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Media

Bravo, Washington Post, You’re Now Spreading the Beliefs of Crackpots

(Fedor Kozyr/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

We are drowning in nonsense. Here is an excerpt from the latest piece by Margaret Sullivan, the Washington Post’s media correspondent:

And, to be sure, the most important thing about Buzbee is not her gender. It has much more to do with how she’ll manage the journalistic challenges of this fraught moment in American history.

A longtime Post subscriber in Virginia, one of my regular correspondents, had something to say about that in a recent email about the appointment: “Does she understand — really understand — that . . . the United States is on track to become functionally an authoritarian White Christian nationalist state in the very near future? And if the answer is ‘Yes,’ what is she prepared to do about it?”

“Right now,” he added, “nothing else signifies.”

This is sheer lunacy. It is gibberish. It is the sign of a diseased mind. And it matters, because it is being shared by Margaret Sullivan, who is not some random from Twitter, but the former public editor of the New York Times and the current media columnist for the Washington Post. That Sullivan considers these words to be worth spreading around is an indictment of her judgment and of her conception of the world around her.

This is not a left-right thing; it is a question of elementary sobriety. I get absurd emails all the time from people on the right whose grasp on political reality is either tenuous or non-existent. They tell me that the 2020 election was stolen. It was not. They share the QAnon conspiracy theory with me as if it were real. It’s not. They inform me about this or that plot to imprison them or declare martial law in Texas or abolish the U.S. Constitution in favor of a single global government. I read most of these emails, and, occasionally, I reply. But do you know what I don’t do? I don’t publish them in my column as if they are interesting or worthwhile or deserving of attention. “Does she understand — really understand — that . . . the United States is on track to become functionally an authoritarian White Christian nationalist state in the very near future?” is a question posed by crackpots. Sullivan, it seems, is at least crackpot-adjacent.

One doesn’t even have to have particularly solid understanding of American history to understand how preposterous the claim is on its face. The United States is less white and less Christian than it was in 1990. And its government is, too. There are a host of examples of this, but perhaps the most striking is that, in 1993, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act was introduced into Congress by Democrats Chuck Schumer and Ted Kennedy, passed unanimously in the House and 97-3 in the Senate, and signed to great fanfare by Bill Clinton, whereas today we are engaged in protracted trench warfare over that law and its state-level equivalents. In 2021, we are nowhere near being “an authoritarian White Christian nationalist state” — “functionally” or not — and we are especially nowhere near being one “in the very near future.” This is loony talk, of the sort you find at the bottom of long-abandoned Twitter threads. Or, now, in the Washington Post.

 

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