Christopher Hitchens and S.E. Cupp share a common denominator: they are atheists. Of course, calling Christopher Hitchens an atheist does not do the man justice, as he can be considered anti-theistmore appropriately; and candidly so. What I always found interesting about Hitchens, and other anti-theists, is why they spend so much time Raging Against Godif they don’t believe in a God? Another well know writer and I were talking at CPAC about this subject, and he told me a line that went along like, “for an atheist, arguing against the existence of God is like arguing against the existence of Unicorns.” Why would someone like Hitchens (and this anti-theistic Classical Liberal blogger) spend so much time trying to disprove the existence of something he is fairly certain, does not exist? Christopher gives his ruminations on why religion is worth fighting in this interview, and ultimately uses trusty hyperbole to mischaracterize mainstream religion. I would highly recommend Hitchens’ debate with Dinesh D’Souza if you want to get really dirty in the nitty-gritty about religion, morality, nihilism, and dangerous truths.
S.E. Cupp is an atheist of another school. I would dare say she is of the Lockean persuasion (although it is also argued that Locke was a Deist, or agnostic, or what would pass as an Unitarian today): you know, those atheists who don’t find it necessary to convert others to atheism while railing against those religious people who try to convert non-religious people to join their own ranks. I would question the sincerity of Ms. Cupp’s devotion perhaps, especially after her appearance on Hannity where she reiterated her openness to conversion in the future, “but right now, I am an atheist.” S.E. and Hannity’s exchange reminded me of George Will’s acknowledgement of his own lack faith in an interview on Colbert. As a matter of fact, S.E. claims her atheism contributes to the argument in her book, because she does not “have a dog in the fight” (she’s into NASCAR, so I don’t think that was a Michael Vick jab, Eagles fans). Who better to write on the gradual tearing down of religion (organized or not) by uber-Enlightenment types than an impartial observer? With this in mind, S.E. Cupp went out to write about the media, liberalism (modern) and their quest to destroy religion in America in her book Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media’s Attack on Religion.
The crux of my own thoughts is less about the book itself, as I must admit to not having the chance to read it yet (I am just way behind on my reading list, and some of the books require re-reading and slow reading). The question that I want to pose to Social Conservatives, Theological Conservatives, Postmodern Conservatives, any Conservative who believes that a religious element remains in our society, government, or culture is: is it to the benefit of the religious Conservatives to have an atheist at bat for them? I think it is noble for S.E. to jump feet first into this fray, as she notes on Hannity how she finds it odd that atheists force a set of beliefs on those who are religious, when atheism is supposed to be a lack of beliefs. John Locke noted in his Second Treatise that it is better for an atheist to go on adhering to the religion of the land, because that atheist loses nothing in doing so. It is unjust to force a religious person to purge his or her religion from his or her life, because a religious person will believe that he or she will have to bereligious in order to reap the rewards in the afterlife (or in most cases, incur the wrath). I do believe that S.E. does a service to popular culture by writing this book and approaching the topic from her non-religious angle; but ultimately, I believe her atheism hurts her cause. What is the number one reason to support religion if you do not believe in it? It is the opiate of the masses! Surely, if religion is not true, it is still a damn fine tool in controlling those unthinking masses. At the heart of S.E.’s argument is that tiny acknowledgement of this truth. People who are fellow non-believers can use her atheism as fodder to make the argument that her, and people like her, only care to use religion for its utility. Chris Hitchens makes this point to Dinesh D’Souza, how considerate of Dinesh to suggest that religion is good because it is useful. Dinesh made many more arguments than this, but Chris Hitchens, and others like him, are very keen on singling out that one point and using it to inflame people against supporters of religion as though religious people only hope to keep their heathen compatriots in check.
I find nothing to be of more interest than these permanent questions. They have been going on for thousands of years, and will continue until we fade away at the conclusion of our short, seemingly meaningless existence in this moment of time. I must admit, in the interest of full disclosure, I am rather infatuated with Ms. Cupp (how could you not be?). I believe that she is fighting a good fight, but I also believe that for those people who are Social Conservatives, there cannot be any atheists in their foxholes. It makes her argument a bit more hollow, not to be confused with hallow.
Conservative circles are dismayed by the news of Robert Novak?s succumbing to a brain tumor first diagnosed last year which forced him out of the full glare of the public spotlight.? Novak seemed, to this young conservative, like the kind of man one could ask a question of and truly expect an honest answer.? I remember reading his memoires, The Prince of Darkness, in which he recounts his five decades as the man lurking in the shadows of DC?s cavernous hallways.? He was a bad ass.? HuffingtonPost has a video clip of Novak after a brief skirmish with James Carville in which he storms off the set.? When someone is interested in politics during the years of their youth, they pursue politics with a significant amount of thumos that explains the swagger of so many Legislative Aids on the hill (deserving or not; and a majority tend to occupy the latter).? Prince of Darkness was an expose of a flawed individual who knew the secrets, knew the people, and attended those notorious ?cocktail parties? without remorse; a sort of Maltese Falcon-esque Humphrey Bogart.? I wonder if I would be labeled a ?cocktail elitist? for having drinks in DC with friends of mine in attempts to rub elbows with influential people like David Frum, Christopher Hitchens, Ann Coulter, or whoever else First Fridays invites out.? I?ve realized, any place (like my favorite stomping ground, Union Pub) that shows Chicago Bears and Nebraska Cornhusker football games cannot be ?elitist.??
There are myriad obituaries and tributes dotting the internet; and what is interesting is seeing how the two sides of the Conservative Movement are treating his death.? John Podhoretz?s piece seems rather curt to the average reader, while more ?Paleoconservative? periodicals are treating the event with a little more somber reflection on the man?s contributions to political life.? I did not agree with a great many of Novak?s positions, especially regarding the two recent wars in the Middle East, of which he stood against from the standpoint of a prudent conservative.? This leads to what I believe to be one of the most interesting takes on Robert Novak?s death: Stacy McCain?s article.?
David Frum?s attack on anti-War conservatives established an irreconcilable schism in the Conservative movement.? Novak was lumped in with the anti-war ?paleocon? faction, with good reason mind you; but ?unpatriotic? was a terrible charge to levy against him and many of the others.? I don?t believe that Novak took too seriously David Frum?s charge.? I don?t know for sure, but I imagine if he had been asked what he thinks of anyone who considers him ?unpatriotic,? I imagine he might respond much as he did when asked about the Valerie Plame affair:? ?The hell with you!??