William McGurn: Are Americans Bigots?





[William McGurn is a columnist for the WSJ.]

When in 1983 Ronald Reagan characterized the Soviet Union as an "evil empire," the reaction from his betters was swift. Writing in the New York Times, Anthony Lewis called it "primitive"—and wondered (naturally) what the Europeans would think. A headline in Time referred derisively to "The Right Rev. Ronald Reagan." All agreed on one thing: this kind of black-and-white moralizing had no place in American politics.

Now cut to today, where moralizing about the ugly motives of the American people has become common. Whether it's a federal judge declaring there exists no rational opposition to same-sex marriage, a mayor railing against those who would like a mosque moved a few blocks from Ground Zero, a Speaker of the House effectively likening the majority of her countrymen who did not want her health-care bill to Nazis, or a State Department official who brings up the Arizona law on immigration in a human-rights discussion with a Chinese delegation, the chorus is the same: You can't trust ordinary Americans.

In his ruling on California's Proposition 8, federal district court Judge Vaughn Walker gives us the most dressed-up version. Not only does he find the state initiative upholding traditional marriage unconstitutional, his opinion maintains that those who disagree—the majority of California voters—can be motivated only by bigotry....



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