Ritual Contamination and Liberalism

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David Klinghoffer’s latest assault on liberalism — published on Jewcy.com — is an attempt to frame liberalism in terms of materialism and materialism in terms of the biblical idea of tumah, ritual impurity.

The piece is particularly shoddy, especially when he goes through specific liberal positions and tries to articulate how they are functions of this (depraved) materialism. Below are Klinghoffer’s words, with my responses.

The understanding of liberalism as the political expression of materialism will be familiar to many political conservatives. I first heard that formulation from Michael Medved, who laid it out in detail in a speech. But the Bible made the same connection millennia ago. Virtually every liberal position on a hot-button issue can be explained this way. Some lefty views emphasize, as Hirsch put it, the “powers of the forces of nature.�

Gay marriage: The implicit justification for this insists that gays are in the grip of nature. They have no choice about their sexual behavior. So let’s endorse their love in civil law.

While, natural sexual proclivities are not irrelevant to the conversation, it is not the “justification” for gay marriage. Isn’t this an equality issue? If heterosexuals are allowed to choose one loved-one to get health insurance and tax-breaks and hospital visitation rights with, so should homosexuals.

Abortion: Here it’s women who are supposedly in the grip of nature, specifically sexual desire. The lady made a mistake and got pregnant. Liberals believe she can’t be held responsible for this, as denying her an abortion would do. The solution to unwanted pregnancy is a material one (ten minutes of vacuuming the uterus) over a spiritual one (taking responsibility for the outcome of sexual intercourse).

First off, it’s notable (and disturbing) that Klinghoffer seems to believe that unwanted pregnancies are always a woman’s “mistake.” What about rape? Broken condoms? Two very different things, certainly, but accounting for them would have at least made Klinghoffer sound less misogynistic.

Posted on March 23, 2007

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