When I read this article by Mark Adomanis in Forbes online, I find myself a bit confused. Adomanis mantains that there is a significant strain of American conservatism that looks at l’affaire d’Pussy Riot in Russia and doesn’t get past the fact that the underlying offense occurred in a church. For that reason, while Vladimir Putin and the Russian government may not exactly be good guys, they are at least on the side of justice here, because they are pushing back against bigotry directed at Christianity.
And I think, “Really?” I don’t know anyone who thinks that way. I live in a pretty conservative part of the world, after all, enough so that I often find it necessary to submerge my own politics and views into bland non-statements when confronted with sometimes repugnant opinions. Here, at the online outpost I help man,* there is a near uniformity of thought that imprisoning Pussy Riot is a miscarriage of justice and an obvious abridgement of civil liberties, tempered only by the concession that maybe a slap on the wrist for trespassing in the church would be reasonable.
But Adomanis maintains that my “internationalist” world view is paired with a significant opposition from the “traditionalists.” It seems more like libertarianism versus super-Christianity-boosterism to me, and even most of the enthusiastic Christians I know are not particularly pleased with the idea of a political protest being punished to this degree; they can readily see that expressing one’s political point of view, even if done in a clumsy and vulgar fashion, ought not to earn years of prison time. Like the Pauline Kael of legend, I don’t know anyone who approves of sentencing these women in this way.
So, is Adomanis right? Are there really a lot of people out there who see this as an attack on Christianity? Because maybe I live in a libertarian bubble, one in which there is broad and deep consensus on at least some things. I don’t want to live in a bubble, no matter how comfortable it might feel. If there is real and significant disagreement out there in society about what this thing even is, I want to know it, and at least try to engage with those who disagree.
* That’s a verb, not a noun. Every one of the front pagers really would like more women writers on the masthead here and I know Rose doesn’t even appear on the masthead button yet and if my skillz weren’t so weak, I’d change that myself.