Conservatives have always viewed the quest for equality as a zero-sum game.
While John Adams was away at the Second Continental Congress, his wife Abigail was concerned he would forget about her. Not literally, of course, but in the nation’s new code of laws. So she wrote him a letter and advised him to “remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.” She warned, “Do not put such unlimited power in the hands of the husbands.”
For conservatives like Brooks and Sullivan, the quest for equality is a zero-sum game. Incorporating “those who previously had no standing” into the “parameters of public speech” necessitates a removal of freedom from those who were already being heard. A more inclusive society will inevitably water down the influence of their white, male worldview. I understand their unease with this development—up to a point. It’s hard to hear honest critiques of a world that has disproportionately benefitted people like you. It calls into question the legitimacy of your success. This is what Brooks is trying to articulate when he writes:
Identity politics takes individual merit out of the moral center of our system and asserts that group is, Goldberg says, “an immutable category, a permanent tribe.”
Defenders of an unjust status quo know they can’t just say, “Hey, look, society currently suits me super-well, so let’s not change it.” So they portray the enfranchisement of subordinated groups as attacks on individual relationships, too.
Brooks and Sullivan are merely carrying on this conservative conviction, which made an otherwise brilliant founding father fear the “despotism” of free women more than a political system which excluded the majority of its citizens.
It has been observed many times that liberalism is mostly a secularized version of Christianity; there’s a lot of truth to that. As I read Why Liberalism Failed, I take Deneen as saying that liberalism had to fail because at its core it stands for liberating the individual from an unchosen obligation. Ultimately, it forms consumers, not citizens.
.. liberalism cannot generate within itself the virtues it needs to survive.
.. Free markets are a core part of the liberal democratic model, but given the globalized nature of the economy, and rapid technological changes, we have to face the possibility that liberalism as we have understood it is inadequate to provide for the good of workers left behind by these changes.
.. I keep going back to Adams’s line about our Constitution is only good for a “moral and religious people,” because self-government by the people can only work for people who possess the virtues to govern their own passions.
.. to perceive and to achieve the virtues embedded within liberalism, one has to be oriented towards a sense that there really are moral and religious truths beyond ourselves that bind our conduct.
.. Liberalism has degenerated into Justice Anthony Kennedy’s famous line:
At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.
Some at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) called for the firing of any SBC official who supported the rights of Muslims to build mosques, and they recommended the removal of the ERLC’s name from the amicus brief. Some even went so far as to posit that Muslims do not deserve the same religious freedoms as Christians.
.. Those Baptists continuing to oppose Moore should take time to consider the history of their spiritual forefathers.
.. While today we tend to think of America as the world’s beacon for religious liberty, a city on a hill, 17th- and 18th-century Baptists would have begged to differ. In the colonies, Baptist rejection of infant baptism was considered abhorrent by the established churches. To Anglicans, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians, this deviation from tradition was demonic and divisive.
.. Baptists endured harassment, including, fines, prohibition against their services, flogging, and even jail time. Massachusetts outlawed Baptists altogether in 1645, calling them “the troublers of churches in all places.” As a result of the government’s response, much of the populace developed a distinct hostility toward the Baptists.
.. This motivated many Baptists, and other non-Protestant minorities, to remain loyal to England throughout the American Revolution. It was hard to support a rebellion for “equality” of representation when many of the revolutionaries didn’t regard Baptists as religious equals. Baptists’ loyalist leanings only brought them further political animosity.
.. John Adams even told Backus that a shift in the solar system was more likely than an end to the established church of Massachusetts. Thus, persecution against Baptists endured throughout the American Revolution. They continued to be taxed to support the established churches but received none of the revenue for themselves (a.k.a. taxation without representation).
.. They preferred to depend upon the power of God, rather than government, to accomplish the purposes of the church.
.. Backus noted that religion was “a voluntary obedience unto God which therefore force cannot promote.”
.. Everyone, including Muslims, is made in the image of God, possessing inherent dignity that is expressed in and through human capacity to hold sincere religious beliefs.
.. The hypocrisy of those who criticize interfaith alliances for common purposes, like the alliance in the New Jersey mosque case, is that while they accuse such coalitions of putting politics before God, their underlying motive is to use the government to bolster and secure the faith of their choice. In reality, they are dishonoring the Baptist tradition of religious liberty established by those before them. What’s more, their position is short-sighted. Given the present shift in American demographics, it might not be too long before the Baptists are once again a powerless minority.