Step Up, Religious Left

It's time for the religious left to step up and stop letting these bigots speak for them.  Yet, that's not what seems to be happening.  A few months ago, a new site designed to called 'Faithful Democrats' launched to address the problem of 'values voters' and the underrepresentation of Christian viewpoints in the Democratic Party ('cept for all the black people and the majority of white Democrats as well, but anyway).  Here's who they are.

We are an online community of Christian Democrats - religious leaders, political leaders, writers, and regular Americans who are committed to the Gospel and the common good. We discuss, we debate, we take action. And we will make our voices heard in the 2006 election season and beyond.

We don't believe that good Christians have to be Democrats. Nor do we believe that one religion has a monopoly on faith. But we make no apologies for rooting our identity as Democrats in our faith as Christians. That is who we are. And we are eager to act on our beliefs to make the country we love a more just and compassionate place.

So apparently they want to make the country a more just and compassionate place.  Yet what is the response to Donahue's, a known homophobe and anti-semite?  

"Not only is [Donahue] an embarrassment who obviously doesn't hold himself to the same standards he holds for others, but his judgment of what counts as anti-Catholic is, to say the least, seriously suspect, and has a tendency towards, shall we say, ideological selectivity.

"Finally, as much as it pains me to say it, I think Donohue may have a point in this case. The blog posts mentioned in the story did speak of a deep-seated hostility to the Church as an institution."

Here's what Donahue said he wants the debate to be about.  

I have news for him--the Catholic League--not Edwards--will decide what the debate will be about, and it won't be about the nation. It will be about the glaring double standard that colors the entire conversation about bigotry."

So it's cool to Jesse Lava and Faithful Democrats to debate on the terrain set by anti-semites and homophobe?  Ok then.  Now I know that Faithful Democrats put a caveat in there about how Donahue isn't a nice guy, but that's really irrelevant.  This is very simple.  Donahue is using religion as cover for a political attack.  The only ethical response from anyone who actually opposes bigotry is 'Donahue should be ignored because of his record' or some variation thereof.  So until the self-described religious left decides to stop letting bigoted and extreme right-wingers talk for them, they are no different than the religious right they pretend to oppose.

Tags: Faithful Democrats (all tags)



Re: Step Up, Religious Left

  "Donahue may have a point?" Wow. Talk about completely tumbling into the right-wing frame.

  That's pathetic. I expect that kind of mushiness from Hillary Clinton and her ilk, but an (ostensible) member of the progressive netroots has no excuse for not knowing better than to "argue" like that.

 This would be much better: "Citing bottom-feeders like Bill Donohue as a spokesman for Catholics is like citing Louis Farrakhan as a spokesman for African-Americans, or David Duke as a spokesman for Southerners."


by Master Jack 2007-02-09 04:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

Yes. Yes. Yes.

You respond to an attack with another attack. Anyone who says 'David Duke may have a point in his criticism of Israel' or "Bill Donohue may have a point in his criticism of the bloggers' entirely misses the point. If you wanna say the bloggers were wrong about the Church, or Israel's awful, that's fine: but you never, never, never lend credibility to venomous and hateful movements and spokespeople.

You scoff at them. You deny them credibility.

This isn't so hard. Hannibal Lecter might know the perfect wine for every occasion, but you don't see wine shops advertising: "As recommended by Hannibal!"

by BingoL 2007-02-09 05:48AM | 0 recs
Nailed it.

Could you please e-mail these suggestions to the group in question?  Why is this so difficult to understand?

by CTvoter 2007-02-09 07:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

" (ostensible) member of the progressive netroots has no excuse for not knowing better than to 'argue' like that."

Perhaps not.  Perhaps the religious left is not particularly good at defending themselves from attacks.  We know from Chris' posted stats that their representation in the netroots is not close to proportional to their representation in the party, so perhaps unfamiliarity with the MO of internet activism plays a part in it.

But perhaps it is because they, whose devotion to their religion has had to by necessity be tempered in the flame of opposition from both sides of the spectrum (after all, let's be honest; Penalver's commentary is not very far off the mark when he says that "the blog posts mentioned in the story did speak of a deep-seated hostility to the Church as an institution"), tend to associate themselves particularly strongly with their religion, and consider themselves to be Catholic progressives, not progressives who are Catholic -- and the Christian message does not jive with attacking people, even those who have attacked you.  Maybe that is a weak position in your eyes -- and I can definitely understand how you would think that -- but one has to admire both the adherence to the fundamental "golden rule" values embodied in the difficult call for the real-world action of "turning the other cheek," as well as the pragmaticism -- not lost on Christian progressives -- of the long-term results of that action, which Ghandi so eloquently encapsulated in "first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

by George Nassar 2007-02-15 03:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

That's exactly right. The problem that I see is that they are Christian first, progressive second. They will say that being an Christian is never incompatable with being progressive, and that someone like Donohue doesn't represent the faith. Yet, as I see it, when someone like Donohue starts on the attack, there is never a full forced attack on him by Christian progressives. In part, I feel this  is because he is Christian. You will hear arguments about respect, and other such language. This serves to blunt what they do, and in the process, show there really is a conflict between the two group indentity, and one of them, their faith, wins out although they won't aknowledge that it does.

by bruh21 2007-02-09 04:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

 But Donohue isn't a "Christian". His own track record of remarks proves that. He's a right-wing reactionary using Christiantity to advance his rancid political agenda.

 I am a Christian and I am a progressive, and I do not identify with the likes of Donohue in any way. He is to Christian values what Dick Cheney, technically an "American", is to the Constitution.

by Master Jack 2007-02-09 05:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

Yours is another of the approach that I see. You disagree with the Christian in question, and, therefore, this person can't be a Christian. In fact, I grew up with that mentality. "we are baptist, they re methodists. therefore, they aren't really christian." or something like that was always a play. it fundamentally is a way to avoid the argument about admonishing bad Christian behavior because there can be no bad Christian behavior since Christians are suppose to be fountains of good in the world. I'm not trying to psychobabble you to death, but the reality is its a set up for not taking full responsiblity for ones own part in whats happening. For example, and I see this on the left and right, but I found it interesting to see it during the election with the various scandals about the GOP leadership, Foley, and the reaction of the Christian right. The response was to change the subject from the GOP generally to discussion of "well we are for personal responsibility, and therefore, we don't have to think about the greater issues involved here." This switching I believe has it roots in the whole "who is a real christian" way of thinking.

by bruh21 2007-02-09 05:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

  Well, I understand what you're saying, but I was speaking about Donohue not being a "real Christian" from the perspective of the religious left.

 And to publicly buy -- even slightly -- into his complaints is damaging and counterproductive to the cause of the Christian left. I don't know why the "faithful Democrats" couldn't just grit their teeth (even if they were privately bothered by the posts), let it go, and keep their eyes on the big prize -- getting a faithful-Democrat-friendly candidate like John Edwards in the White House. Giving Donohue even a smidgen of credence does not work towards that goal.

