Thursday 12/14/17

  1. Finger-pointing
  2. Alabama sends two messages
  3. Un-American 1
  4. Un-American 2


The press is reporting GOP finger-pointing after Tuesday’s Special Election loss in Alabama. That is not fake news.

Ann Coulter (I fondly remember her before 9/11, when she was still sane and funny, but I stopped following her years ago) says:

David French pointedly replies:

I’m with French.


This is the message to the GOP: Stop ignoring us. Stop pretending you can count on our votes. Stop thinking of us as useful idiots. [Tuesday night], we were almost certainly one of the two main reasons you lost a senate seat in Alabama—repeat, in Alabama! (The other reason is that black voters turned out in droves and helped make sure we didn’t send a pedophile—forgive me, Federalist writers, a hebephile—to Washington.)

But there is also a message here for the Democrats: You trotted out a relentlessly pro-choice candidate to run against a pedophile. And you won. But one of the main reasons you won is because principled pro-life voters couldn’t bring themselves to support Moore. If the GOP trots out anyone besides Roy Moore, this isn’t a close election.

So “stop being afraid to run pro-choice candidates” is a bizarre lesson to take from last night. If my read on the write-ins is correct, this is what we have established:

  • Partisanship seems to have some limits.
  • Even when running against someone as horrible as Moore, there are an electorally significant number of voters who would sooner abstain than vote for a pro-choice candidate.

Given both of those points, wouldn’t the more logical move be to say that there are apparently pro-life voters who are movable in terms of partisan affiliation and that even some token effort to woo us would probably pay off? …

Unfortunately, we aren’t going to find out the answer to that question because the Democrats have decided they would rather applaud the legalized dismembering of unborn infants than even slightly temper their commitment to this brutal regime in order to become a broader, more diverse coalition. And even when confronted with strong evidence that pro-life voters are not immovably tied to the GOP, they will still look at that evidence and say, “see, you can be unapologetically pro-choice and win elections.” It’s maddening, but it seems to be the republic we live in.

(Jake Meador)

The “message to the GOP” is fairly apt, but there is no sinister and cynical GOP out there imposing Roy Moores and Donald Trumps on us. Both were anti-establishment candidates selected by disaffected voters, which is why I agree with David French rather than Ann Coulter. It’s not even close, fer cryin’ out loud!

Meador’s proof of his assertion to Democrats (“one of the main reasons you won is because principled pro-life voters couldn’t bring themselves to support Moore”) is that the proportion of write-in votes increased ten-fold and the extra write-in votes exceeded Jones’ margin over Moore.

This is quite important, but I don’t want to discount that Moore’s odiousness also made it possible to energize Democrats, particularly black Democrats, with the whiff of blood in the water. Yes, the increase in write-ins exceeded Jones’ margin of victory, but he never would have gotten within striking distance had Democrats not had cause to hope for a win, and to work for it, which hope was rooted in Moore’s creepiness.


[Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian] gives us a litmus test for determining when people like her have to bother themselves with noticing Christians’ problems:

How will we know when American Christians are genuinely under threat? When they start changing their names from the obviously biblical “Andrew” and “Mary” to the more secular “William” or “Jennifer” in order to avoid hiring discrimination. When Christians in Congress hide their faith and instead loudly claim to be atheists. When Christians are regularly blocked from buying homes or renting apartments in the good parts of town. When the president of the United States calls for Christians to be banned from the country. Then we can start taking claims of religious discrimination at face value.

How convenient. If a Baptist florist loses her livelihood and is driven into bankruptcy, but Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, a woman of Christian background who says she doesn’t go to church any longer, doesn’t register that as discrimination, should Christians like me worry?

(Rod Dreher)

A GOP insider e-mailed me this morning to say:

It’s hard to be a Republican sometimes given how stupid and ham-fisted we can be, but what’s the choice? Yesterday the House Committee handling the new Higher Ed bill met for mark-up. The bill includes language prohibiting the government from taking adverse action against religious schools that receive Title IV funding (student loans) because the government disagrees with the religious mission/practice of the school. The ranking Democrat voted to strip out the language and it stayed in on a party line vote.

This language is a big priority of the CCCU schools [a coalition of Protestant colleges — RD], many of which do everything they possibly can to signal their support for a host of progressive causes, but when push comes to shove they have only Republicans to go to for protection. I’m as frustrated with the GOP as anyone, but then, there is this stuff…

Yes, there is.

