November 25, 2006

"I mean no disrespect."

Says Andrew Sullivan, chided by a Mormon for his post about Mormon undergarments. Here's the post. Do you buy "I mean no disrespect"?

ADDED: And here's an earlier post. Sullivan is so sure of himself on the subject of religion. He seems to think he knows just where it's right to dish out contempt about religion. But his contempt is mostly for religious people who he thinks are too sure of themselves. [ADDED: But that is exactly his character flaw.] In this case, it seems that Mitt Romney's opposition to gay marriage makes it morally upright for Sullivan to attack Mormons:
Mitt Romney will surely provide a fascinating glimpse into the Christianist mindset in the coming two years. He will be the candidate for the Christianist right, but he's not a Christian. And many Christianists may well recoil at the man's Mormon faith.... I'm sorry if I have little sympathy for Romney's plight. Live by fundamentalism; die by fundamentalism.
I wonder how many people "recoil" at Sullivan's sanctimonious pronouncements about "Christianists." He's become so devoted to that word of his. Does he not notice how snide and hostile it feels even to people who are not fundamentalists?

AND: I just noticed that last-linked post is titled "The Mormon Question." Wow. Is that tone deaf!

ONE MORE THING: The word isn't "sacreligious," as Sullivan has it at the first link, it's "sacrilegious." The word is not related to "religion":
Sacrilege’s Latin etymon was formed of sacer, “sacred” and legere, “to gather or steal”; sacrilege is “the stealing of sacred things” or doing other violence to them.
AND ANOTHER THING: Lest you freak out and think that last thing is meant as more of a put down of Sullivan than it is. I'm just talking about etymology and spelling.

AND: Glenn Greenwald is such an idiot. Am I supposed to respond to this foolishness? Glenn, you moron, in case you didn't notice, Sullivan is mocking Mormons in general. That's what bothered me. I don't object to the word "Christianists" if it is used fairly to refer to something that is the equivalent of "Islamists." I use the word "religionists" myself. See here, here, here, and here. Words like this mean something and have a place. The key is to use them in the right place. I criticize Sullivan when he shows a hostility toward ordinary religious people who aren't trying to bully their way around the political world. There are distinctions to be made here. Why not take a little trouble to try to understand the person you are criticizing before you write, you disreputable slimeball? (And your writing is putrid.) [But I do love the pathetic jealousy of your post title.]

EVEN MORE: From the good Glenn, Glenn Reynolds, linking here:
WELL, YES. Glenn Greenwald is extraordinarily lame, even when he's writing under his own name.The problem with the term "Christianist" isn't that it adds "ist" to the end of a religion. It's that, by parallelling "Islamist," it is a deliberate attempt at conflating people who oppose gay marriage -- or, apparently, Madonna's schlocky posturing -- with people who blow up discos and mosques, and throw gay people off of walls. That's the kind of execrable moral equivalence engaged in by the Soviets and their proxies, and it's the sort of thing that Andrew Sullivan used to oppose eloquently, before he started to engage in it himself.
Indeed. And it should be noted that using "Islamist" is a way to avoid using the word "Muslim." The idea is to distinguish a dangerous subgroup from the much larger group of ordinary religious people. I see "Islamist," "Christianist," and "religionist" all as useful terms to refer to political actors who rely on religious ideology. But the usefulness of the terms depends on making careful distinctions. You have to be careful not to drift over into the expression of hostility toward a religious group, as I believe Sullivan has been doing with Mormons. More generally, he simply is so hot about the gay marriage cause that he apparently really is willing to express contempt for the groups that stand against it. I support gay marriage and am much more socially liberal that most religious people, but I think it is terribly important to be respectful toward people with religious beliefs.

UPDATE: I have a new post on the subject here.