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Religious Right Radio Network Broadcasts Lethal Lies About Coronavirus

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

As the U.S. coronavirus death toll passes 1000 and the World Health Organization warns that the country could become the next epicenter of the global pandemic, hosts of the extreme anti-LGBTQ group American Family Association’s (AFA) radio network have been promoting dangerous misinformation about the virus, including by telling audiences to stay away from doctors’ offices and to instead buy vitamin packs. 

Articles on AFA’s website and figures on its radio network American Family Radio (AFR) have disregarded CDC guidelines and endangered their audience’s health by falsely claiming that people infected with coronavirus who are asymptomatic “are not contagious” and that there is an existing cure and vaccine to the virus.

AFR is a right-wing evangelical radio network that regularly spreads anti-LGBTQ misinformation and bigotry. It broadcasts more than 50 shows to nearly 200 stations and affiliates across 35 states and airs 24/7 as a part of AFA’s larger media apparatus, which also includes news website OneNewsNow

AFA’s Bryan Fischer lied that people infected with coronavirus who are asymptomatic are not contagious 

Bryan Fischer — a prominent AFR host who has spewed virulently anti-LGBTQ rhetoric as an AFA employee since 2009 — falsely claimed that people who are infected with the coronavirus and do not exhibit any symptoms “are not contagious.”

In reality, CDC guidance on the transmission of COVID-19 states that “some spread might be possible before people show symptoms,” and several studies “have shown that people without symptoms are causing substantial amounts of infection.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, has also said, “I don’t think there’s any question that someone who is without symptoms and carrying the virus can transmit the virus to somebody else.”

During the March 23 episode of Fischer’s show Focal Point, he falsely claimed that “if people are asymptomatic, they don’t have the cough, they don’t have the respiratory issues, they don’t have a fever, they are not contagious.” Fischer also repeated this claim in an article posted to AFA’s website.

From the March 23, 2020, edition of American Family Radio’s Focal Point:

BRYAN FISCHER (HOST): Now people that are asymptomatic — you might have heard this, asymptomatic transmission, people that don’t have the symptoms — they aren’t contagious. If people are asymptomatic, they don’t have the cough, they don’t have the respiratory issues, they don’t have a fever, they’re not contagious. And so they don’t need to be tested.

Fischer also promoted a claim about an unproven coronavirus cure originally spread on Fox News and later endorsed by Trump

Fischer also made reckless and unproven claims that the antimalarial drug chloroquine is a “vaccine” and a “cheap cure for coronavirus.” There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, and it is projected that one won’t be widely available until at least the middle of next year. Though chloroquine could eventually be effective in treating COVID-19, it requires more testing, and there are some indications that using it can be harmful, including by limiting access to it for those who need it to treat other medical conditions. Fischer’s promotion of chloroquine treatment follows the drug being touted on Fox News and by President Donald Trump.

After a lawyer named Gregory Rigano went on Fox News multiple times to tout the unproven benefits of chloroquine, Fox hosts embraced the treatment and promoted its use to an audience whose health has already been put at risk by the network’s propagandist coronavirus coverage. Fox News falsely identified Rigano as an adviser to Stanford University School of Medicine, which he is not, and Rigano based his claims on a study with serious limitations. According to HuffPost, Rigano’s “claims about chloroquine are unproven, often overstated and potentially harmful.” 

Following Fox’s unfounded promotion of the drug, Trump embraced the treatment and falsely claimed that the Food and Drug Administration had approved it to treat COVID-19. Fauci, who has been attacked by pro-Trump media for allegedly harming the economy, stated that while it could be effective, chloroquine requires further clinical study to “show it is truly safe and effective under the conditions of Covid-19.”

In addition to concerns from medical professionals about its effectiveness, a man in Arizona died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate because he thought it would prevent him from contracting coronavirus. There has also been a shortage of the drug for people who use it to treat lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

During the March 19 episode of Focal Point, Fischer claimed that the drug “keeps you from getting coronavirus, and if you’ve got it, it cures it.” He then repeated this claim during the March 23 edition of AFR’s Life & Liberty Minute and in an AFA article titled “A Cheap Cure for Coronavirus Is Here”; in both, he falsely claimed that researchers discovered chloroquine “cures folks of the virus and acts as a vaccine for those who haven’t yet been infected.”

