NOTHING in recent memory has driven home the divide between our
self-appointed aristocracy and "commoners" as sharply as the
intelligentsia's rush to mock Gov. Sarah Palin's religious faith.
While the attacks and insults are backfiring on the mortified
elites, the double standard applied to "Sarah America" is a disgrace
that can't be excused as "just politics."
Certainly, much of the left-wing fury over Palin stems from the
Democratic Party's assumption that it "owned" the exclusive right to
nominate women to the executive branch (despite the crushing of Hillary
Clinton's candidacy). How dare the Republicans advance a woman? How dare they change this year's election script?
But the root of the left's dread of this happily married mother of
five seems to be that she actually believes in God: How could anyone be
Such a woman wouldn't fit in Washington (nor would a man of equal
faith). In the DC area (where I live), plenty of government-affiliated
men and women regularly attend a church or synagogue. But their
appearances are perfunctory and well-mannered. Passionate faith is regarded as an embarrassment.
Washington fears faith - even nominal believers inside the Beltway have been shaped by secular educations and secular caste values.
Humans fear what they can't understand, and our comfortable ruling
class just can't comprehend the power and the glory, the beauty and the
ecstasy, the awe and commitment experienced by those who believe in a divine power. To paraphrase the late Leona Helmsley, "Faith is for the little people."
Believers are mocked (if not too publicly at election time). Sen. Barack Obama's
behind-closed-doors remark in San Francisco to the effect that worried
blue-collar chumps cling to God and guns perfectly captured the left's
worldview, equating faith and firearms as equal menaces to an
Then along came Palin to appall the establishment - a moose-hunting
Christian with a working-class husband, the precise stereotype Obama
had mocked. The media's attacks on her since her nomination have been
the most unfair I've ever seen.
Let me be clear: I disagree with Palin on a number of issues. But I
believe in fairness. And I believe in freedom of religion for all who
do not attempt to force their faith on others. One of the many glories
of our country is that men and women are free to find their individual
paths to God - or to disbelieve, should they so choose.
But I can't accept the snotty condescension of those who assume
that faith is for dopes. I come from a world where belief is powerful -
small-town, hardscrabble America. I have relatives whose faith is
embedded in exuberant communal worship and public celebrations of
redemption and joy. Washington, the professorate and the media not only
don't understand such believers, they despise them.
Earlier this week, I watched, sickened, as CNN did its best to
excite fear of Palin's religious beliefs. She grew up in a Pentecostal
congregation - whose members, a smug reporter told us, often talk in
tongues. Though the report noted that there's no "proof" that Palin
herself had done so, the implication was that Sarah Barracuda must be a nut job.
Then CNN told us about an Alaskan pastor's remark that his state
might become a refuge in the "end times." The implication was that
Palin must share that belief, too.
The coverage just piled on, unjust, unfair and un-American. The
unspoken bottom line was that active religious faith disqualifies a
Well, for all the joyous noise at those Alaskan churches, I'll bet
my life that none of the pastors who preached to Palin over the years
ever shouted "God damn America!" or blamed the United States for the
world's ills, or accused our government of creating AIDS to kill black
None of the bigoted, hate-filled rants of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright
have been replayed to counterbalance the mockery heaped upon Palin's
religious background. Of course, Wright's anti-American tirades fit the
worldview of the Dems' left-wing base - so Obama got a pass when he
claimed that, over 20 years, he never heard any hate speech in Wright's church.
Besides, Dems believe that blacks are supposed to jump around and shout in church - but whites who do that are wackos. (No stereotypes there, folks!)
I don't see extremism in Palin's faith. I see the love of
God that prevails beyond the Beltway. The media's bigotry toward her
tells us far more about the political biases and snobbery of
journalists than it does about Sen. John McCain's running mate.
In recent years, a succession of pundits has compared our country
to ancient Rome. Most of the assertions are silly. But our governing
elite certainly shares the Roman patricians' disdain for the faith of
the common citizen.
Ralph Peters' latest book is "Looking for Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World."