Friday, December 9, 2011

Crunchy Cons vs Islamist-y Republicans

Today's dialog is prompted, once again, by my favorite crunchy conservative, Rod Dreher. If you know Rod Dreher, you know that if there's one thing that sets him off, it's Muslims. In truth, my dialog is really not much of a dialog. It's more an opportunity for Dreher to show who's boss.

Dreher accuses self-described conservative Andrew Sullivan (Rod, he's one of yours) of going "far, far, far beyond rationality" (emphasis is Dreher's), then accuses me of "hysterical bigotry" (mercifully, no emphasis).

After the jump, the details.

First, I should point out that Andrew Sullivan and Rod Dreher themselves use the terms "Islamist" and "Christianist." I won't try to define the terms. That would risk more wrath.

Rod Dreher was set off by a post by Andrew Sullivan in The Daily Beast about the expected success of an Islamist political party in the recent election in Egypt.

  • Andrew Sullivan: "I might add that those Christianists who are alarmed by democratically elected Islamists committed to democratic rules are in a vulnerable position. And the emergence of democratic Islamists in the Arab world, as well as in Turkey and Indonesia, helps explain my insistence on the term Christianism. It doesn't mean Christianists are anti-democratic or violent - let alone terrorists. It simply means that Christianists, like Islamists, want their democracy to reflect Christian values and priorities, as they understand them.

    "We have the equivalent of a democratic Islamist party in the US. It's called the GOP."

Personally, I found Sullivan's comment to be more or less accurate to the point of even being non-controversial. Whoa, was I wrong. For Dreher, suggesting that there exist "Islamists committed to democratic rules" or that there might be a similarity to Christianists who "want their democracy to reflect Christian values," well, that's like suggesting that Dreher himself might want to look in the mirror sometime. Do that and you're asking for trouble.

  • Rod Dreher: "This is the same thing as wild-eyed conservatives looking at Obama and seeing our Bolshevik-in-Chief. Or not being able to tell the difference between a parakeet and a 747 because hey, they both have wings and fly.

    "Do you want to know what an Islamist political party looks like? There are different kinds of Islamists - there's the Iranian kind, the milder Turkish kind, the Egyptian kind - but they all believe that Islamic law should be at the foundation of political governance."

That's where I stepped in. And where my dialog with Dreher has a short and unhappy ending.

  • Mark Steger: "It's not just the GOP. How many Americans, Republican or Democrat, if asked to whom they pledge their first allegiance, would say to their God and Savior, Jesus Christ, instead of to the Constitution of the United States of America?

    "It's true that the GOP honors the Constitution over the Bible as the governing document of the nation, but the GOP also believes that the Constitution is itself founded on biblical principles. If there's ever perceived to be even the slightest crack of daylight between the two, which do they strive to amend to bring it back into line (e.g., a personhood amendment)?

    "On the other hand, to their credit, Christianists haven't flown any planes into towers, thank God."

  • Rod Dreher: "Mark S., I believe that my allegiance is to God before it's to the Constitution. Any Christian who does not believe that is not worthy of the name. But I support the Constitution, and I don't know a single Christian who feels otherwise. The very thought that there are these so-called Christianists who ought to be credited for not committing mass murder is utterly offensive to me in its hysterical bigotry, and it's why I’m shutting down this line of discourse on this thread."

Whoa, I thought. What was it that I said that was "utterly offensive?" Where was the "hysterical bigotry" in what I wrote? That I pointed out that terrorism is a Muslim extremist problem, not a Christian extremist problem? Surely Dreher agrees with that sentiment, right? If anything, it could open me up to a charge of anti-Muslim bigotry. Surely, that's not what Dreher meant, was it? I carefully reread what I wrote. What could have set Dreher off like that? I still don't know, as Dreher was true to his word, deleting a follow-up question from me and, well, shunning me afterward.

Dreher was my favorite crunchy conservative. But I know when I'm not welcome. For future reference, it's when someone is utterly offended by something you say, when he sees it as hysterical bigotry. It really doesn't matter what it was that you said. There's no recovery from a faux pas like that. So, I'm in the market for a new favorite conservative, crunchy or otherwise. It has to be someone interesting, someone provocative. Dreher was always that. Suggestions?

To read Dreher's full post and all the comments, go here.


frater jason said...

Sullivan is quite sensible. My favorite well-spoken (and sometimes provocative) conservative is Tony Blankley:
among other places.

I disagree with him frequently but find him to be intellectually honest 99% of the time.

Mark Steger said...

bloggermouse, thanks for the tip. I used to see Tony Blankley on The McLaughlin Group, but the overall tone of that show was so off-putting that I can't say I could tell you what anyone panelist's arguments were over the shouting at each other. But I do remember Blankley would always dress sharply. There's that, I guess.

glbeach said...

So, the bottom line is Dreher will only answer questions or arguments that he can titularly 'win'? Honestly I see nothing offensive in your comments and a number of items offensive in Mr. Dreher's. But all in all, I'd say the discussion reflects on an earlier one you had with Mr. Dreher regarding the ability of someone with deep-seated, long-standing bias (I believe the reference was something like - can a racist, raised in a racially segregated society, recognize their own racism?) Plainly Mr. Dreher cannot recognize his own bias with respect to religion - and this fundamentally outlines the greatest flaw of most religions. Oh well, one more dose of bias and hypocrisy, more or less.

Mark Steger said...

Gary, thanks for the feedback. I don't think Dreher insists on winning. I think he just has such deep-seated beliefs that he can't conceive of being wrong. Why I find him so fascinating is that he is intelligent, he is educated, he is articulate, but he's got a blind spot a mile wide. If he can fall victim to that, we all can. I mightily want to learn how to avoid that pitfall. And so I study him.