The Right Coast

November 08, 2004
Liberal Paranoia
By Tom Smith

If you think about it, American liberals today resemble Puritans, of the Cromwellian stripe. They seem to be unable to tolerate the idea that in large swaths of America, evangelical Christians are out there, doing the things they do. Reading the bible and taking it literally is a kind of intellectual sodomy, that simply cannot be suffered to exist.

Here is Brad DeLong, not getting it. Do you see what is wrong with his picture? He quotes with horror the story of a bunch of evangelicals, on a trip down the Grand Canyon. They look at geology and see creation. They make fun of Carl Sagan and imagine him roasting in hell fire. They listen to a preacher about the bible. But here's the thing. It's a private trip, isn't it? A bunch of co-religionists go out to the wilds. Where is the problem, exactly? Are they thinking unlicensed thoughts? Is the Grand Canyon a violation of the Establishment Clause? The Clean Air Act, perhaps, because such people are allowed to breathe? Brad DeLong seems unable to bear the idea that not everybody thinks he is as smart as he thinks he is. He wrings his hands and exclaims "the intolerance! I just can't stand it!"

Liberals give themselves way too much credit. If they knew more evangelicals of the strict, biblical sort, they would appreciate what an embattled minority they are. Yes, they played an influential role in the last election, but I am talking about the lives they actually lead. Blacks are sometimes important in elections, but that does not mean a lot of them do not have tough lives. Strict Christians have to put up with the contempt of main stream culture, villification in the media, and policies in public institutions that border on official persecution. Most of them do not have a lot of money and can't send their kids to the private schools their betters send their kids to, so they won't have to suffer the consequences of liberal educational theories in practice. And all this while listening to the elites congratulate themselves for being so tolerant and superior. In the meantime, without the Catholics in the police and fire departments, and the born-agains in the Marines, they'd be asking some guy in a bathrobe to tell them again which way Mecca was.