Sanctimonious blowhard, heal thyself: We’re so old that we can remember when Nicholas Kristof was different.
In today’s column, he’s at it again. He drops his first B-bomb on Alabama as early as paragraph 3!
At one time, he wasn’t like this. We’re so old that we can remember when Nicholas Kristof might start a column like this:
KRISTOF (4/24/04): I've argued often that gay marriage should be legal and that conservative Christians should show a tad more divine love for homosexuals.“Hug an Evangelical!” That’s what his headline said!
But there's a corollary. If liberals demand that the Christian right show more tolerance for gays and lesbians, then liberals need to be more respectful of conservative Christians.
We don’t know how often Kristof had argued for same-sex marriage at that time. As of 2004, he hadn’t made the argument often in his New York Times column.
On the other hand:
Back in those days, Kristof was much more tolerant of beliefs which differed from his. This is the way he continued in that column:
KRISTOF (continuing directly): One of the most ferocious divides today is that between evangelical and secular America. Some conservative Christians are all too quick to sentence outsiders to hell. And liberals denounce stereotypes of Muslims but not of ''Christian nuts.''On the whole, we tend to agree with what Kristof said that day! In our view, it was encouraging that the right was less hostile to gays and lesbians than it had been in the past.
It's encouraging that the right is less hostile to gays and lesbians than it used to be. President Bush argued in his 1994 run for governor that gay sex should be illegal, while now he feels comfortable hitting up gays for campaign contributions.
On the other hand, the left seems more contemptuous than ever of evangelicals.
But how odd! As of today, it’s Kristof himself who is openly “contemptuous of evangelicals,” as you can see by reading his new column.
He drops his first bomb right in paragraph 3. When our Dimmesdale thunders today, this is the way he begins:
KRISTOF (2/12/15): In North Carolina, three young Muslims who were active in charity work were murdered, allegedly by a man who identified as atheist and expressed hostility to Islam and other faiths. Police are exploring whether it was a hate crime, and it spurred a #MuslimLivesMatter campaign on Twitter.Was that a hate crime in North Carolina, or was it a terrible crazy crime? If it was a hate crime, was it a hate crime “from the right” (hatred of Islam) or a hate crime “from the left” (hatred of religion)?
And, in Alabama, we see judges refusing to approve marriages of any kind because then they would also have to approve same-sex marriages. In one poll conducted last year, some 59 percent of people in Alabama opposed gay marriage. Somehow a loving God is cited to bar loving couples from committing to each other.
These are very different news stories. But I wonder if a common lesson from both may be the importance of resisting bigotry, of combating the intolerance that can infect people of any faith—or of no faith.
So far, nobody knows. But as of this morning, Kristof was already tilting a bit toward hate-crime-from-the-right. People like this have always loved to encourage a good cleansing war.
More strikingly, Kristof moves quickly to same-sex marriage, and to sunny Alabam'. Fifty-nine percent of the state is opposed to same-sex marriage, so Kristof drops his bomb.
Back then, Kristof preached patience and respect. Today, those people are bigots.
You may prefer the newer version of Kristof. We’d be inclined to disagree, for political and moral reasons. (There is no law which says that everyone has to agree with Kristof's views, or with our own, on a timetable he has set.)
For today, we simply thought it was worth noting the change in Kristof. At one time, he was quick to preach understanding. Now he tends to “otherize,” a fact which is a bit ironic given the larger theme of his column today.
Kristof’s opposed to “otherizing”—except when he’s the one doing it! We think he was wiser in 2004, when he drew hope from the progress he saw among people who hadn’t reached the exact same conclusion he had at the exact same time.
Is Nicholas Kristof losing his soul? We wouldn’t rush to deny it! But in our view, he’s been doing some very strange journalism, a point we’ll explore again tomorrow.
His trip to Haiti struck us as quite strange. This may be what happens when a big journo gets over-extended, overloaded with stars, becomes a big Hollywood “brand.”
The shape of the tribal mind: At one point, Kristof says this today:
“It seems odd to me that so many conservative Christians are obsessed with homosexuality, which Jesus never mentions.”
Really? Kristof finds that odd? We can't imagine why!
To us, it seems unfortunate when people are obsessed that way. But it doesn't exactly seem odd. Not long ago, people were much less agreeable in this area than they are today.
Fifty-nine percent are opposed to same-sex marriage in Alabama? That strikes us as a very low number, given the culture of the state.
In 2004, Kristof thought things were getting better. We still think things are getting better, though we doubt that those B-bombs will help.