 After all, the Republicans do this all the time. You think the Dobsonites of the world are the least bit worried about Rudy Giulani's personal life if it means he can deliver them the White House?

by Master Jack 2007-02-09 05:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

I agree with what you are saying.

by bruh21 2007-02-09 06:03AM | 0 recs
Catholic Forgiveness

To Donahue,

The bloggers apologized.  Isnt it Catholic to forgive?  

Besides you dont speak for Catholics only for your right wing group.  In fact The Catholic Church should let you stop using the word Catholic in your group name because you are giving it a bad name.

by jasmine 2007-02-09 04:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

it's the headline story at politico today.

"We're completely invisible to this debate," said Eduardo Penalver, a Cornell University law professor who writes for the liberal Catholic journal Commonweal. He said he was dissatisfied with the Edwards campaign's response. "As a constituency, the Christian left isn't taken all that seriously," Penalver said.

Democrats -- and Edwards in particular -- have embraced the language of faith and the imperative of competing with Republicans for the support of religious voters. His wife, Elizabeth Edwards, even sits on the board of the leading organization of the religious left, Call to Renewal. But in private conversations and careful public statements today, religious Democrats said they felt sidelined by Edwards' decision to stand by his aides.

by dblhelix 2007-02-09 05:04AM | 0 recs
These "religious Democrats"... they ever complain about being "sidelined from the debate" when the Falwells and Dobsons of the world unleash their hate rhetoric?

 Or do they only emerge from the woodwork when a progressive Democrat is involved?

 If the latter is the case, then they're worse than useless. They're counterproductive.

 John Edwards is speaking to issues that SHOULD be extremely appealing to the religious left -- income inequality, social justice, peace in Iraq. If the religious left is willing to throw him under the bus because a couple of bloggers used a couple of icky words, then they're welcome to hitch their trains to Hillary Clinton and see how much SHE does for their purported values.

 This is internal Naderism at its worst.


by Master Jack 2007-02-09 05:16AM | 0 recs
Re: These "religious Democrats"...

The problem with religious Democrats, as we've seen time and again in the blogsphere, is that they're too afraid to take on the religious right.  After all, they've grown up under a pall of constant intimidation from the religious right.  

And so they do what even liberal journalists do:  attack the left.  Atrios found this out the hard way, too, you'll recall.  

It's the safe thing to do, if you haven't got a pair.

by Grand Moff Texan 2007-02-09 05:20AM | 0 recs
Re: These "religious Democrats"...

It's worse than that- if you question their approach it's attacking them, and not respecting their religion. So you create this chilling effect on any debate.

by bruh21 2007-02-09 05:24AM | 0 recs
They can't see the big picture, at all

 By going after Edwards for not buckling to right-wing attacks they're weakening their best hope for a religious-left-friendly presidential candidate. Heck, I'm a progressive Catholic, and that's why I was drawn to John Edwards to begin with!

 These "religious-left activists" are literally emboldening the enemy.

 Why are so many "progressive" organizations staffed by so many myopic cowards? Why do they even get involved in politics if they're not going to fight?

by Master Jack 2007-02-09 05:31AM | 0 recs
Re: They can't see the big picture, at all

I don't think they are cowards. We all grew in a world a certain way that has produced certain pre set buttons. Say "christian" or "religion" and instantly the pre set button is "respect" and support. It's about mind sets, and overcoming them, and that's a hard thing. It's hard for people who think of themselves as Christians, in general, to admit there are other Christians who can do bad things in the name of their faith. I even had one guy say to me that the reactions against gays in the middle east (where they are being killed for their sexual orientation) shouldn't be talked about because it buys into faith being bad. I said to him well in this case it is bad. It's easier to want to circle the wagon especially if critics of your faith tend to point out all the uncomfortable things you want to avoid. I think its just human nature, and the only way to deal with it is to chip away at the mind set as much as one can.

Over at street prophet a few months back I wrote a diary about the lack of a willingness by Christians to sacrifice parts of their belief for the common good outside of their faith. The response, generally speaking, was that there are no differences between their faith and the common good. Any claims of difference are a) either red herrings or b) a Christian right manipulation or c) Not really different at all. As long as one has that mindset, it's hard to argue. It creates a self reinforcing system.

It's one of the reasons I am leery of the faith being involved even on the left because to make it work you would have to know yourself on a level beyond even the most sophisticated of voters and activist because you would have to know at what point your faith ends, and the greater good begins,a nd if you can't do that, it makes mixing the two potentially dangerous to debate. The latere is the case becasue the debate with regard to faith is framed as "respect" which really means don't debate me because any disagreement is per se disrepect.

by bruh21 2007-02-09 05:52AM | 0 recs
Re: They can't see the big picture, at all

Wow.  Great comment.

by radical centrist 2007-02-09 06:18AM | 0 recs
Re: They can't see the big picture, at all

"It's hard for people who think of themselves as Christians, in general, to admit there are other Christians who can do bad things in the name of their faith."

Bill Donohue does bad things in the name of my faith.

- Jesse

by jlava 2007-02-09 06:27AM | 0 recs
Re: They can't see the big picture, at all

I think the issue was that Matt felt that the post on your site was offering caveats and reservations.  It's the big picture question.

by bruh21 2007-02-09 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: They can't see the big picture, at all

in other words- context matters.

by bruh21 2007-02-09 06:41AM | 0 recs
Re: They can't see the big picture, at all

Bill Donohue is a member of your faith.  


You and he have different beliefs about what that means, but to say "in the name of my faith" sort of dodges the question of what your faith is and who is and is not a member.  It's an implied version of the One True Scotsman fallacy.  Not saying you intended that, but it's how the statement reads.

Incidentally, as far as I can tell, Donohue is generally lined up with the Vatican in terms of the politics he's pushing, though this Vatican still seems to have some interest in social justice, while Donohue has none.

by jsw 2007-02-09 07:41AM | 0 recs
Well, then they're cowards

 Why even form an organization supposedly dedicated to preserving and promoting religious-left values if you're not going to confront your worst enemies?

 I mean, wouldn't going after the lies and distortions of the religious right be the freakin' point of such an organization's existence?

 DLCitis is a disease obviously not confined to the political sphere...

by Master Jack 2007-02-09 05:24AM | 0 recs
I agree

but let's not forget that the Edwards campaign is run by a cardcarrying member of the religious left, David Bonoir, a devout and outspoken Catholic whose faith, his interpretation of it, has led him to oppose the war in Iraq and stand by labor unions. Given his ties to lefty religious groups, Edwards'ss decision to keep these bloggers is all the more impressive.

by david mizner 2007-02-09 05:30AM | 0 recs
one positive

they did call on Donohue to forgive and forget.

by dblhelix 2007-02-09 05:46AM | 0 recs
Re: one positive

Donohue forgave Opie & Anthony for their 'sex in St Patrick's' stunt. After they invited him onto the show.

