I'm caught up in the game. This post, Christians on the Defensive, and this post, The American Taliban!?!, both from my blog, are about anti-Christian hysteria, as I call it. Hugh Hewitt calls it "religousrightitis." Shamaniac has been arguing me in the comments section of the American Taliban!?! post (second one linked above, click there and scroll down to read her comments) and her rather compelling arguments have led me to the idea that I may be suffering from anti-Christianitis paranoia.
Which is it? Is "religiousrightitis" rampant, or am losing it? I'm caught up in the game, and, while I believe I've maintained perspective, believing that requires that I question it. So, like Archimedes, I need a place to stand- not to move the Earth- but to see it from the outside. (There was a time when I'd do one of several drugs to sort of lose myself to find myself, but that time has passed. Sigh.) So this entry is to get my thoughts in order.
An Overview of the Right Side of The Debate. First let’s name the debate:
“The Beware America’s Christian Theocracy Movement” versus “The Chill Out there is No Danger from any American Christian Theocracy Movement.” Beware V. Chill for short, BVC for cool. BVC was born of the Terry Schiavo debate and grows fat on the Judicial Filibuster Debate and the Gay Marriage Debate. It involves several of the net’s heavy hitters, and at least two UPC members, me and John Pike.
“But the point about the religious zealots who run the GOP is that they are immune to calls to restraint or moderation or limits on power. God is on their side.”
“you begin to realize what a crew of zealots and charlatans now occupy the conservative pedestal. But they will fall soon enough. And the hysteria they are now creating will only accelerate their collapse.”
“You can't have a clearer statement of the fact that religious right morality trumps constitutional due process. Of course it does. The religious right recognizes one ultimate authority: their view of God. The constitution is only valid in so far as it reflects His holy law.”
“The Republicans are going to lose a bunch of us "fiscal" and "strong-defense" voters...there are more of us than there are
religious kooks Religious Right.”
“Don't take us for granted, Republicans...I will vote for Ross Perot again!”
“THE TERRI SCHIAVO TRAGEDY has been seized on by long-time critics of the "religious right" to launch attack after attack on the legitimacy of political action on the basis of religious belief. This attack has ignored the inconvenient participation in the debate--on the side of resuming water and nutrition for Terri Schiavo--of the spectacularly not-the-religious-rightness of Tom Harkin, Nat Hentoff, Jesse Jackson, and a coalition of disability advocacy groups.
The attack has also been hysterical. After Congress acted--ineffectively, it turned out--Maureen Dowd proclaimed that "theocracy" had arrived in the land. Paul Krugman warned that assassination of liberals by extremists was not far off. And the Internet frenzy on the left was even more extreme.”
“But a strain of thought is developing that the political objectives of people of faith have second-class status when compared to those of, say, religiously secular elites. Of course, not only would such a position have surprised all of the Founding Fathers, it would have shocked Lincoln and Reagan, too.”
“Now, having exercised their right to vote, (which btw, being a Christian does not take away) and having won a vast majority in the Legislative branch as well as having their man in the Executive branch, Christians find that judges who agree with them about abortion, prayer in school, or access to public spaces, are automatically unqualified. The Democrat minority won't have them, because their beliefs coincide with many Christian beliefs. Is it any wonder that many Christians feel Democrats are anti-Christian?”
So there’s a very brief overview. Now, where shall I go for a place to stand? I’m going to go to the Instapundit. Why the Instapundit? Three reasons:
1. He is the definition of center right. He’s libertarian but he respects religion. He’s big on the judiciary being independent but he’s not necessarily against the filibuster. He though Schiavo should die, but he didn’t think people who supported her living were evil.
2. His influence is such that, he often times will CREATE the center right position. I mean he is the blog father- his influence is such that people will moderate their own positions only to bring them inline with the Instapundit’s. Out of respect.
3. I have been disappointed with his stance, over and over.
So now I will go back through the Instapundit archives, and see what I can see. And I shall be bound by the Instapundit’s judgment. If he says the Beware’s are in the right, I will believe I’m a bit paranoid. (Note that I don’t say I’ll STOP being paranoid.) If he says the Chill are right, I will bask in the confirmation of my wisdom.
Here we go:
MEGAN MCARDLE: "Are we now back at the point where our Progressives are raving about the dark future in which a Popish conspiracy conquers western civilization and ushers in a thousand years of darkness?"
I disagree with a lot of the Religious Right's agenda, but the constant wolf-crying about theocracy on the left doesn't help. Of course, neither does the occasional idiocy on the right. Sigh.
