In the world of postmodern politics, truth does not matter — and pressure does. One of the reasons postmodern theorists say that all truth constructions are really just disguised power grabs is to disable any who oppose them. Once the decks are cleared for action, up they jump with their own construction which (mysteriously) is not a power grab, in order to proceed with their power grab.
Another way of putting this is that Intoleristas are one-way relativists. They use relativistic “who’s to say” arguments to deal with any and all rival truth claims, but when the smoke clears from those battles, they advance their own claims, against which they will brook no dissent whatever. This is why they have richly earned their name — Intolerista. They will not allow any of their assumptions to be questioned or challenged, and if you try, they will brand you as someone peddling “hate.” Hatred, of course, is defined as differing with them.
We had an instance of this in the letters section of our local paper last night. The letter appears to be an opening salvo in a political pr campaign against New St. Andrews College in the midst of her zoning appeals. The letter writer was trying to advance the point that self-righteousness eventually destroys, which it sure does, but his examples and timeline were off. And he provided an outstanding example of the very thing we have been addressing.
He pointed that that Christ Church had placed an ad in the paper back in November of 03, in which we perpetrated a number of outrages on the public weal. Among the things that hurt the letter writer’s feelings was the assertion we had made that “modern secularism is boring, hypocritical, and ugly.” Another offensive statement was this: “Christ Church has a long published history of revealing the ugliness and hypocrisies of the right and left, conservatives and progressives, racists and egalitarians, religious fundamentalists and secular fundamentalists. All these groups despise the good life and deserve one another.”
Yet a third was this: Secularism can only fake tolerance, diversity and inclusion . . . secularism undermines rationality and knowledge . . . secularism guts beauty, play, the arts, and laughter.”
Now watch this closely. He quotes from our ad in which we charged secularism with advancing only a faux-tolerance, and with doing so in a boring and ugly manner. The letter writer then huffs along in such a way as to model for us all just about every point we had made. He responds to all this by saying that he was torn by the NSA zoning matter because he wants “to be tolerant.” He goes on. “But how can I support them being downtown knowing they have no respect for me and are willing to pay to adverstise that, without really knowing who I am. Why should the City Council make an exception to such an antagonistic group?” Land of Goshen.
Just a few reminders. We did not take out ads in the paper because we had decided it was high time we antagonized somebody. These ads were placed because we were answering a series of outrageous (and very public) charges being made against us. Downtown covered with fliers, front page story in the newspaper on our “slavery” conference that wasn’t about slavery, come to think of it, the AP telling the whole Pacific Northwest that it was a slavery conference, accusations being made against us that we were racists, and so on. In that setting, we took out ads to make clear what our position was, and what it was not.
Secondly, the City Council is not being asked to make an exception for us. We received official permission to purchase a building downtown and occupy it, and had been there for a couple of years — until people motivated by personal animus spent a lot of time ransacking the zoning code for something that might possibly function as an argument. And so now we are confronted with hypocrites who profess that they are motivated by nothing other than a “love for the code.” These people could make a cat laugh. They are actually motivated by (as far as I can tell) personal bitterness and ideological cussedness. And admittedly, this is quite a juggling trick. It is hard to keep a straight face when you (in the name of tolerance, remember!) are trying to run law-abiding and productive people out of your celebrate diversity downtown simply because you don’t like them or agree with them, and you have to make it look like it was their problem. Difficult problem, but these folks are up to it, at least when it comes to the “straight face” part.
And last, throughout the course of this controversy, it has been noteworthy to me that the charges we made in our ads keep coming up in these discussions, and they do so because the charges we made there hit their target. The charges struck a nerve. They stung. The delusional “self-image” that secularists have constructed for themselves is that they are urbane, sophisticated, literate, listeners to world music, carriers of burlap book bags, along with all the rest of their progressive accoutrements. According to this narrative, constructed by themselves for themselves, they are the glitterati, and they look down on us poor benighted, red-state cornpones. They are in fact so humorless that they have no notion of what a congregation of self-parodists they have become. Secularism is empty, hollow like a jug. It is hypocritical; a case in point would be this Moscow Diversity Cleansing Campaign, in which our letter writer has enlisted as footsoldier. “Get those different people out of here so I can go back to my tolerant feelings. Those bad people disrupted my tolerant feelings.” And secularism is ugly, and it is more than just unfortunate. This is an ugliness that goes clean to the bone.