Sunday, October 26, 2008

DUMBINION!  Why The Right Is Always Wrong: The Saga Of Matthew Scully And The Suffering Of Animals


-by Philip Steir

Consistent inaccuracy in doing the right thing is the main theme in the story of conservative ideology. The world we live in today, at the start of the 21st century, feels bogged down from the weight of right-wing policies. All one has to do is simply glance back through the tunnel of history at each and every issue we've faced and they will see for themselves how the right has been wrong about virtually everything. But why? Whether the issue was political, social, cultural or environmental, the right have always been on the wrong side. The question is no longer who is correct but why do conservatives constantly make the wrong choices and seem to willfully choose to be wrong. Are they merely bluffing and is that look that Sean Hannity gives Alan Colmes just poker face? Is it a lack of caring for those outside of let's say their own family members? Is it a lack of real compassion for others which is not motivated by the religious dogma of salvation that usually accompanies their decisions? Is it possibly a deep seeded fear of moving forward or evolving that just stops the right-wing mammal dead in his tracks? It may be all of the above and, while most researchers in the areas of psychology and neuroscience may swing to the left, any factual evidence on these questions will chalked up as liberal fact based bias.

But when we begin going over the failures, the lies, the scandals, the incompetence, the corruption, the wasteful spending, the privatizing of the military, the deception, the torture, the electoral frauds, the foreign policy of war and violence, it becomes an endless parade of ugly mistakes and huge blunders hovering like gigantic helium-filled floats over the heads of innocent bystanders watching this ridiculous procession. And these are only the stupid monster balloons from just the past eight years of conservative rule!

Now when you begin to add up the history of slavery, racism, sexism, homophobia, environmental destruction, the murdering of indigenous peoples and the countless millions of wild animals slaughtered, what you are left with is a crystal clear view of issues where right-wing principles have always without question been wrong. But the question again begs why are people on the right always on the wrong side? It's not that liberals have not participated in wars, violence, scandals or building terrible parade balloons. Its just that conservatives throughout history never seem willing to take the balloons down when the parade is actually over and there appears enough evidence to show that the huge 3 story inflated Ronald McDonald zeppelin has scared all the children, proved to be dangerous and also denied onlookers their civil rights. And those are just the balloons.

My point here is that on every major issue where the power of compassion should bring about change the conservative person sees that power as dangerous, frightening or even as the main source of modern society's collapse. Much of this outlook as we all well know comes from the way folks on the right "cling to their religion" and to the belief that when the times they are a changin', its about time to blame the Jews (or whoever at the time may seem to be the new Jews) maybe start to blame the vegans. And now that this (envision any progressive issue from the last 200 years in this space) change seems close at hand its time to grab the pitchforks of justice or a semi automatic without safety locks.

What happens is whenever the right-wing mindset begins to sense that compassion may change or remove their sacred belief system, which is usually the key to their power, they begin to feel threatened and, worse, insignificant. If their way of life is to have any meaning then compassion must be defeated, their religion rescued from progress and their belief system propped back up and put back in place. Conservatives also arrogantly believe that they have the solutions for what is ailing the world and it's usually a quick fix based on an extra bloody animal sacrifice from the book of Leviticus.

However, they fail to see from the past that they themselves are the actual warning signs in the coming disaster which they pretend to ward off. And pretending is the important word here because that is what many conservatives do. They pretend to actually care about another's well being but what they are really passionate about is maintaining power and making money. Conservatism in almost every form is about the expression of business and making profit. Greed becomes the main gesture in a movement that glorifies the virtues of selfishness. Maintaining power in order to keep on getting paid is the modus operandi of the right even when it goes against the dogma they've been spitting out since the first reactionary rode his camel through the eye of a needle. And note how they never even cared if the camel had enough food, water or even enough space to turn around.

