Friday, April 15, 2005

The March of Folly
So Nurse Frist is really going over the edge now, joining up with the Family Research Council (motto: "Only One Book in Our Library Really Matters") for what seems to be a TV telethon making the following straight equation: Democrat = anti-Christian. This is the sort of thing they've been hinting for years, and it's taken the Schiavo case to smoke them out of their holes and into the rhetorical open. It's a positive wonder to behold, really: the complete disregard for the plain facts of American history, and their utter contempt for the concept of the majority respecting the rights of the minority.

And, of course, their total inability to count. One of the many things they don't understand is that they didn't win the presidency by shutout last November. Favorite quote, from Tony Perkins of the FRC (who is not the actor who played Norman Bates in Psycho, but if the shoe fits): "the liberal, anti-Christian dogma of the Left has been repudiated in almost every recent election." Yeah, like here in Wisconsin where we reelected the arch-leftist Russ Feingold with a greater plurality than John Kerry got. Or in Illinois, where Jesus' golfing buddy Alan Keyes got wiped 2-1. None of those inconvenient facts fits the theory, however, so they must be ignored.

This obliterates a line the wingnuts have heretofore merely tiptoed up to--Harry Reid pretty much said that in response to Frist's gambit today:
Our founding fathers had the superior vision to separate Church and State in our democracy. It is a fundamental principle that has allowed our great, diverse nation to grow and flourish peacefully. Blurring the line between Church and State erodes our Constitution, and our democracy. It is a blatant abuse of power. Participating in something designed to incite divisiveness and encourage contention is unacceptable. I would hope that Sen. Frist will rise above something so beyond the pale.
Don't hold your breath, Harry. Frist is trying to position himself as God's dog in the 2008 fight, thus the most dangerous place in the world to find yourself is in his way when he is trying to get to where more than three members of the Iowa Republican Borg can see him.

I happen to be reading Barbara Tuchman's The March of Folly this week--about how governments repeatedly act against their own self-interest, even when the signs are fairly clear that the course they are taking will end in disaster. Tuchman's first example is the decision of the defenders of Troy to take in the Trojan Horse, thus letting Greeks into the city to conquer it. The American Taliban seem to be doing something along those lines--letting in the very thing, religious intolerance, that would have destroyed them in the past, and could destroy them in the future when the cultural pendulum swings again. But there are plenty of other parallels for what they're doing--for example, their demonizing of liberals doesn't seem much different than the demonizing of Jews that led to pogroms in days of yore. And their use of a television broadcast to spread the word puts me in mind of the Rwandan genocide--one of its most chilling features was the way the media were used to exhort Hutus to massacre Tutsis wherever they could find them. If Sean Hannity went on the air tonight and announced that it was time to start killing liberals, how many do you think would be dead by sundown tomorrow?

Thing is, I don't think it's up to the likes of me---a hellbound atheist puke (who, in fact, doesn't like religion much at all)--to turn the tide against these nutjobs. It's the members of progressive religious denominations who are going to make far more effective witnesses for the defense than I. