Grand Democratic Strategy

Readers of the Houston Chronicle may think they know where "this is all going to go"-especially after the Chronicle covered a group called the Texas Faith Network (TFN), an organization "opposed to fundamentalist theology and activism in the education and political arenas." At a TFN conference in Houston, participants concluded that the true enemy in the "war on terrorism" is, as you might have guessed, "religious fundamentalism."

Newsweek's Howard Fineman caused quite a stir in some circles when he reported that the Democratic Party had concocted a strategy to marginalize its Republican opponents by likening them to Muslim extremists. "The theory goes like this," Fineman wrote. "Our enemy in Afghanistan is religious extremism and intolerance. It's therefore more important than ever to honor the ideals of tolerance-religious, sexual, racial, reproductive-at home. The GOP is out of the mainstream, some Democrats will argue [this] year, because it's too dependent upon an intolerant religious right." This theme, of course, was by no means new, as elements in the press have been pushing it for some time. In 2001, New York Times foreign correspondent Douglas Jehl, for example, in an article describing the Saudi government's challenge in dealing with radical Muslims, subtly-or perhaps not so subtly-referred to Islamic extremists simply as "the religious right. "

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