by William McGurn, Wall Street Journal
For Notre Dame fans, a recent football weekend was a twofer. Not only did the Irish beat a longtime rival, the University of Southern California, on Saturday, the campus was treated to a sight it had never before seen: the attorney general of the United States, at a pregame tailgater, serenading
faculty, students and fans with his bagpipes.
Turns out that was William Barr’s second performance on campus. The first came at the law school Friday, when he delivered a bracing speech on the role of religion in the American story of freedom.
The attorney general advanced two broad propositions. First, the waning of religion’s influence in American life has left more of her citizens vulnerable to what Tocqueville called the “soft despotism” of government dependency. Second, today’s secularists are decidedly not of the live-and-let-live variety.
“The secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor,” he said. “It is taking on all the trappings of religion, including inquisitions and excommunication. Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake, social, educational and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social media campaigns.
Right out of central casting, critics stepped forward to prove his point. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman accused Mr. Barr of “religious bigotry” and described his words as a “pogrom type speech.”
Political ethicist and professional attention seeker Richard Painter tapped out a series of even more furious tweets, here calling the speech the latest episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, there suggesting Mr. Barr isn’t much of a Christian, here again saying Mr. Barr sounded like “vintage Goebbels.” Over at MSNBC, meanwhile, retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, once chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, told Joy Reid the attorney general is “Torquemada in a business suit,” a reference to the Spanish Inquisition’s grand inquisitor.
© 2019 Dow Joiines & Company, Inc.