Tuesday, January 30, 2007


The Omnipresent Wendy Doniger

Apparently the Bears aren't the only thing out of Chicago garnering media attention this week. Earlier today, for no reason other than I like to be occasionally annoyed by the Liturgical Left, I turned to the Washington Post’s OnFaith section and read Chicago’s School of Divinity’s Wendy Doniger’s latest posting: The Great Pumpkin Goes to Washington

As you’ll see, she’s being clever:

“I don’t care a fig about our next president’s personal religious views. The candidate can worship the Great Pumpkin, for all I care, as long as he or she doesn’t assume that the rest of us do too, and that the Great Pumpkin told him to do things such as, to take a case at random, invade Iraq.”

See? Without actually naming President Bush, she manages to gratuitously slam him, thus setting herself to receive the accolades and approval of the reading left. That she makes reference to an incident that is speculative (first reported by Mahmoud Abbas!), affirmatively denied by the White House and just ludicrous in concept – all that is irrelevant to her getting in a clever dig at our President.

Unfortunately, that’s as clever as she gets and the rest of her posting offers up just the usual platitudes about not mixing faith with government. Showing that anyone can play at constitutional scholarship she relates:

“I pledge allegiance to the first amendment, which I interpret to mean that government shouldn’t traffic with religion—neither promote it nor persecute it—and this means that, in the public arena, the candidate should not use religious rhetoric, which does nothing but harm, fogging over the clear lines of argument on the issues and eliciting irrelevant and irrational choices in the electorate.”

I was already pretty sure she was a liberal but when you read condescension such as “eliciting irrelevant and irrational choices in the electorate”, well, confirmation received. And you just know she isn’t including herself as part of that distracted electorate – she’s way too bright for that; she teaches at Chicago. …and would anybody also be surprised at her degrees from Harvard?

She argues that a politician’s judgments should have to stand on their own merits without reference to the various beliefs underpinning them:

“I don’t care how they got to where they stand; I care about where they stand.”

I'm going to take her at her word and just assume she's politically shallow. I always want to know why a politician has taken a particular stand on an issue. Remember, these politicians will be in office for a period of years making decisions on a whole host of matters – how they do that is important. Sadly, we have guaranteed the right to vote even to the likes of straight-PC-ticket voters like Ms. Doniger.

But enough of that rant...later then I am reading James Taranto’s consistently entertaining OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today 1/30/07 and there she is again. Mr. Taranto refers to a USAToday article: How 'mamisma' can change politics within which “University of Chicago scholar Wendy Doniger” (same person, I checked) is cited for this brilliant insight:

“Men would marry their mothers if they could."

I swear, it’s as if Ms. Doniger just sits around ole U. of Chicago (home of the first Heisman Trophy winner: Jay Berwanger – you know, back when it was a real school with a football team and all.) and just thinks of clever soundbites. Anyway, I know you’re wondering: “Mamisma is femininity defined by mature and maternal qualities. It lets a female candidate make men look like wimps while doing the taboo-dance, enticing people to fall in love with her.”

USAToday’s Harriet Rubin explains why Ms. Doniger is correct:

“Because [men] like being reminded that they are great. It's the ultra-maternal message. A female candidate would likewise remind the electorate that a golden future awaits — a message more seductive than better homeland security.”

We're so transparent. Well, if such psycho-babble doesn’t sell to Hillary, maybe Al Gore will change his mind about running and would be receptive.

Old Jewish joke:
"Mrs. Cohen," the doctor said, "I'm afraid your son has an Oedipus complex."
"Oedipus, Shmedipus, just so long as he loves his mother."

Would Prof Doniger want politicians to pledge allegiance to the second amendment too?
This comment has been removed by the author.
The idea that the 1st Amendment means that candidates should not discuss either their religious (or non/anti-religious) views or the impact of those views on their governing philosophy is asinine. Candidates should say what they think and, if they are comfortable going into detail, why they think it. If we don't like it, we vote them down, period. Government should enforce strict neutrality on religion in all of its affairs in my view, but it is ridiculous to go from that principle of neutrality to an enforced or desired gag order on candidates.

I think strict neutrality by government about religion is a good thing, which is why poor exponents of that thesis like Ms. Doniger irritate me.

Furthermore, the First Amendment and its jurisprudence are in the end law, and law can be changed (with difficulty, in the case of the Constitution). So Doniger is essentially suggesting that candidates not only should not speak about how their religious/non-religious views influence their policy and administrative styles, but must not discuss their religion in the context of any possible change to the Constitution, whose First Amendment Doniger has raised from provision of law to (ironically) holy sacrament.

Even this very secular-minded liberal won't go there.
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