Do you understand exactly what he's about now?

by etagloh 2007-02-09 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left


It's Donohue, two "o's" no "a".

by CMike 2007-02-09 05:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

Jesse Lava here at Faithful Democrats.  I'm a little confused by this post, Matt.  First of all, the FD post to which you link isn't an editorial statement by "Jesse Lava and Faithful Democrats."  It's an individual post by Tom Donnelly.  Second, the entire post is (and is cited as) a repost of an Eduardo Penalver piece from Commonweal.  Yes, Tom quotes it approvingly, but it's neither original nor, again, an editorial statement.  ("Editorial" in the sense of speaking for the site as a whole.)  Third, almost the entire post blasted Donohue; the very end said he had a point that the Edwards's bloggers had made anti-Catholic comments.  And indeed they had.  You are quoting the post as if Tom (and Eduardo) had mostly sided with Donohue, with a mere "caveat that Donohue isn't a nice guy."

In fact, when you demand the "ethical response" that "Donohue should be ignored because of his record," the post says exactly that:

"Donohue is probably not the best guy to be out policing blogs for civility. After all, this is the person who said 'Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not a secret, OK? And I'm not afraid to say it. ... Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions.'"

So the post did what you asked, while daring to make the additional, final point that the Edwards bloggers had made some comments that were offensive to Catholics.  What's with the thin skin?

by jlava 2007-02-09 05:25AM | 0 recs
So, jlava

address the issue at hand. Are you glad that Edwards didn't succumb to pressure from Donohoe and kept the blogger or do you think the allegedly anti-catholic comments warranted their firing?

Do you stand with the bloggers or Donohoe?

by david mizner 2007-02-09 05:33AM | 0 recs
Re: So, jlava

I think Edwards got it about right: point out that he's personally offended, but refuse to fire people just because Bill Donohue threw yet another temper tantrum.  Donohue likes to brag about ruining people's careers, and it would be cowardly to cowtow to that idiocy.

The post to which Matt links doesn't say anything to the contrary, by the way.

Now, that said, others who post on FD may disagree, and I'm not going to censor their stuff.  In fact, Tom Donnelly has a new post in which he says the Edwards statement was insufficient.  He doesn't say he wants the bloggers fired, but you can judge his opinion for yourself.  As for me, I support the Edwards approach.  I certainly like the health care plan he just released and his general focus on poverty.

by jlava 2007-02-09 05:41AM | 0 recs
Re: So, jlava

It's your site, Jesse.  You can straddle the fence and pretend that it's about censorship or being offended or any number of irrelevant issues, or that you have no editorial input.

The fact is you and the person you publish are taking a known antisemite and bigot seriously, and allowing him to use you to dishonestly smear and attack a Democrat for political purposes.

by Matt Stoller 2007-02-09 05:50AM | 0 recs
Re: So, jlava

known antisemite and bigot seriously

who is now commenting on the new piece and thanking the author for his support.

by dblhelix 2007-02-09 06:03AM | 0 recs
No, it's just a troll (n/t)

by dblhelix 2007-02-09 06:04AM | 0 recs
Re: So, jlava

You've still misrepresented Tom's original post, in the way I described above, to make it seem sinister when it's nothing of the kind.  And you still have credited me with a post that Tom Donnelly quoted, which is pretty ridiculous, whether I agree or not.   (Irrelevantly to that point, I do think it's a fine post because of its actual, rather than imagined, emphasis.) In any event, I myself think this is a time both to stand up against Donohue's bullying and to make clear that anti-religious rudeness is offensive.  Big deal.

by jlava 2007-02-09 06:08AM | 0 recs
Re: So, jlava

Catholics of all stripes really have to face up to the fact that they can't ignore Donohue any more. There have been grumbles in the Catholic press about how he hogs the limelight, but the basic attitude has been "pretend he's not there, then he'll go away." Well, he ain't going away. Not while the media bookers still call him up for comment and TV time.

It's time for Catholics to call him out, loudly, and to start asking their bishops and archbishops to back him or repudiate him. He's not a priest. His society isn't Church-sanctioned. He doesn't even have the legitimacy that, say, open membership of Opus Dei would give him. So where does his authority to speak for all America's Catholics come from? Make journalists embarrassed that they ever considered him some kind of authority or representative.

And here's the point: if Donohue's one-man professional outrage operation is shut down, it creates the space to have a better, smarter discussion on the relationship of faith and politics.

Compared to less-hierarchical denominations, it should be easy to take away the veneer of legitimacy that surrounds Bill Donohue, the Cablenews Cardinal. But the power to do that lies with liberal and moderate Catholics.

by etagloh 2007-02-09 06:13AM | 0 recs
Re: So, jlava

Matt does this all the time. He highlights the one weasel statement in an otherwise strong position, and attacks, attacks, attacks. Then, of course, he's questioned for taking words out of context: why so sensitive? (I know, because I've questioned him for this very thing.)

But, you know, he does this for a reason that's not only being a delicate flower.

You simply don't say 'I think the anti-Semite homophobe may have a point in this case,' even if you think he does. Why? Because who cares if a hatemonger has a point in any particular case?

If you want to make a point about anti-Catholic bias, then by all means, you should: but don't hitch your wagon, even in an offhand sentence, to a man like Donohue. I have my problems with US foreign policy, but I entirely reject every last one of Osama bin Laden's criticisms, because the source is so poisonous. You might see Dinesh D'Something saying that OBL has a point, but not me: I don't give 'aid and comfort' to hatemongers, and neither should you. Donohue didn't have a point in this case: he had a spew of hatred.

If you, on the other hand, wanna question anti-Catholic sentiments, please do so loudly and aggressively. Just don't empower and validate hatemongers when you do so.

And is that your real name? That's gotta be one of the coolest names ever.

by BingoL 2007-02-09 06:00AM | 0 recs
Valid Points

I think you make some good points, and as a liberal democrat and a Catholic I would second the idea that some of what these folks wrote was offensive.  But the idea that it would have been acceptable to fire these folks is ridiculous, as is accepting the proposition that they're "anti-catholic."  

Sometimes good people write things that are in poor taste.  I think this medium in particular lends itself to intemperate and snarky statements -- which is both what makes it unique and at times can lead to controversy.  For me, some of the statements that have been cited probably shouldn't have been written, but placed in context it also is crystal clear that they weren't intended to insult the Catholic church.  Ultimately, I actually thought Edwards' response was perfect; he didn't agree with some of the content, but fringe uber conservative bigots posing as catholics don't get to run his campaign or judge his people.  

by HSTruman 2007-02-09 05:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Valid Points

Absolutely right.  These posts weren't "anti-Catholic;" they were accused of being "anti-Catholic."  Even using that frame is accepting wack-job's premise, which we shouldn't do.  Edwards said he was personally offended by some of the statements.  Good for him.  Me, I found them to be cringe-worthy, but not personally offensive.