From the March 19, 2020, edition of American Family Radio’s Focal Point

BRYAN FISCHER (HOST): The good news is that we may have found the silver bullet to stop the coronavirus. It’s a cheap generic antimalarial medication. This thing has been around since 1944. It’s chloroquine phosphate. That’s what it’s called. 

If we can get this into the hands of assisted living facilities, they can inoculate their entire roster of patients with chloroquine. And it’s preventive. It’s prophylactic. It keeps you from getting coronavirus, and if you’ve got it, it cures it.

Fischer has come under fire for praising the global coronavirus pandemic, saying it “might create a fantastic, once-in-a-generation opportunity to reverse some anti-family trends” by protecting children “from being brainwashed into normalizing sexual deviancy, gender confusion, and Drag Queen story hours.” This attack continues right-wing media’s crusade against Drag Queen Story Hour, a national program in which drag queens read children’s books to kids at libraries and schools.

Fischer is a homophobic and anti-Muslim bigot. He regularly uses his AFR platform to disparage the LGBTQ community, including lying that Nazis had “no chance of advancing through the ranks unless you were a hardcore homosexual” and that only “effeminate homosexuals” were sent to concentration camps.

AFR host Bishop E.W. Jackson hosted quack doctor and anti-LGBTQ extremist Steven Hotze, who used the platform to advise listeners to “stay the heck away from doctor’s offices” and to instead buy immune packs from his “vitamin business.” Hotze also said that he is “right” about coronavirus treatment and prevention and “Harvard and all these CDC guys” are “wrong.”

Hotze is an anti-LGBTQ bigot, a disreputable doctor, and the founder and CEO of several bogus Texas-based wellness companies. He is also also a QAnon supporter who has theorized that the “deep state could have been the ones that orchestrated” the pandemic as part of its supposed war against “the patriots.” A damning 2005 Houston Press profile reported that he has inflated his credentials; that “leading experts in women’s health issues say Hotze’s methods are not supported by science and are potentially harmful”; and that “Hotze runs an expensive one-stop shop for thyroid disorder, hormone replacement, yeast infections and allergies, when no medical records show Hotze has training in any of them.”

On March 15, Fox News chose to give Hotze a platform twice in the same day, over any number of credible doctors, and Hotze used it to peddle his vitamins as a preventive coronavirus measure and to spread dangerous misinformation about the virus, including dismissing concerns about the pandemic as people going “totally crazy” and advising viewers to “conduct your life normally.”

During the March 19 edition of The Awakening with Bishop E.W. Jackson, Hotze also claimed that “Harvard and all these CDC guys” are wrong about the coronavirus and that “they don’t talk about how you can keep yourself from getting sick.” This claim, of course, goes against robust, evidence-based guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Harvard Medical School on how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

From the March 19, 2020, edition of American Family Radio’s The Awakening with Bishop E.W. Jackson  

BISHOP E.W. JACKSON (HOST): We don’t hear much about prevention since this is a disease that is opportunistic and attacks those who have a weakened immune system. Obviously, anything you can do to strengthen your immune system has got to be helpful. It can’t possibly hurt, and it certainly might also be able to help.

STEVEN HOTZE (CEO OF HOTZE VITAMINS AND HOTZE PHARMACY): Most importantly, if you want to get your vitamins, I am a vitamin business here, believe it or not. And I came in, I started vitamins back in ‘89 when my dad asked me about a health problem he’d read about a cure for. 

You can ask for a copy of one of my books, and just tell them you heard me on Dr. Jackson’s show. I’ll send you Hormones, Health, and Happiness or Do a 180 and Take Charge of Your Life. I’d be glad to help you out. I like, I admire, and have admired Bishop Jackson for years, and you’re part of his listening audience. And I’ll give you free, won’t charge you anything for it. We’ll ship it — just to help you guys get healthy and well naturally and stay the heck away from doctors’ offices. 

JACKSON: All right, well —

HOTZE: Because as my dad told me, don’t poison your patients like all the other doctors do, son.

