The Ugly Heart of the Radical Right

The radical fringe right is rallying their base and spreading lies and reactionary opinion pieces, all of which is race-baiting the popular discourse about the economic crisis and ultimately the election. In a calculated move, they have people like Ann Coulter and Jeff Jacoby publishing opinion pieces basically saying that the blame for the economic crisis is on the shoulders of liberals and people of color.

Last week, the American “Family” Association revealed their true racist colors in two emails they sent out, pointing fingers at the Clinton and Carter (what?) Administrations, equating liberal advocacy for minority home ownership with the risky loan products that the predatory lenders on Wall Street have been so happy to take advantage of. What they refuse to acknowledge is that greedy lenders and investors were taking advantage of the hopes of poor people, knowingly selling them loans that they couldn’t afford. All of this in a deregulated market happened under the watch of the Bush Administration.

The Campaign for America’s Future is addressing these racist attacks on their website, explaining the history of banks discriminatory lending practices, and Carter’s and Congress’ passage of the successful Community Reinvestment Act in 1977.

People are freaked out right now, and I fear that many will fall for this damaging and dangerous misinformation coming from the radical right, making racism acceptable, even patriotic. This translates back to the election.

No one wants to talk explicitly about how race is playing out in this election, so while people are busy trying to be polite and not make anyone uncomfortable, the radical right is preying on the prejudice and fear that live in people’s hearts. They aren’t ashamed to cross the line, as illustrated by this quote from Ann Coulter’s recent opinion piece:

“Instead of looking at ‘outdated criteria,’ such as the mortgage applicant’s credit history and ability to make a down payment, banks were encouraged to consider nontraditional measures of credit-worthiness, such as having a good jump shot or having a missing child named ‘Caylee.'”

As posted in a comment on John Ridley’s recent article on the Huffington Post, “They are using these tactics to distract and to exacerbate racial resentment among hardworking whites in the swing states.” They continue to expose their hateful hearts at every turn, and I just hope that the American people are smart enough not to fall for their bunk and once again vote against their own interests.

Trickle Down Hatred

On Sunday this week, Jim Adkisson saw fit to shoot up a Unitarian church in Knoxville, TN. His motivation? Hatred for liberals and gay people. I believe that this is the fruit of the Right-Wing agenda, promoting intolerance in combination with the right to bear arms and the belief that this is their mission from God.

And my belief is reinforced by the story in the New York Times today, reporting that senior aides to Attorney General Gonzeles broke the law by using politics in their hiring practices.  Monica Goodling, who is at the center of the investigation, was caught awarding Justice Department jobs to less-qualified right-wing political hacks instead of qualified candidates who were believed to be gay or lesbian, or who had political leanings that were not in lock step with the Republican agenda.

The American Family Association has been saying lately that don’t want to be accused of being motivated by hate, as evidenced by their recent boycott of McDonald’s. But when the beliefs they espouse are used to justify actions like Jim Adkisson’s last Sunday, I think it’s fair to call things what they are: Violence against gays motivated by hate that is promoted by the likes of Monica Goodling and the AFA.

The conservative Christian Right-Wing is deliberately spreading fear and hatered towards gays and lesbians, and pushing their anti-choice, pro-death penalty, pro-gun agenda on the rest of the world. I’m not generally a conspiracy theorist, but when I hear about people like Monica Goodling, a graduate of the late Pat Robertson’s Regent University’s Law School blatently discriminating against people because she thinks they might be queer, or she thinks they might be pro-choice, I see a conspiracy afoot.

And its feeding the ideology of people like Jim Adkisson who feels he has some God-given right to go shoot up a church on a Sunday. I hope that justice will be served in both of these cases.

American Family Association Finally Comes Out

The AFA today sent out an “Action Alert” email to their constituency about energy costs. They are blaming environmentalists for the rising price of gas, saying that:

We have abundant energy reserves, but the environmentalists won’t let us use them. All efforts to provide for our needs end up in court because of the environmentalists! A handful of environmentalists are forcing all Americans to pay outrageous amounts for gas!

They are lobbying the American people to support the “exploration of energy sources” saying that this “would not materially effect our environment.” Spreading this misinformation is immoral and dangerous.

