Christianity and the Politicians


If conservative politicians in the United States
wish to connect their politics with conservative religion (and why shouldn’t they?), they should at least take the trouble to become religiously informed. I say this because of an astonishing bit of religious ignorance I came across the other evening.
This past Monday, I happened to be watching the Hannity & Colmes show on the Fox News Channel, and one of the guests was the former Republican Congressman John Kasich of Ohio. Kasich, an otherwise intelligent man, was defending the proposition that the United States is a “Judeo-Christian” nation. Persons of other religious faiths (Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc.) are welcome here, he said, but there’s no denying the fact that American culture is founded on Judeo-Christian principles. And then to clinch his argument he said: “George Washington prayed to God Almighty; he did not pray to Mohammed.”
Somebody should tell the honorable Mr. Kasich that it isn’t just George Washington who didn’t pray to Mohammed. Nobody prays to Mohammed, not even Muslims. Mohammed is not the God of Islam. The God of Islam (what a coincidence!) is “God Almighty.” Muslims of course are in the habit of calling God Almighty by the name “Allah,” which is simply the Arabic word for “God,” just as “Dieu” is the French term and “Deus” the Latin.
When blunders like Kasich’s happen, can anyone be blamed for getting the impression that some conservative politicians really don’t care about religious issues? That maybe they talk about them simply because there is a political advantage in doing so? I mean, how can a grown person who takes religion seriously imagine — as Mr. Kasich seems to — that Muslims pray to Mohammed instead of God? Even if one’s early education included nothing about Islam, it’s been nearly seven years since 9/11. Isn’t that long enough for an informed person to become acquainted with the basics of Islam?

 

Almost as egregious a blunder is made by those who insist that the Founding Fathers of the United States were all Christian believers. If Thomas Jefferson — who by the way did not play one of the lesser roles in the founding — was a Christian believer, then I’m an Olympic athlete. He was a believer in Deism, a philosophy very commonly found among the intelligentsia of the 18th century. True, he had a high regard for the life and morals of Jesus Christ (or “Jesus of Nazareth,” as Jefferson preferred calling the famous man whose divinity he rejected); so high was this regard that during his years in the White House, Jefferson put together a redacted edition of the life and teachings of Jesus. This version omitted all the miraculous elements of the story, including the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection; for one of the Deistic articles of faith was that there are no such things as miracles. Hence virgins don’t have babies, and dead men don’t rise from the grave. And thus the need for a redacted version of the Gospels, which obviously, from Jefferson’s point of view, contain large draughts of myth, delusion, and perhaps outright fraud.
If conservative politicians wish to be the friends of the Christian religion and get political mileage out of that, that’s fine with me. Christianity, which is nowadays under very serious cultural attack, can use some political friends. But please let these friends be religiously literate. More, let them not embarrass those religious conservatives who have taken the trouble to read more than one book (even if it’s a Good Book) by talking as though the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were taken directly from the Bible. Let them acknowledge that the Enlightenment, which was to a considerable extent an anti-Christian movement, played an important role in the founding of our nation. The cause of Christianity in America is not served by falsifying history.

 

But it’s not just conservatives who make me cringe. I wince for a different reason when I hear liberals proclaim their religiosity. Take Senator Obama, for instance: he’s now in the habit of ending his speeches by saying, “God bless America.” It’s not that I have any objection to divine blessings being bestowed on our nation. Quite the contrary: the more the better. But among Obama’s strongest and most influential backers is a demographic group — upper-middle class secularists — whose goal, whether intentional or not, is to diminish the importance of religion in America. These are the people who are strong believers in abortion-on-demand, same-sex marriage, and sexual liberalism generally — all of which are radically contrary to traditional Christianity. (It must be admitted that they are compatible with “liberal” Christianity. But if liberal Christianity is real Christianity, then I am once again an Olympic athlete.)
If you are Obama, and if your agenda includes the undermining and ultimate destruction of Christianity, wouldn’t it be more honest to say so? Of course you wouldn’t get elected if you did. (At least not today. If we continue to make moral “progress,” maybe candidates for president will be able to say it 50 years from now. Who knows?) And so — very deceptively — Obama says, “God bless” and gives other indications of being a friend of Christianity. His anti-Christian supporters tolerate this because they realize this is what you have to say if you hope to win the votes of the little people (AKA the “bitter” people).
As for Obama’s personal beliefs, I don’t know what they are. He may well be a sincere Christian — and John Kerry four years ago may well have been a sincere Catholic while nonetheless strongly defending abortion rights. Just as 60 or 70 years ago many a sincere liberal was a “dupe” of the anti-liberal Communists, so today many a sincere Christian is a dupe of the ideological party of anti-Christianity secularists.
If we mean to have a serious public discussion of religion in America — and we very much need one — it would be helpful if liberals would be honest and conservatives intelligent.

