Thank YOU Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart: Welcome Back, my guest tonight, a reporter from the Washington Post and the author of an article in the June 27th issue of the New Yorker called “God and Country.” Please welcome to the program Hanna Rosin.
Nice to see you, come and sit down.
Let’s get to it, the article is “God and Country,” tell me what you did for the article.
Hanna Rosin: So I spent about three months at a place called Patrick Henry College which is a college in Virginia which is supposed to be like a Harvard for Homeschoolers. It’s a school designed for Conservative homeschooled Christian kids and its supposed to train them for “careers of influence” is how they put it, and that mostly means politics. So it hooks them up with internships in Washington, they work in Congress, a lot of them work in the White House and you know…
JS: Now I imagine it would be very difficult for them to gain access to administration like this, are they able to do that?
HR: Oh yeah its extremely difficult, they get a very hostile treatment from the Bush administration and Karl Rove particularly, so yeah.
JS: Very tough.
HR: Very difficult, yeah, yeah.
JS: Now this is, uh, the school’s been in existence for how long?
HR: Five years
JS: And how many kids go to the school?
HR: Three Hundred?
JS: Are you asking me? Cause I’ll say…
HR: Yes, Three hundred, yes, three hundred.
HR: 5,000, no, six million.
JS: I don’t know any of this.
HR: Three hundred, Three hundred.
JS: Now you spent time there, you would think that in an age where many people believe that this administration, is moving things far to the right that the country has gone more conservative, an article like this would be opening Pandora’s Box, the worst of our fears realized.
JS: They seem like nice kids. It actually, it it humanized them in many ways. And I, I, I thought I would like my homeschool to compete athletically against their homeschool.
HR: Well, I mean they are human, they are.
JS: But that’s something that I don’t…
Do you think we have more misconceptions I, I mean us who live in the non-homeschooled evangelical world, about them, or that they have about us and say NY with our gay pride parades?
HR: Right, I was going to say that there are definitely some of them who think of NY as you know, one big gay pride parade.
JS: And by the way, there are parts of NY…
HR: That are one big guy pride parade.
JS: That are one big guy pride… Constant.
HR: And then there are others who might think of New York as one big sort of coven maybe, of Satanists. And then there are others who would at least think of New York as you know, not Christian, which is an insult. And then there are others who would dig it, you know, go to the clubs.
HR: Take it in, be curious.
But what do we think? I mean, we have just as many, right? So we think they’re a bunch of little glassy-eyed Ralph Reedy freaks.
JS: Right, right, automatons, right.
HR: With the Jesus dashboard, the Jesus on the dashboard.
JS: Right, right, right. The Stepford People.
HR: Right, the Stepford People.
JS: And yet not that at all.
HR: Combed and blonde and all that.
JS: A complex…
I believe that there should be, ahh, a melding, that this should be rather than like a draft, that for a year these people have to go and be together. I think you would find it to be enlightening for both sides.
HR: Oh you mean they should have a recon…
Like the Israelis and the Palestinians. There should be places where they go…
JS: Oh yeah, that has worked out great.
HR: Get together then. Yeah. Where would they live then, like where would you put them? Like what neighborhood in New York would you have this?
JS: Meatpacking district. It’s very trendy. But don’t you believe that, after spending time with them, are you uh, encouraged by their humanity or are you frightened by their cloistered nature?
HR: Hmm, I’m not going to…
That is a good question. I mean everybody reads the story and they say “Oh that’s scary,” certain people read the story and they say “Oh I think that’s scary.” It’s hard to spend a lot of time with people and come away thinking its scary. So maybe I would say…
JS: That’s exactly the point though.
HR: Yeah, I mean they need a reality check. I would say so they live in this cloistered world then they’ll go out and work in politics and so things may change, right, it’s hard to keep your pure perfect world and live in the world. So it makes it worse.
JS: But what, what college kid doesn’t need a reality check, I, I mean how many college kids, even when I went to college and I got out and I couldn’t show up at work at noon and go “but I was high.” Like you couldn’t go, you know what I mean, who doesn’t need a reality check when you get out of college?
HR: Right, right, right. That’s a good point, that’s a good point, that’s a good point.
JS: Are you, did you do you feel like you broke through the wall that they would put up for somebody knowing that you’re going to write an article for the “New Yorker.”
JS: Do you feel like you were able to bring them…
HR: With some kids, I would say the women more than the men because you know male figu… Its not so easy to hang out with the men, like women aren’t allowed in men’s dorms and men aren’t allowed in women’s dorms and so there’s all sorts of rules about that so you can’t hang late at night with the guys, so it’s a little harder with the guys, but with the women, sure. I mean it’s a problem for the women, this whole setup because they’re training them to be really ambitious and really political, but then in the end they’re supposed to quit and raise their kids so it doesn’t work so well for them. So with the women you can see the dilemmas, not so much with the men.
JS: And they’re the ones that would express that uh, more more openly to you?
JS: So you don’t think, it’s not automatons they’re they’re, uh.
HR: Definitely not. I would not say that they were automatons, although some of ‘em, some of ‘em.
HR: No, some of them are “on message,” right? You don’t think of a kid, you don’t think of people who are 19 years old as being “on message”…
JS : That’s true.
HR: And I would definitely say that you meet some kids and they’re just super on message and its weird.
JS: And do you think that when they go..
HR: Because we didn’t have a message when we were 19.
JS: Right, but when they go off message, their worldview collapses and they just weep slowly and…?
HR: And crumble and weep over the Jesus on the dashboard, right. Exactly. Yeah, right.
JS: See, so there is hope.
HR: There is hope.
JS: Well, it’s a fascinating article, I’m gonna go down there and throw like a crazy kegger.
HR: You know they love you? Seriously, that was the one surprise for me as I would be there late at night and they’d be watching on their computer screens. I’m not just saying this.
They’d be watching…
JS: Our Show??
I swear, it’s true. I swear on my dashboard it’s true, it’s true.
JS: (Stares into camera, surprised)
Read “God and Country” on NewYorker.com. Hanna Rosin. Thank you for being here.