IN THE NEWS: Fea, Worthen, Santorum, and Civil Discourse

Three cheers for John Fea!  Fea is an American historian and blogger.  I’m a big of both his academic writing and his history-themed blog.

Fea recently criticized a piece in the New York Times about Rick Santorum’s mix of religion and politics.  The author, Molly Worthen, marred an otherwise insightful article about Santorum with some unnecessary derogatory comments about Santorum’s religious tradition.

Instead of summarizing any more, I’ll just include a slice of Fea’s conclusion here:

Let me be clear.  This post is not meant as an endorsement or rejection of Santorum’s beliefs or his candidacy. (I voted for Bob Casey Jr. in the 2006 Pennsylvania senatorial race).  It is rather written out of frustration over the way Santorum’s views are so easily dismissed, as if they are not worthy of being engaged in civil discourse or the public square. I wish Worthen would have done one of two things in this piece:
1.  Simply describe, without the gratuitous swipes, the Catholic natural law tradition that informs Santorum’s conservatism.  She is a good historian and a perceptive political reporter.
OR
2.  Directly engage with Santorum’s ideas rather than just assume that he a crazy, prejudiced bigot because his understanding of moral life comes from Thomas Aquinas.

Hear hear!

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