Blog Against Theocracy 2013

Its been a long time dear readers. One of my earliest posts took part in the 2007 blog against theocracy. When I saw there was no organized blog against theocracy this year, I felt called to write. There is a great need to address this topic.

This past week has seen a historic awakening – a cultural awareness of the validity and importance of recognizing gay rights. It is a big moment, but underneath it an even bigger moment waits to be discovered: Religious belief alone is not a valid source of law. If your belief in the unity of all beings or the importance of love for they neighbor drives you to do good work – that is a beautiful blessing. But when your beliefs force those who do not share them to act as if they do: you cross a line. We see this play out in the absurd arguments against gay marriage. We see it in the obsessive drive to control and repress female sexuality. Increasingly though, we see it burrowing into harder to reach places. As America becomes less religious, as America pushes back on church incursions into state, we are going to see religious influence look for other ways to retain (and expand) power.

That is at play in this effort to push Bibles into public schools.

The foundations of knowledge of the ancient world—which informs the understanding of the modern world—are biblical in origin.

A statement like that ignores the prolific writings of ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian sources. It ignores the musings and discoveries of the Islamic Golden Age. The thoughts of Chinese writers are also missing. It also ignores the more interesting contributions of Christian thinkers like St Augustine and St Anselm. I speak from experience when I say you can understand their wonderful and engaging philosophical musings without having read the bible.

If you really want to expose the underbelly of the effort to bring bibles into the classroom, ask if they think students should study the koran. After all, the koran is foundational to much of modern society (just not in the US). Better yet, see if Roma Downy and Mark Burnett would support including critical views of the bible. Is it to be read as is, without the criticism found in English or History classes? Or do they imagine students free to dissect the many logical errors and contradictions found within? More than likely not, since that would defeat the purpose of their effort, similar in spirit and aim to efforts to install the ten commandments at courthouses.

The highest promise of religious thought is to inspire acts of great compassion and vision. When it is instead used as an aggressive evangelical power grab, its value is demeaned and lessened. The strongest and most vocal ally in the fight against theocracy should always be the religious believer. For religion is worth far more than its current use – as a tool for social control.

Trading Jesus for Caesar

Andrew Sullivan has a provocative thought: That the politicization of Christianity in the US is turning people away from the faith (hat tip Pam).

I think there is a lot of truth to this.  The union of conservative politics and conservative Christianity has created a brand. A very strong brand that is associated with denying women access to health care, and reproductive choices. A brand associated with the Duggars and the Quiverfull movement – aimed at trading away agency and free thought for obedience and servitude. Conservative Christianity is tied tightly to the battle against gay rights. A battle that is losing the cultural war with each passing year. A battle with young casualties for gay youth growing up in caustic religious environments. In Rick Santorum the religious right has a champion who is bold enough to publicly attack pornography and pre-marital sex. This union of church and state – this theocratic movement – has a very strong brand with a very simple message: A return to a time where women were second class citizens, homosexuality was hidden or “treated”, and religion enjoyed unelected power.

That brand is costing believers. It is a trade, as the dominionist army gives up their goal of “saving souls” for Jesus in return for taking from Caesar what is Caesar’s.

So to the religious right I ask: Is it worth it?

Herman Cain’s Whining Point by Point

Herman Cain caught some well deserved flak for telling the Occupy Wall Street movement to “stop whining”.  He attempted to defend his statement during a debate (TPM via Digby):

“I still stand by my statement and here’s why. They might be frustrated with Wall Street and the bankers,” Cain continued, “but they’re directing that anger at the wrong place. Wall Street didn’t put in failed economic policies. Wall Street didn’t spend a trillion dollars that didn’t do any good. Wall Street isn’t going around the country trying to sell another $450 billion.”

Point by point:

Wall Street didn’t put in failed economic policies.

Compliant Democrats and Republicans acting at the behest of and in the interests of Wall Street did.  The phrase puppet-masters is often overused.  Here it perfectly describes the situation.

Wall Street didn’t spend a trillion dollars that didn’t do any good.

Wall Street was what that trillion dollars BOUGHT.  We the people paid for their criminal acts, their failure, their greed, with our dollars.  This is like blaming your neighbor for spending $600 to repair the window you broke.

Wall Street isn’t going around the country trying to sell another $450 billion.

While it is true Wall Street isn’t traveling around trying to sell anything – it is because they do not need to.  They have politicians to do that for them.  On top of that sales effort is a larger one, to keep Americans stuck in a socio-economic system where the vast majority of us have no meaningful say in what goes on.  Where money talks, money votes, and money rules.  Wall Street may not be going around the country themselves, but they are trying to sell a lot more than a $450 billion stimulus.

