Thursday, 7 June 2007

Religion poisons the politics of the left

While Richard Dawkins has been taking the polite approach to arguing with religionists, and generally finding opposition mostly from the right of the aisle, Christopher Hitchens -- who has taken to referring to Ayn Rand as "two leading public intellectuals of the American Right in the last two, three decades" -- has taken a more acerbic approach to the argument in his book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, and his opposition has come mostly from the hysterical left.

Here's an example, a recent debate between Hitchens and a wanker called Chris Hedges. The Zombie Time blog has an account and videos of the debate, and the explanation of how the so-called secular left wind up defending religion against a so-called neocon.
Surprising as it might seem in a contemporary political landscape where mocking religion is an established liberal pastime and where Christianity and spirituality are most often associated with conservatism, it was Hitchens -- now loathed by the left for not toeing the party line over the Iraq War -- who attacked religion, while the neo-Socialist, anti-patriotic, radical Hedges volunteered for the seemingly topsy-turvy position of having to defend spirituality and the existence of God.

How did this strange state of affairs come to pass? In one word: Islam.

The left -- of which Hitchens was a part until recently -- has always been anti-religion. But now, they've become caught in a philosophical bind: how can they promote multiculturalism -- and by extension all non-Western cultures, such as fundamentalist Islam -- if they condemn religion in general? Neocon pundits have since 9/11 frequently accused the left of being in bed with Muslim extremists, a charge which the left has vehemently denied. But with every denial their position was becoming more and more untenable, as the verbiage and narratives of Islamic radicals and "anti-war" progressives have grown to become virtually indistinguishable...

OK, let's be frank: Hitchens absolutely mopped the floor with Hedges. It was an embarrassment, really. Scroll down to watch the videos of Hitchens' performance to see what I mean.
Tune in and watch neo-Socialist, anti-patriotic, radical Hedges cheered on by the supporters of suicide bombing. [Hat tip Boaz the Boor].


  1. Hmm. I think Hitch would be the first to admit that it's religious people who see the danger of Radical Islam.. and are prepared to put their bodies on the line to thwart it.

    US military 0.2% Atheist
    Bush, Born again Christian
    Blair, devout Anglican soon to be a Catholic
    Howard, Methodist lay preacher.


  2. Great video but your link doesn't work, this one does:

  3. Oh, where is the real-life equivalent of The West Wing's Arnold Vinnick?

    "I don't see how we can have a separation of church and state in this government if you have to pass a religious test to get in this government. I want to warn everyone in the press and all the voters out there. If you demand expressions of religious faith from politicians you are just begging to be lied to. They won't all lie to you, but a lot of them will, and it will be the easiest lie they ever have to tell to get your votes."

    "Every day until the end of this campaign I'll answer any question anyone has on government. But if you have a question on religion, please, go to church."

    As Andrew Sullivan has pointed out, atheists and theists should be every bit as anxious about the rise of the religious left as they are by the (waning) influence of the religious right. IMO, and this is the opinion of a devout Catholic, this is not what Teddy Roosevelt meant when he talked about the Presidency being a 'the bully pulpit', and it's got to be resisted for the sake of both faith and politics in any kind of civil society.

    BTW, God is not Great is a bloody brilliant book - I disagree with Hitchens as often as not, but he writes like an angel and argues his case like a junkyard dog on crack. More power to him.


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