Remember how folks on the right were against premarital sex and unwed teenage mothers until Bristol Palin strutted out on stage in the Twin Cities? They've waged an angry patriotic pious war against both feminism and pornography until super supposedly sexy Sarah showed up at the work place and gave them a hypocritical and strange reason to support both. They scorn big Government and pray at the alter of the free market until they need bailouts for failed industries. They hate everything about communism and third world dictators until those regimes provide liquefied dead fossils or cheap slave labor for business purposes. They lash out at the culture and corruption of Washington until they receive that no-bid contract to provide services to rebuild what the occupation just destroyed. They bash Hollywood elites for wanting their politics to be inserted into the mainstream of America until a Reagan, Schwarznegger, Thompson, Voight or Norris decides to insert their influence. Keeping the cash flowing even when it comes at the price of betraying everything they once pretended to stand for is all that appears to matter when a person leans to the right.

The results we all now have to live with from the last 8 years of conservative rule proves this point about the wrongness aspect of righties as well as the why-- that people on the right are not in the right when it comes to being correct.

Now, a much less confusing sentence than the previous one is an even more profound actual example of what has been asserted here so far. And now the evidence regarding how conservative principles are mainly based on sustaining power and making money actually exists in the true saga of a certain conservative Christian author whom the McCain team hired to draft the acceptance speech for the little known Governor of Alaska at the Republican convention back in the dark days of September 2008.

It makes complete calculating strategy that the Rove-Cheney cabal, as Naomi Wolf aptly names them, would choose Matthew Scully to write the all-important sermon that would introduce the Republican vice presidential nominee to the American people. After all Mr Scully was the special assistant and senior speech writer for George W Bush. He was also the gifted word engineer who helped Bush sell the disastrous and bloody war in Iraq. What better preemptive approach to adopt in the war against critical thinking than by hiring this genius of poetic sarcasm and divine interventionist theory to help close this very important deal for the conservatives to stay in power. If one need to sell a mindless, small town hockey mom to the US Americans this would be the guy to formulate the pitch. His reputation for eloquent marketing was infamous in Inside-the-Beltway GOP circles.

The combination of a shallow politician with rural folksy values and a witty, sharp, patriotically vibrant religious writer worked magically in 2003 to sell absurd policies to the American public and would again be the winning hand for the conservatives (Republicans) in 2008.

It's completely inconceivable to explain in one blog post the mass of deception, lies and breach of trust that went into manipulating this occupation in Iraq. However, understanding a faith based Glengarry Glen Ross salesmanship with words scattered around like pastoral IED's occupying the speeches which Bush delivered to the American people can shed a bit of light on who Matthew Scully is. 

According to Mr. Scully himself, in a bizarre turn against his own co-worker, it was his own religious references about good and evil and his biblical world view in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq that defined the coming holy battle for the masses. Speech after speech Scully would help craft for W the moving and prophetic words that would allude to a Christian fundamentalist theory of the world and to the dangers of those evil doers. The sales pitch worked wonders on the millions of reactionary Americans who voted for the Crawford cowboy and now today thousands upon thousands of Iraqi citizens and American soldiers have paid with their lives. The horrors and bloodshed in Iraq still continue as the self proclaimed pro life Scully also continues to this day writing speeches for the rest of the repulsive party.

If aiding and abetting the Bush administration in their selling of a completely despicable, unjustified and needless war to the American public were not enough on Scully's resume to get the Palin gig it must have been his convincing attempt at selling the most trivial cause of all, at least in the eyes of his fellow conservatives... the cause for animal welfare.

In the same arrogant way conservatives in the past once scoffed at the idea of women's rights or violently opposed worker and civil rights, the concept of animal protection or, heavens forbid, of non human animal rights, is made out to be a ridiculous and unimportant cause. Although human chauvinism obviously exists in both liberal and conservative mindsets it is particularly embedded in the architecture of right-wing belief systems where caring about another's well being actually plays second Charlie Daniels fiddle to worrying about what others actually do. For instance, you will find mobs of conservatives lining up to denounce homosexuality, family planning and the killing of blastocysts but almost never see them denounce the killings of innocent non human animals in the countless arenas where their lives are taken away in gruesome practices by humans every single hour of every day. It's not merely a matter of coincidence that animal rescue or animal rights organizations are made up almost exclusively from the fabric of liberal society than it is a coincidence that the majority of NRA members fall ideologically somewhere between Tom Delay and Ted Nugent. And the righter they are the harder they fall.

