May 15, 2007

Falwell redux--updated

Brandon noted the classless way that many in the progressive liberal blogosphere have responded to the death of Jerry Falwell. I agree. We don't cheer the death of people.

That said, I also struggle with the right's deification of the man. This evening I brewed a batch of beer for the first time in a year. During the process, you have a lot of time to watch tv, so I flipped through the channels only to find James Dobson talking about how brave Falwell was--how he refused to be cowed by political correctness--yet, according to Dobson he did it with no malice or hatred.

Yeah. When he blamed liberals, feminists, gays, etc., for allowing 9-11, he meant it in a good way.

I won't cheer his death. His family is grieving right now and I respect that. But neither should we lie about what he did.

Update: Greg at the parish has the best take, I think:
"If there is an epitaph for Falwell it would be, 'He left the state of the debate far worse than he found it.' Still, the man accomplished much, and it would be dishonest to fail to mention the many shelters, crisis centers and homes for single mothers his ministry provided. Enigmatic, bombastic, and hateful to his core, he still occasionally caught a vision of what Christianity could be. Alas, it was tied up in the whole Protestant fundangelical bloody Jesus God will send 'em to hell kind of Christianity. With his death, we can hope that a kinder voice emerges, but I won't be holding my breath."


ubub said...

I haven't checked around much as to the reaction. My guess is that it's smug glee from the Left (I admit I had my moment earlier, asking if this means that God removed his shield of protection from Falwell now), and shrill, bombastic self-congratulatory defense on the Right.

Your post essentially confirms my fear about my fellow //liberals//. Just as with torture, it's not about who they are, it's about who we are. I like to think we don't celebrate the deaths of those we dislike.

But maybe, just maybe, Dobson is right -- brave is he who scapegoats others and points at their motes. OK, maybe not.

steve s said...

I have seen some smugness from the left and right. Despite what many believe, Falwell was disliked by many on the right. I think I quted a study in a previous discussion that showed a majority of Christians viewed Falwell unfavorably.

Unfortunately, I expect some smugness and nasty comments. If something happened to Michael Moore or Rosie O'Donell, I am sure many on the right would be equally as rude.

Tony said...

I was never fond of Dr. Falwell and I also know many \\conservatives\\ who were not either. He did not represent the bulk of the right and I always used to stifle a wretch whenever he was consulted as the face of conservative Christianity.

You can be too radical--too extreme--and I think he reveled in it. He loved his public image and the attention it got him. There is a difference between courage and bravado.

Sarah said...

I'm glad to see this post and these comments. I was starting to question my liberal credentials, as I seemed to be the only one around not reveling in Falwell's death.

Yes, he was a hateful, divisive man who said too many hurtful things to count, but to take so much pleasure in his death seems wrong.

It reminds me of awhile back, when an acquaintance of mine said she was glad Tony Snow's cancer came back. This level of vitriol appalls me.