Via Hot Air comes this Daily Caller piece about right-wing and left-wing Christians trashing the libertarians. On November 2, representatives of Southern Baptists and the liberal Christian mag Sojourners got together at the National Press Club to chat about various things.
As often happens when you get social cons and liberals together, libertarians come up in conversation, either as a non-relevant factor or as the poster-child for all that is wrong and rotten in the world. And as the great Jerry Tuccille once wrote (in one of the great political memoirs of all time), it usually begins with Ayn Rand. Read on, Macduff!
Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and Rev. Jim Wallis, a spiritual adviser to President Barack Obama and president and CEO of the "justice and peace" organization Sojourners, discussed an array of issues including the need for immigration reform, the irrelevance of GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney's Mormon faith and the virtues of foreign aid.
Land digs the Tea Party, of which he says he is not a part. And of which he says libertarians (those annoying small-government, stop-the-spending, smoke-the-doobage zealots!) comprise a tiny bit too:
"The tea party is overwhelmingly socially conservative," Land said explaining the tea party is actually made up of a great number of people of faith. "They are in the 85 percent range in terms of people that are pro-life. The libertarian wing of the tea party is very small. They are by and large previously unactivated parts of social conservatives in America — Catholic and Evangelical."
As it happens, Land is wrong about the makeup of the Tea Party. In the last Reason-Rupe survey (released on September 1), Emily Ekins found that 41 percent of Tea Partiers are "libertarian-leaning" while 59 percent were "social conservatives." That characterization is based on respondents' answer to the question of whether government "should not favor any particular set of values." And I should note too that very religious social conservatives can be both conservative and libertarian to the extent they don't think the government should be an instrument of involuntary moral coercion. Land is mistaken to oppose the categories of libertarian and conservative.
For his part, Wallis announced displeasure with a Tea Party that is, in his view, fully Randian in its total bastardacity (not a word, but should be):
"I distrust a movement that lifts up a philandering Russian atheist who said she hated Jesus — Ayn Rand — as their philosophical guide," he said.
In Wallis' view, Rand's libertarian principles are in direct conflict with the tenets of Christianity.
"I think extreme libertarian politics may be, in my mind, the least Christian option out there. 'Just leave me alone I don't care about anybody else,' is not a Christian way of life," he said. "We are our brother's keeper and that is how we are."
For the record, let's be clear: About 99.9 percent of libertarians in my experience are totally in favor of acts of charity and philanthropy; indeed, all I've encountered truly believe that a classical liberal system is the best way to feed the naked and clothe the hungry. At the various Tea Party rallies I've covered, I never encountered anybody who wanted to throw poor people in sacks and drown them in a creek like kittens. Quite the opposite: They think the government is spending so much money and taking so much from them than more effective private works of charity suffer.
But to get back specifically to Wallis' jibe at Rand: What kind of world have we become when a man who talks the talk of the Man from Galillee is putting someone down not just for being an atheist but a Russkie to boot? Wallis further wandered off into the desert by further saying:
Wallis added that tea party activists should be consistent: If they are protesting concentrations of power in Washington, D.C., they should also — like the Occupy movement – protest concentrations of economic power on Wall Street.
Somehow, he must have missed the part in the Tea Party saga about how it was activated by TARP and other bailouts of politcally connected firms and industries, enacted first by George W. Bush and then by Barack Obama.
Ah well. In a strange way, the evening's detour into eliminationist rhetoric against the relevance of libertarians to a movement whose only significant point is stopping government spending and the demonization of a refugee from the Soviet Union for being insufficiently American is a sign that libertarians and Rand must have some kind of mojo going on.
In 2009, Reason.tv took the measure of Rand's long shelf life in American culture:
For more Rand-related vids check out this playlist.