The Corner

Pond Life

A reader comments on the Secular Right blog:

As a relatively secular conservative, I find this a most dismaying development. I’m with Jonah on the subject of hyphenated conservatives (you may recall his diatribes against this when Rod Dreher’s Crunchy Conservatism came out). Why do you need a separate blog for secular conservatism? Why can’t you make those points in The Corner, where you can debate them civilly and intelligently with smart people who disagree with you (and other smart people who agree with you)? When folks move to a separate blog with this stuff, they tend to focus on their differences with those “other” conservatives, which drives us all apart, reduces the quality of our discussions and makes them much less convenient to follow.

I fear we will wind up like the Peoples’ Front of Judea and the Judean Peoples’ Front.

It’s a good point; and having just spent a weekend with a group who define themselves as “post-paleo-conservatives” (or was it “paleo-post-conservatives”?), I am sympathetic to Jonah’s strictures against the pond-life aspect of too much conservative activism.

On the other hand, my hope is that the new blog will reduce opportunities for rancor among conservatives by hiving off this particular interest to chatter among like-minded types. I’ll be glad to entertain arguments on this point, but it seems to me that an essentially political website like NRO isn’t really a place to air religious differences. (I speak from some experience here.) There’s a political job to do, and we should try to get ahead with doing it, without getting sidetracked into discussions about the Hypostatic Union or the Shroud of Turin — discussions which never go anywhere productive anyway.

Conservatives stand for liberty, and that includes liberty of belief. We have to stand by that; but it’s not easy to do so — well, I don’t find it easy — when you’re bickering about the content of belief. Over to you, Tom:

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

                       — Notes on Virginia

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