And I might add, not Christian. Even Pat Robertson appeared in those ridiculous ads with Al Sharpton saying that we have to protect the environment. What would Jesus do? He would want us to protect and be stewards of God’s creation. I am grateful that there is an Evangelical Christian movement that recognizes the responsibility that we all have to protect the environment.

The American (anti)Family Association has finally come clean and shown their opposition to the environmental movement. This organization that supposedly clings to Christian values spews hate-speech and intolerance, and is now encouraging the American people to believe that they should be able to consume as much gas and oil as they want without regard to their impact on climate change. I can’t say that I’m surprised, but I am perplexed. The values just don’t match up.

I like to use the AFA script pages to write my representatives. Go to this link and type in your zip code, and it will take you to a page where you can fill in the blanks. Here is what I wrote:

Dear Senator/Representative:

The rising price of gasoline is hurting nearly every family in America.  But I believe that every one of us has a responsibility to live in a more environmentally sustainable manner.

It is time for Congress to get serious about making green living a priority in this country. We need to curtail our dependency on oil and to curb our consumption of gasoline and our contributions to greenhouse gases that are contributing to global warming.

We need to develop green-color jobs, create public transportation systems that work, build sustainable communities where people can walk or bike easily from home to work to buy groceries, etc. We need to make recycling easier, and we need to outlaw the use of plastic shopping bags. We need to work to change our culture so that people can live more sustainably. We need to stop consuming goods that only end up in a land fill after two years. We need to set national standards for decreasing carbon emissions.  We need to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from Big Oil.

As one of our Nation’s leaders, you have a responsibility to help find solutions to the climate change problem. The future of our planet, of our children, our families depends on it.

Bigotry of the AFA

I subscribe to the American Family Association email alerts because I want to know what they’re up to. Mostly they send out emails about what companies you should boycott because they offer domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples, and its a great way for me to know that I should write to thank Wal-Mart or the Home Depot for supporting their gay and lesbian employees.

Lately, the email alerts have been particularly disturbing because they are so blatantly trying to encourage hatred and intolerance for Muslims in the US. In the midst of everything that has been happening in the last seven years, this is very dangerous.

In November, I received an email telling me I should write to my representatives asking them to support legislation that would require that all elected officials take the oath of office on the Bible. This was in response to the announcement that Keith Ellison, the first elected Muslim in the US (go Minnesota!) planned to take his oath of office on the Quran.

I was livid. This is craziness. There are so many things wrong with this. First, what about the separation of church and state? Second, what about freedom of religion? Third, what about freedom of speech? I could go on about the fact that any oath that a Muslim would take on the Bible would be meaningless to that person, or how we should take a note from the Quakers don’t take oaths because they believe that they should be truthful all of the time. But this is like trying to have a rational argument with an irrational person.

This past week, I received a survey from the AFA on Islam. I’m sure they ramped up again because of all of the folks taking office in Washington this week, including Keith Ellison. Again, they got on their bandwagon of intolerance and peppered their constituents with questions about their opinion of Islam in America. The questions reveal an agenda to spread misinformation and hatred of Muslims, taking advantage of an already tense and fearful climate.

All of this scares, angers, and saddens me. It is so wrong, and I wish that it weren’t out there in the public sphere because of the hateful attitudes is espouses. On the other hand, I think its ultimately good that the AFA is revealing its blatant hate-mongering agenda. Let the people see it for what it is.

I identify as a Christian, a mantle I have reclaimed in recent years because I was tired of a small and hateful minority plucking my religious tradition out of my spiritual life. In the spirit of ecumenism, I do not begrudge the AFA from claiming its Christian identity. However, they are hijacking a peaceful tradition that is about unconditional love and radical social justice.

The AFA promotes bigotry thinly veiled behind a mask of Christianity that they claim gives them a moral high-ground. I am pleased that they are showing themselves more and more as the bigots they really are, making it clear that they alone are responsible for shaping the hateful attitudes they hold about those who are different from them.

Yesterday, Keith Ellison was sworn in as the first Muslim member of Congress using a Quran that was once owned by Thomas Jefferson. I am proud that my home state of Minnesota elected him.