Thursday, May 26, 2005

May 25, 2005

You Get Burned

For months I have been warning right-wing Republicans who were pandering to the fundamentalist Christian right that they were playing with fire. I reminded them that history teaches an unambiguous lesson on this to anyone willing to listen. That lesson is this: You can never satisfy religious fundamentalists. Never.

Every time one of these so-called “culture wars’ breaks out, the progression of events is exactly the same. The process, which works itself out over a matter of years, goes like this:

* The march of social reform and science inevitably offends/threatens rigid religious constituencies.
* Fundamentalists cry foul, claim they are being discriminated against and/or persecuted and start raising hell.
* They get noticed. Conservative politicians smell opportunity and reach out to cultivate these up-for-grabs voters.
* With that political support fundamentalists win a few rounds and the first rules/laws reflecting early fundamentalist demands are enacted.
* Relative moderates among the fundamentalist forces are assuaged by this and fall silent.
* That leaves the staunchest and least flexible fundamentalists in charge of the newly empowered movement.
* That first taste of blood sends them into frenzy like chicken-killing dogs. They push for more and more draconian rules.
* Eventually they even start scaring the conservative politicians who once supported them. One by one conservative politicians peel off voting against fundamentalist positions.
* Hell hath no fury like a fundamentalist scorned. Now they turn their holy fury against their former supporters.

And so it has come to pass.

“This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats… We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November. I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust." (Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family)

Well, I tried to warn you Republicans. You thought it was going to be so easy, even risk free. And, I have to admit, it worked -- for while, anyway. You rallied the Christian soldiers and helped them dust of and swing the Crusader’s Sword for Christ. And you won a few battles.

Now you get to feel the backside of that sword.

You see, there is nothing simple about fundamentalist movements. They are not a single block, but complicated, layered affairs. The first layers are made up of not-entirely unreasonable people, which give the movement a degree of credibility and sympathy. These folks voice modest concerns, gripes that are usually fairly easy to address.

But the next layer is tougher, as is every layer thereafter. And, once in for dime, you're in for a dollar. Trying to get out is like trying to leave a street gang -- you are going to get one hell of a beating, at the very least. So you hang in, even as the demands got nuttier and nuttier. Layer by layer you tried to stay friends with your fundamentalist “base.” But as each of these layers was revealed, their demands became increasingly unreasonable -- until they became downright frightening.

Just as the Taliban represented the core layer of the Islamic fundamentalist movement, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Gary Baurer, et al, represent the core layers of the Christian fundamentalist movement. (Which is why I believe it is accurate to refer to them as America’s “Christian Taliban.”)

Now you conservatives have a real Frankenstein monster of your own creation on your hands, don’t you? And it bites.

After five years with George W. Bush in power, fundamentalists bagged a number of victories, particularly on family planning issues. For example, fundamentalist "faith-based charities" now get goverment money to teach high school kids condoms don’t work. Not because condoms actually don’t work; they do. And it's not condoms these folks are really against. In fact, I will put hard cash on the table to back my bet that most of these pious wing-nuts use condoms themselves…assuming they get lucky.

No, they oppose condoms because most religious fundamentalists have “issues” about all things sexual. A LOT of issues. A few years on a shrink’s couch would do them a world of good. But no, instead they want the rest of us to share in their repressed, tight-ass, Donny & Marie Osmond, homophobic, misogynistic hangups.

And the minute they don’t get their way, they melt down. Today they are ever so pissed at some of the very conservative politicians who handed them those early victories. They are mad that only three of the seven conservative judges will get approved because of the filibuster deal – nearly half a loaf, but not nearly enough for them. Because, you see, they don’t want to participate in society; they want to run it.

Yesterday the inevitable finally happened. After losing two big ones -- the filibuster compromise and fetal stem-cell research – fundamentalist leaders went ballistic and issued fatwas against the conservatives who abandoned them.

But, not all is lost yet. They still have one big fish in their net, the President. George W. tried to calm his Christian insurgent base by assuring them that he will veto the bill allowing the use of eggs from fertility clinics that would otherwise be destroyed for stem-cell research. Why would Bush do this when polls show that 60% of Americans support the measure?

Here’s why.

(From Slate Magazine)
Dobson….proselytized hard for Bush this last year, organizing huge stadium rallies and using his radio program to warn his 7 million American listeners that not to vote would be a sin. Dobson may have delivered Bush his victories in Ohio and Florida. (Full story)

I could be wrong, but I feel we are seeing is the beginning of the end of the Christian Right as an irresistible force in DC. I think this might be the case because, as other Republicans watch Christian wing-nuts trash their colleagues who voted for compromise on the filibuster and voted to allow science to continue its march forward, they will think to themselves, “Shit, there but for the grace of James Dobson go I.”

So, for the next few months anyway, expect the Christian Right to react pretty much the same way the Catholic Church did in the 13th Century when politicians, actors and just ordinary folk refused to toe God’s line. They will circle the wagons and send out their enforcers:

In 1233, Pope Gregory IX established the papal Inquisition, dispatching Dominican friars to conduct inquests… When an inquisitor arrived, a month of grace was allowed to all who wished to confess to heresy and to recant… After the period of grace, persons accused of heresy that had not abjured were brought to trial. …The trials were conducted secretly in the presence of a representative of the bishop…Torture of the accused and his witnesses soon became customary and notorious, despite the long-standing papal condemnation of torture. Pope Innocent IV ultimately permitted torture in cases of heresy. Most trials resulted in a guilty verdict...(From

Flakes Honor “Snow Flakes”
Did you catch that little televised dog and pony show yesterday? Bush, Tom DeLay and others of that ilk gathered infertile couples that had children by “adopting” unused embryos from fertility clinics.

Bush dubbed such children, “Snow Flakes.”

I am sure each one of those kids is an absolute delight. But that show had no bearing whatsoever to the fetal stem cell debate. What Bush’s Orwellian PR mavens were trying to do was create the impression that unused eggs at fertility clinics are not unwanted eggs. The truth of course is very different, as it almost always is with this administration. The fact remains that, for every frozen embryo “adopted” by an infertile couple, thousands more flushed down the drain or incinerated every year. It may be millions.

But the Snow Flakes affair yesterday is more evidence of the influence of Dobson and his group, Focus on the Family. And, once those little embryos hit the ground as full term humans, Dr. Dobson has parenting advice for their parents: whomp them, early and often. In 1977 Dobson authored the parenting book, Dare to Discipline, a denunciation of permissive parenting that tried to rehabilitate the practice of spanking. So, beware precious little Snow Flakes -- Dobson’s book sold 2 million copies. (What’s in your parent’s bookshelf?)

Dobson did make an observation in one of his books that I agree with entirely. “Evil has a way of overreaching."

And so it has come to pass. Amen.

Speaking of Evil
LONDON, May 25 (Reuters) -- Four years after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, human rights are in retreat worldwide and the United States bears most responsibility, rights watchdog Amnesty International said on Wednesday. (Full Story)

Since the US seems incapable, and/or unwilling, to hold American officials responsible for these violations, Amnesty International is encouraging other nations to do so. It could be that someday we will see a French or German court indict Bush administration officials for torture and other violations of the Geneva accords.


kiss machine said...

so just how long do you suppose it will be until menstruation is declared a sin?

Michael said...

It could be that someday we will see a French or German court indict Bush administration officials for torture and other violations of the Geneva accords.

From your lips (well, fingers) to God's ears . . .