By

David R. Carlin Jr. is a politician and sociologist who served as a Democratic majority leader of the Rhode Island Senate. His books include "Can a Catholic Be a Democrat?: How the Party I Loved Became the Enemy of My Religion" and "The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America." Carlin is a current professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island at Newport.

  • Colin

    Whether or not some of Senator Obama’s supporters are people who are not Christians–white, upper-middle class secularists, as Carlin calls them, does not implicate Barack Obama in some sort of quest to destroy Christianity. I’m shocked that has to be pointed out to someone whose been given license to write on this blog.

    But the most absurd part of Carlin’s post is the blanket assertion that Barack Obama’s goal is the “destruction of christianity.” I’m just at a loss for how Carlin can make such a mendacious statement without as much as a shred of evidence. The only possible conclusion is that his piece is sarcastic. If so, it’s a poor attempt at it.

    Barack Obama has demonstrated time and again, to many voters, that he is a devout Christian and that his faith is at the center of his style of governance. This is why he’s stressed civility and governing by consensus, rather than using wedge issues such as abortion to divide and conquer. Why is that so hard for right-wingers like Carlin to understand?

  • Roque

    I have to echo Carlin’s desire to see intelligence and honesty on both sides of the aisle. It would be wonderful to see these values in his own piece. Instead, alarmingly, we find an unhelpful display of paranoia mongering and mud slinging.

    Carlin looks forward to a world where politicians can earnestly discuss faith in the public square. I share that dream. The reality is that, if these hypothetical politicians are Democrats, then the ex-Democrat Carlin doesn’t want to hear their side. Carlin’s mind is already made up, as his book attests: a Catholic can’t vote Democrat, he would have us believe.

    It’s not easy to follow the logical twists and turns in Carlin’s article here. Both his conclusions and his premises are confusing at best. He claims that among the most influential Obama’s supporters are upper-middle-class secularists, and that for this reason, Obama should not end speeches with “God Bless America.” (A welter of unsavory groups swarmed behind Reagan

  • Roque

    The entire style of Carlin’s article here is unfortunate. In a famous article, Doug Hofstadter called this type of anti-argument “the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind.” We see this when Carlin utters equivocating slams like

  • GBurns

    I vehemently object to some of your assertions.

    One can NEVER be a sincere Catholic and strongly defend abortion rights. John Kerry may say he is Catholic but that doesn’t make him one.

    God, the Almighty Father, is NOT the god of Islam. The Triune God of Christianity actually exits in all His splendor. Allah, as defined and worshipped by the Islamic faith, is a false god. Their god has limits and negative qualities while the true God of the Jews and Christians is the great “I Am”. Read the CCC 200 – 231. This is definitely not just a matter of linguistics.

    Many may believe that trying to somehow unify the Jews, Christian and Muslims by claiming we all worship the same God is a lofty goal but it will never be the truth.

    You might want to go beyond the “basic” understanding of Islam before pointing out the blunders of Mr. Kasich.

    Mr.Kasich stated the George Washington prayed to God. Thomas Jefferson wasn’t mentioned. While Jefferson did not hold Christian beliefs the culture of the times certainly did. Incidently, Jefferson was not especially well liked by his peers. The signers of the Declaration of Independence and the framers of the Constituition were, by and large, Christians. We can not measure the whole culture against the intelligensia of the 18th century. Our country’s laws are based on the Judeo-Christian principles which are rooted in natural law. This is proof enough of our religious beginnings.

    Also, Muslims do invoke the name of Mohammed. We Catholics invoke the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints. It is not such an egregious error as you make it sound.

    I do admit to having not read your book but, for the life of me, I can not understand how a Catholic can remain with a political party whose platform firmly upholds abortion on demand.