From the March 19, 2020, edition of American Family Radio’s The Awakening with Bishop E.W. Jackson

STEVEN HOTZE: I ask myself, and I ask my team over here, my leaders, and I go like, “Am I crazy? Or are they crazy?” You know. “Could I be right, and Harvard and all these CDC guys be wrong?” Yeah. Because, guess what, they don’t talk — they’re all conventional. They don’t talk about how you can keep yourself from getting sick. What they are talking about, “Oh we’ve got a new drug. Oh, chloroquine.” Well, it’s not a new drug. “We could use chloroquine.” Which is fine if you’ve had the chorus virus — I’m sorry, the coronavirus, fine, get some chloroquine and take it. That’s all fine. But why don’t you just not get it. Why don’t you just stay healthy.

Hotze has an extreme anti-LGBTQ record. He has claimed that “‘Satanic cults’ were driving the ‘homosexual movement,’” compared LGBTQ people to “Nazis,” and said that Houston residents should “drive” LGBTQ people “out of our city.” He has also claimed that the movement for LGBTQ equality would give people “a free hand to come and have relations with a minor, molest a child.”

Jackson shares Hotze’s anti-LGBTQ views and often uses his AFR show to attack LGBTQ people, including saying that people who go by gender neutral pronouns are under the “possession” of “multiple demons.”

This Week In Crazy: ‘Every Sexual Deviancy You Can Imagine’

The pitfalls of feminist journalism, sage hiring wisdom of Donald Trump, and the deviant sexual practices of Hillary Clinton. Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the loony, bigoted, and hateful behavior of the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5. Bill O’Reilly

The Fox pundit and master of ceremonies in the No Spin Zone stepped down from on high to declare what sorts of people should and should not be allowed to report on Donald Trump.

If, for instance, you are a woman (or man, for that matter) who believes in equal rights for women, you should be recused and restricted from publishing any piece of journalism on The Donald.

“She is a feminist,” O’Reilly said, referring to a New York Times reporter who co-wrote the piece examining Trump’s record of uncouth remarks and behavior around women. “Trump is a beauty contestant purveyor. Do you let a feminist report on a beauty contestant person who is now turned politician?”

He continued: “If I’m an editor and I know there is a feminist woman in my newsroom, who is brilliant because I think this woman is an excellent reporter, I don’t let her report on a guy like Trump because Trump is the antithesis of that. And so I don’t want any margin of error here, there are plenty of reporters who can do the story, do you not see that?” he asked Bob Woodward, who did not see that, in fact.

Hat tip and video courtesy Media Matters

Next: Anne Graham Lotz

4. Anne Graham Lotz

The daughter of Billy Graham, that titan of American evangelism and Godfather of the Religious Right (emphasis on the God), is keeping the family name proud.

Anna Graham Lotz spoke to Iowa talk radio host to let him know on-air that perennial conservative Christian line about how 9/11 was a warning that we shouldn’t have taken prayer out of public schools… or something.

Right Wing Watch‘s Miranda Blue writes:

If Americans repent, she said, then “there will be peace on our streets” and God will begin to “reveal the plots of our enemies and terrorists before they are carried out” and “control the weather patterns and protect us from these violent storms that are taking human life.”

She added that “God allows bad things to happen” like the September 11 attacks and the mass shooting in San Bernardino “to show us that we need Him, you know, we’re desperate without him.”

At a later point in the interview, Lotz argued that opposition to anti-LGBT legislation, like the recent law in North Carolina, which the Justice Department is fighting, was an example of “evidence that God has backed away and he’s removed His hand of blessing, favor, protection, and he’s just turning us over to ourselves.”

Next: Pamela Geller

3. Pamela Geller

Pamela Geller, enthusiast of Mohammad cartoons and incendiary anti-Muslim subway ads, recently used her tack of vile Islamophobic trolling as a springboard to bash Hillary Clinton and her “lesbian” stooge Huma Abedin.

Geller was, naturally, an early and vocal supporter of Trump’s proposals to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. and his suggestion that he would create a database to track them. Speaking on The Sid and Bernie Show, Geller weighed in on Trump’s likely opponent in the November election, accusing her of having a lesbian affair with her longtime confidant (who happens to be Muslim) Huma Abedin.

“The connection to Huma Abedin cannot be understated,” Geller said. “Her parents are Muslim Brotherhood … come on, we know all about that. For years and years I wrote about that relationship…”

“Are you implying she’s a lesbian?” one of the hosts interjected.

“…a long-rumored affair, for eight or nine years, way even before the Obama presidency!” she concluded.