Statements that some people might be offended by?  Yes.  But wouldn't this be a good time for religious Democrats to emphasize critical thought and not knee-jerk reactions?

Calling statements critical of religion "anti-religion" is just a way to dismiss the criticism without actually addressing it.

And that's why we hold "religious Democrats" (whatever THAT means) to a higher standard--we expect more.

by radical centrist 2007-02-09 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

Jesse, I am no longer a practicing Catholic, but I found Marcotte's comments offensive.  There are hard-nosed relentless ways of challenging or opposing the Church without making an offensive mockery of its theological tenets.  

What ACT-UP did in protest outside St. Patrick's Cathedral was actually more respectful while being equally hostile (the desecration of the host was not an ACT-UP act, but occurred at the same time as the protest by non-agents of ACT-UP, if I understand correctly.)

But Donohue does not have a point or a grievance; he has a right-wing media assassin's agenda (to paraphrase Chuck D.) funded by the right-wing donors and board that sit on the Catholic League's board.  Read them; not a political moderate among them, all veterans of the National Review and winger thinktankery world.  

Donohue was not standing up for his faith or its theological teachings; he was poisoning the free-wheeling liberal blogging culture against future bench development.  Donohue is a right-wing media assassin, not a Jesuit schoolteacher or a soup kitchen manager or a CCD instructor.  Not recognizing this means your site got suckerpunched.

Perhaps you and Stoller could have a beer and a laugh about the headgames right-wing media are playing.

by Bruce Godfrey 2007-02-09 06:37AM | 0 recs
Exactly right

  William Donohue isn't trying to defend Catholicism here, or anything like that. That's the last thing on his mind.

  He's just trying to divide John Edwards's support base by instigating an internal fight. He's using the blog posts as the wedge.

  I would have thought that, by now, most progressive bloggers and activists are wise to these kinds of tactics, can see through them and react accordingly.

  But we're not there yet.

  Big picture, guys. Big picture.  

by Master Jack 2007-02-09 06:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

Marcotte wasn't making an offensive mockery of the theological tenets of Catholicism.  She was mocking the way Catholicism acts in the political sphere, and which beliefs and values are given a higher value than others when it comes to the Church in politics.

I, for one, find it totally bizarre that certain Catholics base all of their political decision-making on the issue of abortion, which is simply not a core message from the New Testament.  The core messages of the New Testament: respect for fellow humans, desire for peace, avoidance of the traps of materialism, are all ignored by these so-called Catholics.

Pointing out the hypocrisy of the Catholic leadership is not "anti-Catholic".  It's anti-hypocrisy.  If the Catholic Church wants to be just another player in the political arena, which is certainly Donohue's goal, then it's going to have to forgo the presumption of virtue.  You cannot have it both ways.  Church leaders who soil their hands with political matters are not above the debate, and are fair game for any kind of politically motivated mockery.

by RickD 2007-02-09 06:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

Well, consider these words from one of our heroines:

Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?
A: You'd have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology.
This is mocking theology, period.  The Virgin Birth and Incarnation are core theological beliefs of Roman Catholic Christians (and of most Christians worldwide).  

Contempt for the person of Mary and of what Catholics (and others) regard as a blessed miracle constitutes contempt of a core tenet of catholic heritage, small "c" deliberate as a description of Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglo-Catholic heritage.

Attacking someone's (or 800 million Catholic someones')core theological beliefs as a mere sham and pretext for misogyny, i.e. hating women, is a mockery of the theological tenets of Catholicism.  A textbook/dictionary definition, in fact.

To many Christians, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit may be, in fact, an unforgivable sin - a position which has a strong basis in the New Testament writings.  The Catholic Church does not teach that, however; all sins of a penitent can be forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance (aka Reconciliation, Confession,etc.) Some would say that comparing the Holy Spirit to seminal fluid in language better fit for "pr0n" writing than for political argumentation is such a blasphemy.

by Bruce Godfrey 2007-02-09 08:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

it was referencing as someone explained on another diary the use of the Virgin Mary by some anti abortionists who ask "what if mary had had a chance to get an abortion?" in other word again, the context was mocking a particular argument. if you proceeded from less emotion, and more know the situation of what people are discussing you may be better off. why should you get special treatment if you enter the public sphere than anyone else. if anti abortion people are saying things like this- then why can there comments not be subject to the same kind of attack as any other comments? so far your comment is "because a lot of people believe it." my response is - so what. not out of rudeness because you have choosen to subject those ideas through their use in political context to attack. you can not as i keep saying have it both ways. clearly,even with what you selectively mention, it's having it both ways. and thats why its dishonest. the language was use here to try to effect policy that effects lives of others who not a part of the faith. that'st he real context that you leave out.

by bruh21 2007-02-09 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

The Southern Poverty Law Canter has a section called The Intelligence Project that monitors hate groups -- read their latest:

The 'Synagogue of Satan' rt/article.jsp?aid=703

The New Crusaders
"... Organized into a network of more than a dozen organizations, scores of websites and several extremist churches and monasteries, radical traditionalists in the U.S. are preaching anti-Semitism to as many as 100,000 followers. A few, such as the lawyer for Terri Schiavo's family, Christopher Ferrara, are even movers and shakers in important right-wing Republican circles. ..." rt/article.jsp?aid=719

The Dirty Dozen
Traditionalist Catholic groups are scattered around America and the world. But only a handful preach anti-Semitic hatred. rt/article.jsp?aid=720

ANY religious extremism is WRONG!

this is a good one, too:
Racist Pat Buchanan Book Flying Off the Shelves
(thanks to the attention that the MSM gives to mr Buchanan!) rt/article.jsp?aid=718

by sc mom 2007-02-09 05:47AM | 0 recs
Thanks for the direct response

Now one more question, please. Don't you think that Marcotte's posts were more of a critique of the insitution of the Catholic church (rather than Catholicism itself) and poltiical positions held by the church.

That is to say, don't you think it's possible to blast the pope and the church in however crude a way without bashing Catholicism?

If you answer is no, please explain to me why the comments were anti-Catholic. It's not enough to say people are offended. I'm looking to learn; but from were I stand I'm catching a whiff of prudery, humorlessness, and anti-intellectualism.

by david mizner 2007-02-09 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks for the direct response

Exactly right, which is why the claims of "bigotry" are so inappropriate.  Criticism of an institutionally held stance is not bigotry by any defintion of the word.  

by RickD 2007-02-09 06:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks for the direct response

David --

I don't have time to post much more today, but I remembered that you posed this question a couple hours ago so I wanted to answer before signing off.

My response is that comments about the white, hot, sticky Holy Spirit being injected into Mary's womb are offensive, and thus slights against Catholics who believe in the virgin birth.  She didn't say "The virgin birth is a scientifically untenable belief" or some such thing.  She instead was sardonic.  Not just "funny," but sardonic.  And it's not just that comment -- it's the others, too.

