One of my favourite writers is Jonathan Rauch. He wrote "Caring For Your Introvert", which I encourage all my friends, extrovert and introvert, to read and pass along. (The Atlantic Monthly removed the article from their website, as it is available to subscribers only.) Rauch also wrote Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, an excellent defense of marriage between both couples of men and women and couples made up of members of the same sex.
Yesterday, as it was happening, I began tracking responses to Rauch's recent article about religious conservatives by self-described religious conservatives as part of an experiment with PubSub and my editorial discretion. Now I learn that Rauch has not only read the responses, and not only has he clarified his position and admitted to carelessness on his part, but made his article available for those who wish to read his full argument. I've saved a copy locally in case that link no longer points to the article or the response.
(I do not intend disrespect to Hugh Hewitt, whom I only heard about yesterday, nor do I mean to accuse him of intending to remove the article in the future. It's just that the way the weblog seems to be set up, with no apparent archives, means to me that the link is temporary.)
See also Hugh's article in The Weekly Standard, which, although a little on the self-congratulatory side of things, offers commentary on the subject of Rauch's article (religious conservatives and the mythical Red-state/Blue-state divide), blogging and using individual weblogs as letters to the editor that mainstream media may not publish for months if at all, and the reaction to Rauch's article as well as Rauch's mea culpa: “On Tuesday I had Rauch on my [radio] program. He pleads hasty writing and objects that the focus I put on these sentences is unfair to the intent of his piece. I offered to post the entire article and any response he wants to make. He agreed that I was at least allowing him the chance to reply. I did not note to him that this is a courtesy the Atlantic did not extend to a religious conservative in its package of essays on the divide in America.”
I was initially concerned that it had the looks of a blogger pile-on, i.e. that many people saw something that they took out of proportion and felt the need to write something (anything) right away. Also, it looked like the responses fit a pattern: first the double-take, then focus on the word "insurgent", then reference to how "secular liberals" don't understand those who self-identify as religious conservatives. (With respect to the latter, they have a point.) Also, the reaction was one-sided. I saw no-one come to Rauch's defense, regardless of defense was warranted. This looks like a case where Rauch himself feels there was no defending what he wrote, or at least not a point worth worth expending partisan energy on. My disconcern, then, is not that Rauch had no defenders but that "secular liberals" seem not to read religious conservative thinkers in order to at the very least understand where they come from and not automatically assume that mocking them is the appropriate course of action.