Geller once likened herself to Rosa Parks because she wasn’t afraid to stick it to “savage” Muslims, so we can describe her affinity to reality as tenuous at best. And she isn’t even the only one this week to follow this line of unreasoning…

Next: Sandy Rios

2. Sandy Rios

American Family Association’s Sandy Rios and Geller must both be getting their talking points from the same listserv.

Right Wing Watch describes Rios’ own descent in to the mire of lesbian-Clinton tin-foil fantasias:

“Hillary Clinton embraces every sexual deviancy you can imagine,” she said, before once again suggesting that the former secretary of state is a lesbian because “there have been more than rumors swirling about her own sexual proclivities since before she became first lady.”

“She’s an advocate of gay marriage, and I mean a strong advocate,” she said. “She’s been endorsed by every radical homosexual activist group in the country, all the major ones, Human Rights Campaign and others, especially in New York. She gets that endorsement for a reason, you know, she gets it for a reason.”

Fittingly for an operative of the American Family Association, one of the most dogmatic and hateful anti-LGBT advocacy groups in the country, Rios has a persistent habit of reducing just about any political situation or national news story into an occasion for some gay-bashing. Hell, she even blamed an AmTrak derailment on the notion that the conductor might have been gay. And last year she told Christians to “prepare for martyrdom” in order to fight gay marriage. Needless to say, she did not take her own advice.

Next: Healy Baumgardner 

1. Healy Baumgardner

Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson is a rare talent: she exhibits adamantine poise even while defending and articulating her boss’ most vile, outlandish, and ignorant claims.

The Trump surrogate who showed up on CNN Wednesday, campaign senior press representative Healy Baumgardner, is no Katrina Pierson.

“Well, I think top line, Mr. Trump’s point is that he wants to keep an open dialogue and repair relationships with world leaders,” she said, by way of not explaining at all why her boss had been singing the praises of North Korea’s dictator.

“Healy, you can’t give us any more guidance on this?” asked a pained Carol Costello. “You are the senior press representative for Mr. Trump.”

“I am. Exactly,” she said, unfazed. “And what I’m telling you is that top line, you know, one of his biggest goals is to repair relationships with leaders throughout the world.”

That’s not a typo. Healy, like a malfunctioning Rubio, sputtered and repeated the same bromidic buzz phrase twice in a row. (“Top line” sells Trump Steaks maybe, but I’m not sure it applies to one of the most universally condemned dictators on the global stage right now.)

Later in the segment Costello pressed Baumgardner on Trump’s decision to meet with Henry Kissinger: “So Healy, I want to ask you about something else. Mr. Trump is expected to meet with Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state. […] Why Henry Kissinger and not another secretary of state?”

Costello waited. And waited. And waited. For one precious, sparkling moment, there was silence on CNN, as the three talking heads all blinked at each other across the void in quiet anticipation of a talking point that never arrived.

“Healy?” Costello asked.

“I’m sorry, was that question to me? Oh. Yes. Sorry about that. I had a little feedback,” she replied, having apparently borrowed the old “failed earpiece” gambit that served her boss so well when he initially refused to denounce David Duke. “Mr Trump regularly meets with experts and highly respected individuals. And, you know, he values their input and their feedback.” After somehow managing to work in some accidental wordplay on the word “feedback,” she returned to safety net of silence.

“And what do you suppose they’ll talk about?” Costello asked. “Do you know, Healy?”

Baumgardner sputtered for a moment before saying that she “can’t confirm or deny the meeting,” forgetting perhaps for a moment that the fact of the meeting occurring was never in question. “I do know that Mr. Trump values feedback from highly respected individuals and experts. And he will have those conversations as he deems fit.”

It was as if a hungover algorithm had been tasked with creating the most content-free sentences a human could possibly speak in the English language.

As mortifying as the CNN segment was, the real threshing came later on social media, as most everyone lined up to ridicule Baumgardner. (A video of the segment is viewable here.)

Trump loves to talk about how he will surround himself with the “best people.” What a rotten irony that a CNN segment about Trump’s poor judgment, namely, his avid support of Kim Jong-un, should become such a glaring demonstration of that very shortcoming, in his senior press representative.