So, to answer your question, of course it's possible to criticize the pope without bashing Catholics -- but the crudeness matters.  When one brings the rhetoric that far down into the gutter, there emerges an implicit contempt not just of certain beliefs, but of the people who hold them.

If you don't believe in the views being slammed, I understand how it can seem humorless when others are offended at the crudeness of the criticisms.  But obviously there are a lot of moderate-liberal Catholics who despise Donohue yet don't like being talked down to.  I don't blame them.  And I hope you can understand where they're coming from.

Have a good weekend, and feel free to email me (or to post another comment, though I don't know when I'll check this thread again) if you'd like to discuss further.


by jlava 2007-02-09 07:39AM | 0 recs
What's Ted Donnelly's problem?

 If Ted Donnelly didn't think Edwards' statement was satisfactory, that's his prerogative. Different Catholics reacted to the blog posts in different ways, and they have every right to.

 The problem is that Donnelly apparently has missed sight of the LARGER goal here, which is to support candidates who advocate policies that are favorable to religious progressives. And John Edwards comes closer to such a platform that anyone else in the field, at this point. This wasn't a verbal slipup by Edwards himself that exposed him as a phony or anything; this was a long-ago blog post by a third party exhumed by the right for the purpose of dividing Edwards' support base and weakening his candidacy. And Donnelly seems to have fallen for it.

  I don't dispute Donnelly's right to be personally offended by the blog posts. But taking his offense public plays right into Donohue's hands, and undermines the long-term goals of progressive Christians. THAT'S the problem.

  I'm sure James Dobson has some serious personal issues with the life history of Rudy Giuliani. But Dobson will NOT make these complaints public if he calculates that Giuliani is the Republicans' best bet to capture the White House. Why can't the left understand the value of message discipline?


by Master Jack 2007-02-09 05:59AM | 0 recs
Terms of debate

I think it's unfair to call any criticism of the Catholic church or its policies anti-Catholic.  It's not bigotry towards Catholics, it's criticism of the policies of a powerful organization.  In the same way, criticism of Israel's policies isn't necessarily antisemitic.

Now, the posts in question that cause this controversy use pretty mean language.  But it's a simple fact that if the Catholic church embraced the use of contraception, it would save thousands of lives and prevent untold suffering.  The church is very powerful in some developing countries where AIDS and other STDs are rampant, and where pregnancy for some can be very dangerous indeed.

by fwiffo 2007-02-09 06:07AM | 0 recs
Video Proof of Edwards Toughening Up
Edwards is shedding the softie,breck girl image's video proof:
by MinorRipper 2007-02-09 07:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

Everyone posting seems to have pretty much made up their mind already, so I'm not sure how much good this will do.  But first off, I know it is classic blog practice to "summarize" another's post in the worst way possible, but everyone going off on the response of people who "agreed with Donohue" should really read the posts purporting to do so, especially the original post on faithfuldemocrats!  Some might mention Donohue, but they make their own claims and normally only mention Donohue to talk about how whacked and crazy he is.  When they mention him it is to explain that just because a crazy guy takes one position doesn't mean they must take the other.  Reading this string, that is a point which seems to be lost on most people who post.  Simply b/c Donohue criticized Edwards' decision doesn't mean we must all take the opposite position.  Are we really sheep who will have our actions and arguments dictated by a wacko like Donahue?  The Nazis were strong advocates of public education.  Stalin talked all the time about helping the poor.  It boggles my mind why all the people posting would want to give Donahue the power to decide our positions.  Yet at the core of most responses is the basic point that b/c Donohue criticized Edwards, we must defend him.  That argument is based on the assumption that sides are more important than principles, and I think that is a mistake.

Second, there is a lot of self-righteous criticism of people of faith for being upset over the hot, sticky Holy Spirit being injected into Mary's womb, "Christofascists," declarations that Catholics use mythology to justify their misogyny, etc.  A simple question, what if these remarks had been made about Jews or gays or African Americans?  We all know the calls to fire that blogger would have rung out loud and clear from the blogosphere, and rightly so.  Our Party needs to be an open Party, and our Presidential candidate needs to be able to appeal to a wide base of Americans to win.  If Kerry had not lost the Catholic vote in '04, he would have breezed into the Presidency.  In '06, Dems made major gains with that community and again reclaimed the Catholic vote, not to mention picking up votes from a number of other faith communities.  Why throw that away, and since when did our Party become one that openly endorses people who use deeming stereotypes to describe entire groups of Americans?

by eric414 2007-02-09 07:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

You are the prime example of the point I make above. What is the context here? The context is about Donohue, and more generally the attempts by the right to swiftboat campaigns. If you really want to get to this at bottom- a campaign can not be responsible for everything that was written by lower level employees simply because the right wants to use that as a smear tactic. If you want to talk about religion- fine- do so. But everytime it comes up please dont use the conversation as excuse to act like a victim. Donohue is a bigot. The situation involves not only a bigot but a general attack on the left by the right with a particularly false frame that all the left are against you. But rather than addressing that you do what is customary with people of faith in politics- turn this conversation into a chance to circle wagons, feign offense and chill the debate. You can not have it bother ways. If you enter the public sphere, you open yourself , just let everyone else, up to criticism, even impolite critique. It's fundamentally dishonest to make that about you being disrepected.

I note for the record that you use people who are true minorities in this soceity to equate yourself as the oppressed class, when in fact Christians are in the majority. That's the very mentality that I find so dangerous. You aren't being opressed to hear things you don't like. An African American has a history in this country to point to and present stats that can show real world oppression rather than simply hurt feelings over people disagreeing with them. A gay person can point to present laws in this country that oppresses them. What here is oppressing beyond hearing things you dont want to hear. That's why you will never win this argument. Your position is fundamentally flawed in that it relies on you being the aggrieved party when in fact the deeper debates are about how the majority, in this case Christians, seek throough laws to control minorities.

by bruh21 2007-02-09 07:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

So your point is that it is ok to say very insulting and demeaning things to a group as long as they are the majority?  I don't agree with that on ethical grounds, but it definitely doesn't make sense on political grounds.  

And I'm not Catholic, by the way, but they aren't a majority in this country...and there is plenty of history of their being oppressed and discriminated against.  Personally, I don't think history should affect whether we should insult them now or not, but for those who do feel that way, we should make sure we are honest about our history.  

by eric414 2007-02-09 07:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

Christians are overwhelming in the majority in the country. Catholics aren't the majority, though they are a plurality.

