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It has been a pleasure editing the Public Eye for the past four-and-a-half years, and meeting committed writers who want to share a more analytical, less attack-driven view of the U.S. Right. So yes I am moving on, but not without taking the time to share a bit of what I learned.
The Public Eye has confirmed my belief that research and thoughtful analysis can enhance our struggle to make a just world. The latest example can be found right in this issue: Kapya Kaoma’s research on the U.S. Christian Right’s influence in Africa. Kaoma reports that while the Christian Right stirs up culture war sentiment against gays in Africa, they also succeed in casting gay rights as a Western import, part of a neocolonial agenda to take over the continent. Those who defend LGBT people are too easily dismissed as submitting to Western domination. This has immediate implications for strategy, and Kaoma encourages Americans concerned about the anti-homosexuality bills in Uganda and Rwanda to challenge the U.S. Christian Right here who might actually have some influence there. His acute sense that Rick Warren must speak out against the Uganda bill, which would subject LGBT people to the death penalty for certain actions, sparked a successful national campaign that left me in awe of the power of keen insight.
I’ve also learned that some progressives want to know about the Christian Right only to make fun of it. Increased partisanship and the cartoon communication nurtured by the blogosphere all contribute to this tendency. I cringe while watching smug web videos trashing true believers, most recently women standing in line waiting for Sarah Palin on her recent book tour. I become impatient at those who dismiss the Right as “antiwoman” so overlooking how women leaders and even feminists on the Right legitimize what I consider horrendous policy ideas. Our passions and certainties can be distorting, so we fail to see important trends reshaping politics, like evangelical youth’s skepticism about the old timers (where will this lead?), or the largely White anti-abortion movement’s attempts to reach African American church goers, all covered in these pages.
My background researching the secular Right during McCarthyism did not prepare for all I had to learn about the religious Right to do my job well. Thank you to all who were so patient in teaching me about this crucial part of American political life. And stay tuned for a new Public Eye, as it begins to cover the success stories coming from progressive movements more systematically. This double winter 2009/spring 2010 issue gives the publisher time to reorient the publication under new leadership. We all owe our thanks to Political Research Associates for remaining dedicated to presenting in depth, high quality analysis of the Right even as our media world feeds on sound bites and quick takes that often lead nowhere close to justice. – Abby Scher