Illustration: DonkeyHotey via Flickr

Check out previous editions of This Week In Crazy here. Think we missed something? Let us know in the comments! Get This Week In Crazy delivered to your inbox every Friday, by signing up for our daily email newsletter.

This Week In Crazy: Come, Armageddon

Despite prior warnings to this effect, which turned out to be premature, conservative right-wingers are quite sure that this time it really is the End Times.

Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the loony, bigoted, and hateful behavior of the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5. Kevin Swanson

2015-11-06-kevin-swanson-cow-manure-right-wing-watch-screen-grab-640So much has been made of pastor Kevin Swanson’s “kill-the-gays rally,” as Rachel Maddow aptly characterized it, that I almost hesitate to include him on this week’s list. But if a crazed man announcing that, were he invited to his gay son’s wedding, he’d “sit in cow manure” and “spread it all over my body” doesn’t make the TWIC page, then the TWIC page has no meaning.

Swanson’s epic caterwaul continues: “I’m not laughing! I’m grieving! I’m mourning!” He characterized gay people as being riddled with sores, and wailed that “People are carving happy faces on the sores! That’s not a nice thing to do! Don’t you dare carve happy faces on open, pussy sores!!”

This mewling, hysterical tantrum was part of Swanson’s protracted introduction of, improbably, three GOP presidential candidates — Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal — who attended the Des Moines rally in an apparent demonstration that the Iowan evangelical vote is so valuable a candidate will stoop to even the most shameful low. (While onstage, Cruz insisted that atheists and nonreligious people were unfit to be president — to rapturous applause.)

While he explained that homosexuality was a capital offense, Swanson stopped short of saying civil leaders should actually be the ones sentencing them to death — but only because “we need some time for homosexuals to repent.”

Of course, the candidates’ campaigns are already backpedaling: Huckabee is now saying he didn’t know what he was getting into, a pretty dubious claim — considering the bevy of material on Swanson’s history of hateful anti-gay, anti-women rhetoric that’s readily available online, and the fact that media outlets and watchdog groups were making a lot of noise about this last week.

But Jesus never used Google, so apparently neither does Huck.

Next: Pat Robertson

4. Pat Robertson

PatRobertsonScreenshotPat Robertson, the ill-tempered wax sculpture who hosts The 700 Club, has some hard words for anyone who thinks they can be both gay and Christian at the same time. (Hint: you can’t.)

Taking a question from a viewer on that subject on his show Tuesday, Robertson said that any such person would be “misguided and a hypocrite,” calling the trend of gay-friendly churches “the last stage of Gentile world apostasy.”

The only churches worth a damn, in Robertson’s view, are the ones that look on miscarried babies as God’s deliverance from future Hitlers, treat anorexia like a case of demonic possession, or believe that marriage equality will lead to Christians being forced into sodomy. Such sensible dogma.

Of course, Mad Pat isn’t the only one who believes the End Times are upon us…

Via Right Wing Watch

Next: Michele Bachmann

3. Michele Bachmann

Michele BachmannThe former congresswoman who recently blamed floods in South Carolina on the nuclear deal with Iran, is off on another one of End-Is-Nigh kicks, espying portents of Armageddon in every news clipping and slice of fresh toast she comes across. “It’s literally day by day by day,” she said. “We’re seeing the fulfillment of scripture right in front of our eyes, even while we’re on the ground.”

On a recent taping of Family Research Council president Tony Perkins’ Washington Watch radio show, she encouraged Christian Americans to get busy ticking off their pre-apocalypse bucket list, among which items, she said, should be the conversion of as many Jews as possible.

Per Right Wing Watch, Bachmann said that Christians “recognize the shortness of the hour,

and that’s why we as a remnant want to be faithful in these days and do what it is that the Holy Spirit is speaking to each one of us, to be faithful in the Kingdom and to help bring in as many as we can — even among the Jews — share Jesus Christ with everyone that we possibly can because, again, He’s coming soon.

Via Right Wing Watch

Next: Judge Scott Johansen

2. Judge Scott Johansen

Update below.

A Utah judge ordered Tuesday that the infant foster child of a married lesbian couple be removed and reassigned to a heterosexual couple. His decision was based entirely on the fact that the child’s foster parents were lesbian.

