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Not since Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew— who sneered at "the effete corps of impudent snobs" who criticized their administration — has a major American politician been so fueled by resentments. PALIN's fans love her feistiness and embrace her persona of embattled heroine. (One admiring conservative journalist titled his 2009 book, The Persecution of SARAH PALIN: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star)
But for the conservative evangelicals who make up her base, PALIN's brand of politics holds a special appeal. They, too, have felt mocked and derided by mainstream elites and culture. And the roots of their resentments go back nearly 100 years to a court case that captivated the nation. [...]
A triumph of science over faith
A new breed of secular journalists, led by H.L. Mencken, joyfully mocked the religious "yokels" and "hookworm carriers," and newsreels carried Darrow's demolition of Bryan to Americans in movie houses across the country. In the popular memory, the Scopes trial stood for the triumph of science over faith.
When President Obama said in his inaugural address that his administration would "restore science to its rightful place," the approving roar of the crowd indicated that this cultural divide is still with us. The bitterness and distrust sown among evangelicals and fundamentalists during the Scopes trial never faded. If anything, the gulf between religious conservatives and mainstream society widened. […]
Given this history, it's not terribly surprising that PALIN spends much of her time in a fighting stance. No slight is too trivial to merit a furious response from PALIN. In late March, she blasted the conservative news outlet. The Daily Caller for not doing more to highlight a lengthy statement she had insisted be tacked onto an article for which she commented. She's fond of invoking the term "lamestream media" to mock the journalists she thinks blatantly misrepresent her. And she is locked in a tussle with leading conservatives who have accused her of "playing the victim card."
All of which is of a piece with the way evangelicals chafe at their coverage by the elite news media. They still routinely cite a 1993 Washington Post article that described them as "largely poor, uneducated and easily led." It's the kind of unthinking ridicule that reinforces their perception of cultural isolation.
And it's all the ammunition a politician such as PALIN needs to attract evangelical voters to her victimized everywoman candidacy.
USA Today: Elitist ridicule fuels PALIN's faithful base By Amy Sullivan