I STILL THINK THAT BILL FRIST would have been better off following my advice.
Josh Chafetz observes: "I can think of few better ways to drive me and my fellow independents into the arms of the Democrats."
UPDATE: James Joyner: "I support Frist's efforts to get judicial nominees an up-or-down vote and even support invoking the so-called 'nuclear option' to get it done. However, this particular move is not only unseemly but likely to backfire. . . . This is clearly an issue the Republicans should be able to win on the merits. The idea that the president's nominees should not be able to get a vote in a Republican majority Senate is simply bizarre. But arguing that Democrats are defying Jesus with their obstructionism is unlikely to turn this one around."
Hugh Hewitt feels differently.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Matt Rustler: "Is it any wonder that some people believe the 'Religious Right' is trying to establish an American theocracy? I'm starting to worry, too, and I am -- er, was? -- mostly on their side."
Although I've always tried to be pleasant to the Christian Right folks even where we disagree, I really think it's best if I don't weigh in right now. I turned down a slot on Hugh Hewitt tonight because I was afraid I'd use words that would get him an FCC fine. But I'll refer interested readers to this post-mortem at Blogs4God, and these thoughts on federalism from Right-Thinking. And Bill Ardolino is right about the Hillary 2008! implications of a lot of this stuff. And, if you've got a strong stomach, you can read this.
UPDATE: But here's the good side, from reader David Prentice:
I saw you on Kudlow's show with Hugh H. and John H. last week and had intended to write earlier. I have just learned about your hate mail (and your wife's) from some the right and wanted to give you some encouragement and thank you for what you do.
After I watched the show I had wanted to say how much I appreciated the dialogue you all had on that show because it showed by example how you could debate very opposite sides of an issue without rancor and bring light to it. I am what Andrew Sullivan would derisively call a right wing religious zealot. Full disclosure: I disagreed with your position on this matter, but I do so appreciate your spirit in putting forth your ideas, I always have appreciated your writings even when I disagree.
I love your blog, have been reading it for about a year now along with Powerline and Hugh Hewitt (You are my bookmarked 3!). I appreciate all of your view points and most of all your civility and the ability to find good information.
I am very disturbed to hear about the mail you have received from others who believe as I do. It is shameful and despicable and belies what they (myself included) claim to believe. I apologize for their horrible judgment, and want to encourage you to keep your weblog going strong in spite of all the nastiness.
Thank you again, you are appreciated by some of us "religious zealots" out there.
Well, I always hope that people can disagree without being disagreeable. The people who can't usually wind up losing. Some people certainly get this: Hugh does, and John Hinderaker -- who's been the target of moonbat assaults from the Left himself -- certainly understands the difference. Not everyone does. Those people are the fringey minority, for the most part, though I have to say that I was taken aback, and disappointed, by the Jonathan Last assault I mention below.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I've gotten a whole lot more emails along the lines of David Prentice's, for which I'm quite grateful. You know that the nasty folks are unrepresentative, but they're so damned energetic about it that it's hard to keep that in mind at times.
I APPRECIATE Andrew Sullivan's quoting me, but he's wrong: Unlike Andrew, I don't think that America is in danger of being taken over by religious Zealots, constituting an American Taliban and bent on establishing theocracy. I think that -- despite their occasionally abusive emails (and most aren't abusive, just upset) -- the people that Mickey Kaus is calling "pro-tubists" are well-meaning, sincere, and possessed of an earnest desire to do good. I don't think that they're nascent Mullah Omars, and I think that calling them that just makes the problem worse. This is a tragedy, and it's become a circus. Name-calling just makes you one of the clowns.
But I do think that process, and the Constitution, matter. Trampling the Constitution in an earnest desire to do good in high-profile cases has been a hallmark of a certain sort of liberalism, and it's the sort of thing that I thought conservatives eschewed. If I were in charge of making the decision, I might well put the tube back and turn Terri Schiavo over to her family. But I'm not, and the Florida courts are, and they seem to have done a conscientious job. Maybe they came to the right decision, and maybe they didn't. But respecting their role in the system, and not rushing to overturn all the rules because we don't like the outcome, seems to me to be part of being a member of civilized society rather than a mob. As I say, I thought conservatives knew this.
I’ll stop with that last one. I think the verdict is clear. I’m not paranoid, though I’m in with some bad company. The Beware side should CHILL. Remember Say Anything, where Lloyd tells the drunk dude “You MUST CHILL! YOU MUST CHILL!”
Heed those words.