According to The American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) 2001 sited on wikipedia on _the_United_States#The_American_Religiou s_Identification_Survey

In 2001, 79% identified as Christian, 25.9% as Roman Catholic. That's the largest percentage for any single religious denomination. The next largest reported was Baptist at 17.2% and Methodist at 8.3%. No Religion/Atheist/Agnostic came in at 15%.

by Quinton 2007-02-09 08:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

I am arguing that catholics aren't the equivalent in this society to blacks or gays. And more fundamentally, I am arguing against the victimhood mentality that Christians seem to one to portray themselves as deserving the right to claim. They simply can't do that in a society in which they , the Christians, are the majority and the society is a democracy not an oglicharcy. Their argument may have more impact in say Pakistan than it does here. Here, the claim is just false on its face that they can be as hurt by the words of a non powerful minority versus what they can do as the members of an extremely powerful coalition of a majority.

by bruh21 2007-02-09 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

The context is that if Catholics want to express their offense at what Marcotte wrote, they need to get a new set of spokespeople.

They're enabling this bigot to speak in their name, by pretending he's not there. That's no longer acceptable. If you're a Catholic who wants a Democrat elected, priority one should be to push Donohue off his platform.

by etagloh 2007-02-09 08:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

and to not allow the right to create a false frame about all progressives, or to even mislead regarding what a progressive has said. And even then, to not allow anyone to have veto power over a campaigns staffing decisions. These the least of the things we should require.

by bruh21 2007-02-09 08:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

I would - respectfully - counter that the best response to right-wing media assassins is:

What the Klingon has said is unimportant, and we do not hear his words.
Do not let right-wing antisemites set the terms of debate about what's bigotry for liberal candidates, community and blogging culture.

We - WE LIBERALS - should have taken Marcotte to the toolshed for this when it happened, on our time and terms and for our reasons, not Bill Donohue's.

by Bruce Godfrey 2007-02-09 08:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

couldn't agree more- religion should have no part in politics but until that day comes the right should be fought hard, some appeased- the left still doesn't get it

by jscorse 2007-02-09 07:14AM | 0 recs
by Sadie Baker 2007-02-09 07:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

I think Matt and some of the commenters here are missing a pretty basic point, though I generally agree that discrediting Donohue, once and for all, is a laudable goal.  

This isn't going to be about a bunch of blog posts deploring the political positions of the Catholic Church.  It's probably not going to be about McEwen's posts at all, or most of Marcotte's.  Mark my words, it's going to be mostly about the single Marcotte post with these lines:

Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?
A: You'd have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology.

One commenter probably had that in mind when he or she referred to some of the blog posts as "cringe-worthy," as did another who accurately suggested Marcotte was attacking not Vatican positions on abortion or birth control but a central theological tenet of Catholicism (and for that matter, of all orthodox Christianity).  

In the impending fight with the thug Donohue, which I'm all for waging aggressively, the real audience that matters is going to be rank-and-file Catholics who need to be disabused of the idea that organizations like the Catholic League in any way speak for them.  Liberal Catholics are the most credible spokespeople in this fight, and I don't think it does much good to lecture them on what they are allowed to admit or deny--or permit to be said on their web sites--in making that fight.  Give them some space.  

After all, nobody seems to be getting publicly angry at John Edwards for saying some of the posts personally offended him, right?  Whatever your personal opinion of the Christian Left, we're not going to win this one without them, period.  

by edkilgore 2007-02-09 07:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left


by jlava 2007-02-09 07:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

the real audience that matters is going to be rank-and-file Catholics who need to be disabused of the idea that organizations like the Catholic League in any way speak for them.

More than that: rank-and-file Catholics need to be made aware that Donohue is their current media representative. Actual Catholic leaders need to be put on the spot and asked to back everything he says or disavow him.

Let's start asking the press office of every archbishop whether Donohue's comments about Hollywood, Jews, homosexuals and especially the complicity of victims of sexual abuse are ones the Church endorses.

by etagloh 2007-02-09 08:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

There's a difference between Christianity, the "interest group" and the religion. There's a difference between people who "identify" with that interest group, and educated students of the Bible and the history of the Church.

I don't see any of the latter AT ALL except the author of this comment: 2951/3053/126#126

Speaking as a Christian, I'm SORRY that Amanda and Melissa thought they had to apologize. I'm also sorry that Edwards licensed this business of being "offended" by their posts. Again, speaking AS A CHRISTIAN, I can't even give you an estimate of the number of times I have taken the Lord's name in vain (although to be fair to me I don't say the G-D word any more at all). Dirty jokes, racial and social stereotypes and slurs, descriptions of sexual practices - why go on? And I'm a highly educated teacher of your children!!

There is a fairly important technical point here - it couldn't be clearer that blogging is more closely related, by intention and in its social development to SPEAKING than to WRITING. People are always talking on dKos about how well diarists write. In which universe? Hunter could not sell even one of his diaries, much less a collection, to a for-profit publication - and I'll stop there. Blogging is like speaking, and the most casual kind of speaking at that. The whole argument about pseudonymity overlooks that fact that in real life we are so regimented that a lot of people would never manage to say what they feel unless they felt free to curse, swear, and talk gross.

As a matter of fact there are any number of dirty jokes IN THE BIBLE. You have to know what's up to get them, but they are there (mostly in the Old Testament). Let's get this straight. Jesus had a dick. He took it out to pee. He had an asshole and he shat from it. He may never have fucked or jerked off, but he probably did get wood. And he knew how people really are. There's no hint in the Bible of all his friends getting all clammed up whenever He walks in, as if He would punish them for being themselves.

Because Americans don't know what religion is anymore, or what it's for, stupid and evil people have taken over the franchise and fucked it up something fierce. However, God is going to punish Donohoe - or, more like, he's going to show him up in such a way that you will know He was on the case. At least you'll remember somebody saying this. He's toast as of now, I put my perfect prediction record on the line for it.

What people post on blogs should be compared to what they have ever said, like at a party, or in a steam room, or whatever. Humans are gregarious animals and they like to sniff each others butts like dogs. They like to blow stinky gas at each other like cows.

Furthermore! As I said in my above referenced post - Donohue is wrong on religious grounds. The worst thing we could be talking about here would be that Amanda had it in for God or Jesus - and that clearly is not so. Amanda doesn't write God Blows or Jesus is Shit. She writes something about the Holy Spirit getting a nut IN ORDER TO MAKE A SATIRICAL POINT. And religious people, monks, Popes, prophets of all kinds have always done this.

Put another way, there is nothing, but nothing, that is vulgar about the posts. Donohoe's rants are vulgar because he does not have the authority of the Church, but he clearly tries to cop to it.

The whole premise of Donohoe's attack is to try to co-opt political correctness - which wouldn't be what it is if it isn't correct, right? - by claiming that a "group" - in this case Catholics - has been "offended" by someone's speech. The only thing is, he has it all wrong.

When women are insulted, they deserve advocacy and defense because women deserve respect. When blacks are insulted, same thing. Idem for all such groups.

