Sago Boulevard

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Brooks Under Attack

David Brooks’ column "A Natural Alliance" is attracting some criticism for – ready for this? – not bashing Christianity (Wonkette). Admittedly, Brooks’ column has seen better days and I’m generally hesitant to defend social conservatives. But this criticism is a little ridiculous. Gawker summarizes Brooks’ thesis as arguing that “liberals should pretend that evangelicals don’t hate the gays, join forces with them to pay bipartisan lip service to poor people.”

Let’s see how accurate this characterization is. Brooks writes that evangelicals are “in the midst of a transformation – branching out beyond the traditional issues of abortion and gay marriage, and getting more involved in programs to help the needy.” Obviously I can’t attest to the accuracy of the statement but he doesn’t seem to be asking liberals or anyone else to “pretend” anything. He’s not saying abortion and gay marriage aren’t important controversial issues and he’s not suggesting that liberals and evangelicals do or should agree on them. It’s not even a pro-Christian article!

The main point of the column, as I see it, is this: Given their differences, liberals and evangelicals should unite behind one of the few issues they agree on, namely fighting poverty. Of course, you can say that evangelicals don’t really care about the poor but it’s a pretty weak argument. Every political, religious, or social group has its share of disingenuous members. Maybe the vast differences between liberals and evangelicals make any collective effort impractical or politically unwise. That’s a fair line of argument. If the two groups have such intense mutual animosity then it makes sense that they’re reluctant to work together, even to fight poverty. But the point here is that they should work together despite everything. If the goal is to increase their representation in, I understand each side not wanting anything to do with the other. But isn’t the goal fighting poverty?