Monday, March 06, 2006

With God on our side

Eric Alterman, writing in the March 20 issue of The Nation, notes:
In a less flamboyant though more revealing episode last year, CNN's star anchor, Wolf Blitzer, questioned traitorous right-winger Robert Novak and liberal Paul Begala about the death of Pope John Paul II. Blitzer opened the segment by suggesting that while "I am sure Bob is a good Catholic, I am not so sure about Paul Begala." Novak converted from Judaism to an Opus Dei form of Catholicism, while Begala was raised in the faith, remains devout and even named his eldest child John Paul. When he asked Blitzer, "Well, now, who are you to pass moral judgment on my religion, Mr. Blitzer...on the day of my Holy Father's funeral?" adding, "I don't think anybody should presume that a liberal is not a good Catholic" and "The Holy Father is liberal.... The Holy Father bitterly opposed President Bush's war in Iraq. He came to St. Louis--and I was there--and he begged America to give up the death penalty. President Bush strongly supports it, as did President Clinton and others. Many of the Holy Father's views, my church's views, are extraordinarily liberal. I mean, the Pope talked about savage, unbridled capitalism, not Bob Novak's capitalism." The CNN anchor instructed Begala, "Don't be so sensitive," as if he had unflatteringly critiqued Begala's makeup.

The moronic level of cable discourse notwithstanding, missing from almost all discussions of the role of religion in public life is what William James famously termed the "varieties of religious experience." The right-wing hijacking of religion's public role in our political discourse is as undeniable as it is inappropriate, and represents one of liberalism's most serious problems.

You can read the entire article here.