Nick Kristof writes:
Mention the words "evangelical missionary," and many Americans conjure up an image of redneck zealots' forcing starving children to be baptized before they get a few crusts of bread.
Read the whole thing.
Actually, this is something of a mirror of the Professor's entry on Nick's column titled "God on Their Side." I read Nick's column in the airport yesterday and thought about fisking it when I got home, then I read Glenn Reynold's post this morning that would seem to be approving of Nick's thesis, which offers, at best, a backhanded compliment for people doing things we all hold up as exemplars of humanity.
You tell me, if you read the first paragraph of Nick's column offered above, do you then approach the rest of what Nick has to write with something of a different attitude than if you read the last paragraph first as Glenn Reynold's post did?
I'm certainly not an evangelical Christian, though I know several people who are. I'm quite certain that Nick knows none well or he wouldn't pander to his illiberal readers with such stereotypes. While there may well be some remnants of the 19th century archtype that Nick and his ilk refuse to moderate their thinking about, all the evangelical Christians I know are amongst the most decent, altruistic people I know. One of my evangelical Christian friends uses all his spare time to set up a mission in the inner city to help those that most New York Times editorial page readers wouldn't deign to help except through government programs using other people's money. They certainly aren't going to put themselves at risk as he does. Another of my evangelical Christian friends has a daughter who just graduated from college. She is a brilliant mathemetician who could do just about anything, but she has decided to go to Africa as a missionary for her life's work.
Oh, did I mention that both of these friends are well educated and quite conservative? But, then again, to acknowledge that intelligent, conservative, evangelical Christians might be something other than "redneck zealots' forcing starving children to be baptized before they get a few crusts of bread" doesn't fit the worldview of the paper which publishes "All the opinions fit to print."
You'll have to pardon me if the mere mention of the words "New York Times columnist" conjures up an image of a detached elitist who would prefer that children starve rather than be fed if there is any proselytizing going on. Unless, of course, it is on behalf of his own statist agenda.