This seems to be the topic of the month where I visit. Norman Podhoretz has a book out with this title and has a summary at Wall Street Journal. Over at the libertarian law blog, Ilya Somin has three posts on the subject and David Bernstein weighs in as well. At Commentary, there is a symposium on the subject by David Wolpe, Jonathan D. Sarna, Michael Medved, William Kristol and Jeff Jacoby.
That should keep you busy all night if you are interested, so I am going to keep my contribution short at first. I think this will be a series, however, as many issues come into this one.
Not very surprisingly, I thought of the tribal aspect of all this, first from the Jewish side, then from the conservative and Evangelical Christian sides, as those angles seemed to be coming to the fore in the lengthy comments on all those posts.
I seem to have a God with an ironic sense of humor. Those who don't believe in God may say instead that I have formed God in my own ironic image. I have nothing to refute you with on that. I was thinking hard about the cultural side of the question, wondering how much the big-concept urban versus rural, association of right-wing with Nazism, north-south, and underdog-rooting aspects weighed out, and chuckling at the rather small cultural item one commenter had put a lot of stock in: hunting, which evangelical Christians tend to do and Jews don't. I couldn't see how that was going to be a big deal when compared to the other factors.
But I did understand it somewhat. One of my grandfathers went back to Nova Scotia with his brothers once a year to go hunting, but no one else in my family did. It just wasn't us. It wasn't something we did. So I could understand a Jewish attitude of It's just not something we do. But I didn't feel it deeply.
So on this very evening, Kyle asks whether he can get piercings. Kyle is 13. Permission for this isn't even remotely under consideration. It's just not something we do. I felt it powerfully, and despaired of how to explain to a child who grew up in a different (hard rock, drug use, skateboarding, minor criminality) culture. It's just not us. How do you explain that to someone who doesn't already see it, already feel it in his bones.
And it's also not quite true. My brother got an ear pierced in the 70's while he was in college, and he is very like me in many ways. So "we" do that after all.
My own tribalism, and the ghost of my grandmother via my mother rises to find me. Very funny, God.