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January 02, 2004

Fool time religion?

As someone on the very secular end of the broad coalition that is the American Right, I get some flack from fellow conservatives for being snidely anti-religious now and then. So I am surprised that National Review seems to have caved in to their own biases and have started poking fun at the loony Protestant fundamentalist fringe which they usually are careful to cultivate.

First, yesterday a conservative Catholic wrote a sarcastic piece titled Not With a Biblical Bang...Looks like Saddam's not the END after all. It takes full-on aim at the apocalyptic End-of-Times mindset that permeates fundamentalist Protestantism in the United States, and has seeped into the mainstream culture via the Left Behind series.

Today, it seems Jonah Goldbergh has picked up a subtle change in the wind, he states in The Corner : "I think the vast, vast majority of what's said by liberals about the religious right is either ignorant or hateful nonsense. But I find Pat Robertson increasingly embarrassing." I don't doubt that privately the dominant Catholic-leavened-with-Jewish staff of National Review has major disagreemants with the fundamentalist (and to some extent evangelical) zeitgeist. But as they provide the foot-soldiers for the conservative movement, this is usually not mentioned publically because the war against godless liberalism is more important. But as John Derbyshire has noted, while half of Americans say they are "Creationist," you won't find a one who will fess up to that label on the staff of National Review.

Many of the ideological battles that go on in human societies are just elites leveraging the masses for their own ends in a war for the commanding heights. Many classicists tell us to be cautious about interpreting the rivalry between the Optimates and Populares during the late Roman Republic with a modern lens, seeing the former as conservative and the latter as liberal, when both were factions of the same class engaged in a battle for power. I wonder if in the future scholars will advise their students the same about the sundry movements from Left to Right that populate our age.

Posted by razib at 05:32 PM