Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Douthat Channels Norris

Ok I can't help it one last quote from the debate mentioned below. It's Ross Douthat's roundhouse Chuck Norris kick:
But you couldn't just say that the "theocons" are out of step with America and leave it at that, because your alarmist thesis required you to have it both ways: Thus "theoconservatism" is somehow both wildly unpopular and primed to regulate every aspect of our daily life--out of touch with the public and somehow capable of keeping secular America "under siege." And, worse, you don't want to just argue with your political opponents; you want to remove them from public life entirely by accusing them of violating the bargain that supposedly holds our country together.

If you're the arbiter of what the liberal bargain means, then I want no part of it. The American experiment has succeeded for so long precisely because it doesn't force its citizens channel their "theological passions and certainties ... out of public life and into the private sphere." It forces them to play by a certain set of political rules, yes, which prevent those passions and certainties from creating a religious tyranny. But it doesn't make the mistake of telling people that their deepest beliefs should be irrelevant to how they vote, or what causes they support. The kind of secularism that you're promoting--and that Neuhaus and the rest of the "theocons" were originally reacting against--is an attempt to change those rules and impose greater restrictions on religious Americans than have heretofore existed. This isn't just blinkered, unfair, and contrary to the actual American tradition of how religion and politics interact; it's also dangerous to liberalism, because it vindicates those people--Christians and secularists alike--who have always said that faith and liberalism aren't compatible and that everyone need to choose between Christ and the republic, between God and Caesar. And, if you force Americans to make that choice, I'm not sure you'll be happy with the results.

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