(Rod Dreher) The Democrats want to be able to take adverse action under Title IV against disfavored religious schools, but I haven’t had to change my name yet, so I guess there’s no problem.

I can imagine what Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian may be feeling if she has turned hostile toward orthodox Christianity, which has actually gotten some halfway favorable press coverage in the past few weeks. But taking her words seriously, I can only treat them as calloused and as deeply un-American.


If the commitment to free speech provisions under the First Amendment takes precedence over Title IX, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Berkeley Principles of Community, then I suppose we are being asked to understand that we will, in the name of freedom of speech, willingly allow our environment to be suffused with hatred, threats, and violence, that we will see the values we teach and to which we adhere destroyed by our commitment to free speech or, rather, to a very specific – possibly overbroad – interpretation of what constitutes expressive activity protected by that constitutional principle.

If free speech does take precedence over every other constitutional principle and every other community principle, then perhaps we should no longer claim to be weighing or balancing competing principles or values.

We should perhaps frankly admit that we have agreed in advance to have our community sundered, racial and sexual minorities demeaned, the dignity of trans people denied, that we are, in effect, willing to be wrecked by this principle of free speech, considered more important than any other value. If so, we should be honest about the bargain we have made: we are willing to be broken by that principle, and that, yes, our commitments to dignity, equality, and non-violence will be, for better or worse, secondary. Is that how we want it to be?

(Judith Butler, speaking for restrictions on free speech at Berkeley, as quoted by Conor Friedersdorf)

Friedersdorf is having none of it:

Butler’s instincts are different than mine in part because she believes that wrongheaded speakers wield extraordinary power over college students, and implies one cannot really oppose bad values without suppressing the expression of them.

Butler is wrongheaded in implying that if one always permits speech that attacks a dearly held value one may as well give up on defending it as a primary value—as if one cannot hate something a person says, defend their right to say it, and employ other tools, like logic, or satire, or protest, or organizing, to ensure that their view doesn’t prevail

 * * * * *

I would a thousand times rather have dinner with secular liberals of a certain temperament than with a group of religious conservatives who agreed with me about most things, but who have no sense of humor or irony.

(Rod Dreher)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

8 thoughts on “Thursday 12/14/17

  1. Are you comfortable with all this identity politics, the pigeonholing and scapegoating of these pundits? Especially their casual definition of who the real Christians are by their presumed political beliefs and voting?

    The contradictions (and typical narcissism) within Dreher’s tortured dogmatomachic mind are acutely on display in these quotations.

    Butler’s views are shared far more extensively on the Right where there has never been an internal debate about the limits of tolerance of free speech. Tolerance for radically oppositional views simply is not practiced within the institutions and media they control. This has always been the case on most of the CCCU campuses whose arrogant disdain for troglodyte Republicans Dreher derides and then exhibits himself with his dinner company preferences.

    Butler would do better to focus on the threat of expansive religious freedom rather than free speech arguments. The CCCU, which is really led by the ADF, has been working for quite some time to establish a separate civil rights code for “religious institutions” where gender identity, expression, and sexual orientation are not protected but in fact discriminated and punitively disciplined categories for students and employees.

    Taken simply as a legal and political problem, any reasonable person who can step back from the controverted issues should be alarmed by the implications.

    1. What evidence have you that CCCU is led by ADF? ADF wasn’t even in existence when CCCU began.

      I support the CCCU desire for exemption from ideological novelties that have grabbed the reins (and the whip) of government. Your surmise about the consequences of exemption seems pretty implausible to me, and in any event less problematic than government using Title IV to micromanage campus policies and to try to mutate religious beliefs.

    2. I do consider ADF an ally — an uncomfortable one, as I imagine progressives sometimes find the ACLU uncomfortable. I’m more comfortable with the Becket Fund and with FIRE.

      It was the antimiscegenation laws that were the novelty, not the interracial marriages.

  2. Answer my questions. You’re just spinning here.

    Interracial relationships were once an “ideological novelty” resisted in the same manner as equal rights for women and sexual minorities, with the same precedents in play. From a legal standpoint, there is no “surmise.” Many religious schools currently discipline students for becoming pregnant, which violates the existing statutes.

    These same environments tend to be the ones that discipline and discriminate on other bases of gender and sexuality. They practice what is in effect a separate civil rights code to go with a separatist and often openly insurrectionist Christian nationalist ideology. They call it traditional, but it is a novelty, to be sure. This can’t stand any more than slave states could within the union.