So if there was a particular someone out there who would even dare take a stab at selling this segment of the population a message of compassion with regard to animals than they had to look no further than this skillful man behind the curtain.

Dominion: The Power of Man, The Suffering Of Animals And The Call To Mercy was Matthew Scully's attempt to reach out to the political right with a very groundbreaking and, I must admit, a beautifully written book regarding the horrible and arrogant cruelties that humans inflict on non human animals. Groundbreaking because this is the first book that I know of personally that was written by a conservative that was actually against cruelty to animals. Most of everything I've read about animals written from the right side of the aisle are usually:

1. Over enthusiastic, irrational and grotesque tirades on the best ways to exploit or kill non humans;

2. Excuses and rationalizations on why for moral reasons animals don't matter;

3. Excuses and even more excuses on why for Divine reasons animals don't matter;

4. The overt violence of hunting coupled with its erotic stimulation make it a fun activity for the whole conservative family.

I admit again that I was seduced by Matthew Scully's gift for prose and sarcasm. His deep insight and eloquence in expressing his own distress regarding the human mistreatment and callousness toward animals is truly impressive. His talent to articulate with deep expressive phrases an underlying angst, sadness and confusion related to the suffering caused to animals is breath taking and eye opening. So when reading him you do get some physical excersise. The suffering he exposes and details specifically at the hands of humans delivered on the animals of the world is without a doubt almost unsurpassed in any works written on this subject.

Yet with all the eloquence Scully possesses in his descriptive and philosophical explanations there is also an almost absurd supernatural aspect found in his writing which difficult to ignore creates a maze of imbalance and makes it a bit problematic to appreciate the author's words. He writes from a perspective that God along with humans are above all other living things and that humans need only give mercy to animals rather than real substantial consideration in protecting their interests. It is a failed philosophy for actual animal's rights. However, his God of the Old Testament is not only magical and a bit silly but a violent, cruel, power hungry and vengeful God as well. The same callousness and mindless violence perpetrated on animals by humans that the author complains about throughout his book is constantly inflicted on animals by Yahweh himself throughout that other well known book. Matthew Scully is a very profound Christian conservative man who spends most of his writing in Dominion ironically criticizing fellow Christian conservatives and their values and beliefs about animals. Chapter after chapter he spends sarcastically mocking them as well as chastising their abhorrent behavior and way of thinking.

"Conservatives bring to the whole matter not only philosophical doubts and debatable economic points, but a kind of exasperated snobbery, as if they should not even bother with such trifling questions, and who are all these petty activists distracting them from the great moral questions of the day"

For the duration of his book as he constantly condemns other conservatives for lacking compassion Scully sounds, relatively, like a frustrated liberal. Chapter after chapter he denounces every abusive and oppressive act of human violence and injustice against animals. He seems to grow weary as his book nears the end in not being able to comprehend why his fellow conservatives are so void of sympathy, so indifferent to the pain and injustice directed at defenseless creatures who just want to be left alone and live their lives in peace the way most humans do. Yet he fails to grasp that he and his compatriots share an ideology itself which blocks the very goals he yearns to achieve. This seems to happen constantly with right wing policies as well. His associates would much rather obsess about the tax breaks established in some newly written sport-hunting legislation, for instance, than having any concern whatsoever about the orphaned elephant calf who has just witnessed his mother being blasted to smithereens by a fellow Safari Club International member. Throughout Dominion, Scully becomes more and more cynical and less and less aware that he is much closer aligned with the bleeding heart liberals of the world than with the right-wing Christian biblical evangelicals he actually associates with and works for. Scully, while writing moving pleas for compassion and stirring arguments against oppression he often resembles a man constantly at war with the very demons he sleeps with. And for all his brilliance as a writer he never seems able to make the connection between the conservative philosophy he owns himself and, as he declares,

"to those people who bring only violence and fear into the animal world."

