Just Above Sunset
December 12, 2004 - Strained Relations

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The quote of the week is Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, on MSNBC Scarborough Country, December 8 – to guest host Pat Buchanan – regarding the Mel Gibson film and Hollywood in

general -


"Who really cares what Hollywood thinks?  All these hacks come out there.  Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.  It's not a secret, OK?  And I'm not afraid to say it.  That's why they hate this movie.  It's about Jesus Christ, and it's about truth.  It's about the messiah.  Hollywood likes anal sex.  They like to see the public square without nativity scenes.  I like families.  I like children.  They like abortions.  I believe in traditional values and restraint.  They believe in libertinism.  We have nothing in common."


Geez, I’d better move.  I sense the wrath of God coming soon.


But Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, says no -


No, no, Alan, whatever you do, don't move away from Hollywood!


Out here, it's all weirdness and religious bigotry and people who think it's okay to talk about "anal sex" in the public square!  I tell you, it's getting pretty scary!  Believe me, you're safer where you are!


(And please, please, please, don't tell this jerk I'm married to a "secular Jew", lest this hate-monger come after me and my family!)


PS: By the way, how come I've never ever heard of a Hollywood movie about "anal sex"?  Could it be it's because someone lent all the available prints to the "Catholic League" and they never got them back?


I shouldn't move away from Hollywood? 


Don’t we all know the argument?  You know, the national argument that isn't happening anywhere but is actually happening everywhere? 


On one side you have the Republicans - saying they don't like science and learning, and that those to the left of them thus may actually be intellectually superior, but that really doesn't matter, because with their "family values" they, the Republican right, are MORALLY superior, and that matters more. 


On the other side?  The Democrats, who are saying, well, they will have to think about that.




A large part of the pro-Bush vote - especially among blue state residents - was a vote against the left elite and the cultural attitudes it represents in the public imagination. It was a vote not so much for Bush or his often religious policies (or even the war on terror), but against the post 9/11 left, against Michael Moore and political correctness and Susan Sontag and CBS News, among a host of others. I have to say that this was the most appealing thing about George W. Bush for me. If he hadn't so obviously screwed up the Iraq war and endorsed a constitutional amendment against gay rights, I would have succumbed myself.


- Andrew Sullivan




Let's get in the habit of calling Republican moral elitists: 'the moral elite', 'morally elite', 'moral elitists'.  Just use the terms as flat descriptors for anyone proposing to legislate morality in any of the usual ways.  Just to change things up, sometimes you use: 'morally superior' to designate the attitude.  And 'moral superiors' to designate the tribe.  Maybe you start to distinguish, as a matter of course, between legislation that ensures 'moral superiority' and the regular stuff.  Talk about Republicans taking 'necessary moral superiority measures'.


The beauty of it is that 'morally superior' is already a term of faint opprobrium.  It connotes petty social snobbery, schoolmarmery, so forth.  It stinks.  And it fits.  Perfect for our purposes.  And 'moral superiors' sounds worse.


It should be hard for Republicans to unstick this stuff from themselves, if accurately applied, because what are they going to do: deny that they are morally superior?  In the context of, say, proposing to legislate against gay marriage, can they deny that they think they are morally superior to those who think this stuff would be alright?  If they deny they are morally superior, then what do they think they are doing?  Letting your neighbor be is such a fundamental American value that it is very embarrassing to be on the wrong side of it, as Republican often are these days


- John Holbo


Holbo here has it wrong.  The Republican right won't ever be tempted to "deny" their moral superiority.  They claim it, flat out.



Americans (rather oddly) rebel at the notion that anyone is better than anyone else or should have any ability to claim superior wisdom about anything than anyone else.  At the same time, however, when "elite" is thrown at you as an accusation, you can hardly deny it.  America lauds achievement, accomplishment, etc., so when someone castigates the "intellectual elite" you're hardly going to turn around and say, "no, no, you've got it all wrong - I'm an idiot!"  You're stuck in a weird American cultural void, unable to deny that you think you're better than others, but unable to admit it either.


- Matthew Yglesias




Jonathan Chait writes this week in the Los Angeles Times that the reason you find so few Republican academics isn't discrimination, it's that the GOP has become so self-consciously anti-intellectual. The argument involves making the point that even in the hard sciences one finds few Republicans, and, in light of the present administration's ongoing assault on science itself, this isn't going to change.  


The sides are drawn.


Reading tons of cultural and political stuff and writing about it in Hollywood.  Morally inferior.  Got it.  I’ll stay.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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