    Intelligience and honesty is demanded from both sides for a true debate. But then the “truth” is different for conservatives and liberals.

    I’ll take God’s truth every time.

  • John Jakubczyk

    Here we go again.
    Abortion is not a “wedge” issue. It is a political and moral issue that currently is the reason for 3600 dead babies a day, over a million dead babies a year and thousands of injured women. And that is just in the U.s. alone.

    allow me to cite from Evangelium Vitae:

    “58. Among all the crimes which can be committed against life, procured abortion has characteristics making it particularly serious and deplorable. The Second Vatican Council defines abortion, together with infanticide, as an “unspeakable crime”.54
    JThis is what Obama supports.

    “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Is 5:20). Especially in the case of abortion there is a widespread use of ambiguous terminology, such as “interruption of pregnancy”, which tends to hide abortion’s true nature and to attenuate its seriousness in public opinion. Perhaps this linguistic phenomenon is itself a symptom of an uneasiness of conscience. But no word has the power to change the reality of things: procured abortion is the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence, extending from conception to birth.

    This is what Obama and his minion do every day.

    The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder and, in particular, when we consider the specific elements involved. The one eliminated is a human being at the very beginning of life. No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined.

    These are the victims that Obama and Democrats controlling the party could care less about.

    No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.

    No matter what they say, there is not reason to justify it.

    Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection.

    We have a duty to stop the killing of unborn children.

    In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to “take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it”.

    Voting for Obama is voting for abortion – plain and simple.

    As for “civility,” is that similar to the villains in the Bond movies who have dinner with James before they throw him to the sharks?

  • Charity

    Colin and Roque,

    Whew! I am SO GLAD you guys showed up here again! Please check in here daily if you don’t already. I realize that the purpose of this site is to promote the conservative Catholic political agenda. Fine. It’s a free country (and, thank God, not a theocracy). However, I am often disheartened by the intensity of the ill-will, mean-spiritedness and downright hatred directed by the bloggers and commentators towards Senator Obama. Sadly, the lies, rumors and smears about Senator Obama frequently posted here rival those at the most blatantly un-Christian hate sites anywhere on the internet.

    Senator Obama is always the first person to admit that he is far from perfect. Personally, I wish that he were pro-life instead of pro-choice. But, he is not. Despite that, he still brings many, many outstanding personal qualities and promising sound proposals for the betterment of our country to his candidacy for the presidency.

    Senator Obama is a good man, husband, father, son, grandson, brother, etc. I would be so pleased if my fellow Catholics here would show him the respect and civility that I know he would consistently show them.

    Once again, I support the separation of church and hate.

  • BDK

    I think even those of you who are trying to object with charitable and intellectual thoughts are being far too kind on this one.

    This post by Carlin is just silly.

    How can anyone even try to get away with such sweeping dismissive generalizations and questioning of the faith of others? It is hard to even take this seriously.

    Maybe Colin was right…sarcasm.

  • R.C.

    I hereby register my partial agreement with Colin’s and Roque’s objections to Carlin’s piece.

    But I doubt they’ll be glad of the agreement. It is rather qualified.

    Firstly, Carlin is correct about Mr. Kasich and about conservative politicians generally. Kasich’s error (whether through ignorance or a verbal blunder) was silly. When conservative politicians make such blunders they undermine their credibility on all other topics, and are labeled as unserious thinkers. They should do better.

    Secondly, Colin is correct to be aghast at the declaration that Obama’s goal is “destruction of Christianity.” The sole plausible defense of this notion might go something like this:

    1. True Christianity contains in its worldview elements which are both contrary to Obama’s left secular worldview and politically inconvenient to his ambitions;

    2. Obama does not recognize these elements as true Christianity but, because of his own ignorance of Christian ethical principles (whether willful or innocent) regards these as belonging to a sort of “lowbrow, reactionary oversimplification of Christianity” which he would gladly see eliminated from the scene and which he would, as president, take any convenient steps to politically disadvantage.

    3. Ergo, what Obama wants eliminated is, in fact, Christianity, but he does not know it to be such.

    Formulated this way, the accusation is entirely plausible, and in my view, very probable. But it avoids Carlin’s apparent wild accusation that Obama is consciously anti-Christian.

