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"What effect must it have on a nation if it learns no foreign languages? Probably much the same as that which a total withdrawal from society has upon an individual."
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Tuesday, March 04, 2003
 
Don't play nice with bigots

Nicholas Kristof seems to have a problem with the "sneering tone" with which the "educated elite" addresses conservative (read "evangelical" or "born again") Christianity. The media, he contends, should be nicer to them. My educated, elite reply? Abso-goddamn-lutely not.

I'm aware that conservative Christianity refers to a large (46% of Americans, he says) and differentiated group, among whom are millions of decent, pleasant, hard-working people who are good citizens. I have no problem with them or their religious beliefs or practices. Among them are also many superstitious, narrow-minded, bigoted knuckledraggers. Although I don’t like their beliefs, it’s a free country and they’re entitled to their opinions and the right to express them.

It's the leadership that makes my blood boil. The central tenet behind all of their actions is that “if you do not believe as we do, you're unworthy.” This is rank and wide-ranging bigotry. Accordingly, in their benevolence and compassion, they regard it as a duty to convert others to their faith. They believe homosexuality is an abomination and attempt to change the law to reflect this belief. They are superstitious and see the devil everywhere. Many of them expect to be taken seriously while asserting the universe to have been created less than 10,000 years ago. Many of them take the book of Revelation literally and are actively working to bring about the end of the world. I'm not supposed to sneer at this?

As long as the rank-and-file conservative Christians elevate such mean-spirited and destructive individuals to positions of power, I'm going to use every means at my disposal to discredit them, including contemptious sneering.

I don't have problems with Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, or Buddhists, although in each group are individuals and groups I find hateful. There is nothing intrinsic to any of these religions that makes its adherents hateful or a threat to others. The belief and practice of these (and other) religions give fulfillment and meaning to the lives of their adherents. Although I don't participate in religion, I have no problem with people who do. However, those who try to force their beliefs and practices on me, in a country founded on a separation of church and state no less, will not receive my respect or courtesy.

Edit: Missing sentence replaced.

Update: TBogg and Atrios agree.