But when Christians are insulted - assuming that we have someone willing to stand up and say "Christians suck shit", which we DO NOT have in the case of Amanda - it does NOT work this way. Any and all true Christians are obligated to accept such comments with equanimity and love. There is not supposed to be any personal puffed-up-ness or PRIDE there, to be wounded by insults.

Christianity is not a country, it is not an army, it is not an interest group, it cannot be insulted, it does not need to be defended. And what Edwards said was tantamount to washing Amanda's mouth out with gentle soap prior to her coming on board. And I assume she allowed herself to undergo that mild humiliation because she genuinely wants to improve the lot of suffering mankind, and thinks John Edwards might be able to do something in that direction.

That is, Amanda is good people; she is on the right side of things. God knows this and loves her for it.

As for Donohoe, you don't see any priests or prelates jumping up and down to defend him.

You guys have a problem. Every single one of your Presidential candidates is a Christian. Not just for show, but they actually compete to see which one is the biggest Christian (hint - it's the most educated one). And yet you treat Christianity as some sort of disease of the intellect because you only interact with "Christians" who express the sense of religious teachings badly.

Someone was teasing a candidate the other day about not being as cutting-edge as some with regard to blogging and the netroots. I thought that was funny, really. It's entirely possible that the whole complex phenomenon is in the process of re-morphing right now, such that you will never get the opportunity to refine everything (media attack, raid response, meetups, blog as ATM, solidarity of the netroots as such, crystaliization of political blog communities, etc.) into a technique that you can get paid to administer.

This all reminds me of the Internet guru who told me the Internet would increase the degree of political freedom - told me in 1993. Blogging is just communication. The netroots are just people who blog. We have an Overlord who admitted quite candidly the other day - after saying that he collected degrees as a hobby - that he wasn't into  POLICY. Well, that wasn't a shock. It was valuable candor.

He understands that he's trying to refine a technique. He likes to hide stuff he does under things that the Great God Pan of the Intertubes - who immanentizes the eschaton - does. Like revamping the blogroll. In fact setting up the state blogs shows clearly where he's going. And the further he goes, the clearer it is that it is just technique and machinery that could be used by either side (and I would like to specify that to me Christianity is not a side). The blogosphere is ours, as someone said, we just let the Right play in it for our own amusement.

But it didn't start out that way. What could possibly guarantee durability for the pact between blogging, satire, blunt speech and the Left? Nothing except a broad policy front that not only comes true but works. Successful government in a developing world.

Continued in another post.

by frenchman 2007-02-09 08:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

The religious left has stepped up--including Jesse Lava and Faithful Democrats. You miss the point, willfully. It's the same category of reasoning as  a righty denying a fact is true because it was first reported by the Nation. The comments by Pandagon were Howard Stren like, stupid and offensive. Edwards gets that, she has apologized and admitted it, too.

Here's an example of Jesse stepping up:

A Call for Interfaith Reconciliation
Let Rep. Virgill Goode know that his attacks on Muslims are not acceptable. Please add your name to this petition, which will be hand-delivered to Rep. Goode's office. 2007/01/call-for-interfaith-reconciliati on.html#comments

by FP 2007-02-09 08:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

I  predicted all of this 2 years ago:

I wrote about this exact situation nearly two years ago: An Open Letter to Liberal Bloggers:

So here's our advice, which I seriously doubt will be followed, but which I hope you will at least consider before you post some anti-religious screed on a blog or snark about people of faith of the left or right. Please remember that there are tens of millions of us black, white and brown Americans whose participation in the political system is largely inspired by our religious and moral values. Please remember that we have been involved in every struggle for justice, peace and civil rights this country has ever had and that many of those battles would not have been won without these efforts. Unlike some on the religious right, moderate and progressive people of faith do not seek to tell you how to live your own life. But we do demand respect, just as we attempt to give it to others who disagree with us. 2005/04/open-letter-to-liberal-bloggers. html

We will continue to take on the religious right. MY DD should take this pledge: I will not allow anti-religious like idiocy in my posts or in my comments? Yes or no?

by FP 2007-02-09 08:07AM | 0 recs

Let me give an instructive example.

The left bloggers have explicitly approved Edwards' mild smackdown of Amanda. Why? Because it appears to them to be a proper reaction, given the reality of the conventional wisdom about the MSM-ospheric to such speech. None of THEM are offended by the speech in question (the blog posts). But they approve Edwards saying he was. He had to say that, because the CW predicts that a lot of people would be less likely to vote for Edwards if he didn't - or at least that was the proper way to make the incident fall off the radar as quickly as possible.

This is so easy to agree on - and yet in order to agree on it you have to split your tongue so you can talk out of both sides of your mouth at once.

Bloggers constantly harp on the difference between them and the MSM. The MSM fails to fact check. The MSM caters to power. The MSM practices the sociology of missing white women, and a variety of techniques intended to slant the news toward drama and soundbites instead of policy and discussion.

And yet your entire analysis often consists is following their same analysis, even if the purpose is to counter its effects or avoid its consequences. The point is that "their" frame of reference, CW, is always taken for granted. So how can it ever really change?

Already, a major blogger has been subjected to a sort of enema. A cleansing. Already people are rummaging in their archives. Or not. But the precedent was established by nothing more than the feral violence and vulgarity of the assault by Donohoe.

They scored. But it would now be wrong to conclude that because they scored, we need to ramp up our rapid response. It seems that way. There's no harm in responding.

But the principle that needed defending was that people should feel free to speak, and not to fear "rectifying" themselves later. We of the Left can take pride, if you like, that our pursuit of the slightest whiff of pie in someone's words has left a lot of people wiser - about holding their tongues. But as a result, when they find an outlet, it has to be violent like this. We can't educate them as long as we RHETORICIZE THE SPANISH INQUISITION (pun at your own risk). And they for their part have it going on the other way.

The long term CW in such a case is that public discourse breaks down completely. Whether this has happened because our culture has been vulgarized, or the other way round, I don't know.

I just note that the Christian response you're asking for here, you already got it from your candidate.

And it was actually the wrong one and you fucking well know it. But politically you think it was the right one. You even hung a medal around that Dr. Phil soundalike's neck.

And that's...OK. (h/t Al Franken) But there was more to say.

One of these days we should take back part of the mental area of the United States in the name of freedom.

I'm talking about the crawl, or what some people are calling the third third or something. The bottom of the TV picture. One of these days you'll be able to have a crawl that says: "Doubt what you're hearing? Wanna hear the other side, NOW? Push * 11...," etc. In other words, some day, people will not be so susceptible to the first powerfully expressed version of things they're exposed to...

...or don't you think so? I see a bifurcation in the left blogosphere I don't like. The bloggers at Sadly, No! call it a "comedy blog" now. The assumption is that there is a "Left humor" that can be found chez the Editors, the General, and so on. But dKos and My DD, while continuing to post a good deal of general interest items, seem to be developing a social-science model that buiilds on the lessons of the campaign.

