Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ann Coulter does not disappoint

I am a combination of gleeful and sad to report that the ad for Ann Coulter's book out today in the NYT makes it look as if it is another collection of random insults on liberals. For example, the assertion that Roe v. Wade is liberal holy writ is nonsense. Liberals value the right more than the decision and have phrased abortion as a matter of human rights. If this is really so, a better written decision or a constitutional amendment would take the place of Roe v. Wade and its reasoning perfectly well. I was almost right when I predicted that liberal "churches" would be universities. She chose public schools instead for ad purposes, probably not to remind the book-buying public that the administration of Loyola of Chicago disowned her after her visit where she incited the crowd. I was not sure, however, if Coulter could find it in her to write the anti-secular-Enlightenment book which it would have been very easy for her to have written, and which Tom Wolfe perhaps has already written, and stop giving real conservatives a bad name.
I. B. Singer and GH have identified themes for such a book. Most people will not accept that life is meaningless and then you die. It takes some courage to be a real heretic, who believes in nothing and practices radical skepticism. It is proper to speak about secular religion when you are really talking about conformity: if it is not fashionable to be religious people who care for fashion will believe in whatever is fashionable. This can be liberalism, or pleasure, or art, or nature. There is a liberalism like King's or Heschel's which is motivated by a deeply religious outlook and a liberalism which is motivated by an anti-religious outlook. Liberal bloggers have seen the anti-religious posters whose anti-religion is so fundamental that if the Democrats began to speak about religious values, even to sustain existing Democratic positions, they would all go Green the next day. But this religion of anti-religion is shared by Christopher Hitchens, for one, so Coulter cannot really call it "liberal". Real conservatives are on better ground in speaking about the "religion" which says that human beings do not need a concept of God or organized religion in order to cultivate the spiritual qualities to perfect the world or the "religion" which says that reason will ultimately explain everything. Both of these appeal to the religious sense because they posit an ultimate good.
Despite the gay marriage smokescreen Democrats are not running in 2006 on who has religious values. They are running on who has competence. Religious values are more important for a presidential election because more people vote and more religiously conservative areas of the country have more weight. In such an election the measured rhetoric that our government was meant to be limited in promoting religious values, on the one hand, and that religious values are not always an instrument of controlling people but can inspire people to seek freedom and dignity for themselves and the less fortunate, on the other, may work.


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