We have had a few posters here who have repeatedly sounded the alarm about a threat they think is every bit as large as that of the global jihad: the theocratic ambitions they think are cherished by Christians. My reason for thinking this equation of “right wing Muslims” with “right wing Christians” is arrant nonsense is summed up by a response I made to Khaleel Mohammed when he said that I should pay more attention to Tim LaHaye’s novels than to the jihadists: “Tell you what, Khaleel: as soon as Tim LaHaye beheads a non-Christian and Fox News gleefully replays the video, I’ll get right on that.”
Now John McCandlish Phillips, a former New York Times reporter, explains in “Columnists have called a linguistic holy war on Christians” in the Manchester Union Leader why the media lust to equate the “Christian jihad” with the Islamic variety is dangerously misleading. Like the Boy Who Cried Wolf, they are detracting from credible reports, and making it harder for the American people to discern the activities of the real jihad and defend themselves against it.
But this kind of pseudo-analysis is unfortunately widespread. One intelligence analyst even found it at the highest levels of the intelligence community: when he warned his superiors about Islamic jihad, they were dismissive, and told him that if he wanted real religious extremism, he should look into Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Which buildings did those two fly planes into?
The opening salvo of the heavy rhetorical artillery to which I object came in on March 24, when Maureen Dowd started her column in the Times with the declaration “Oh my God, we really are in a theocracy.” While satiric, it was not designed to be taken lightly.
Three days later Times columnist Frank Rich sweepingly informed us that, under the effects of “the God racket” as now pursued in Washington, “government, culture, science, medicine and the rule of law are all under threat from an emboldened religious minority out to remake America according to its dogma.” He went on to tell Times readers that GOP zealots in Congress and the White House have edged our country over into “a full-scale jihad.”
If Rich were to have the misfortune to live for one week in a genuine jihad, and the unlikely fortune to survive it, he would temper his categorization of the perceived President Bush-driven jihad by a minimum of 77 percent….
From March 24 through April 23 (when The Post twinned Colbert I. King’s “Hijacking Christianity” with Paul Gaston’s “Smearing Christian Judges”), I counted 13 opinion columns of similarly alarmist tone aimed at us on the Christian right: two more in The Post by Richard Cohen headlined “Backward Evolution” and “Faith-Based Pandering;” one by his colleague, the urbane Eugene Robinson, “Art vs. the Church Lady” (lamenting that “the pall of religiosity hanging over the city was reaching gas-mask stage”); and three by Dowd, two by Paul Krugman and three by Rich in the Times. In “What’s Going On” (March 29), Krugman darkly implied that some committed religious believers in our nation bear a menacing resemblance to Islamic extremists. In “An Academic Question” (April 5), Krugman, conceding the wide majority of secular liberals over conservatives on the faculties of our major universities, had the supreme chutzpah to tell us why: The former, unfettered by presuppositions of faith, are free to commit genuine investigative work and to reach valid scholarly conclusions, while the latter are disabled in that critical respect by their unprovable prior assumptions….
How many columns did those people write about the Islamic jihad in that span?