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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Wanting it both ways

Andrew Sullivan is a writer whom I found myself disagreeing with more and more as he lurched into Bush-hatred. I know why he did that, but then, I am surprised that he was surprised at the hostile reaction to the Massachusetts court decision. What, I had to ask, had he been doing for the past few years? Politically the court case boxed Bush into a corner, and what on earth did Andrew expect Bush to do? Abandon all hopes of re-election? Because the quickest way to loose an election is to massively alienate your base, and unlike Tony Blair with his support of the war in Iraq GWB doesn't have anything like as comfy a majority.

His Bush-hatred of course extends to a wider hatred of religious conservatism - he has an obsession with the religious right that I find simply baffling. Anyway, he says in response to a published letter:

One of the tasks of liberal citizenship is to eschew our religious convictions as guides to the equality of other citizens. It is, in my view, a failure of the liberal temperament to regard some who have a different faith or no faith as somehow less qualified for public office, let alone the highest public office.

Of course, typically he ignores the issue that many people, including many people who voted against Bush, did show just because they regarded him as unfit because of his religious beliefs. And why not? Why shouldn't people be allowed to inform their opinions of people on the basis of their religious beliefs? Indeed, it is probably impossible to stop them from doing so because, guess what, that part of what being human is all about.

The letter he is responding to is making that exact same point, but Andrew fails anywhere that I can see the people who voted against George Bush because of his religious convictions. Indeed, since he largely voted against Bush himself because of Bush's religious convictions on the issue of homosexuality I simply think Andrew is typically engaging in the democratic practice of Communism - you can vote so long as you vote in line with the way you're told. Where, one asks, are the Voltaire's and the 'I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it'? Clearly Andrew Sullivan is not one.

Personally I would be very worried if an irreligious person became PM - though it will probably happen before too long. I will probably vote against that man or woman's party when it happens. But of a certainty, they have a right to stand.

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