Did you know that you can measure your patriotism by the number of times you’ve seen 13 Hours? It’s true. If you haven’t seen 13 Hours yet, it means you hate America.
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. Michael Pitts
Donald Trump’s enthusiasm for a database tracking American citizens who are Muslim is proving to be a popular notion. South Carolina lawmaker Michael Pitts perhaps took a cue from The Donald when he proposed his own nasty legislation this week that would require all journalists in his state to be entered into a “registry.”
The “South Carolina Responsible Journalism Registry Law” provides that the “Secretary of State’s Office shall create a registry for the registration of persons who qualify as a journalist,” meaning anyone “who in his professional capacity collects, writes, or distributes news or other current information for a media outlet.”
The Post and Courier writes that the bill has “virtually no chance of advancing but is meant to reflect a lawmaker’s personal political statement.”
Pitts told The Post and Courier his bill is not a reaction to any news story featuring him and that he is “not a press hater.” Rather, it’s to stimulate discussion over how he sees Second Amendment rights being treated by the printed press and television news. He added that the bill is modeled directly after the “concealed weapons permitting law.”
“It strikes me as ironic that the first question is constitutionality from a press that has no problem demonizing firearms,” Pitts said. “With this statement I’m talking primarily about printed press and TV. The TV stations, the six o’clock news and the printed press has no qualms demonizing gun owners and gun ownership.”
Pitts, you’ll recall, is the same Palmetto lawmaker who fought like hell last summer to frustrate the effort to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds. He did so primarily by introducing a host of amendments, some patently frivolous, in order to obstruct the passage of the bill that would lower the flag. The Daily Caller reported that Pitts also “stymied the debate over the bill by steering the conversation toward the ‘Trail of Tears’ and complications in his marriage, presented by his use of hearing aids.” And The State noted that, as another of his amendments got tossed out, he compared himself to General Robert E. Lee surrendering to Union forces at Appomattox.
While we’re discussing his record, it may interest readers to review what I wrote back in July:
Unsurprisingly, Pitts’ voting record aligns with a constellation of far-right positions. He is opposed to all legal abortion even in the case of incest or rape; he has sponsored a bill that would prohibit any local municipalities in the state from enacting or enforcing their own gun control laws; he opposes marriage equality and the inclusion of gender identity and sexual orientation in South Carolina’s anti-discrimination laws.
At least he’s consistent.
4. Gary Cass
Meet Gary Cass, founder of the disingenuously named Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, which also maintains the blog DefendChristians.org (a similarly sketchy moniker).
A writer for Patheos — one of the best online resources for those seeking reliable, reasoned writings about the world’s religions — once described Cass as “a sick individual — a little dumb, a lot dishonest, and hateful through and through,” and also a “pro-violence, pro-death guy who wants to kill a billion human beings.” That blogger was referring specifically to a piece Cass wrote in Sept. 2014, entitled “I’m Islamophobic, Are You?” which enjoined Christians to slaughter the global population of Muslims en masse.
This week, Cass is here to educate us on the Biblical underpinnings of our nation’s founding — specifically, he wants us to understand that all of our elected officials must be Christian men.
In a video released Wednesday, Cass insists that “we need a leader who is alive spiritually and who will lead in the fear of God” and also that the “biblical biological requirement for office is you must be male.” This is naturally owing to the fact that “God established man as the head of the woman and the woman as his helpmate,” and our roles in the family ought to find a mirror in our roles in society.
Cass’s brand of Christian extremism may be a step too far for most conservatives, but the notion that we are a Christian nation (or a “Judeo-Christian nation,” the shifty hedge more commonly heard on the campaign trail) isn’t a foreign one. It has remarkably insidious currency among GOP politicians, who have used their faith to bolster policy positions fighting legal abortion and marriage equality. And even a relatively moderate Christian Republican like John Kasich is guilty of making absurdly retrograde comments about “women’s roles.”
So Cass is “out there,” sure. Just not as far out there as we might like to believe.
Hat tip and video courtesy of Right Wing Watch
3. Fox News
Ted Cruz devoted his closing statement in last week’s GOP debate to promoting the latest action movie from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen director Michael Bay — 13 Hours, a fictionalized retelling of the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were murdered. The cable network Fox News dutifully picked up where the senator left off, and has been promoting the film as part of their interminable project to shock more life into a scandal that they continue to hope will derail Hillary Clinton’s prospects.