He fails over and over to make the connection between how he himself, a man of seemingly deep empathy for the powerless, feels and how liberals often experience the world when conservatives claim how it is much too inconvenient and often too economically costly to worry about those less fortunate and more vulnerable in the world. And Scully, like a few other religious conservatives who may be opposed to violence against animals, never once makes the reality based connection that it's their own Christian mythology which makes the dubious claim that the highest virtues and highest morals all originate from a great sky God. But it's precisely this sky God of Abraham who in the end cares nothing about non human animals suffering.

The circumstances of Scully's dilemma which suggest an even bigger irony than the one present in his own writing style is that he can never break away from what he detests so much. He is wrapped up so tight in an irrational conservative fundamentalist Christian view of the world that all he ends up doing is banging his head against the wall adorned with the animal trophy heads he is so repulsed by. His dilemma is having compassion for beings who are said to be soulless and therefore in the eyes of most Christians also worthless. Animals to the biblically endowed are seen with some pity for they have no chance of salvation and are not seen as valuable at least when compared to the divine human animal. His predicament is that this divine human animal was created in a violent God's image. So, if Scully remains holed up in a world view and belief system with the rest of his cronies he also leaves the animals he supposedly has concerns for behind in a big bloody heap. However, if he leaves his magical Christian beliefs in the dust he must give up the idea that his life will have extra meaning. To be a conservative, just caring for the life of another is not in itself meaningful enough. There either must be salvation or a big pay day to realize a more meaningful life.

Matthew's two worlds can never be reconciled. He must make a choice. Yet, underneath it all he is still a true conservative so his choice remains lodged up in his own ask: not what you can do for the animals but what the animals can do for your business. Even this man who defines hunting as "the pornography of bloodlust" and who's critically acclaimed words cried out against the suffering of animals at the hands of heartless humans, sold out his own principles for money and power. What other explanation are we left with? What reply do we have to the question of how someone could write several scathing chapters against the reprehensible practice of hunting and then come to a conclusion based on facts, that the majority of these hunters are right-wing Christians and then still desire to help guide them all to political victory? What other reason could there be for him to lend his creative energy to composing speeches which will give these blood thirsty killers even more power? (For the record Matthew Scully has also recently written speeches for canned hunting expert Dick Cheney.) What lucid, compassionate person who identifies hunters as "the lowest of the low" could go on to collaborate with these despicable humans who take delight in murdering other beings? A person with only power and money on their agenda.

Matthew Scully had already written the majority of the speech that would propel Sarah Palin to instant celebrity fame among the conservative base of gun and God nuts when he was informed who McCain's VP choice actually would be. He had already spent countless hours writing the one line bumper stickers that would make Sarah barracuda a famous canine with lipstick. Here he could have taken the path of integrity and stood up for what he so passionately seemed to believe in and turned down the job of personalizing the speech for Ms. Moose Meat Breath herself. Yet business is, after all, the ultimate expression of conservative politics and Scully perfectly demonstrated where his principles lie. They lie in bed spooning with the type of humans he claims to detest most. Sarah Palin, although a woman and a huge minority in the killing-for-pleasure business, still represents the same evil which Scully claims he loathes.

This woman to nowhere has a deep hatred for wild and free animals. She spent $450,000 of Alaska's State money to promote shooting wolves from airplanes and helicopters and launched a vicious bounty on wolves body parts as well. She has shot and killed virtually every species that lives in her own home state and then alleges, like many conservatives, that she is adamantly "pro life." Sarah Palin represents a violent, apathetic, insensitive, and ignorant kind of conservative American Christian that is extremely dangerous to the well being of not only animals but to the country as well. Sarah Palin the feisty on her own rogue campaigner with a nuclear weapon should frighten everybody who does not believe in the left behind series.

