This Week In Crazy: Cranks ‘R’ Us
The pope is a symbol of moral virtue, intelligence, and sound judgment. What the hell is he doing in 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. Pat Buchanan
Kim Davis, the obstinate, law-breaking, homophobic Kentucky county clerk, continues to be the martyr du jour in the hearts of conservative luminaries. As you probably remember, Davis is the woman who cited “God’s authority” and went to jail rather than violate her conscience by issuing licenses to same-sex couples. In doing so, she racked up a considerable lineup of supporters, including GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, as well as those of cycles past… such as, Pat Buchanan, who we can only assume is floating her name on the air in a bid for media attention. (I guess it worked. Because here we are.)
It’s a moldy and meritless conservative talking point that Davis and her intolerant ilk waving the “religious liberty” and “Christian persecution” flags are participating in civil disobedience in the proud tradition of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. But Buchanan went on Newsmax TV on Tuesday to turn even that noxious notion on its head, by saying that Davis’ actions should be considered civil disobedience because they reminded him of his own fight against desegregation.
According to Right Wing Watch, Buchanan “himself had advocated civil disobedience when he urged President Nixon to defy a 1971 Supreme Court decision that [in Buchanan’s words] ‘called for district-wide desegregation and allowed for the use of busing to achieve integration.’”
Davis’ imprisonment, he said, was “the price of civil disobedience of an unjust law.”
4. Steve King
Iowa Rep. Steve King has some ideas about how Pope Francis could be a more effective pontiff, and why Democrats who agree with the pope are just “political opportunists.”
This week King joined the cavalcade of Republicans — who are usually only too happy to inject religion into their politics — expressing their befuddlement at the pope for his various positions on the evils of capitalism, the necessity of action on climate change, and the fact that he generally treats the president with some modicum of respect.
Speaking to Politico, King said:
I’m hopeful that Pope Francis will speak to these two issues: One is the Church’s unfailing and steadfast opposition to abortion, the position that life begins at the moment of conception and it ends at natural death, and the dignity of every human person. That’s a position of the Roman Catholic Church that’s really unassailable and I’m hopeful that that position will be reiterated from the floor of Congress next week. I’m looking forward to that. Second component that is so strong among the Catholic Church is the position of marriage, and it being between a man and a woman.
(For what it’s worth, the pope did discuss the importance of the family in his remarks before Congress, but stopped short of mentioning either same-sex marriages or explicitly defining marriage as between a man and a woman.)
King further criticized the pope for not being “fully supportive of free enterprise capitalism,” and expressed exasperation that Francis has spoken out on climate change since there is no “definitive science that has concluded that mankind has turned the Earth’s thermostat up.”
On the subject of climate change, King noted that if humans really were responsible for rising global temperature, “we would be using the terminology ‘global warming,’ rather than climate change.” A charming little feint on King’s part, as Wonkette helpfully notes, “since [conservative political consultant] Frank Luntz recommended in 2003 that the George W. Bush administration use ‘climate change’ because people felt less compelled to do anything about that.”
Besides, King says, “every civilization since Adam and Eve has always tried to change the weather.”
3. Ben Carson and Bobby Jindal
Isn’t it charming when the men who are running to uphold the Constitution so blithely shred its most essential tenets?
Dr. Ben Carson took no small amount of heat for his remarks on Meet the Press last weekend that a Muslim shouldn’t be president, that, in fact, Islam was somehow incompatible with the Constitution.
He blamed “political correctness” and “secular progressives” for twisting his words when he later clarified that a Muslim can be president as long as his religious views don’t have too much sway over his lifestyle and loyalties, which should be all-American. “We have an American culture and we have an American Constitution and anybody who’s going to occupy our White House should be living in a pattern that is consistent with our Constitution and our culture,” Carson said.
And then Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal got in the act by issuing a list of criteria which would have to be satisfied in order for him to support a Muslim president: “If you can find me a Muslim candidate who is a Republican, who will fight hard to protect religious liberty, who will respect the Judeo-Christian heritage of America, who will be committed to destroying ISIS and radical Islam, who will condemn cultures that treat women as second-class citizens and who will place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution, then yes, I will be happy to consider voting for him or her.”
This begs a few questions, governor: Whose religious liberty would this hypothetical candidate have to protect — Kim Davis’ or other Muslims’? Both? All? Satanists’ maybe? You see how this can get out of hand rather quickly, don’t you?
Also, please explain how one “respects the Judeo-Christian heritage of America” in concrete terms of policy. Is it disrespectful, for instance, to note that the country’s founders deliberately rejected aligning the country with any religion?
As to that condition about not treating women as second-class citizens, I assume that means not defunding Planned Parenthood — an accomplishment of yours you so odiously touted in the minor-league GOP debate last week.
In other words, Jindal would support a Muslim candidate who behaved in word and deed like a conservative Christian trying to foist their religion on the American public. This is part of an unsettling pattern of what TheAtlantic‘s Peter Beinart calls “the sophisticated bigotry of Bobby Jindal.”