    Thirdly, Roque is correct to say that religious sentiment expressed by politicians is often in ironic contrast to their unsavory supporters, and that Obama’s use of “God Bless America” (so fraught with overuse as to constitute the mildest possible expression of faith) is not to be criticized on that ground.

    For Carlin, a better approach to left-liberal protestations of religion would parallel his approach to conservative gaffes: They are ignorant. They don’t know the nitty gritty details and requirements of Christian belief, and so, when they innocently utter errors and heresies, they’re also innocent of the deep irony of the accompanying pious gestures.

    I think that left-liberal pols who “play the religion card” do so mostly as persons who (a.) do not much believe in miracles happening today; and (b.) have seldom or never restrained their naturally-inclined actions or changed their naturally-inclined philosophy out of obedience to Jesus. They therefore lack a certain seriousness in their expressions of faith, which is there when they need it and immaterial when inconvenient.

    Such persons do not make an effort to know what is in the Bible and what is not. Such persons do not consciously change denominations because they conclude that one is more theologically solid than another. No, they push whatever political position they adopted via osmosis in college…and when a surface analysis indicates Jesus might approve, they say, “and I believe this because of my faith.”

    At any rate, I think Carlin would be better to pursue such lines of argument. They better describe reality than “Obama wants to destroy Christianity.”

  • R.C.

    Charity made a statement I wish to echo: “God Bless Senator Obama.”

    For God, in His love, blesses us not only for ourselves or from the overflowing of His nature, but also so that we can be a blessing to others. If He blesses Obama, not only will Obama be blessed, but others may also.

    On the basis of his wrongheadedness on nearly every major item of policy that comes to mind, I think that an Obama presidency is far more likely to be a curse than a blessing.

    But if we are required to pray for our enemies (and we are, though I admit I don’t pray for Ahmadinejad enough) and for our rulers (Is it impertinent of me to wonder whether Colin and Roque pray for G.W.Bush enough? I suppose Jesus would say, “What is that to you?!”) then we are surely more obligated to pray for our non-enemies who aren’t yet, but might become, our rulers.

    God Bless Senator Obama. I won’t vote for him. But may God bless him, that he might be a blessing to others.

    (Preferably back in Illinois.)

  • John Jakubczyk

    Actually the article was not impressive.

    I only responded because of the Colin’s inaccurate statements.

    Politicians tend to seem to be pretty clueless on a lot of issues and religion is just one of them.
    But being pro-life is not a conservative or liberal issue. The only reason the political conservatives have claimed the issue is that the liberals have embraced the killing side of the equation. Can you imagine if all these so-called pro-life liberals were to actually demand that their party stand up for life? Why – we could find common ground – elect truly pro-life representatives – end the killing.

    do you think……

    As to Charity, I will not attack Obama, the individual. I will attack his politics and his desire to support the enemies of the Church. Planned Parenthood is the enemy of the Church. Barack Obama supports Planned Parenthood. Frankly, I do not care how sweet he is to his wife or children (though I hope he is nice to them). Since he wants to hold public office, I want him to stand up and protect little human beings in the womb. I want him to look at the baby in the womb and tell us that it is wrong to kill that child.

    But he won’t do that.

    So all the civility and the kindness in the world won’t make a difference.

    Speaking the truth is not hate, although it appears to be very uncomfortable to those who want to support the pro-abortion, pro-Planned Parenthood, Obama.

    Peace.

  • Joe H

    It might be crossing the line a bit to suggest that Obama himself wants to destroy Christianity.

    But it is undeniable that what Obama and his supporters want is a de-fanged, facile Christianity that doesn’t presume to make any public statements on issues where it is at odds with the secular agenda.

    They won’t mind when Catholics speak out against anti-immigrant xenophobia, capital punishment, or global poverty (just as they didn’t mind when they spoke out against nuclear weapons in the 80s).

    They just need to keep quiet about sex, because few things are more important to the American secular leftist than the freedom to have sex without unwanted consequences. I can’t take the people who chant “wedge” issues seriously because THEY could just as easily stop obsessing about sexual freedom and “choice” and focus on the economic issues too.

    Why should those who are pro-life “get over” abortion? Why shouldn’t the secularists “get over” it? If they stopped caring about it, if the GOP didn’t have this issue, then the Democrats would probably never lose another election.

