A hot item on the New York Times website is an op-ed by Harvard professor Robert Putnam (who drew a lot of media notice for his nonfiction book "Bowling Alone") and Notre Dame professor David Campbell called "Crashing the Tea Party." The professors earn their Times real estate by regurgitating the CBS-Times polling on the alleged growing unpopularity of the Tea Party, and calling the Tea Party brand "toxic" for the GOP.

But Putnam and Campbell bring their own data, which purports to find that the Tea Party is even less popular than atheists and Muslims, that they're defined by "low regard for immigrants and blacks," and that their more common characteristic is their theocratic tendences to "mingle religion and politics" which they allege is causing the crash in public support:



 On Monday’s Tavis Smiley show on PBS, during a discussion with author Robert Putnam to discuss his book American Grace, after Putnam recounted the central thesis that various religions in America - and even non-religious people - tend to tolerate each other well compared to other countries, host Smiley made known his view that tolerance is "decreasing" in America and cited attitudes toward Muslims as a recent example. Smiley:

I'm not so sure that our religiosity these days makes us as tolerant as we think we are. Witness, you know, any number of examples of late - namely, Muslims come to mind - about how our tolerance is, it seems to me, decreasing, not increasing.

Moments later, the PBS host brought up the negative views of America held by some as being a nation that is "arrogant," "elitist," "pompous," and "nationalistic." As he analyzed the book’s title by defining the word "grace" as being "unmerited favor," Smiley continued:

And if American grace is then an unmerited favor, I’m trying to juxtapose that grace with what some see as our increasing arrogance, our increasing elitism, how it is that we could be the beneficiaries of this unmerited favor, this grace, and yet, around the world, we don’t appear to be graceful to so many other people. They see us as arrogant, elitist pompous, and not even just patriotic, but increasingly nationalistic.