    My family and community have several generations of experience with this type of thing, and it takes very little looking to find how prevalent it is. I assure you it is very much like living in a different America, where you have fewer rights — especially women and sexual minorities — because you do. And yes these are real places where doctors and pharmacists police women young and old, denying services and offering unasked for sermons, calling parents, church leaders, and employers. They are acting on conscience I suppose, exercising religious freedoms that conflict with the freedoms and rights of others, and further establishing their right to do so in the law will further their practice of theocratic patriarchy — something that has been and still is in many parts of world, the United States included.

    The CCCU went through a variety of name changes and rebranding since its founding in the 1970s by its Mennonite members, who have now been driven out (yes, “voluntarily”) not long after the ADF began asserting itself in the organization. The ADFs presence is relatively new, but others whose money and ideas derive from Rushdoony and Whitehead (such as Rod’s and TAC’s patrons) have been involved with the CCCU, running some of its programs and providing funding since the 1990s. This is public knowledge, just not very publicized. Why does it concern you? I would expect you to see the ADF as an ally.

    Do you know anyone who has worked directly with the CCCU? The ADF has a senior attorney on the CCCU’s board and provides their legal counsel. There’s nothing secret about that, or the many CCCU members who have had the ADF represent them, or what these cases are about. The money/power differential between the two is no secret either, or the fact that the ADF is an activist operation that has worked to pack the courts with its network, create test cases and even model legislation. They come knocking at CCCU members’ doors, offer them free representation, and get them on board with their program. While they’re doing this, they may also call up some campus focus groups and float a policy for faculty and employees that bans a range of contraceptive and reproductive services/products for them and their family members. All American stuff like that. They’re patiently pushing their program along; eventually they hope to get to a place where we have new Comstock Laws.

    Even Rod Dreher doesn’t want to live in the Benedict Truman Show, or at least his wife would flip if he wanted to move to the Orthodox version of Front Royal or Ave Maria. But Rod (and many others) do need money, a platform, and Meaning. So they make themselves useful to those who will use them. The ADF and CCCU relationship is much the same.

    1. What makes you uncomfortable with an ally like the ADF? Have you read the published work of their current and former presidents?

      “Novelty” is a terrible criterion for a bad law — so fortunately it isn’t one. But by your logic, novel miscegenation laws resemble court decisions in favor of schools that want to discriminate on the basis of gender and sexuality, even one’s views on gender and sexuality, or that want to refuse to provide even unisex washrooms.

      I’ll ask you again: Are you comfortable with all this identity politics, the pigeonholing and scapegoating of these pundits? Especially their casual definition of who the real Christians are by their presumed political beliefs and voting?

      1. I’d have said what makes me uncomfortable with ADF had I wanted to. I don’t want to.

        I have read some of Alan Sears but don’t think I’ve read anything of Michael Faris (other than fundraising letters). Sears was (as was ADF) prescient on the threat the gay phase of the sexual revolution posed to religious freedom, as your own hostility to statutory religious exemptions attests.

        I decline to engage on “all this identity politics” etc. I don’t think that’s germane to what I’ve quoted or what I’ve added of my own. For instance, neither French nor Coulter tried to excommunicate the other.

        If I engage in such things, you may call me out on it. Then I’ll repent, modify, or incorrigibly stand by what I wrote.

      2. For a well-documented deep dive into Ferris, look up Kathryn Brightbill — she’s in your profession and grew up in a Gothardite Quiverful homeschool cult. She read Farris’s newsletters and other material as a young person. She’s written a lot about that and his whole career.

        If you presume “hostility” from what I wrote and use that as a “rational” basis for your reactionary reactions that says a lot about your functioning. That’s what’s at the bottom of “identity politics” when it’s damaging. A refusal to think with others, and ultimately a refusal to see the other as a conscious thinking person at all. In the later stages of terminal blogopathy, which Dreher reached long ago, a cocoon forms a second reality from one’s own dogmatomachic creation. Much of America is already in a kind of psychotic break from reality — quite literally. I was hoping to find a few cracks where the light gets in, in places like this. I’m sure they exist, but I’ll leave you to discover them on your own — or so we may hope and pray.

        David French was a lot healthier than Coulter; if she had been excommunicated, it would have been better for the conservative movement. Too late now.

  3. It seems to me that Coulter has been tacitly “excommunicated” from the conservative movement, as distinct from the alt-right. Maybe you draw the lines between the two differently.
    I can date her demise: 9/11/2001 when her friend Barbara Olson was on one of the planes. That’s when she stopped being sassy/funny and started crazy talk.

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