Friday, June 10, 2005

Intolerance Finds Its Voice

“They all behave the same, and they all look the same.”

With that sentence, Democratic firebrand and Party Chairman Howard Dean labeled the entire Republican Party—and, by definition, his own Democratic Party as well—according to today’s New York Times. In this, The World According To Howard, the political party to which I belong is “pretty much a white, Christian party.”

Well, he’s got me—Republican, white and Christian—although I’m not sure if I’m precisely the kind of “Christian” Howard Dean is talking about.

There is, you see, a very broad spectrum of Christians—ranging from Catholics to Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists, Congregationalists and Unitarians, with probably a few in between that I left out.

Catholics, of course, have the most rigorous and dogmatic faith; Unitarians, on the other hand, pretty much agree that some kind of God probably exists, more or less, somewhere in the universe, now and then, most likely. (I was best man in a Unitarian wedding: it was all very laid-back.)

Even within Christian doctrines, there are sub-spectrums: Northern Baptists—the people who came over with Roger Williams and settled Rhode Island—share a faith and a lack-of-organizational-structure remarkably similar to Congregationalists, of which I am one. In fact, during the summer I attend a small Baptist Church in Rhode Island, and except for the large baptistery (a Jacuzzi-like tub) built into the wall behind the altar, you wouldn’t know the difference between a Northern Baptist and a Congregationalist church service.

Southern Baptists, on the other hand, are most likely the kind of “Christians” Howard Dean has in mind with his “white, Christian,” label—and apparently Howard doesn’t like their kind.

Whether we Republicans are Baptist, Congregationalist or Episcopalian, one thing is clear in The World According To Howard: “Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people.”

Dean’s brand of weirdly intolerant liberalism struck me as particularly interesting this morning, having attended a fundraiser last night for a local elderly care center with which I am involved.

This was an old elementary school converted into a welcoming center that helps care for a relatively small number of elderly people during the day, while their children are at work. They come from families that can not afford home nursing or do not want their parents in nursing homes. The facility generates a great amount of local support within our community, precisely because it works, and thus has touched many lives.

I sat at a table with a couple who are good friends of mine who happen to be a member of the Political Party that is “pretty much a white, Christian party,” according to Howard Dean. Except they somehow missed the indoctrination seminar, because they are, in fact, Irish Catholics—not the Southern Baptists of Howard’s stereotype.

Furthermore, across the table from us was another long-time friend with whom I served on the board of a local senior housing commission a few years ago. She and her husband are both Democrats, and, as it turns out, white—somehow crossing Howard’s color line. I am not sure of their religion—they share an Irish Catholic surname, but, of course, she may in fact be a Southern Baptist or possibly Jewish by birth.

Gosh, just thinking about the whole thing the way Howard Dean thinks about things, I’m not sure how it is possible that the six of us—Republicans, Democrats, Catholic, Congregationalist and possibly Jewish—even bothered sitting together, given all the differences we have.

It’s a wonder we even attended the same function.

Just thinking about it makes me ponder whether I should stop being friendly to Manny, my friend, who happens to be non-white, and, therefore, "different." On the other hand, Manny is a Republican, so he is one of "our kind," according to Howard.

Maybe I should straighten out the whole mess by informing Manny that he signed up for the wrong political party after his boat trip across the Florida Straits, Manny being both non-white and Republican. Also my pal Art—who is both Jewish and Republican.

Or, perhaps, in the interests of his new brand of intolerant liberalism, Howard Dean can come to my town and explain to all of us why it is we shouldn’t live together and work together and give time to a local elderly care facility together, given all our differences.

Then we could be functioning about as well as Washington, D.C.

Jeff Matthews
I Am Not Making This Up


hundredyearstorm said...

Ken Mehlman, head of the RNC, had a great quip regarding Howard "the scream" Dean's comments. Mehlman said there are probably a lot of people who came to his bar mitzvah that are confused to hear he is Christian.

Dean's other recent gem was when he said Republicans have never made an honest living in their lives.

The irony is almost too great when the head of the party that "prides" itself on "tolerance" makes some of the more idiotic, inflammatory and intolerant statements.

jucojames said...

Obviously Dean is a blowhard but I think his comment should be examined and not simply thrown even blowhards can inadvertantly make a point.

I used to be a Republican and voted for GW in 2000. However, I was dumb enough to believe that the Republicans would act on a classical conservative know crazy ideas like Federalism, smaller government, and lower debt.

Perhaps Dean's description of the whole party is not accurate, but the policies coming out of the party are pretty close. The new "Bush" brand of "conservatism" looks an awful lot like intolerant big government to me.

I have come to the conclusion that our country is in serious jeopardy ANYTIME we have a one party government - absolute power corrupts absolutely.

What single thing has the current admin done to get government out of our lives? And the tax cuts would only count if they were offset by spending cuts....

dcm1023 said...

Peggy Noonan, obviously a Republican and no shrinking violet herself, hit the nail on the head in her WSJ editorial yesterday. Here is the link...

MD said...

I agree that Howard Dean overreached in his remarks -- but isn't this to be expected of a party head: whipping up the faithful through provocative remarks.

The Republican party is clearly more diverse than Dean's remarks, but you can't gloss over the fact that the party is beholden to a radical evangelical element that is largely white. This group is motivated by their reading of biblical scriptures, and they often try to codify their beliefs into law.

This attitude is exemplified in this photo of a Republican bumper sticker stating that GOP stands for God's Own Party.

Its_strange said...

i had hopes i would learn more about Overstocks methods but instead i got silly hero worship. Whats next ? Something like the old RNC hour on CNBC hosted by Kudlow and Cramer ?

Its_strange said...

why do i feel my question to Jeff's pal Manny would have been deleted even if posted here ? Here on Jeff's political blog ?

Howie said...

From 2004: Of 3,643 Republicans serving in the state legislatures, only 44 are minorities, or 1.2 percent. In the Congress, with 274 of the 535 elected senators and representatives Republican, only five are minorities - three Cuban Americans from Florida, a Mexican American from Texas and a Native American senator originally elected as a Democrat.
'President Bush's home state leads the way. Texas, with a minority population of 47 percent, has 106 Republicans in the state legislature, but there are 0 blacks and 0 Hispanics among them,' Sperling writes.

Goes well with 19 GOP Senators (and 1 Dem) who wouldn't sign the ceremonial anti-lyching bill yesterday, and had to have a late night voice vote to hide from public view.

Dean's comment was certainly controversial, but was it really off the mark? Cheney to stick to lying about Iraq. At least nobody cares about that.

Its_strange said...

yes...Jeff brings up Dean while ignoring the never ending nonsense about Iraq , Saddam and homeland security...This "war" is perhaps the biggest scam in all of human history.

Ed said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.