Paul Krugman's latest column and the storm of criticism around Trent Lott's statements would be look like a gentle breeze.
The only identifiable group that it is still OK to demonize on the pages of The New York TImes are conservative Christians.
Krugman's latest takes aim Christians as part of a grand, undeniably evil plot, to create a theocracy in America.
The media were shocked, shocked to discover that prominent Republicans have a soft spot for segregation - something that was obvious long before Mr. Lott inserted his foot in his mouth. One of these years they'll be equally shocked to discover that prominent Republicans have a soft spot for theocracy.
It was obvious that Republicans were segregationists long before Lott's statement? Where were you Paul Krugman, warning us of this obvious evil beforehand?
It's also interesting that Krugman is able to connect a deep (though misguided in Krugman's view) religious faith to the evil of segregation -- seeing how it was Christians who led the abolition movement that resulted in the end of slavery, and also led the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and '60s.
Of course, the administration insists that the new policy isn't intended to allow government-funded proselytizing. And it would surely deny that by explicitly permitting religious discrimination in hiring - organizations that receive federal contracts can "take faith into account in making employment decisions" - it is opening up a new source of patronage for its friends on the Christian right.
Why am I not reassured?
Because, though you are a talented economist, when it comes to understanding politics you're a talentless hack?
As for allowing faith-based charities "discriminate" in hiring, Krugman would like, to suggest a likely example, to force a group like The Salvation Army to hire atheists. Krugman is an advocate of the kind of political correctness that tried to force homosexuality and atheism on quasi-religious organizations like the Boy Scouts of America.
What's next? Does the NAACP have to extend a job offer to the head of the racist World Church of the Creator?
That's laughable of course, but when Krugman screams "discrimination" these examples are the practical realities that he is advocating.
By the way, one piece of that biblical worldview involves scientific education. After the Columbine school shootings, Mr. DeLay suggested that the tragedy had occurred "because our school systems teach our children that they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionized out of some primordial mud." Guns don't kill people; Charles Darwin kills people.
Mr. DeLay isn't an obscure crank; he's the most powerful man in Congress. Still, is he an outlier? No. Don Nickles, now challenging the wounded Mr. Lott for Senate leadership, is less given to colorful statements, but is as closely aligned with the religious right as Mr. DeLay.
Krugman on Columbine! An advanced degree in economics allows him to casually dismiss any debate on the question of whether or not hostility toward the church and/or God (the cornerstones of American society since the founding of our nation) in the public square, may be partially responsible for creating the kind of anger, hatred and despair that led two youths to kill 12 classmates, 1 teacher and themselves.
I'm willing to put big money on the fact that Krugman wouldn't so casually dismiss DeLay's statement if he, like Gore, Lieberman, McCain and others, blamed violent video games or Marilyn Manson for encouraging Klebold and Harris' murderous acts.
And the influence of the religious right spreads much further. The Internet commentator Atrios, who played a key role in bringing Mr. Lott's past to light, now urges us to look into the secretive Council for National Policy. This blandly named organization was founded by Tim LaHaye, co-author of the apocalyptic "Left Behind" novels, and is in effect a fundamentalist pressure group. As of 1998 the organization's membership contained many leading Congressional figures in the Republican Party, though none of the party's neoconservative intellectuals.
The Horror! The Horror! A fundamentalist pressure group! Oh, my!
God save us!
If these groups continue to be formed, soon there will be a pressure group named...the National Organization for Women. And then...yes, I can see it now....Emily's List.
George W. Bush gave a closed-door speech to the council in 1999, after which the religious right in effect endorsed his candidacy. Accounts vary about what he promised, and the organization has refused to release the tape.
Ohhh...Krugman must have gotten his membership card to the "Black Helicopter Club" in the mail yesterday. It's a plot worthy of a Robert Ludlum novel.
But it's notable that he appointed John Ashcroft as attorney general; Mr. Ashcroft gives every appearance of placing his biblical worldview above secular concerns about due process.
Ohhhhh....He said "Ashcroft." Aren't you scared now?
Please, someone help me with this: Exactly what does a "biblical worldview" say about due process? I must've missed the the verse in Sunday school where it said: "Thou shalt not detain illegal immigrants indefinitely." (Can anyone suggest the basis for a lawsuit against my Sunday School teachers who were obviously derelict in their responsibilities?)
I'd like to think that the furor over Trent Lott's nostalgia for Jim Crow, hidden in plain sight for years, would serve as a signal to ask about other uncomfortable truths hidden in plain sight. But I suspect that it won't, that we'll soon go back to worrying about politicians' haircuts.
And then, years from now, when it becomes clear that much public policy has been driven by a hard-line fundamentalist agenda, people will say "But nobody told us."
A "hard-line fundamentalist agenda?" I think the vast majority of Christians would simply be happy to be treated with simple respect in the public square, instead of the demonization that so many liberal commentators seem too eager to pour on them.