Like most politicians on the right she uses her so called love of symbolic issues in a cynical way to actually achieve the opposite goals she claims she sets out to attain. She loves nature for drilling and killing and loves America so much that she wants to belong to a political party in Alaska which demands Alaska break away from the US. And when Queen Sarah claims her deep love for Israel any thinking informed person understands that her mythical yet dangerous fundamentalist Christian beliefs actually require a powerful Jewish State in the Holy land for Christ's return to earth to do battle against Satan and then the final annihilation of the Jews. She alleges to be pro life but like many conservatives this claim only means pro right-wing American life. There is no real concern for liberal or even a secular Americans whom she deems all to be not "real" Americans or even anti-American. She has never spoken of concern for Iraqi children killed by a task of God or the simply minding their own business animals of the Alaskan wilderness whom she proudly guns down.

The notion of any real caring in this woman seems to be rooted in her love of the symbolic and for those only in her immediate family. In this simple fact Sarah represents a picture of a right-wing attitude which enables her to limit her sympathies to those only in her immediate Klan. Scully does the same by staying faithful to his own group even if it means his concern for animals will not just merely be over shadowed but actually exterminated.

Matthew Scully embodies the spirit of today's ultra neo-conservative fraud who moves through life pretending to have compassion and pretending to fight for the interests of others but who will, at the drop of a cowboy hat, switch their belief system to align with the flow of cash and the appetite for power.

As a long-time supporter of animal rights I've always known that conservatives can never make good animal rights activists just as they do not make for good feminists or great fighters against racial discrimination and prejudice. The fact is in order to be a conservative and remain fundamentally genuine to that ideology you can't care about the well being of others. History has shown that it is liberal ideology and liberal politics which have constantly defeated the majority of oppressive abuses inflicted on both humans and animals. Liberal thought opens the doors of the moral community to allow others to enter whereas conservatives main agenda has always been to nail those doors shut.  

Matthew Scully is a perfect example of what a conservative is. He is not only bound by a closed minded spirituality that does not allow for scientific proof to enter the room to see a 21st century view of the universe, but Scully is also stuck in the conservative narrow hallway of self interest. To remain a true reactionary one must follow religiously the creed of greed like Scully has, and abandon those who may pose an inconvenient barrier between himself and the money.

As a species we have a short term memory when it comes to history. The last eight years has proven once and for all that compassionate conservatives cannot actually exist. Once someone breaks away from the preemptive strike of the drill baby kill pack and the selfish me first mode and then thoughtfully begins to operate from the motivation of compassion and empathy, that person can actually no longer be called a conservative. Scully wrote about this person quite a bit in his triumphant will of a Palin speech and that person is what he and the bias in the right-wing media actually call them. A liberal. 

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At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Megaman_X said...

Wow. What a post. Who wrote this?

At 6:45 PM, Anonymous Libra said...

For those of us who were awed by the brilliance and emotion within the pages of Dominion, Scully's collaboration with Palin leaves one stunned, sad and speechless. I wish he had gifted her in the same manner. Excellent piece. ; )

At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey man, i've been searching for "satanic liberal agenda" on google blogsearch and then drunkly abusing conservatives all night!

