The blog of Frederick Clarkson

"What Sane Person Would Debate the Devil Incarnate?"

with 3 comments

Old habits die hard. I am talking here about habits of mind; habits of language; habits of politics. A few weeks ago some of my colleagues and I announced a new project we are calling Talk to Action. Its a web-based effort to talk about the culture and direction of those who are opposed to the theocratic Christian Right.

Since then, we have been posting essays on a temporary group blog site — and getting some good responses. In a few weeks we will unveil a far more interactive site — and take it out for a test drive. And we want you to come along for the ride.

We are learning as we go along and we will value your participation. We are also learning in the open. No one has done this before, so we approach this with a lot of hope a lot of excitement — and a alot of humility.

While we have some good ideas we want to try out, we don’t think we have all of the answers. But we do think that among all of us, we will generate some fresh thinking; some fresh language; and some good ideas. Some of them may be yours. Or something you say may be the spark for fresh thinking we cannot yet imagine. No matter where you are in the country or the world, you will be able to come to Talk to Action to find out about useful resources; to have civil debate; to have thoughtful conversation; to find allies.

Meanwhile, back at our temporary blog, there are new posts by some of the most knowledgeable and insightful writers and thinkers in the field. (Soon to be joined by more!) They are wise, sometimes funny, almost always provocative.

Chip Berlet has a new essay, commenting on a Newsweek column by Anna Quindlen — who “bemoans the fact that America has been ‘hijacked by those who cannot tell the difference between opponents and enemies, between disagreement and heresy, between discussion and destruction.'”

“As a country that aspires to be a constitutional democracy,” Berlet writes, “this is more than just bad news. Democracy requires the type of informed consent that can only be achieved through vibrant and often tumultuous debate. Closed minds slam shut the door of civil discourse and block the path to civil society.”

“At the root of this problem is the wedding of dualistic demonization and moral supremacy. It’s not just the dualism of ‘I’m right and your wrong.’ It raises the stakes to ‘I’m the guardian of the morality and the society that you seek to destroy for evil purposes.’ That’s a box that’s hard to get out of. What sane person would debate the devil incarnate?'”

Berlet concludes: “I tend to see dualistic demonization most frequently used as a tool of the Political Right. When I see it used by the Political Left, I think it needs to be opposed as well.”

Many of us question whether constitutional democracy, in any meaningful sense, will survive in our time. I believe if it is to survive, we need to have a growth spurt of political maturity in the life our still adolescent nation. The nature of that maturity needs to come in the form of increased knowledge and skills in the political arts on the part of those who are not theocratically inclined. One of these arts is political conversation that leads to action.

Are you in?

Talk to Action — Coming Soon!

Written by fred

May 31st, 2005 at 10:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses to '"What Sane Person Would Debate the Devil Incarnate?"'

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  1. I see Pastordan is posting there. Very nice.

    One thing I wondered – are you getting an atheist voice in there somewhere (if it’s already stated, I didn’t get to read the whole site yet…)? Sometimes, in these talks about faith and who has it and who’s hijacked it, I find that the so-called “non-believer” is underrepresented. I’d like to see someone discuss Sam Harris’s book, “End of Faith” for instance, and also hear an atheist talk about how most of us are not non-spiritual – on the contrary, we find our spiritual outlets in the most creative ways. Anyway, just a thought. It’s a great site with great writers, and I look forward to reading it more.


    1 Jun 05 at 9:19 am

  2. The problem is not demonizing the opposition it it dehumanizing the opposition. It may just well be semantics, but after all Hitler’s appeal was for the uber race over the subhumans. An abortion doctor is not human so we can kill him, how someone can be pro-life and justify killing. Blacks and hispanics are inferior in intellect and morals, that is how Jim Crow laws were rationalized.

    Greek Shadow

    1 Jun 05 at 6:19 pm

  3. Your new blog sounds great, this one is right on target. How do we get some of these people to see they are not advancing the Kingdom of God on earth. No one every came to a saving knowledge by law that is why Jesus had to come. We need some leaders in this country that have compassion for all people’s in their sites not just for the choosen few.


    5 Jun 05 at 4:00 pm

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