DeMint Launches Own ‘Whispering’ Campaign

Senator Pens Conservative Call to Arms

Posted July 28, 2008 at 2:54pm

Diversity and free speech are good things — except when you’re voicing a conservative or traditional viewpoint, at least according to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and his co-author, J. David Woodard.

DeMint and Woodard begin “Why We Whisper: Restoring Our Right to Say It’s Wrong” by relating their personal experiences of taking unpopular or unfashionable stands on social issues, and then they argue that deteriorating moral standards will lead to a decline in this country’s culture. The book serves as a sort of call to arms for conservatives to raise voices that the authors say have been reduced to a whisper.

DeMint and Woodard take on issues including same-sex marriage, out-of-wedlock births, premarital and extramarital sex, pornography and gambling, often using the language of the Constitution and the words of the Founding Fathers to demonstrate that strong moral character is essential to the country’s well-being. “Benjamin Franklin, himself a man with questionable private behaviors, still recognized that ‘only a virtuous people are capable of freedom,’” they write.

The authors draw a line between moral attitudes from before and after the 1960s, and they suggest a rapid decline in the acceptance of traditional values based on court decisions and the rise in power of what they call “para-government” groups such as the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.

The first several chapters address this shift in attitude, from a traditional-orthodox society based on a Judeo-Christian worldview to a secular, progressive one. They blame the change largely on a self-appointed class of elites who, DeMint and Woodard write, determined it to be their responsibility to promote new kinds of values that leave no room for religious language and have no foundation in morals that stem from religious beliefs.

Subsequent chapters tackle “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” or SLAPP, which they claim can be used to intimidate or wear down Americans who stand up for traditional views or question certain public school teachings, including children’s books about same-sex couples and sex education that excludes talk of abstinence because the idea could be based on a religious belief.

DeMint and Woodard also argue that a free exchange of ideas is stifled by the secular view held by a majority of academics on many college campuses.

In an interview, Woodard, a tenured political science professor at Clemson University, expressed concern that students are writing papers based on what their teachers want to hear, rather than on what they themselves believe. He said he has experienced the way people who hold opposing views are treated on campuses, including not being chosen for various academic committees and being told not to list a book like “Why We Whisper” on a résumé.

“You feel kind of isolated — well, no, you feel really isolated,” Woodard said. “A university is supposed to be a marketplace of ideals. After a while, there is no marketplace of ideals.”

“We’re really just becoming a propaganda machine,” he added.

It isn’t until more than halfway through the 200-page book that DeMint and Woodard get into the costs of certain behaviors that have become culturally acceptable, arguing that sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, pornography and gambling pose a grave threat to both the moral and economic fiber of United States.

“Why We Whisper” will inflame liberal and progressive activists, but will speak to Americans who are concerned about what has become acceptable behavior and who are afraid to raise questions for fear of ridicule or costly legal battles. The authors present arguments based both on the importance of a solid moral structure as well as a look at the long-term economic problems these issues raise.

The arguments would do well with more solid financial numbers and specific examples, but the reasoning used in the book offers a starting point for a conversation about issues facing the country.