Wall Street is trying to sell off our economic future to indulge their economic present.

Herman Cain is just another stock Republican candidate from Wall Street Inc.

 

Did the NYPD Lead Protesters Onto the Bridge?

shift the blame - C&L

Hundreds of participants in an “Occupy Wall St” march over the Brooklyn Bridge appear to have been lead off the pedestrian walkway and onto the roadway by NYPD, and then arrested by the NYPD.

The video appears to be genuine.  During a protest – especially during a march – protesters by and large obey the directions of police officers regarding where they are allowed to walk.  If the NYPD did in fact lure participants onto the bridge only to turn around and arrest them by the hundreds it would raise several important questions:

  1. Can protesters trust the NYPD in the future when they are told where and where not to walk?
  2. If protesters can no longer trust the NYPD to direct them, what implications would that have for managing large protests within the city?
  3. Was this police action pre-meditated, and if so, what was the goal?

The Occupy Wall St movement has already been hit hard with police brutality and a mix of mockery and inattention from the press.  The message this sends the protesters is loud and clear:

We will ignore you.  We will laugh at you.  We will hurt you.  We will arrest you without cause.

 

Fun With Rhetoric, Communism and the Far Right

Its been far too long since we’ve checked in with SPLC’s Hate Watch, and there’s a wealth of new stories (quite the uptick in insane sovereign citizen stories).  But today I want to talk about an extraordinary piece of ultra conservative insanity.

Anti-Muslim crazy from SPLC (emphasis mine):

Frank Gaffney, an anti-Muslim activist who in April told conservatives that “Shariah is communism with a God,” has called on Congress in a Washington Times column to bring back the McCarthy-era House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). This time around, the infamous panel’s job will be to root out the Islamist operatives who, he claims, are well on their way to replacing America’s democracy with a Shariah-based caliphate.

This is brilliant.  Why?  Because it combines two feared and hated subjects, makes no sense, and is short memorable and catchy.  One could surely stretch the imagination to find similarities, just as easily as one could claim Jesus was a Communist on account of his well known views on the wealthy.  But that doesn’t end any real credibility to it, which works in Gaffney’s favor.  The more insane and clearly untrue the slogan, the more the increasingly schizoid right seems to embrace their loony leaders.  They seem to get just as much pleasure from seeing the left bang their heads against the wall in frustration as they do in having yet another “reason” to hate on their favorite targets.

Why not hit back with more of the same?  Can you come up with any good ones?  Off the top of my head, here’s two:

  1. Conservatism is Corporate Communism.
  2. The Religious Right is Shariah with Jesus.

What do you think?  Most important of all, will it piss off the far right?

Obama on the Debt: Weaker Than Weak

Boehner walked away from debt talks with Obama.  Given how insanely far Obama has bent, this is madness.  Or maybe just good strategy.

Obama has ruled out the simple answer, the constitutional option.  However that, coupled with how this damning quote (emphasis mine), slams home the reality that our President wants to sabotage his own efforts:

“Essentially what we had offered Speaker Boehner was over a trillion dollars in cuts to discretionary spending. Both domestic and defense,” Obama told reporters in a hastily-arranged White House press conference.

“It is hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal and frankly, if you look at the commentary out there, there are a lot of Republicans puzzled as to why it couldn’t get done.”

He said the American people were “fed up” with political posturing, and said he was willing “to sign an extension of the debt ceiling which takes us through 2013.”

The nation needed to do more, Obama added, though adding that he would accept a fallback option if that was the best deal lawmakers could strike.

That’s a fallback that would go beyond the already overly conciliatory and generous offer the President made.  This is not the first time this kabuki dance has taken place on the national stage, but it is strikingly naked.

How Desperate is the National Republican Congressional Committee?

Desperate enough to pretend a Tea Party candidate is a Democrat in disguise?  YES:

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions said in a statement that Corwin had to battle “two well-funded Democrats, including one masquerading under the Tea Party name.” The Tea Party is a conservative activist movement.

 Jack Davis, the guy in question, did previously run as a Democrat.  During his most recent attempt to run for office, he ran as a Republican.  Rumors he’s a “fake Tea Party” candidate arose out of a split within the Tea Party organizations of New York, partially over whether to support mainstream Republicans or field their own candidates.

This sort of strategy appears pretty toothless right out of the gate, but one wonders if it would even be allowed out of the attic in a national race.  The split between mainstream Republicans and the Tea Party is deepening, and the likelihood of third party candidates is only going to increase going forward.