This past Saturday Governor Perry did what everyone with three interconnected synapses knew he was gonna do: declared himself a candidate for president. It didn't take long... a mere matter of hours... for the lefty secular-humanists to crawl out of the woodwork, shouting "Christer!" and other such blather. Sunday's memeorandum page was chock-full of this sorta bullshit, including one particularly obnoxious hit piece in the Daily Beast (appropriate name, eh?) by one Michelle Goldberg that managed to slime both Perry AND Michele Bachmann at the same time. A couple o' excerpts:
With Tim Pawlenty out of the presidential race, it is now fairly clear that the GOP candidate will either be Mitt Romney or someone who makes George W. Bush look like Tom Paine. Of the three most plausible candidates for the Republican nomination, two are deeply associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism known as Dominionism. If you want to understand Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, understanding Dominionism isn’t optional.
Put simply, Dominionism means that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions. Originating among some of America’s most radical theocrats, it’s long had an influence on religious-right education and political organizing. But because it seems so outré, getting ordinary people to take it seriously can be difficult. Most writers, myself included, who explore it have been called paranoid. In a contemptuous 2006 First Things review of several books, including Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy, and my own Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, conservative columnist Ross Douthat wrote, “the fear of theocracy has become a defining panic of the Bush era.”
The article gets even worse than that... those are just the introductory grafs which dwell on a preemptive disclaimer for the idiocy that follows, i.e., "Take me seriously! Please!" Well, no. I can't. I thought we... us Americans... got over this sorta stuff after JFK was elected. Apparently not, and there's no lack of people willing and able to stir the pot of intolerance. This sort of thing just makes me scratch my head and go WTF? I mean, really...
But there are rational agnostics in this country as well, Mr. Roger Simon being one such. He posted a piece on Sunday too... titled "Agnostics for Perry." An extensive quote:
Which leads me to why this agnostic — and I hope other agnostics of various stripes — could and should support Perry.
We live in a time when the economy trumps all other considerations by a staggering amount. The global financial system is on life support, teetering on the brink of depression, if not already over it. This has placed our country in a weaker state than any time since World War II, endangering world peace and encouraging a wave of despotism unseen since the rise of the Soviet Union and in many ways identical to it, except that it is motivated by jihadism rather than by communism.
Can a single human being solve this? Unlikely. He or she will need a lot of help. But we are in dire need of leadership, not of the policy wonk kind — God knows we’ve had a lot of that — but of the moral and inspirational kind. We need someone to call forth the best in America the way Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s. We need someone unafraid to speak for the democratic values of Western civilization and to fight for them economically and politically as well as militarily, if that is necessary.
The incumbent president has proven to be none of those things. He is at best ambivalent about our values and at worst an enemy of them. Rick Perry is the reverse. I had the pleasure of having dinner with him in Austin well over a year ago and could see it almost immediately. Call him a cowboy, call him a Christer, but this man is a passionate American and a passionate American is exactly what we need right now. And that kind of person, I am sad to admit, is unlikely to come from the ranks of the agnostic and the secular. It will come from the ranks of the religious, those who have faith. That’s just the way it is now.
But I will try to reassure my fellow agnostics with this. We are not nearly as far from religious people as we think. Though we may brood on the timing and veracity of the Big Bang, speculate on Einstein’s unified field theory (if we can understand it), debate St. Anselm in our heads or just throw up our hands and say the whole question is above our job description, when it comes to the way we actually live, our values, most of us do just as our religious brothers and sisters do. Like them we are products of the Judeo-Christian tradition and we live by the Ten Commandments — or try to.
That's the voice of reason speaking. I'm prolly a lot like Mr. Simon when it comes to religion... which is to say I'm basically agnostic... even if I describe myself as a closet Buddhist. Mr. Simon talks about his admiration, bordering on envy, for people with strong faith elsewhere in his essay and I identify with that, too. His bottom line, as you can see from the above excerpts, is he has no problem with Perry's faith and neither do I. The entire piece is worth a read.
That said... I don't identify with asshats and conspiracy theorists like Ms. Goldberg; I consider the woman and those of her ilk to be much more dangerous than the people she rails against. Religious intolerance is close to the worst sort of bigotry there is and when you combine intolerance with conspiracy you get something truly dangerous and poisonous to the body politic. I suspect we'll see much more of this stuff as the campaign goes on.
But... back to Governor Perry. I'm pretty damned close to putting up a "Perry for President" link in my sidebar. I think I've found my candidate.