I’m late to the party again; only because Hilzoy mentioned it did I see this hilariously inane article by Michael Medved. I don’t know what Medved’s qualifications are; he seems to be the Clever Hans of the Right Wing chattering classes, the guy who doesn’t actually have a functioning mind but is good at stringing random words together. So now he has written an article claiming that it is perfectly reasonable for Americans to discriminate against atheists in politics, specifically that they should resist the possibility of an atheist as president.
This is not a choice I thought we had. I had no idea there was an atheist anywhere on the slate of candidates, and that we had to therefore reassure people that they weren’t actually required by law to vote for them. In the interests of being totally fair, I’d like all my American readers to know that it is right to resist the election of a wandering Geatish epic hero to the presidency, too: they tend to be violent, any time they’re not at war they’re morosely guzzling mead, they don’t speak the language of Congress, there is actually a constitutional restriction against foreign-born nationals, and, well, they’re all dead. See? It’s a little harsh to tell someone famous in the sagas of skalds that they don’t get to be president, but at least I can give a list of decent reasons.
Medved can’t even argue against this nonexistent non-choice of a non-candidate with anything approaching sense. He gives three reasons we shouldn’t have an atheist president, and I’m sorry, this is the best he can come up with? If those are the weaknesses of an atheist president, I say we’ve been wasting our time with Christians.
His first excuse is that an atheist president couldn’t exercise ceremonial functions, like saying the pledge of allegiance, without being hypocritical. You heard that right: a right-wing water carrier for the Republicans considers hypocrisy to be a disqualifying offense. Further, a president who doesn’t say “under god” in the pledge is “a formula for a disastrously unpopular presidency”. Isn’t it nice to know that a tanking economy and a catastrophic failure of a war aren’t quite as damaging to a presidency as refusal to say a loyalty oath to an invisible man?
His second excuse is a little more convincing. Americans are god-lovin’ people who will dislike a president who doesn’t accept their delusions. Of course, this is also begging the question: Americans are right to resist an atheist president because Americans despise atheists. He doesn’t say why it’s all right for Americans to despise atheists, though; they just do.
His third argument is that we need to win the war on “Islamo-Nazism”. Isn’t it funny how on the one hand, Nazism is a godless evil driven by Darwinism, and on the other it’s a character of a fanatical fundamentalist Abrahamic sect with dreams of establishing a world-wide theocracy? I get so confused, but then I don’t have the advantage of having my higher reasoning centers pithed out, as have the Medveds and Coulters and O’Reilly’s of the world. In this case, Medved makes a quadruple right reverse argument that leaves me totally twisted around. We hate “Islamo-Nazism,” therefore we must elect a religious president because that’s what the Islamo-Nazis want. It’s the only way to win! I’m convinced. I’m so well persuaded now that if an Islamic mullah should run for the presidency, I think we should all vote for him. It’s the logical conclusion of this chain of thinking, after all.
There is some more of this kind of unreasoning dribbling off at the end of his column — for instance, one barrier to an atheist president is that he couldn’t honor Billy Graham, and Lord knows, not honoring one religious person in 300 million is a good enough reason to dishonor 30 million non-religious Americans — but I should hope that that is enough.
My fellow Americans, I think it is also right to resist a right-wing religious panderer for president, because if they’re anything like Michael Medved, they are incompetent idiots.