I read, not infrequently, criticism of Sarah Palin.
Quite a lot of it has to do with how allegedly stupid and ignorant she is. About that, I say little except that she seems at least no worse than more than a few others who have made it into top political offices, and that most of the criticism along these lines seems rather juvenile to me.
The rest of it--and I am pretty well convinced that this underlies the juvenile cat-calling about her brainpower, as well--is what disturbs me.
They keep talking about this woman like she's some sort of extremist political freak--as far as I can tell, because:
She's a Christian--the sort of Christian who will tell you that the Bible is actually true and that faith in Jesus Christ really is the only way to eternal life, that not all sexual behaviors are morally equal, that abortion is the extinguishing of a human life, and so forth.
She likes guns--likes them to the point where she is well known for going out and gunning down wildlife with them.
She believes that economic liberty and limited government are far better solutions to joblessness and poverty than government interventionism.
As far as I've been able to tell, she believes that the Constitution limits the federal government to certain enumerated powers.
There are no doubt other tidbits which I'm not thinking of right now, but this seems to be the gist of it. She's an extreme right-winger, a wingnut, for holding positions like this. This disturbs me because these are in no way extreme positions.
There is no doubt that America has fewer of the sort of Christians I described than it has previously had. For much of our history, Christians of this stripe easily dominated the landscape. Now, not so much--yet, there are still millions and millions of people who believe these things. These are not fringe religious views. They are perfectly orthodox Christian views.
It is not extreme to believe that abortion is wrong. Millions of people do. That is why abortion was outlawed or heavily restricted in most states prior to Roe, and why pro-abortion forces fear, above all things, the possibility that the subject of abortion might be returned to the state level. They know what will happen. It will again be outlawed or heavily restricted in all but the blue states, and maybe even in some of those.
It is not extreme to believe that homosexual behavior is morally wrong. Millions of people do. Most people, I think, who believe this are willing to concede that what consenting adults do in their own bedrooms is their own business, but you can tell how much moral legitimacy they ascribe to homosexual marriage every time it's on the ballot: it goes down in flames.
It is not extreme to like guns, or to believe that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own them and carry them. Millions of people do. Anti-gunners concede this every time they complain about America's gun culture.
It is not extreme to default to economic liberty and limited government. Millions of people do. These are among the concepts on which the country was founded.
It is not extreme to believe that the Constitution limits federal power. Millions of people do. It is a view explicitly delineated in The Federalist Papers, a view championed by Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans who dominated federal life for the early part of the nineteenth century.
In short, being a Bible-believing, gun-toting, private-enterprise-and-small government American can in no way be considered "extreme," and every time Mrs. Palin is criticized along these lines, the critics are simultaneously attempting to marginalize huge numbers of other Americans.
That's what disturbs me, and I think it ought to disturb you, too.