Metaphors, mote and beam division
As his presidential campaign disintegrated, Perry released an ad condemning President Obama's "war on religion." Although the war metaphor has become unsettling popular lately, if there is in fact a war on religion, it's not coming from President Obama . . . . (Joseph Locke, "The risk of religious politics," Houston Chronicle, June 4, 2012)
With the Chronicle's continuing reduction of staff, even in the plush offices of the editorial board, the newspaper must now outsource . . .
It is not clear from the text -- much isn't clear from the text -- whether the source of Mr. Locke's being unsettled by the war-on-religion metaphor is aesthetic or moral. Either way, it's an odd point from someone who earlier in the same piece uses rally the troops to describe what local preachers have done with sermons he does not like, characterizes one pastor as having blasted President Obama's position on gay marriage, says "outside" Christian boobs have assaulted Houston, and describes political conflict over public schools in Texas as school board battles.
He also describes political disagreement with him on issues of concern to conservative Christians as the rabid politicization of religion. He is not unsettled, apparently, by a metaphor that signals that conservative Christians are ill, angry, potentially violent.
For more of Mr. Locke's ruminations on the meaning of it all, check out his blog, American Yawp. Among the military metaphors there: history wars (in historiography), culture wars (used straight up two times, once as something "distracting," and yet again as one of Mr. Locke's very own blog categories), embattled (about multiculturalism), culture battle, embarrassing battle over Texas state textbook standards, and more.
One wearies of demonstrating how perfectly settled Mr. Locke is using military metaphors against his political adversaries while professing to be unsettled when those adversaries resort to the same tactic.
Not surprisingly, you will also find in Mr. Locke an admirer of the Occupy movement, a man concerned about the left's embarrassment at the American flag, and one who -- like the unrepentent terrorist Bill Ayers -- believes achieving the policy aims of the left requires the left to capture and control the historial narrative in schools and culture at large.
Here, for one last chuckle, is a sentence Mr. Locke admires: "The United States now finds itself in a position to develop and act upon a cultural self-image as a national solidarity committed -- but often failing -- to incorporate individuals from a great variety of communities of descent, on equal but not homogenous terms, into a society with democratic aspirations inherited largely from England." [Emphasis in original.]
Whatever the writer's view on "democratic aspirations inherited largely from England," his view on another aspiration inherited from England -- to use plain English -- is quite clear: He's agin it.
Now, reread the original sentence, then parse this analysis of it: "There is much more the United States [read to the United States] than this. But if one were obliged to sum up in one sentence what a history of the United States is a history of, this sentence has much to recommend it beyond its simple truthfulness."
(I think Mr. Locke is writing in his own voice here, but a possibly misplaced quotation mark makes that unclear. Emphasis in original.)
Do you think that horrid sentence sums up what the history of the United States is a history of? Nor do I.
None of this matters very much, of course. Mr. Locke is just another of a long line of Chronicle editorialists and columnists who have urged conservative Christians and politically and culturally conservative Texans to shut up and go away.
The response of conservative Christians and politically and culturally conservative Texans will come on November 6, and it will be far more eloquent than anything Mr. Locke has ever written or ever will.