Saturday, December 1, 2007

How Much Help Do They Need?

" You don't have to be a Harvard University researcher to figure out that the media is infected with liberal bias — or to realize that some left-wing journalists will use any means necessary to create ideological narratives that fit their worldview. The Rathergate debacle at CBS News involving faked National Guard memos to smear President Bush was an extreme example. But if you look closely, you'll find everyday examples of Serious Journalists manufacturing the news and concocting social crises.
Amazingly, they always manage to make conservatives look racist, intolerant and evil. Funny how that works."

-Michelle Malkin, Punked: Faking the Hate, Manufacturing the News

With all due respect to Ms. Malkin, many modern social conservatives do just fine making themselves look racist and intolerant on their own. Let's also not forget that the 'Rathergate' expose turned out to have been 'managed' itself. Rather's story was legitimate and it was the conservative blogger-journalist 'debunkers' who were making it up as they went along. Yet Fox News (for whom Malkin frequently stints as a talking head when she's not writing) are the only people not to have figured it out and their ignorance has somehow made the rest of the news media mention it only in passing and without the bullet it deserves. Maybe, though, it wasn't to help Fox News save face. Maybe it was to help CBS save face after replacing Dan Rather on the word of bloggers claiming to be journalists.

(As an aside, I am not a journalist. I am a blogger and I write my opinions and items I think of historical interest. Sometimes I get my facts wrong. In Does It Matter Who The Frontrunners Are? I mistakenly noted that Dick Gephardt came in second in Iowa. He came in third, after Kerry and Edwards. The point is, I don't claim to be a journalist. The bloggers who 'debunked' Rather's story on Bush's National Guard service did.)

I digress. The topic is racism and intolerance, not to forget contemporary conservatives. In Equality OR Freedom or Equality AND Freedom? I made reference to an article by Pat Buchanan which first extolled the great personal freedom of the Jim Crow era and then suggested that homosexuality should be a crime rather than a civil rights issue. It doesn't look like he needed a lot of help from me, in the so-referenced article, to look racist and intolerant. Fox News recently ran pieces on 'Girl Power' and 'Religious Intolerance' that were webcast on Yahoo. The 'Girl Power' story was a commercial for the so-called 'Global War on Terror' and the 'Religious Intolerance' story was Sean Hannity condemning Muslim extremists in Sudan for demanding the execution of a British teacher who was convicted of insulting Islam. The problem is that in the United States, the people practicing religious intolerance believe much the same as Mr. Hannity and he doesn't speak out against them.

Ms. Malkin is likely, in a hypothetical argument on the subject, to point out her own racial heritage and the racial heritage of such noteworthy conservative spokespeople as Larry Elder and Alan Keyes. They are embraced by the conservative community and they are obviously non-white. So where is the racism?

The answer to that question is that modern American conservatism is a very special club. Anyone who agrees with the basic thesis is welcome and those who do not are stupid, cowardly, atheistic, or immoral. Those who disapprove of the legislation of fundamentalist Christian values in a pluralistic society are persecuting fundamentalist Christians, or 'elitists' who think they are better than fundamentalist Christians. Those who want to see biology taught in the classroom with scientific accuracy are 'elitists' whose view of education is 'undemocratic.'

We live in a modern, pluralistic society and many modern social conservatives have a problem with that. They see the teaching of accurate science, social tolerance of alternative lifestyles (Say that without smirking if you're anything but heterosexual and vanilla, eh?), and legal legitimacy for abortion as an assault on their beliefs. They really do see themselves as persecuted and as 'losing the culture war.' In their minds, Jim Crow laws banning evangelicals from school drinking fountains are the logical next step after teaching scientifically accurate biology. The institution of Christian marriage really is under attack from the idea of state-sanctioned gay marriage.

I am going to agree with the reactionaries on one important issue: social morality is on the decline and not just in the United States but around the world. Even more, to some extent the reason for that is the secular willingness to reject Christian values. Unfortunately, I disagree wildly with the modern social conservative on the definition of the problem. The Christian values being rejected are brotherly love for mankind, peace, the embrace of fellow human beings regardless of cultural differences (the very first Christians were a polyglot group of Jews, Greek-speaking Middle-Easterners, Greeks, and Romans), and forgiveness. 'Turn the other cheek' and 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you' are replaced by sociological moral relativism married to political realism. The real enemy is not gay marriage or the teaching of evolution, the real enemy is Realpolitik. The real enemy is nationalism. The real enemy is the capitalist economic system that allows one part of the world to live in relative wealth and security while the rest lives in poverty and squalor.

In Michelle Malkin's defense, she's right about one thing. Schools should teach math, not 'the concept of math.'

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