Thursday, April 28, 2005
Stanley Kurtz: Scary Stuff.
Harper’s Magazine’s May cover stories about “The Christian Right’s War On America,” frightened me, although not the way Harper’s meant them to. I fear these stories could mark the beginning of a systematic campaign of hatred directed at traditional Christians. Whether this is what Harper’s intends, I cannot say. But regardless of the intention, the effect seems clear.
The phrase “campaign of hatred” is a strong one, and I worry about amplifying an already dangerous dynamic of recrimination on both sides of the culture wars. I don’t doubt that conservatives, Christian and otherwise, are sometimes guilty of rhetorical excess. Yet despite what we’ve been told, the most extreme political rhetoric of our day is being directed against traditional Christians by the left.
It’s been said that James Dobson overstepped legitimate bounds when he compared activist judges to the Ku Klux Klan. Yes, that was an ill-considered remark. I hope and expect it will not be repeated. But Dobson made that comparison extemporaneously and in passing. If that misstep was such a problem, what are we to make of a cover story in Harper’s that systematically identifies conservative Christianity with fascism? According to Harper’s, conservative Christians are making “war on America.” Can you imagine the reaction to a cover story about a “war on America” by blacks, gays, Hispanics, or Jews? Then there’s Frank Rich’s April 24 New York Times op-ed comparing conservative Christians to George Wallace, segregationists, and lynch mobs.
These comparisons are both inflammatory and mistaken. Made in the name of opposing hatred, they license hatred. It was disturbing enough during the election when even the most respectable spokesmen on the left proudly proclaimed their hatred of president Bush. Out of that hatred flowed pervasive, if low-level, violence. I fear that Bush hatred is now being channeled into hatred of Christian conservatives. The process began after the election and is steadily growing worse. This hatred of conservative Christians isn’t new, but it is being fanned to a fever pitch.