Thursday, February 09, 2012

Closer than you think

Religious extremism in politics is not something that happens just in Pakistan.

Molly Worthen in her NYT article has sentences that strike a chord.  A couple of them:

Evangelicals’ embrace of Santorum illuminates a crucial shift in American political culture: their honeymoon with the Tea Party seems to be over. They have turned away from the cries for small government and liberty — about which they have always been ambivalent — to rekindle their love affair with theocratic Catholicism. ....
The truth is that the Tea Party’s demand for “strict construction” of the Constitution and a return to the Founders’ “true intentions” is not really a cry for unfettered freedom. It is an attempt to uncover the immutable, divine will of the Founders — a homegrown version of natural law that would provide grounds for forbidding abortion, same-sex marriage and “Obamacare” in the name of American liberty.
          .......Natural law is a noble tradition that has shaped Western jurisprudence, but in the hands of conservative activists like Santorum it has become a dangerous cult of first principles. Santorum’s positions are perfectly logical if you accept his founding presuppositions — but, in his view, those presuppositions are not open to question. The genius of this emphasis on foundational assumptions is that if you can dismiss your opponent’s first principles, if you can accuse him of denying humanity’s “natural purpose,” you can claim to win the debate without ever considering the content of his argument.