    I also think Carlin is dead on when he writes,

    “His anti-Christian supporters tolerate [his saying God Bless You] because they realize this is what you have to say if you hope to win the votes of the little people (AKA the “bitter” people).”

    I don’t take Obama’s “Christianity” seriously. If it isn’t a ploy to win votes, it is a confused and toothless Christianity that turns its back on the most vulnerable and innocent members of society.

    Obama DESERVES a lot of the flack he gets from the bloggers, because his position is a complete insult to Christians and to the millions upon millions of victims of abortion.

  • Charity

    In the next hour or so, Senator Obama will be delivering an address on faith and his support of faith-based initiatives. I’ve already read his prepared script at THE PAGE on the Time magazine website. All that Senator Obama talks about sure sounds like authentic and robust Christianity to me.

    A thought: Even the most devout Catholics who fervently love God are not omniscient. They cannot look into a person’s heart or mind and KNOW that person. Only one Judge has that power. We mere mortals are challenged enough just to KNOW and understand ourselves and our closest loved ones with whom we interact daily.

    Senator Obama leads a conservative and balanced life. He doesn’t consume alcohol. He fights the tobacco demon. He works out regularly and tries to stick with a fairly healthy diet when he isn’t campaigning. He treasures his time with his family. He is a minimalist when it comes to material possessions. He doesn’t feel that things are what’s important in this life.

    After he graduated from Columbia University, he left a high-paying job in NYC to become a community organizer at something like $15,000 a year. When he graduated from Harvard Law School, he could have picked any high-paying firm in the U.S. to work for by virtue of having been president of the law review. He had loads of offers. Instead, he went back to Chicago to work for a small civil rights firm.

    Before he started campaigning for the presidency, he would spend his evenings in D.C. working and working out. He avoided the party scene even though it might have been politically advantageous for him.

    Despite her own speaking schedule, Mrs. Obama endeavors to be back in Chicago most evenings so that she can be home for their daughters. While the Obamas are traveling/campaigning, her mother takes care of the girls.

    Until about four years ago, Senator Obama and his wife were still paying off student loans. The money they have today is primarily the result of his two #1 best-selling books. The Obamas have set up $100,000 college funds for each of their young daughters like responsible parents.

    My point is that Senator Obama has the appearance (my own omniscience is “down” today) of a decent human being. Of course, he has an ego. How could he aspire to the presidency and not? Based on reading his books, a credible-source book about him, and numerous first-hand commentaries, I just don’t see an enemy or a radical or an extremist, and certainly not an anti-Christian. Quite the contrary.

  • Joe H

    Charity,

    You are familiar with Obama’s positions on abortion, aren’t you?

    Refusing to protect born-alive infants so that they are left to die on the shelves of hopsital utility rooms is an act of evil.

    Why don’t you think about the innocent victims that Obama would sacrifice in order to reduce potential threats to legalized abortion? How can you look the other way while the slaughter continues?

    “Authentic Christianity”? Are you kidding? Do you think Jesus Christ would allow an infant to die, alone, in the dark, in a soiled utility room, so that the sanctity of Roe v. Wade can be maintained?

    I abandoned the secular left precisely over the abortion issue. Support for abortion, for the mass murder of the innocent and the weak, is inconsistent with what liberals and progressives used to stand for, before the sexual revolution of hedonism and selfishiness.

    I have nothing but contempt and disgust for those who turn their backs on the unborn while claiming to be Christians who care about the poor and the oppressed. I don’t want to associate with them and I’m glad they aren’t welcome in the Church.

  • Klaire

    Charity have you ever read the Gospels? Even more so, have you ever read them with authentic Catholic understanding? I suspect you are a good person with good intentions, but I

  • dave carlin

    Having re-read the antepenultimate paragraph of my essay, I must confess that some of my critics have a point when they accuse me of saying that Obama CONSCIOUSLY intends to undermine and ultimately destroy Christianity. An honest reader can easily conclude that that’s what I meant to say, even though it isn’t. My apologies for writing carelessly enough to give a wrong impression.

    What I MEANT to say (and I think my meaning is pretty clear from the context) is that Obama is beholden to strongly secularist (i.e., anti-Christian) supporters whose goal is “the underming and ultimate destruction of Christianity.” Their support for unlimited abortion rights and same-sex marriage, the spearheads of this anti-Christian drive, is sufficient evidence of this goal. If Obama were to disavow these spearheads, his anti-Chrstian supporters would disavow HIM.

