Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Neo-conservatives and the religious Right

There is no intrinsic link between the two. The Daily Mail is hardly a supporter of the Iraq war, but its front-page headline following the Bush victory trumpets the triumph of ‘the moral majority’. Bush did not invade Iraq to advance Christianity or to destroy Islam or secular values (Update (11 Nov) : in spite of the occasional reference to a 'crusade').

Yet Bush’s win came from those two streams – support for the war and concern for ‘moral values’.

I don’t buy into the idea that Christian fundamentalism in an America under Bush is a mirror image of Islamic fundamentalism. That is totally overplayed. The ‘decadence’ that so disgusted that Muslim Brothers figure on a visit to the US in the 1940’s has hardly been rolled back or likely to be to any great extent. The last I heard, there were no religious police persecuting women for ‘immodest’ dress. Courts in various states continue to strike down archaic laws forbidding consensual acts between adults in private. Compare the situation in even a ‘moderate’ Arab country like Egypt. So there is no homosexual marriage, although some states permit civil unions.

Also, the laws on abortion are somewhat less than ‘liberal’ in many countries of Catholic Europe; and it is entirely possible that the evangelicals will be disappointed by Bush as they were by Reagan after 1980 (see C4’s ‘God Bless America : with God on Our Side’, 30 Oct).

Still, what many worry about is the trend: where Spain introduces civil unions, the US goes in the opposite direction. The ‘Right’ then can best be understood as defining itself in opposition to part at least of what is called ‘the Left’ in Europe and ‘liberal’ in America, the attitude that is encapsulated in that old sixties slogan ‘make love not war’.

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