November 4, 2004

Maureen Dowd's Panic

Maureen Dowd had a meltdown in the New York Times today.

A woman who thinks the Republicans are extremists wrote this:

W. ran a jihad in America so he can fight one in Iraq - drawing a devoted flock of evangelicals, or "values voters," as they call themselves, to the polls by opposing abortion, suffocating stem cell research and supporting a constitutional amendment against gay marriage.

"Jihad" may just mean struggle, but in today's usage it implies a violent one, often terroristic in nature. A political campaign, even if you disagree with it, is not a jihad. And I don't think Dowd meant it figuratively, like Eisenhower's "great crusade." So differing with her makes one a terrorist?

None of the three positions Dowd cites are extreme, whether or not one agrees with them or not. There has always been a sizable body of opinion opposing abortion, which is why it was illegal in many states before Roe. Gay marriage is a very new concept in public debate, and pretty radical at that. The fruits of having judges impose it as a constitutional right are seen in the 11 states that repudiated it by popular vote.

Millions of people quite take the positions Dowd lists, and have reasons for them as rational or irrational as the average New York liberal. Dowd, quite typically, is not just arguing that she's right, but assuming that those who disagree with her are extremist, stupid, and morally inferior.

Dowd, of course, succeeded Anna Quindlen as a Times columnist. For years, the Times has relegated its token female columnist to a quasi-gossipy, semi-humorous second balcony, while the men sit in the loges talking about serious stuff.

Dowd's piece today, along with the hand-wringing letters to the editor in the same paper, show that on the left, panic and outrage at the fact that the country doesn't believe they have a natural right to run things has not been replaced by reflection or analysis.

Some cooler heads will try, no doubt, but don't expect results any time soon.

No comments: