, we were told by conservative opinionizers, is its religious faith and its willingness to invade Iraq. George Bush made the connection between religious beliefs and the Iraq war explicit, with his childlike claim that freedom was God's gift to humanity and that he was delivering that gift himself by invading Iraq.


So in the American Conservative piece I wanted to offer some resistance to the assumption of conservative religious unanimity. I tried to point out that conservatism has no necessary relation to religious belief, and that rational thought, not revelation, is all that is required to arrive at the fundamental conservative principles of personal responsibility and the rule of law. I find it depressing that every organ of conservative opinion reflexively cheers on creationism and intelligent design, while delivering snide pot shots at the Enlightenment. Which of the astounding fruits of empiricism would these Enlightenment-bashers dispense with: the conquest of cholera and other infectious diseases, emergency room medicine, jet travel, or the internet, to name just a handful of the millions of human triumphs that we take for granted?

I wonder if she'll be "drummed out" of the Republican Party? For all their talk about the "big tent" I doubt if the rather extremist group which controls the party would tolerate such talk from within.

It's a great article/post...click on the link there's lots more than I posted.

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