Howard Dean and the bigotry of inclusiveness

Here’s Howard Dean’s standard peroration:

This country depends on all of us uniting as a people, building a community, standing together. That’s what this country is all about. I am tired of being divided by race. I am tired of being divided by income. I am tired of being divided by gender. I am tired of being divided by sexual orientation. I am tired of taking my orders from the fundamentalist preachers and the right-wing talk show hosts.

(For an example, see his talk at the John F. Kennedy Library and Foundation.)

An NRO commentator points out that the passage is an explicit appeal to virulent religious prejudice against the conservative evangelical Christians who constitute perhaps a third of the country. I’ve noted at Turnabout that to the extent polls can quantify these things anti-fundamentalism looks about 25 times as big as antisemitism in America.

More generally, one might ask why it’s better for Dean to demand unity, and abuse those he says stand in its way, than for an extreme nationalist to do the same or the Grand Inquisitor to denounce heretics. Everyone wants unity, if he can get it on his terms. Those who feel in a position to call for unity simply as such are those who feel in a special and unquestionable relationship to some fundamental truth. What Dean’s speech shows is that he and his target audience views dissent from their PC and socialistic vision of America as simply illegitimate. If you use the word “quota” to describe the academic practice of pushing to increase the presence of black and Hispanic students in the applicant pool to approximate their presence in the society at large, and then admitting them at rates exactly proportional to their presence in that pool, you have no place in public life. That’s what he says about George Bush. For some reason such attitudes are considered “tolerant.”

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