April Hoagland and Becky Peirce have been raising the child for the last three months, along with Peirce’s 12- and 14-year-old children, and they are joined in support by both the foster child’s state-appointed attorney and her biological mother, who does not wish to see the family broken up.

From KUTV:

The women, who are legally married and were approved as foster parents in Utah earlier this year after passing home inspections, background checks and interviews from DCFS [Utah Division of Child and Family Services], said the judge told them there was a lot of research that indicated children who are raised in same-sex parent homes do not do as well as children who are raised by heterosexual parents.

Judge Scott Johansen apparently did not actually name or cite the vague research on which he based his decision, and because this is a family court ruling, the court records have not been released. The New Civil Rights Movement notes that there is “no valid research that proves children raised by same-sex parents do not perform as well as children raise by different-sex parents,” and that the “most widely publicized study that claimed to show adult children raised by same-sex parents, authored by Mark Regnerus, has been thoroughly discredited by the scientific community.”

Johansen is same juvenile court judge who dispensed some eye-for-an-eye justice in 2012, when said he would reduce a 13-year-old girl’s sentence if her mother agreed to chop off her ponytail in the courtroom, and asked her to keep chopping to the satisfaction of the complainant.

Maybe there’s a reason we don’t rely on Old Testament justice anymore.

American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer was quick to voice his support for the judge’s ruling, raving about the “sexual purity” and “sexual integrity of our children” on his show Thursday, and affirming he was “100 percent standing behind” Johansen.

“We should never countenance policies that place children in same-sex households,” Fischer said, repeating the same debunked studies that Judge Johansen presumably invoked.

That would probably be enough to land Fischer on the list this week, however…

Next: Bryan Fischer

Update: Judge Johansen amended his decision Friday, saying that the DCFS did not have to take the infant child away from Hoagland and Peirce next week, as originally ordered. There is still a custody hearing scheduled for Dec. 4.

1. Bryan Fischer

BrianFischerThe folks at the American Family Association uploaded video of Bryan Fischer’s taping of his Wednesday radio show under the header “Wars with other nations not just military conflict but spiritual warfare.”

Talk about burying the lede. Don’t sell yourselves short, AFA. The torrent of verbal ipecac flowing from Fischer’s mouth this week is so much more revolting than that.

Fischer discusses the story of Babylon sacking Jerusalem, as told in the Book of Jeremiah. In Fischer’s gloss, the story of a pagan nation that became an instrument of God’s wrath has special bearing for modern-day America, because like Jerusalem of 587 B.C.E., we too have experienced a smiting in the form of an invasion of godless infidels. Fischer is referring, of course, to the attacks of September 11, 2001, which he characterizes as God’s “wake-up call” to a “Christian nation” to get its act together.

Fischer continued:

I believe — I’m not saying that I know this — God hasn’t told me this one way or another, but I think it’s possible that 9/11 was exactly that. That was God using an utterly pagan, godless, demonic religion and the followers of that utterly pagan, godless, and demonic religion to discipline a Christian nation that has entered into a covenant relationship with God. It’s God’s way of giving us a wake-up call and it’s god’s way of demonstrating that He will not be mocked…

Needless to say, there is no section of any U.S. history textbook (outside of Texas, anyway), which tells the story of how the founders entered into a covenant with the Christian God. But that’s small change — just a few weeks ago, Fischer actually argued that the Constitution gave states free rein to bulldoze mosques.

Number the stars, Bryan. So shall your fallacies be.

Image: US Department of Energy via Wiki

Check out previous editions of This Week In Crazy here. Think we missed something? Let us know in the comments!

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This Week In Crazy: The Stupidity Of A Free State

A well-regulated militia — which consists predominantly of disturbed white men who retch at the mere mention of “regulation” — being necessary to the stupidity of a free state, we can always look forward to hearing more pro-gun idiocy after a tragedy, such as the one that took place last week in Oregon.

Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the loony, bigoted, and hateful behavior of the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5. Michele Bachmann

Michele BachmannOh good, Michele Bachmann is still posting every crass, cold-blooded, idiotic thought that pops into her head on social media.

You may recall that back in April the former congresswoman protested the Iran nuclear deal by likening President Obama’s leadership to the Germanwings pilot who deliberately steered his plane into the Alps, calling the president “a deranged pilot flying his entire nation into the rocks.”

