Lately I have been trying to illustrate what I think has gone wrong with the Republican party, or modern conservatism, if you will. In response to a Michael Barone article on universities, Jason Rosenhouse nails what I have been trying to convey. Particularly perspicacious was this excerpt:
"Contrary to popular perception, conservatives, of both the social and libertarian varieties, are a dime a dozen in academe. What is rare is the sort of mindless right-wingery of people like Barone. People like Barone hate academe not for the patently flimsy reasons put forth in essays like this one. Rather, it is the fact that people who make their living from careful thought and deep study of subtle issues are not likely to support the causes so dear to the lunatic fringe represented by Barone.
Thus, religious scientists can be found in virtually every science department in the country. But you will not find very many creationists because creationism is amply refuted by the available evidence. And you will not find many fundamentalists or evangelicals, because those varieties of religion are especially hostile to the spirit of free and open inquiry. Many economists favor low taxes, small government, and limited regulation. But you will find very few who will endorse the lunacy of supply-side economics, with its fanatical emphasis on tax rates as the sole determinant of the health of the economy. And you will not find many who will endorse the economic policies of Ronald Reagan, because those policies are so blatantly in conflict with the basic principles of sound economics. Just in my own experience I know of political scientists and philosophers from a wide range of political persuasions. But you will be hard-pressed to find any who will discuss Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush with the level of obsequity demanded by the Barone's of the world. On issue after issue the right-wing holds views that are at odds with the available evidence. College professors tend to point that out. And then hacks like Barone write essays like this one."
That last part is it in a nutshell. It's not about conservative values, or religion per se, or Republicans vs Democrats. It is about ignoring the available evidence, and characituring one's political opposition in an intellectually dishonest way. The personification of this trend is Ann Coulter, whose content-free, fictional, pointlessly acerbic rhetoric elicits high praises and massive book sales via the converted, but little more than raised eyebrows and embarrassment from everyone else. She, Barone, and all the others like her are destroying the Republican party one ignorant misrepresented epithet at a time.