but you're ok

At 2:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you. this is one of the best written posts i've read in weeks. and, as someone on disability, believe me when i say that i read ALOT of blogs. you've worded so brilliantly for me all the reasons i so despise the right. you put into perfect wording why it is i inwardly shudder when someone tells me they are a republican/conservative.
i wasn't aware of this book. i'm shocked a conservative would even consider writing such a book. i stopped eating meat in 1984, at the age of 14, after hearing 'meat is murder' and then checking out from the library 'animal liberation' the next day. my mother was an evangelical, but a rare specimen of a loving, non-judgmental, open-minded evangelical. i think she was the only one. and while my mother accepted my epiphany about animal rights, her fellow church members did not. i was told many a time that i was sinning by refusing god's will - that will being we should be grateful for the animals he "gave" us and enjoy them as part of our diet. yeah. these are the same people who, years later after my mom's death, refused me when i asked for financial help to pay a gas bill. long story short: i was evicted, i lived in an unheated garage while getting myself together, found an apartment that took dogs but wouldn't let me move in until the gas bill was in my name, i owed $300 on a past gas bill, so i asked my mom's church for a loan. they refused, telling me i was sinning because i could take another apartment that didn't allow dogs and move in right away. so, i was sinning by putting my dogs "above" me (their word) because i was hurting myself sleeping in 20degree cold in order to keep my dogs. (7 years later, and my dogs are still with me - having traveled from ohio to los angeles. and i do not regret a single miserable night in that freezing garage, nor the pluerisy i ended up with, it was worth it to still have my best friends with me in l.a.) this is how fundamentalists think. they also believe it's a sin to grieve the death of a pet (not all of them, but the fundamentalists i knew believed that). animals are here for our pleasure, and to do with what we choose.
sorry for such a long-winded and somewhat pointless comment. your brilliant post not only impressed me, but struck quite a few chords.
the only thing i'd like to add when speaking of the hypocrisy of the far right - their obsession with social programs as "big government", yet they seem to have no problem with the patriot act, spying on american citizens, the 100 mile constitution-free zone, etc. THAT is the "big government" that terrifies me as a liberal. they're so brainwashed. they claim christianity as their religion, yet despise social programs for the poverty-stricken as socialism. arghhhhh...i really could go on forever, stopping only after what would amount to a rambling 25 page blog with no structure. that's how frustrated anything having to do with the right/republicans/conservatives makes me.
not anonymous, but
betty brown

At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you eat vegetables, you are just as much of a monster as any carnivore. You are related to cows, goldfish, broccoli, and kelp. We can all trace our heritage back to the primordial soup. We are all brothers... some just taste better than others.

I believe in the ethical treatment of animals... but I'm still going to eat them.

The stuff about Conservatives being wrong was dead on most of the way though.

At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Todd West said...

Great words, Philip.
I'm saving this for future reference.

At 2:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

funny you should attempt that ludicrous comment, anonymous, the one about vegetables being like animals. HA! just a few nights ago i was saying to a friend, "yeah, it's only ever meat eaters who claim the whole 'carrots scream when you eat them' crap" good luck with that guilt.
come back to debate when you meet a carrot with a nervous system, or celery with a personality, or iceberg lettuce that can look you in the eye, or a lentil that comes to you for comfort when it's not feeling well as my dogs come to me when they're sick.
look, i don't care if you choose to remain a meat-eating glutton in a western world. see, i don't think it's completely wrong to eat animals - i just think the western world has gotten to the blessed point of it being unnecessary. so, cling to your gluttony, i honestly don't care. for all the stereotypes of vegetarians being militant - trust me when i say, after 25 years as a vegetarian, it's the meat eaters who hassle, argue, and try to push their beliefs on me. just don't pull this vegetables are the same as animals bullsh*t with me, 'cos i've heard it all, and all i've heard is ludicrous crap stemming from some guilt you feel around a vegetarian for your weakness.
betty brown

At 11:05 PM, Blogger Larry said...

Scully is involved in PETA's outreach to conservatives, trying to woo them in by saying that veganism is the ultimate extention of being "pro-life". He's on the PETA board of directors.

I think you make a mistake here by equating animal rights causes with the left. Scully may be in the minority but he's not alone. For example, L.A lawyer/blogger/crank/perennial candidate Walter Moore waves the banner of animal rights causes just as much as he gushes like a fanboy over the Minutemen (not the band). And the aging Brigitte Bardot, long retired from the screen, links her animal rights activism with her anti-immigrant, homophobic, and blatantly racist views over in France by claiming that more nonwhites and foreigners bring more animal cruelty with them. I could go on but I think you get the point. Animal rights aren't a "left"/"right" issue ; Michael Moore's no more likely to join PETA than Sarah Palin is.


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