Cal Thomas, born in 1942, was an NBC reporter during the 1960s and 1970s and vice president of the Moral Majority during the 1980s. He writes a biweekly syndicated column, delivers a daily radio commentary, and appears regularly on Fox News. Here are edited excerpts of his comments in front of Patrick Henry College students.
Some folks play fantasy basketball games: 1962 Boston Celtics against 2012 Miami Heat. You worked at NBC during the 1960s: If a fantasy journalism team from that era played against one from the present, would “then” or “now” win? Then, without any question. Most journalists at that time were probably liberal and secular, but NBC President Robert Kintner said the news division didn’t have to make money: Entertainment makes the money, so the news division just does news. That gave the news division tremendous freedom to cover what actually mattered, not shark attacks, Kim Kardashian, and other goofball stuff.
What’s happened ideologically over the years? Liberal then, liberal now, but what are the differences? We now have a government/journalism revolving door, usually on the liberal side. Much of journalism today is lazy, taking what particular politicians say at face value and rarely questioning them.
Any advice for young Christians who aspire to work in the mainstream media? Nobody at the national level in television is a committed believer—there is a filtration system and you will be challenged—so go in as a servant. Before I was even a committed believer, I never turned down an assignment, including “Would you get me a cup of coffee?” Nobody else wanted to go at 2 a.m. to Andrews Air Force Base and set up a camera for Secretary of State Henry Kissinger when he came back from some place I never heard of, because he never said anything. I went. One time he actually said something. I was on The Today Show that morning.
You write columns and talk on television: Which stimulates your thought process more? The column, without any question. It not only takes longer to produce, but it lasts longer. You want to see what I said about such-and-such a subject five years ago: You can find it. I haven’t a clue what I said five minutes ago on TV, and I doubt the audience does either.
Then I’ll press you on some columns. You wrote one about “Sex in the City of Washington”: What connection have you seen over the years between sexual misconduct and official misconduct? On Capitol Hill you see all these young women around all these middle-aged or older members of Congress: The power thing is dangerous. It gets to the character question: If a married man cannot control himself in this most fundamental area. Here’s a legitimate question: “Senator, if we can’t believe a promise you have freely made to your wife, on what basis do we judge your credibility when you make a promise to the country?”
You’ve written about same-sex marriage. I oppose same-sex marriage, but I’m much more concerned about the breakup of the heterosexual family. If we can’t keep our own marriages together, what kind of moral power do we have to tell other people they ought to be like us? A lot of conservative politicians are on their second, third, or fourth spouse and are talking about traditional values. That doesn’t have a lot of power.
In “What Arab Spring?” you threw icy water on utopian notions concerning the Middle East. Would Egypt be better off now if Mubarak were still in power? Mubarak kept the lid on between the crazies and the more moderate types. He allowed the Coptic Christians to worship openly for the most part. Now you see Coptic Christians attacked, and the rise of extremist Islam. Take the time to read the charter of the Muslim Brotherhood.
You’ve written, “No new mosque should be built in Western countries.” I know this is dangerous to say because you immediately get labeled an Islamophobe.
We’re journalists, danger is our middle name. Yeah, right. But I read sermons from Middle Eastern mosques that are posted on MEMRI and other websites. I simply quote what the fanatics say in their media, schools, and pulpits. They say they’re coming after us. They want to infiltrate us, subjugate us, and replace the Constitution with Sharia law. They don’t believe we have any backbone to stand up against them, and they may be right. Islam is the least tolerant religion in the history of humanity. And don’t tell me about the Crusades.
I won’t, but how does a “no mosque” policy go with the First Amendment? During the threat from Nazi Germany and Japan during World War II, we didn’t allow German or Japanese schools to teach their view of the world in our country. Now we are inviting people who want to destroy us to come here and build their mosques all over the country, like Starbucks. They’re getting money from the Wahhabi sect of Saudi Arabia, and their textbooks, schooling, and instruction primarily from Saudi Arabia (our supposed ally that wouldn’t be if we didn’t need their oil). It’s totally crazy. If we think we’re going to Westernize them, we are ignorant of the Quran.
Is the Islamist threat now like the Communist threat was a generation or two ago? It’s greater, because the Communists were atheists. They believed that this life is all there is and wanted to live, for the most part. But radical Islamists believe if they kill you they’ll go right to heaven. It’s difficult to negotiate with somebody who believes their god wants you dead. One of the great problems with Western thinking: We think everybody can be made like us if we just give them what they want.
In a culture like ours, how should Christians proclaim beliefs and principles without being obnoxious? The greatest evangelistic tools Jesus of Nazareth gave us were the ones I see least practiced in our culture. Love your enemies: When you start loving your enemies the way God does, they cease being your enemies—and the greater work is done in you. Pray for those who persecute you. Jesus said in the world you will have tribulation and “if they persecuted Me they’ll persecute you.” So don’t take it personally: They’re really persecuting Him in you.
What kinds of idols do we tend to worship? We’re always on big stuff, full stadiums, books, being on TV, all this other business. Jesus is into the small things: mustard seed, widow’s mite, last place at the table, when I am weak then I am strong, humble yourself and He will exalt you, those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
Watch Marvin Olasky's complete interview with Cal Thomas: