Thursday, September 01, 2005



I don't know if Hitler was the enabler for the German people or if das Volk were the enabler for der Führer. I do know it was a very toxic relationship and it caused a lot of problems for everyone who came near it. And it doesn't seem to be all that different from the relationship between George Bush and the religionist Right in our country.

I'm on the Board of Directors of one of the largest and best known progressive organizations in the country and I sit on that Board with several ministers (who inspire me with their passion, commitment to fairness, their open-mindedness and love for humanity), a rabbi (who is so brilliant and wise that I pray I get to sit near him at the annual meetings) and a Roman Catholic priest (who was one of my boyhood heroes because of his heroic stands against the war against Viet Nam and for civil rights). And there are others on the Board, like myself, whose spiritual lives are not tied to churches or temples or creeds. Respect, love, dignity, tolerance, acceptance are all values manifest on the Board and in everything the organization does.

The notion that "people of faith" is a problem for progressives is patently absurd. Elmer Gantry and his victims on the other hand...

How long did it take before evangelical extremists-- always on the prowl for new and effective fund-raising tactics, the better to rip off the poor schnooks who think they're buying a place at Jesus' table after death-- to blame the hurricane on their political enemies? As long as it took Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell to try to blame 9/11 on "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America." Yesterday another far right religionist hypocrite, Lou Sheldon, issued a typical hate-filled statement about Hurricane Katrina from his sick hate group disguised as a church: "Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city. From ‘Girls Gone Wild’ to ‘Southern Decadence’, New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. May it never be the same."

Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, Fred Phelps, Lou Sheldon... all these fake preachers are in it for the power, the ego, the wealth. These are the corrupt forces of darkness, a blight on our national soul. These men are Satan's men on earth, not Jesus'. But we're a free country and anyone stupid enough to fall for their garbage is certainly entitled to. The problem, however, is when these frauds become part of the political power structure-- as they are now-- and start to play a role in national (by definition "secular") life. Our Nation's founders tried-- fairly successfully until now-- to protect us from this kind of a scourge. But this is the biggest problem progressives and the biggest problem-- bar none-- that Americans face today.

Yesterday's NEW YORK TIMES carried a story by Laurie Goodstein called "Teaching Creationsim Is Endorsed in New Survey." Nearly two-thirds of Americans, according to this story, seem to think creationism (myth, superstition or, at best, faith) either should or could be taught alongside evolution (science) in public schools. According to Goodstein "the poll found that 42% of respondents held strict creationist views, agreeing that 'living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.' In contrast, 48% said they believed that humans had evolved over time. The poll didn't go into questions about teaching that the earth is flat or that the sun, moon and planets revolve around earth-- nor about the efficacy of holding slaves, although 38% favored replacing evolution with creationism.

That 38% figure sounded suspiciously familiar to me. That's the percentage-- give or take a point or two-- of Americans who still support Bush's catastrophic policies. Are they the identical people? I'd bet on a lot of correlation, although it's just a gut feeling. The same article points out that "the poll also asked about religion and politics. The public's impression of the Democratic Party has changed in the last year, the survey found. Only 29% of respondents said they viewed Democrats as being 'friendly toward religion,' down from 40% in August of 2004. Meanwhile, 55% said the Republican Party was friendly toward religion. Luis E. Lugo, the director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, said: 'I think this is a continuation of the Republican Party's very successful use of the values issue in the 2004 election, and the Democrats not being able up until now to answer that successfully. Some of the more visible leaders, such as Howard Dean and others, have reinforced that image of a secular party. Of course, if you look at the Democratic Party, there's a large religious constituency there.' Survey respondents agreed in nearly equal numbers that nonreligious liberals had 'too much control' over the Democratic Party (44%), and that religious conservatives had too much control over the Republican Party (45%)."

