The New York Times ushered in the new year with a nice gift for Christians — one it did not give to anyone else: a slap in the face.
The slap came in the form of a piece written by Thomas Vinciguerra. It was titled, “The Pre-Blogger: Find Mencken at nature-abhors-a-moron.com.” Sixty years ago, H. L. Mencken was one of America’s most acerbic social critics, and the Times was speculating on whether Mencken would have become a blogger. Vinciguerra then offered entries from a hypothetical Mencken blog—entries that were indicative of both the bigotry and ignorance of the New York Times.
One entry read: “Sanity has triumphed in Dover, Pennsylvania, where the boobs who tried to foist intelligent design on the local lyceums have been soundly thrashed... Would that this victory were permanent. It will take more than jurisprudence to retire the forces of ignorance. Meanwhile, we can only hope they engage in less egregious forms of buncombe — like installing the Ten Commandments in public squares, or speaking in tongues.”
Ha, ha, ha. Very funny.
Of course, Mencken referred to Christians as “rustic ignoramuses” when he wasn’t calling us worse things. But he also had insulting things to say about women, Blacks, and Jews — comments that today we recognize as both ignorant and offensive. To its credit, the Times would never dream of trying to be funny by calling Blacks and women mentally inferior, or by imitating Mencken’s viciously anti-Semitic comments. But when it comes to Christians, all bets are off. And like any bigot, the newspaper that celebrates itself for politically correct tolerance and exquisite sensitivity can’t seem to recognize its own blind prejudice.
The Times also exposed its ignorance of the kind of people who espouse intelligent design. Does it realize it is calling Albert Einstein a boob? Einstein once said: “God does not play dice with the cosmos” — he found design in the universe. Scientist Fritz Schaefer — four times nominated for a Nobel Prize — is another “boob” who believes in the intelligent design theory. So does Professor Michael Behe, the Lehigh biochemist who has proven the “irreducible complexity” of the human cell structure. And then there is Oxford Professor Antony Flew, the famous British philosopher. Throughout his long career, Flew argued that there was a “presumption of atheism” — that is, the existence of a creator could not be proved. Intelligent design caused Flew, at the age of 81, to reverse himself and acknowledge God as creator. Flew is “ignorant”?
For Christians, being attacked is one of the realities of life. The secular world, and the New York Times in particular, detest us because we stand for absolute truth. But our response to attacks like this is to overcome evil with good. For all of its faults, the Times now and then expresses grudging admiration for the human rights work evangelicals perform in the trenches. We need to strengthen our witness there and continue defending the truth.
We also ought to keep a sense of humor when we are attacked like this. After all, Mencken once observed, “All successful newspapers are ceaselessly querulous and bellicose. They never defend anyone or anything if they can help it; if the job is forced on them, they tackle it by denouncing someone or something else” — not my idea of good sport, but there it is.
- (This update courtesy of the Breakpoint with Chuck Colson.)