Over at The Corner, Jonah Goldberg offers some commentary on this op-ed, which equates Wahhabi Muslim extremists with Christian conservatives. If you wish to submit yourself to a longer and even more tiresome version of the same argument, you can go here.
Rather than belabor the whole piece, Ill restrict myself to a couple of observations. First, theres the now-hackneyed observation that there are multiple versions of the Ten Commandments, which is supposed to be an argument against their public display. If governments all over the country acquiesce in the display of different versions of the Ten Commandments, in some cases noting their variety and variability, then how could this be establishment? Not only, of course, is there no coercion involved, but the very plurality of displays militates against any exclusivity.
Of course, the most offensive portion of the op-ed has nothing to do with the Ten Commandments. Here it is:
The Ten Commandments are used as a wedge to put across what is essentially a cultural protest against social change, but in the bitter disputes that have followed these seemingly ridiculous arguments the message of the commandments is usually lost. The Christian Right pretends to be concerned about the life of an unborn fetus, but expresses little interest for the fate of the living child who emerges from an unwanted pregnancy, and is even ready to kill or at least destroy the careers of those who do not agree with them. Although the commandments prohibit killing, and Christ advised his followers to leave vengeance to God, the fundamentalists seem to delight in the death penalty, and in reducing welfare support to unwed mothers who are struggling to deal with the results of pregnancies that they could not control and never wanted to have.
You read that right: "The Christian Right...is even ready to kill or at least destroy the careers of those who do not agree with them." Say what? Aside from the ridiculous distance between "killing" and "destroying a career," I see no evidence of the first and little of the second, unless you count working hard to see that someone is not elected or re-elected (which I thought was permissible within the ordinary confines of our system) as career-destroying.
Tom Englehardt, the proprietor of the site, adds his two cents worth in introducing the op-ed:
We also have a President who is in the process of casting off the constraints of any presidency, while placing religion with powerful emphasis at the very center of Washingtons new political culture. He is now adored, if not essentially worshipped, by his followers as he travels the country dropping in at carefully vetted "town meetings"; and the adoration is often not just of him as a political leader but as a religious one, as a manifestation of Gods design for us. Its in this context that the modest Ten Commandments cases are being heard; in the context, that is, of the destruction of whats left of an authentic American republican (rather than Republican) culture.
This is, of course, also silly, flying in the face of almost everything President Bush says about religious freedom and his own humble humanity.
I suppose we should wish these members of the un-reality-based community bon voyage on their flights of fancy, were it not for the fact that not having a responsible opposition is unhealthy. So I say instead: come home, blue America; actually pay attention to what folks in the churches and Rotary Clubs are saying; dont demonize them and they may actually be willing not only to converse with you but to consider voting for (or with) you when you offer a responsible and reasonable alternative to the Republicans.