This is like crashing the gate and getting a new gate. Why? Because the number of settled policy points are too few. We used to despair of ever having our "message" refined like the Right's: "Low taxes, strong defense, small government, secure borders" (Or whatever you thought the fourth element was) Well, don't we now have "universal healthcare, no loser wars, no torture, woman's right to choose"? And yet this is not nearly enough to govern.

I have read a lot of "systems" in sociology. Many of them end up making use of existing methods of control over the psychology (sic) of various populations. And they all promise that things will be better, at least, if we do what they recommend, and give our power of choice to them.

I think finally that this must have something to do with Atrios' continued use of the dirty hippy theme. Among the hippies, there were those who at least laid claim, among Americans, to the title of philosopher. Philosophically speaking, the thing you want to leave out of your comparison to Rome is the time scale. Things happen faster now. There is such a gap between the CW about policy and the reality of policy. The entire "guns vs. butter" dichotomy may give way. America's entire economy vis a vis the rest of the world could suddenly feel very vulnerable.

We are going to have to sell America culture and education - things it knows little about since it has been induced to purchase their knock-off versions. You think heads should roll in the Defense Department? Hospitals sell fake health care. Universities sell fake degrees (and I'd really like to see Kos' collection some time...). Lawyers sell fake justice and fake judges mete it out.

Strike three game over.  

The real honest to God political blogosphere is like a machine that runs really well as long as there is a human standing there the whole time. Because the machine only properly interprets reality within a certain range of phenomena. Who cares what the gauge says after the water heater blows up.

I will tell the Bill Joy story again. Bill Joy of Sun Microsystems was known as the "adult in the room" in the ranks of computer geniuses. Back when the "gray goo" scare was going around he went on NPR basically to say that we need an ethics panel for nanotechnology. He was serious.

But then he admitted that he was unable to figure out the ethics of the situation.

Here's a poser: suppose you could transplant a brain into someone else's head. Who would that person be?

The answer is, ask me again in about two hundred years. But no one living will ever be able to accomplish such a thing, except as the equivalent of hooking up a frog to a hot wire. Is there such a thing as a conceivable experiment that should never be carried out?

Think before you answer.

Many people think science is the cure for the problem represented by religion. Few think religion might be of help with regard to something science tends to screw up.

The left blogosphere has a seminal connection to corrosive intellectual humor. It also has a connection to a sort of belief in the invincibility of science.

I'm not talking about the ignorant travesties around creationism and the like. The only shame there is that the left blogosphere has not been able to make those people into complete laughingstocks (not for want of trying).

But there is a problem with science and technology that people who live on the Internet have a certain structural difficulty realizing.

Let's just put it in brief. You have a responsibility to figure out what affects the CW, and how, and to put this knowledge at the service of Democratic candidates, and to lobby for its recognition.

But you also have a responsibility, let's call it cultural or social, to think up the perfect system of distributive governance, and lobbying for that as well. For example, where is the campaign for mandatory voting? Who's AGAINST that? And why?

Internet technology doesn't just bring us fun blog posts. It brings the commercial camel of television even further into the tent of our heads.

So many people and so many machines, all claiming loudly to bring me freedom. Is it liberal or conservative if I say that TV is a waste of time?

Can science really tell us how to rebuild our culture out of its ruins? can the CW?

Even the "normal business" of science in this country is as corrupt as anything else - tainted by commercial applications, by military applications, by corporate desires.

Real religion is no longer set up to oppose science, as it once was, centuries ago. Rather, the people who work in science and technology, like Bill Joy, have been brought to the realization that culture is an organism that escapes their models. It appears from the political standpoint that culture can be gamed, led by the nose, bamboozled - but on the other end, once it appears that culture has been damaged there is no short term fix for it.

Religion, art, and culture emphasize the importance of the whole human being, apart from technology and connectivity. In some ways, we are all wearing the diaper. Instead of thinking that the blogosphere is the new kid on the block but here to stay, we should be pushing for more agreement on policy.

What I think, though, is that it's still going to take a candidate to do it. I said a long time ago, and I can prove it, that I hate the personality cult. I'd rather vote for a policy front than a candidate. But the sociological reality of America - so damaged, so unaware - has convinced me that there has to be a candidate who can reveal the world to us - not the world of the CW!! but the one that is there beyond the atrocities of our televised wars. A candidate who can give an example of how to live your own religion in your own life without the slightest need for the attempts of ambitious preachers to organize Christians into an army of illiterate idiots.

A candidate who can Sister Soul'jah the Church when the time comes. But a candidate who realizes that the age of rapid development in technology may well be OVER - and the day may come when we wonder why we thought so much about it, there are so many things technology induced us to miss completely.

by frenchman 2007-02-09 09:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

So until the self-described religious left decides to stop letting bigoted and extreme right-wingers talk for them, they are no different than the religious right they pretend to oppose.

Matt, you're a dick.

And a self-defeating one at that.

Until the self-described progressive* left decides to stop misrepresenting the views of the religious left, they are no different than the religious right they pretend to oppose.

* And really, Matt, as far as I can tell there is nothing progressive about you.  You're just another belt-way pundit who is clueless about how the rest of the world works -- Broder's illegitimate child.

by Disputo 2007-02-09 10:10AM | 0 recs
so I get a warning for this?

So, front page posters are allowed to make personal attacks, but commenters can't fight fire with fire?

Nice little fiefdom ya got here.

by Disputo 2007-02-10 06:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Step Up, Religious Left

I posted a reply here: 2007/02/encouraging-responses-on-edwards .html


The author of this post is so badly informed that it is hard to even take it seriously enough to reply. Say what? The religious left doesn't take on the religious right? Guess not, and cats and dogs always get along just great, too. Faithful Democrats has done exactly that over and over. Any reader of this blog or any of those listed on our side panel knows how much time we devote to addressing the religious right. If anything, in my view, we spend too much time taking on and exposing the right and too little time putting forth an alternative and tolerant spiritual world view.

Mr. Stoller's conviction that there can be only "one" moral response to a situation is the absolute height of intolerance and arrogance. Such cocksure moral certainty is exactly the way the religious right expresses itself. No religious liberal would ever compose such a sentence--because their world view recognizes the limits of our own ability to peceive "the truth."

But what I find most disturbing is the absolute unwillingness of people like Mr. Stoller to admit that people on the left can engage in hate speech and can needlessly offend both allies and potential ones just as easily as extremists on the right. Edwards said the quotes offended him, and the bloggers in question have apologized. They have accepted responsibility for their posts. But people like Matt Stoller can only see that the source of the quotes was a bigot himself, so whatever he says should be dismissed--even when there is no dispute that his claims this time were true! That is a staggering and disturbing level of moral blindness that, fortunately, appears to be very much a minority and marginal point of view even on the most strident liberal blogs. 2007/02/encouraging-responses-on-edwards .html

by FP 2007-02-11 03:25AM | 0 recs


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