    As for my not knowing what Obama’s personal religious beliefs are, let me explain. Until recently he belonged to a church in Chicago that is affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC). The UCC is perhaps the most “liberal” of all mainline Protestant denominations; that is to say, it has deviated furthest from traditional or orthodox Christian doctrine. If one wishes to call the UCC a Christian church, this is by courtesy only; it is hardly an accurate description.

    Yet even in the UCC there are genuine old-fashioned Christian believers. Perhaps Obama is one of them (though his strong support for abortion raises doubts about this). I just don’t know.

  • John Jakubczyk

    Charity,
    I see that many on this board have taken you to task for the “feel good” post that ignores the reality.

    So let me ask you to think about a few things.

    Why does someone support abortion through the entire nine months?

    Why would someone oppose the Born Alive Infants protection Act?

    Why would someone professing himself to be a Christian speak in defense of Planned Parenthood?

    Why would someone who claims to care about uniting people attend a church where the pastor fans the flames of racial discord?

    Why would someone who has spent his time as a community organizer support policies that disproportionately harm the poor?

    why would someone who claims to understand and have a Christian marriage support polices that undermine marriage, i.e. the homosexual agenda?

    Why does he have to speak to the issue of faith? Why can he not LIVE his faith and let us see his faith through the fruits of his action?

    And finally why would a fellow demanding that we all give more to the government so it can “help” the poor, not donate himself out of his own pocket to help the poor?

    You see Obama – for all his talk – is just that – a talker. He has made millions over that last 7 years and given crumbs to the poor. One year when he made $272,000, he donated $1450 to charity. I know little old ladies on fixed incomes who give more than that.

    Charity, read the questions. Think it through. You want to believe that he will be the hero of the day. You are hoping that he is for real. But he is not. And the truth is, just like the smooth talking boyfriend who has one thing on his mind, Obama will end up hurting those who trust him. Look at his mentor – Bill Clinton. They are so much alike. But, of course, Obama will also hurt everyone in his quest for the Oval office.

  • Charlotte

    I’m amazed at how some people can be ‘sophisticated’ enough about abortion to react calmly and rationally to the prospect of infants being deliberately left to die of exposure, but get nearly hysterical when a little political talk gets their nose out of joint.

  • R.C.

    Charlotte:

    You’re right, of course: It is a bit disproportionate to spend time critiquing political talk (“politics ain’t beanbag”) when infanticide goes on with little notice taken.

    But Carlin’s reply really was needed, all the same. His comments were imprecise at important points. A clarification and a bit of a mea culpa were called for: Good for him for delivering them!

    Sure, getting rid of abortion is far more important than getting rid of sloppy or excessive political rhetoric. But there’s nothing to say we can’t get rid of both, and if we’ve done all we can about abortion this evening, well, we might as well bat poor David around a bit! (In a friendly way, David!)

    — R.C.

    P.S. Achieving proportionality in criticism or outrage is a perennial difficulty. In theory one should sound angrier and louder as the guilt of one’s target increases, but,

    1. Is it okay to use angrier rhetoric at the less-guilty of two parties because you think he, unlike the more-guilty party, ought to know better?

    2. Is it okay to use angrier rhetoric at the less-guilty of two parties when you know the more-guilty party isn’t listening anyway, and you don’t want to waste your energy on him?

    3. Is it okay to use angrier rhetoric at the less-guilty of two parties because his moral failure is one which can likely be corrected in the short term, whereas the more-guilty party is beyond correction except in the very-long term?

    It probably isn’t okay. Yet we do it every time we spend a paragraph criticizing the Knesset and don’t spend two criticizing Hamas, and ten on AQI…or, raise our voices about government investigatory excesses under G.W.Bush but don’t screech our voices out about China or Putin’s Russia…or, express outrage at Brokeback Mountain’s celebration of perversion, but sit contentedly munching popcorn as a heterosexual action hero leaps buxom starlets nine at a time.

    Or, well, pick your own examples, if you don’t like mine. All I mean is: Proportionality at all times is probably a lost cause. If we allow ourselves to comment at all, we will probably do so in a way that’s unfair to someone.

    Perhaps Mom was on to something: “If you can’t say anything nice….”

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