I don't think it's an issue progressives-- let alone Democrats-- are united on. There are no easy answers-- which, of course, never stops Republicans from divisive demagoguery (their specialty)-- but it's like the big, ugly, one-eyed aunt in an elephant costume at the cocktail party. We HAVE to figure out how to approach this one because, for the Right, it's the new racism that they can depend on for the kind of divisiveness they need to get their deadly economic policies through. They can't yell "Nigger" in even semi-polite company anymore but their own little American Taliban is having a disastrous impact on the national dialogue and on social policy. Ignorance, superstition, fear, desperation can usually be counted upon-- especially when they go unchallenged by vigorous leaders-- to trump rational and enlightened thought.



Do you think I sounded a little over-wrought about how the religionist threat is the biggest problem-- and, remember, I said BAR NONE-- to America today? I wasn't over-wrought; cool as a cucumber in fact. My pals Deni and Josh just sent me this though (from a website called

FEMA is directing Katrina donations to none other than the "Rev" (quotations are mine) Pat Robertson... Millions of Americans and people around the world have rushed to donate money to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which is shaping up to be one of the worst U.S. disasters in history, if not the worst. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is the lead federal agency in the rescue & recovery operation at work in New Orleans and the Mississippi gulf coast. FEMA has released to the media and on its web site a list of suggested charities to help the storm's hundreds of thousands of victims. The Red Cross is first on the list. The "Rev." Pat Robertson's "Operation Blessing" is next on the list. “It’s an outrage,” said privacy watchdog Bill Scannell, who alerted Sploid to the FEMA / Robertson scam. "Operation fu*king Blessing? And it’s right underneath the Red Cross link!” Scannell, currently campaigning against the Transportation Security Administration's refusal to turn over personal information illegally collected from 100 million U.S. air passengers, noted that Operation Blessing's board of directors is dominated by the televangelist and his family. The chairman, “MG Robertson,” is none other than (an alias for) the "Rev." Pat — Marion Gordon Robertson is his real name — while Pat’s wife DeDe is vice president and son Gordon Robertson is also on the board. The front operation for the radical, pro-assasination televangelist and Republican power broker is also based in the Rev. Pat’s headquarters, Virginia Beach. Robertson’s shell organizations have already collected more than $25 million from the federal government under various “faith based” federal-handout programs. And with millions of distraught citizens looking to FEMA for help in finding reputable organizations to help Katrina survivors, Robertson stands to profit magnificently from the horror that has fallen on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.


At 6:13 PM, Blogger Timcanhear said...

Well, the problem is not just bush of course. And it's not just religionism of course. And it's not just greed of course.
Wait, perhaps it IS just greed.
Greed drives the Saudi oil tycoons. Greed drives the American economy and greed drives below average men to do terrible things.
Writing an editorial for a local paper yesterday, I pointed out that perhaps the non-existent tv news organizations should just keep a running total on the screen of profits of oil companies (next to the number of dead American soldiers in Iraq) and the salaries that the greedy oil executives are paying themselves (next to the salaries of the soldiers in Iraq.)
Then perhaps, just maybe, Americans will get angry enough to take action against those who are robbing us blind at the pumps. We'll have our own lil angry al-queda groups out to take action against the thieves, just like they do in the middle east. Instead of reforming Iraq in our image, America will be inadvertantly reformed to a terrorist state. And finally, we'll all live together in the hell that bush and the neocons drove us into and wonder what went wrong and why there are so many American terrorists killing people just because oil executives live high up there on the hill, in their palaces with their oil profits and their whores as they look down on the working class. Fascism will do that to ya! Neocons will too!

At 6:32 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Every single cent-- hundreds of billions of dollars-- amassed by the Bush circle as a result of his illegitimate and illegal war, should be confiscated after we rid ourselves from that pestilence. Bush and his family retainers have gathered GENERATIONAL wealth to themselves and this should all be taken away-- every penny of war profiteering from Halliburton and the oil companies and all the companies who conspired with him.

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