Tuesday, January 29, 2008

QOTD: Some of My Best Friends Are Godless

(((Mike Huckabee talking to Tim Russert; religion, atheism, and public life; being human "deeper" than being Christian? rights and the distinction between animals and humans.)))

Mike Huckabee, responding to questions from Tim Russert about where his understanding of faith leaves American atheists:

No, I wouldn't have any problem at all appointing atheists. I probably had some working for me as governor.

Probably? Hey, I don't know, but I'm betting there were some atheists somewhere in my administration. I mean, if there are any in Arkansas. On the other hand, to be fair, this might be a reasonable indication that the guy applied no litmus test. That is, it at least looks like he at least didn't make an effort to exclude non-religious people from positions. Which would, of course, be discrimination.

But still, you know he was just one second thought away from claiming to have atheist best friends as evidence that he's not bigoted. I suppose we can say for him that he stopped short of that.

More interestingly, though, there's something else to be said for him. Maybe. When Russert in the same interview corners him on abortion and claims that Huckabee's position stems entirely from his Christian faith, here's how Huck replies:

But, no. It's not a faith belief. It's deeper than that. It's a human belief. It goes to the heart of who we are as a civilization. If I believe that your intrinsic worth is not changed by your ancestry, your last name, by your IQ, by your abilities or disabilities, if I value your life and respect it with dignity and worth because it is human, then that's what draws me to the inescapable conclusion that I should be for the sanctity of every and each human life.

Two things. First, it's very interesting that he makes the claim that his belief is "a human belief" that is "deeper than" his "faith belief," on two counts. Not only does it imply that if you're human, you ought to believe it, and one wonders what could count as the content of any such "belief," it also positions "human" as more central than "Christian." Mixed, but on balance this is positive. It's a ground for tolerance of other religious beliefs, including atheism, even if it's not at all clear what "human belief" could really mean.

But this leads to the second point, which is that "human belief" seems to mean something like a belief that human life as such is especially special, even unique. So, as is often the case with frameworks for fairly progressive human rights positions, at bottom his case is about the privilege of being human. You can't miss the irony in his argument, though, if you look closely. He says that when you're human, your ancestry doesn't matter. But of course, being human is precisely an ancestry. And if you're a Christian like Mike Huckabee, your understanding of human ancestry is that it goes back to Adam, who was created by God.

So, when you run it through the wash, Huck's pseudo- (or maybe quasi- is better)humanist position turns out to be thoroughly religious after all. And speciesist (which is not the same thing, but which follows in Huck's case).

There's a reason, after all, that he uses that word, "sanctity."


shag said...

crappliotta. i just replied. tried to post and it trashed it!

Jeffrey said...


blogger screw-up?