In its Opinion Pages, The New York Times recently asked a number of thinkers from the region why the American South remains so conservative, showing a particular interest in what produces religious, social, and political views and how they relate.  The effort includes responses from professors from schools across the South, plus Hastings Wyman, (founding editor of Southern Political Report).

Dr. Dowe

Pearl K. Ford Dowe (assistant professor of political science at the University of Arkansas) blames the rightward drift of the South on white Southerners’ attempt to hold onto some remnant of white privilege.  She says white Southerners support “policies that conflict with their own economic realities.”  She says this stems from the unwillingness of white Southerners to form political alliances with African-American partners. This reluctance is based on “the belief that immigrants and African-Americans are gaining unfair advantages and that the government that leveled the playing field for all Americans is not theirs.”   Read More…


A friend of mine said recently that Christianity is incredible. He didn’t mean incredibly wonderful; he meant not believable. I had just said that, once American voters knew something of Mormonism, Mitt Romney would find his election chances dimming, since what voter with two feet on the ground could possibly believe in mysterious golden tablets buried in upstate New York, giving (in “reformed Egyptian,” a language unknown to anyone but the engineers of this hoax) a fanciful history of the Americas, featuring native Americans as the Lost Tribes of Israel? The Book of Mormon, supposedly a translation of these disappeared tablets, reads as a lame parody of King James English.

Despite our laudable American tolerance for religious difference (a tolerance born at last out of our long Western history of bloody religious intolerance), there is a large difference between allowing people to believe whatever they wish and failing to note that some beliefs stem from ignorance, madness, or credulous need — and that people who profess such beliefs should not be trusted to steer our ship of state.

My friend, however, a smart, secular man with a considerable scientific background, dismissed orthodox Christian belief as cavalierly as I had dismissed Mormonism. I didn’t ask him for particulars, but we can all imagine what these would be, starting with the Resurrection of Jesus.

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