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Sullivan Hits A New Low: Hate Speech As A Substitute for Argument

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Andrew Sullivan’s new Time column “My Problem with Christianism,” is a call to embrace hate speech, a crude attempt to use language to marginalize everyone with whom Sullivan disagrees, and to attach to them the stigma of the Islamists. Sullivan’s cowardly disclaimer –not that I mean they are violent like Islamists, he offers– is a second indictment of his piece: Sullivan lacks the courage to fully defend what he obviously believes.

The third strike against the column is its fundamental unseriousness. Like others on the left, Sullivan is a serial destroyer of straw men, especially as he declaims about the “Christianist view that religious faith is so important that it must also have a precise political agenda. It is the belief that religion dictates politics and that politics should dictate the laws for everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike.”

Who, exactly, believes such a thing? Sullivan names no names. He mentiuons Delay and Limbaugh, but far enough removed from this description as to have deniability. When Sullivan gives us a definition of Christinism backed up by a list of say, 25 prominent Christianists and data to prove it, then he will have made an argument. Until then he’s just spitting out venom.

Sullivan lays down some exceptions to his sweeping condemnation of the undefined “religious right”:

There are very orthodox believers who nonetheless respect the freedom and conscience of others as part of their core understanding of what being a Christian is. They have no problem living next to an atheist or a gay couple or a single mother or people whose views on the meaning of life are utterly alien to them–and respecting their neighbors’ choices. That doesn’t threaten their faith. Sometimes the contrast helps them understand their own faith better.

I and millions and millions of other evangelical protestants would nod in agreement to each of Sulliavn’s lines in the sand –the foolishness of accusing the religious right of being against single mothers when crisi pregnancy centers aare primarily staffed and funded by orthodox Christians caring for and supporting single moms– but that doesn’t stop Sullivan from arguing that the religious right is Christianist.

I suspect that what Sullivan really wants to say is that anyone opposed to same sex marriage is a Christianist. Had he disclaimed such a view, there’d be very few people left in his group designated for hatred.

But Sullivan realizes that such an absurd argument generates laughter, so he doesn’t make it. Instead he smears tens and tens of millions of Americans, never defines “religious right,” and never concedes that his “test,” whatever it is, is judged only by him and sweeps in a majority of Americans. Sullivan knows a “Christianist” when he sees one. trust him –they’re everywhere.

Sullivan is obviously giving up on his crusade to persuade people of the benefits of same sex marriage, and his frustration is understandable. Not once in the long history of this country, not at the federal level or in any state, has a legislative body backed by the signature of an executive, defined marriage as open to two people of the same sex. In fact, whenever the question has been presented to popular vote, same sex marriage has been rejected overwhelmingly.

Embittered by this implacable refusal to change marriage even as the country has quite obviously come to reject discrimination against people whatever their sexual orientation, Sullivan attributes to that refusal a desire born of religious fanaticism to control every aspect of life. A silly jump, that, but not laughable because of his embrace of the noxious asserted parallel between Christians and terrorists.

I invited Sullivan on to today’s program. He declined. I am not surprised. There is no defending this poison. Only a hit and run column will do.

UPDATE: ChronWatch has more.


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