According to Beinart, Jindal has developed a deliberately myopic and insidious ethos of religious freedom, one that valorizes Christians who oppose any perceived attack on their beliefs by refusing to adapt or assimilate, while demonizing Muslims for doing exactly the same thing: “The only principle he’s really defending is anti-Muslim bigotry.”
Writing back in January, Beinart speculated that Jindal could be the leading Islamophobe of the 2016 race. Turns out he can’t even crack the Top 10.
2. Mike Huckabee
Of course Jindal doesn’t have a monopoly on “sophisticated bigotry,” although I hesitate to use the s-word anywhere near the former Arkansas governor, Southern Baptist minister, and “This Week In Crazy” resident twit Mike Huckabee.
The Republican presidential candidate has been doing just about everything he can to drum up attention. It must be difficult to be heard apart from the GOP field when the tonic note of the party is already so demented. But heck if Huck hasn’t been trying his hardest, kicking up dirt and trying to get people outraged over the president’s treatment of the pope this week.
On Newsmax, he accused President Obama of being “disrespectful” and “not being a very gracious host, inviting the pope to his home and then trying to make sure that you bring people […] who are known because of their very visceral and sometimes very vocal disagreements with the pope,” by which Huckabee means gay people and pro-choice activists, who were among the 15,000 people the White House invited to its reception for Pope Francis on Wednesday.
He further took issue with Obama’s remark that in America “we cherish religious liberty,” creating a Vine that slammed the soundbite against an image of Kim Davis’ mugshot under the portentous caption “…UNLESS YOU’RE A CHRISTIAN.”
In another interview Huck picked up his diatribe of inchoate objections to President Obama. If I understood him correctly, he simultaneously affirmed that we have no religious test for government office (and that’s a good thing), but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be suspicious of the president and subject him to all manner of scrutiny and hostility because of what we imagine his religious views might be, facts be damned.
“I’m less concerned about what faith a person has. I’m more concerned about the authenticity of their faith and how that plays out in their policies,” he said. “I’m also concerned about a guy who believes he’s a Christian and pretends to be and says he is, but then does things that makes it very difficult for people to practice their Christian faith.”
1. Bryan Fischer
The onetime mouthpiece of the American Family Association hate group, Bryan Fischer, has some words of wisdom for young men. In a blog post that is apparently the 16th chapter of some sort of “Boy to Man Book” Fischer is authoring, he lays bare his risible, rather pitiful philosophy on dating.
Oh, there’s some nuggets of good sense in here somewhere. For instance, Fischer begins, it’s reasonable to assume that since young men won’t necessarily marry the young women they date (courtship in the LGBTQ community is entirely absent in Fischer’s schema), “this means you are dating a girl who one day is going to be another man’s wife. Treat her accordingly.”
But it quickly devolves into a primer on conservative Christianity’s tangled, troubled, and anxious relationship with sex — a prurience that masquerades as prudishness — placing sex on an icky, shameful pedestal. And it is hilarious the way Fischer twists himself into knots trying to describe the mechanism of tumescence without crossing the line into PG-rated vocabulary, particularly by likening sexual arousal to “God’s radar system.” He writes:
Back in the day, the United States had what we called the Distance Early Warning system. It was a radar system designed to alert us to a Russian military launch over the North Pole. It was for our protection so we could stop bad things from happening before it was too late.
As a mentor of mine pointed out to me when I was single, God has given to young men an absolutely infallible warning system that lets a guy know without fail when it’s time to stop. That infallible biological signal is sexual arousal.
As soon as you find yourself becoming sexually aroused, you need to stop whatever it is you’re doing, even if it’s just holding hands, to keep things from escalating. And make up your mind that you won’t do whatever that thing is again until you get married.
The reason you must never do “whatever that thing is” out of wedlock is that sex has a way of mummifying relationships in their tracks, according to Fischer. Once you do the dreaded deed, there’s nowhere to go; you have effectively pulled the parking brake on ever cultivating a meaningful connection with your partner.
In Fischer’s own words: “When a dating couple gets sexually involved, their relationship instantly stops developing and growing. Sexual involvement will freeze that relationship right where it is at and it will never grow beyond that point.”
It should go without saying that people are free to make their own decisions in life and love. And Fischer’s callowness would be easy to ignore, were it not for his long, hateful history of lobbying to apply his narrow Biblical ethic on American public policy, were it not that this is the same puritanical creed espoused by so many prominent conservative politicians, were it not that this ethos, which compels some to describe rape pregnancies as “gifts from God,” has far-reaching implications for women and young people in states that lack comprehensive sex education, where access to contraception is curtailed and eradicated, where the last Planned Parenthood clinic has to shutter its doors.
Yes it would be so easy to ignore this man and his asinine, Dark Ages doctrine. Recall that Fischer is the same man who likened abortion to Aztec human sacrifice, argued for Americans’ God-given right to capital punishment, and said making marriage equality legal was worse than 9/11 because it “blasted the twin pillars of truth and righteousness into rubble.” In other words, Fischer is the last man on Earth from whom to get dating advice.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr
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