She’s gotten less creative with the metaphors, but no less insipid with her remarks, telling her Twitter followers on Sunday that the catastrophic flooding in South Carolina is God’s punishment for our pursuit of diplomacy in the Middle East. The United States, she tweeted, “turns it back on Israel, disasters following [sic].”

Cause and effect aren’t Bachmann’s strong suits, if she has any. This isn’t the first time Bachmann has coarsely invoked divine wrath as our comeuppance for foreign policy decisions she doesn’t agree with. Right Wing Watch notes that she had suggested back in April that natural and economic disasters would befall the nation if we, as she characterized it then and now, turned our back on Israel.

And this has been a recurring motif for Bachmann, who shortly before she left office told the president (to his face) to bomb Iran, and she did it at a holiday party. Ho ho ho.

Next: Tucker Carlson

4. Tucker Carlson

It can be tempting for gun-control advocates to see those countries that pass strict regulations on assault weaponry as utopian safe havens where the streets are paved with background checks.

It is equally tempting for conservatives to mischaracterize any reasonable attempt at gun control as a full-throated war against liberty — and so any country that has achieved it must be demonized.

So it was on Fox & Friends Sunday morning, when co-host Tucker Carlson declared that because they had the temerity to enact sane gun laws in the wake of their own tragic mass shooting, there is “no freedom” in Australia.

In fact, he continued, if you say anything unpopular Down Under, you can be locked up in jail. Really, any country where gun laws are in effect is under the thumb of tyranny.

Carlson claimed that the problem with passing gun control laws in Australia is: “They also have no freedom. You can go to prison for expressing unpopular views in Australia. And people do. And in Western Europe, by the way. And in Canada. No one ever says that.”

Suffice it to say, this big Aussie bugaboo described by Carlson is about as far from reality as… well, as Fox News.

If I’m being charitable, Carlson is referring to hate-speech laws that exist in both Canada and Australia, but his portrait of these nations as Orwellian hellholes where freedom doesn’t exist is disingenuous in the extreme. (In case you were wondering, democracy is alive and well in these countries.)

You can see the video of the segment below, courtesy of Raw Story:

Once again, Fox News has speciously mischaracterized other nations as dystopian simply to make a point. Earlier this year, the network had to backpedal in a big way after a guest, Steven Emerson, explained to Fox viewers that various enclaves in Western Europe has been converted into “no-go zones” ruled by Sharia law, and his claims went completely unchallenged on the air.

Next: Bryan Fischer

 

3. Bryan Fischer

Bryan Fischer — the spokesman of the American Family Associate hate group and perennial TWIC piñata — has been on a roll this week.

On his radio show Focal Point Tuesday, Fischer explained to his listeners that gay men are more dangerous than guns.

“Did you know that there is something that is entirely preventable… and it is killing more people than guns? You know what that is? It’s men having sex with men.” Fischer claims that this is “not my opinion” by invoking CDC and FBI statistics, comparing gun homicides to deaths from AIDS.

“The bottom line,” he said, “is that we could save more lives by banning homosexuality than we could by banning guns.” (Insert usual clarification about how nobody who has a pulpit worth a damn is talking about “banning guns” en masse, but that’s the least of Fischer’s transgressions here.)

This is a constant hangup for Fischer, who — like many conservatives of late — has advanced the notion that we need to be more like Russia, particularly by emulating that country’s anti-gay propaganda crusade.

(After Fischer’s rant concludes, he takes a call from a woman lamenting that the military hasn’t overthrown Obama, and that Christians need to stand up to him and his jihadi Muslim brethren waiting in the woodwork to steal the country “that God gave us.” Give a listen and shed a tear for the nation. “I think a lot of people agree with you,” Fischer says, but that as “attractive and appealing” as the idea of a coup is, it’s ultimately inadvisable. Better to go the impeachment route. Whew.)

Fischer had some other highlights this week, including a lengthy rant on his show Thursday about how Americans could stand to learn more from “the anger of Jesus.”

Using his own recent blog poston the subject as a touchstone, Fischer claims that in our culture, “The Gospel has been feminized. The Gospel has been emasculated. Christianity has been wussified.”

“Jesus,” Fischer said, “was the ultimate muscular Christian.”

