Douglas Hill
opinion, humor and small town common sense
Thursday, November 11, 2004

Christopher Hitchens' Complaint

I was just looking at Christopher Hitchens’ column on Bush’s Secularist Triumph. He had this to say:

So here is what I want to say on the absolutely crucial matter of secularism. Only one faction in American politics has found itself able to make excuses for the kind of religious fanaticism that immediately menaces us in the here and now. And that faction, I am sorry and furious to say, is the left. From the first day of the immolation of the World Trade Center, right down to the present moment, a gallery of pseudointellectuals has been willing to represent the worst face of Islam as the voice of the oppressed. How can these people bear to reread their own propaganda? Suicide murderers in Palestine—disowned and denounced by the new leader of the PLO—described as the victims of "despair." The forces of al-Qaida and the Taliban represented as misguided spokespeople for antiglobalization. The blood-maddened thugs in Iraq, who would rather bring down the roof on a suffering people than allow them to vote, pictured prettily as "insurgents" or even, by Michael Moore, as the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers. If this is liberal secularism, I'll take a modest, God-fearing, deer-hunting Baptist from Kentucky every time, as long as he didn't want to impose his principles on me (which our Constitution forbids him to do).

Mr. Hitchens’ disgust arises out of his equation of liberal secularism with the impotent orthodoxy of “political correctness,” which the left side has continued to equate with liberalism since the 1960’s counter-culture movement. Political correctness has devolved into a least-common-denominator philosophy of pathetic victimization. It is reminiscent of some Eastern philosophies in its inertia, its inability to tolerate any notion of confrontation or offense.

Political correctness? As if I should paint my green living room walls a neutral white to preclude the potential of offending some visitor who may be color averse to green.

Joyous traditions such as Christmas and Chanukah, with their attendant childlike excitement and joy, are to be cast away for the neutral, bland, pabulum of uniform inoffensiveness. The bright reds, greens and golds replaced with subdued grays. The politically correct will then march to discard Independence Day, to avoid giving offense to any British nationals; Labor Day will be canned to avoid offense to the idle rich. How long before we will all be uniformly buttoned up to the chin in drab, little Chairman Mao jackets, reciting from rote the ever increasing body of politically correct proscriptions? Does that have the ring of progressive liberalism? Is that your model of secularism? It is pure nonsense to suggest that traditional holidays and celebrations are somehow going to transform our democracy into a theocracy. It is that kind of suspended common sense that is at the root of the values issue. My perception is that, if anything, this country is trending toward being less religious, rather than more.

Mr. Hichens, whose thought and writing I greatly admire, by the way, shakes his head at the impotent inanity of the left’s response to Islamofascism. To paraphrase Mr. Clinton, it’s the political correctness, stupid. Liberal secularism, shorn of the albatross of political correctness, may yet flower into the future of the Democratic party.
Henry David Thoreau

Simon & Garfunkel

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