Carol Platt Liebau: Different Language, Same Facts

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Different Language, Same Facts

Writing in the Christian Science Monitor, political analyst Michael Harrington, writing as though he's the first to discover the wheel, notes that the political divide isn't between "religious rednecks and bluenose moral degeneracy." In fact, he pooh-poohs the notion that the political fissures result from issues of religion, race, intolerance and bigotry, homosexuality, moral values, and abortion.

Instead, he argues, the legitimate distinctions are between "urbans vs. nonurbans; marrieds vs. nonmarrieds; and absolutists vs. contextualists" [when it comes to religion].

But isn't he really saying the same thing in different words? Take abortion, for example. To a religious "absolutist," "Thou shalt not murder" means no abortion (or in limited circumstances). To a religious "contextualist," well, it's relative. Same for homosexuality. And look at issues of race: As Harrington notes, "[P]oportions of black voters are also highly correlated with female heads of household" -- so isn't that about the "marrieds vs. nonmarrieds"?

All Harrington has done is shift a focus from the issues themselves to a look at the demographics of those who tend to hold them (assuming, of course, that one wants to follow the liberal line of assuming that opposition to affirmative action equates with "intolerance and bigotry"). That's interesting as far as it goes, but it's hardly a breakthrough.


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