Monday, December 02, 2002
Another one bites the dust: The Washington Post's William Raspberry becomes the latest columnist to succumb to the simpleminded analogy that conservative Christians in the U.S. are like the Taliban -- only in a developmental stage.
People for whom religion is the source of wisdom and truth, whose religious and civic lives are seamlessly connected, and who hold governmental authority must be greatly tempted to do what they can to place truth on the throne. Maybe they have to make the effort.
But isn't that just the effort that was made by the Taliban? Doesn't that urge, or something like it, drive the religious zealotry that, ultimately, justifies much international terrorism? Aren't those right-thinking clerics in Nigeria who want to stone that allegedly adulterous woman to death (but who seem willing to look the other way with regard to her sexual partner) acting out of their sense of truth?
Raspberry needs to look at his history books. The founders of this country were fleeing from precisely the sort of thing that Raspberry describes. The conservative Christians who have been entrusted by the electorate with various positions of power know and appreciate this fact.
We are a long way from establishing anything like the Taliban in America -- but not far at all from having imposed on us a version of truth that would justify the suspension of our civil liberties and other constitutional inconveniences. We won't stone anybody to death for objecting to having their computers downloaded, or for declining to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or for skipping the "under God" addendum. But there are those who would extract a price for these breaches -- and evidence that the rest of us might let them -- if only for the duration of the "crisis."
First, editors do have jobs to do, even when dealing with columnists -- "computers downloaded?" Is this guy still using a typewriter?
As for the pledge -- if someone wants to drop the "under God" or refuse to state it that's their choice. That Raspberry seems to equate the criticism or even condemnation of those that do that to fatwas that are a dime a dozen in Islamic countries is laughable.
It's obvious from the column that Raspberry is struggling with a parallel that he sees between conservative (or radical) Islam and conservative Christianity. To Raspberry, one conservative is much like another. Unfortunately, that's not really true. If Raspberry could simply acknowledge that Christianity and Islam are different, then he'd sleep much better at night.