Sunday, March 11, 2007


Preening Piety

There's some interesting cracks appearing within the rational conservative community over what to do about the Righteous Right that are revealed in these articles by Christopher Orlet, in the New English Review and Steven Warshawsky in Real Clear Politics. Frankly, beyond the cold comfort that can be found in the glimmers of angst among some conservatives over what they have loosed on America in the pursuit of power, there is little to choose between them.

The best things are the one liners: Heather MacDonald's put down of the "preening piety of conservative pundits" or Orlet's invocation of Martin Luther's description of Reason as "the devil's bride ... that pretty whore."

But Warshawsky has the grandest moment of irony. He accuses Orlet of engaging in "a bit of an emotional rant, rather than a careful analysis of the issue." But then Warshawsky tries to justify the noisy and noisome bullying of the Christian Nationalism crowd, who are more than happy to call Warshawsky "Jewboy" behind his back, if not always to his face, as part of the "American tradition" that conservatives want to protect. He claims that the U.S. Supreme Court case, Engle v. Vitale, which ruled that government insistence on the reciting a "nondenominational prayer" in public school violated the First Amendment, was an "attack on Christianity." One might wonder, if it truly was a nondenominational prayer, just how the case winds up as an attack on Christianity. But there is no time to ponder that non sequitur because Warshawsky immediately delivers himself of this:

To borrow a line from Jay Nordlinger of National Review, I refuse to accept the notion that for our entire history prior to the 1960s, the American people were living in violation of the Constitution. This is a preposterous idea.
That makes Brown v. Board of Education a preposterous idea as well. The treatment of blacks after the passage of the 14th Amendment throughout the country by government at all levels was clearly against the Constitution. To argue that it wasn't, simply because we as a nation did not care enough to stop it, is deeply irrational.

As James Madison, architect of the Bill of Rights, knew all too well, it was merely a "parchment barrier" against tyranny. It can only be as strong as the people who take its meaning to heart. If the tradition of our weakness in carrying through on the ideals the Founders gave us is what Warshawsky wants to preserve, I say the hell with it.

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