Saturday, August 05, 2006

Andrew Sullivan & Hugh Hewitt Go Toe-To-Toe

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingTwo blogger heavyweights have been slugging it out in the cyber-space ring over the past few days. Hugh Hewitt and Andrew Sullivan have been jabbing and counter-jabbing over whether Hewitt is a "Chistianist," an "anti-Semite," a "fanatic" and a "liar" or whether Anderw Sullivan is an "omniscient" "bigot" engaged in "slander."

If you want to follow the rounds so far you can find Hugh's responses here (Round 1) and here (Round 2) and you can find Andrew's attacks here (Round 1) and here (Round 2).

I hope that this does not turn into one of those epic movie fights like that between John Wayne and Victor McLaglen in "The Quiet Man" where each man pommels the other into exhaustion.

On the other hand, perhaps this slug-fest is like the Israel-Hezbollah conflict where well-meaning people wish that everyone could just shake hands, make peace and get along with each other but the reality is that each is determined that there be a "winner" and a "loser."

Personally, I wish that, as honorable men, they will just allow the whole thing to quiet down, express their disappointment in each other and mutally apologize for "hurting each other's feelings!"

Time will tell.

My own commentary so far is that Sullivan, having come out swinging in the first round, has been bobbing, weaving and playing rope-a-dope with Hewitt ever since.

Even by his own definition of the word "Christianist" Sullivan cannot actually believe that Hewitt holds "the view that religious faith is so important that it must also have a precise political agenda. It is the belief that religion dictates politics and that politics should dictate the laws for everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike."

Nor can Sullivan defend the inference that Hugh's so-called "Christianism" parallels the Islamist's desire "to wield Islam (Christianity) as a political force and conflate state and mosque (church)."

Nor does Sullivan need to come up with any more vague definitions of this word, "Christianist" (the derogatory meaning and origin of a related term, "christer" I have traced in a previous post). As I see it, the way Sullivan "thinks" he means it is simply that a "Christianist" is someone who has the political/religious interest in (re)establishing "Christendom" in one place or in all places.

Wikipedia actually provides a good description of "Christendom" when it states,
...the vision of Christendom is a vision of a Christian theocracy, a government devoted to the enforcement of Christian values, and whose institutions are suffused with Christian piety. In this vision, members of the Christian clergy wield plenty of political clout.
It seems to me that this would provide a fair and objective way of defining a "Christianist" that would provide a common point of departure for discussion and debate.

Yet I doubt that Sullivan would accept this definition because it does not carry enough subjective, emotional, politically incorrect subtlety. It would also provide a definition that would be too clear and universally understood for Sullivan to defend himself in his use of the term "Christianist" against Hewitt.

Sullivan seems to base his defense on being specific and vague at one and the same time.

I think (to use a mixed netaphor that really doesn't fit with boxing) that Hewitt has the "high ground" on this matter. In the end, should this ever come to an end, I suppose the high ground, like Cemetary Hill at Gettysburg, will decide the outcome.

All I really ask is that the two gentlemen keep their fight as clean and as close to the vision of the Marquis of Queesbury as possible.