Enough of this “turn the other cheek” hokum; eschew that namby-pamby “tolerance.” Be a “muscular Christian” and take the fight to the sinners! You can begin by banning homosexuality (see above). Fischer is careful to note that Jesus used a whip.

Next: Ben Carson

2. Ben Carson

Ben Carson has gotten plenty of well-deserved flak for his tone-deaf and tangled responses to the shooting in Oregon last week.

He said on his Facebook page, that despite all the horrible gun violence he had witnessed as a doctor, he “never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away,” implicitly putting the sacred right to fire 10 rounds without reloading on a par with the lives lost in Roseburg, Charleston, Aurora, Newtown, et al.

On Fox & Friends Tuesday, he encouraged would-be victims of a gun shooting to charge at the shooter (great doctor’s advice).  “I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” he said. “I would say: ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.'” 

The Nightly Show‘s Larry Wilmore called attention to another one of Carson’s characteristic chasms of ignorance, pointing out that the presidential candidate was so uninformed he apparently did not know that someone had tried to do just that in Roseburg.

Carson didn’t stop there. Per Mother Jones:

On Wednesday, Carson doubled down on these controversial comments in an interview with CBS This Morning. “I would ask everybody to attack the gunman because he can only shoot one of us at a time,” he said. “That way, we don’t all wind up dead.”

That brings us to Wednesday evening, when Carson appeared on a radio show and described an actual episode in which he was faced with a gunman. In Carson’s telling, he responded quite differently in this real-life scenario than he said he would have reacted if faced with a possible shooter. “I have had a gun held on me when I was in a Popeye’s in Baltimore,” Carson told Sirius XM’s Karen Hunter. “[A] guy comes in, put the gun in my ribs. And I just said, ‘I believe you want the guy behind the counter.'”

You can view Carson’s remarks here.

Honestly, the notion that Carson wouldn’t take his own advice can only be a comfort — considering some of his advice.

Next: Ted Nugent 

1. Ted Nugent

Ted Nugent is the gun nut who gives other gun nuts a bad name. And when a mass shooting happens in America, he is not to be outdone by anyone else in the vulgar, remorseless remarks department — not even Dr. Carson.

Writing in his WorldNetDaily column, Nugent describes a “fundamentally transformed America, a heartbreaking embarrassment where rugged individualism, self-sufficiency and self-defense is scorned and condemned and, horror of horrors, outright forbidden” in any state that maintains reasonable gun laws or in any library, school, airport, or church where — y’know — you can’t bring your gun.

“I smell dirty, rotten, anti-American, criminal loving, constitutional oath violating infringement running amok where the Second Amendment no longer exists,” Nugent raves.

Echoing conservatives’ debunked line about the dangers of gun-free zones, Nugent continues: “Gun-free zones are a self-inflicted suicidal curse and send a big, crazy message to evil people to come and get us. We are unarmed. We are helpless. Do with us as you may.” (For what it’s worth — and being a pesky fact, it’s probably worth very little to Nugent and his ilk — one is allowed to carry a gun on the Umpqua Community College campus.)

Any reasonable measures taken by lawmakers and activists to restrict the senseless proliferation of assault rifles in our country is, in Nugent’s schema, a “big lie of political correctness.”

Charging at the shooter, as Carson suggests, is insufficient. The only answer: “Get a damn handgun. Practice with it. Train with it. Learn to carry it hidden and discreetly.” He continues:

If someone is approaching you with the intent to do grave bodily harm, and you will know it when it happens, try to escape to the best of your ability, but if there is no escape, pull out your weapon and aim for center mass and start shooting. Keep on shooting until you believe the threat to be over.

With zero irony or perhaps without a functioning mirror, Nugent decries his countrymen for being “so callous, so dishonest” and so beset with “denial as to ignore this self-imposed death wish upon their fellow Americans.”

And I think Nugent is absolutely correct when he writes: “Insanity is pandemic when a society continues to repeat the same thing over and over again and again and have the life-destroying audacity not only to expect different results, but to actually push for more of the same and increase the conditions resulting in yet more massive loss of life.”

“What sort of blind, uncaring idiot fails to admit to the pattern here?” he asks. He doesn’t need to look very far.

Via Mediaite

Photo: “2015 ‘Southern’ But Really Confederate Heritage DC Rally.” Taken September 5, 2015. (Stephen Melkisethian via Flickr)

This post has been updated.

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