And then there are Christopher Hitchens’ characteristically unsubtle questions about Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. Yes, Mormonism was once racist; so was southern Protestantism; so were some strands of secular liberalism (as Jim Ceaser showed in this most excellent book); and the fathers of intellectually fashionable deconstruction were anti-Semites. Either everyone should be embarrassed, or everyone should (more or less equally) be off the hook.
Jonah Goldberg takes a different tack, arguing that various and sundry people of the Book(s) have a paper trail about which they can be quizzed, while secular liberals, who allegedly think for themselves by themselves, using only their reason, do not. Here’s Jonah:
Liberalism’s canon is largely unwritten, it’s dogma made-up as they go along (and yes, I’m over-generalizing to make a point; there are plenty of important liberal philosophical treatises that go unread by politicians and political journalists).
As someone who subscribes to the view that liberalism is a secular religion, it is very frustrating that liberal politicians do not offer up a paper trail for people to scrutinize the way conservatives do. Liberalism has a dogma as rich and serious as conservatism, but you can’t go to a liberal politician and ask: Are you loyal to John Dewey? Richard Rorty? John Rawls? You can’t ask what their bible is because they are acolytes of the bookless faith of good deeds, the cult of do-goodery. So when they argue for keeping "religion" out of politics they are saying "keep your religion out of politics." When they say that we need to "get past ideology" they are saying we need to get past your ideology. This means that conservatives must constantly defend their own territory rather than demand a similar accounting from liberals.
There’s something to this, but I think you can demand arguments and reasons, which surely have first principles and points of departure. People who have done their homework, as Jonah has, can begin to piece together the theoretical structure (perhaps Rube Goldbergish, perhaps shaky) underlying the lists of programmatic proposals. And even "pragmatism" has a literature, which, if you think it through, makes it pretty doggone scary as a "philosophy." Of course, this underlying argument is for the most part unacknowledged and/or held dogmatically, which makes it a species of faith not unlike that embraced by Huckabee.