Media Matters writes:
In addition to using the movie to push the debunked “stand down order” myth, Fox has argued that Bay’s film could “pose a threat” to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Fox’s Andrea Tantaros argued, “if anyone sees this movie … and then goes on to vote for Hillary Clinton, they’re a criminal.” Prime-time host Megyn Kelly, during a segment that pushed multiple Benghazi myths, said the movie “reintroduces Benghazi as a potential campaign issue that cannot be helpful to Mrs. Clinton.”
The Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple wrote on his blog Tuesday that, in their relentless (and dubious) reporting — nominally on the question of whether or not the film will influence the election — they are, in fact, transparently shilling for the film. Wemple distinguishes between the film and the book on which 13 Hours is based, which he has praised for digesting on-the-record testimony “into a format that explains a great deal, like how vulnerable Stevens and other State Department were at their Benghazi outpost and how CIA and State Department bureaucracy inhibited crisis decision-making.” The movie is another animal though, and Fox News is using its release as a pretext to inflame passions about Benghazi all over again.
“Fox News isn’t acting as a news organization, which reports events as they arise,” Wemple writes. “It’s acting as an advocacy organization, verily rooting for the movie to tilt the contemporary political debate.”
Media Matters was more pithy in their headline: “Fox Called Out For Abandoning Any Pretense As A News Organization.”
2. Ted Nugent
Gun nut Ted Nugent all but suggested the president should be lynched. Oh, okay, I’m sorry — he only said that President Obama “should be tried for treason & hung. Our entire fkdup gvt [sic] must be cleansed asap.” In what court he should be tried, and by what means the “fkdup gvt” should be “cleansed,” he did not say. I’m guessing there would be a high demand for ammunition, though.
Nugent is incensed that, as he wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday, “[o]ur unholy rotten soulless criminal America destroying government killed 4 Americans in Banghazi. [sic]”
This is the same man who responded to events like the Sandy Hook massacre by insisting that the whole idea that innocent children were being gunned down was just a “Big Lie,” yet here repeats the thoroughly debunked conservative media myth that President Obama and/or then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a “stand down” order. The “stand down” order, like much of the conservative rhetoric on the subject of the Benghazi attack, does not align with reality, according to PolitiFact. Yet it does apparently make an appearance in 13 Hours, which, as I noted, conservative pols and pundits have been discussing and promulgating with the reverence they usually accord to Holy Writ (or the Second Amendment, minus the “well regulated” part).
Nugent always files his vile syndicated column from a reality of his own making: He has insisted that gun-free zones are “slaughter zones” that should be outlawed, and that living without a gun is an “irresponsible, suicidal choice that will get you killed.” So I suppose getting his gospel from the director of Armageddon isn’t a huge leap.
Hat tip Media Matters
1. Sarah Palin
At the risk of giving her more attention than she deserves (which is to say, any at all), it cannot be denied that Sarah Palin is back in the limelight this week. And she has been in rare form.
After some mercifully quiet wanderings in the politico-media wilderness, the once (and perhaps future) VP candidate cannily re-entered the news cycle on Tuesday by hitching her wagon to the Trump train, in the form of a much-heralded, much-more-talked-about endorsement.
Palin’s enthusiastic (and often nonsensical) speech in support of The Donald has been the subject of much mockery, head-scratching, and literary analysis. Suffice it to say, the Hockey-Mom-in-Chief is in her element, playing some of her old ’08 hits (Remember “Drill, Baby, Drill”? How about “community organizer”?), as well as some new accidental coinages. (From the bard who brought you “refudiate,” here’s “squirmishes,” a new Palinism that she used to describe the conflict in the Middle East.)
The fact that the original Tea Party darling has wholeheartedly embraced a onetime registered Democrat from Gotham has baffled and aggravated pols and pundits of the Right, who still insist that Trump is a GOP interloper. But the truth is, their union is a meeting of the whatever-qualifies-as-their-minds: Palin’s and Trump’s brand of crazy transcends party affiliation and religion; it dissolves the cultural differences between the Big, Bad City and The Last Frontier; it’s a sad fraternity whose only criteria for admission are a thirst for violence and the cultivation of a loud, defiant ignorance.
And they’re here to stay.
Illustration: DonkeyHotey via Flickr
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