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Kristol on Obama’s ‘bitter’ religious believers

by Brad A. Greenberg

April 14, 2008 | 12:45 pm

Barack Obama’s recent closed-door comment about “bitter” country folk who “cling to guns or religion” has been getting a lot of play, thanks in large part to Hillary Clinton’s willingness to castigate him for it. Here’s more via Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish:

Bill Kristol, trained in the same politics as Hillary Clinton, now argues that Obama’s remarks in a fundraiser q and a are the “real Obama” - and that his voluminous writing and speaking about the sincerity of his own religious faith, and of others, are presumably “masks.” The reason for inferring Obama’s Marxism is the following point Obama artlessly made about the way in which economic distress can alter people’s tolerance for others:

  “It’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Is this indistinguishable from saying, along with Marx, that all religion is an obviously false consciousness caused by the alienation of the world-historical class struggle? No, it obviously isn’t. It’s saying that economic distress does often in human history express itself in more rigid forms of religion, more reactionary cultural identification, less tolerance of “the other.” Since large swathes of human history have shown this to be true - and perfectly arguable without any materialist understanding of religion - Kristol is deliberately distorting to paint Obama as a cynical manipulator of religious faith for political ends, rather than as a genuine Christian. He’s calling him a lying, Godless communist.

(Image: Time)

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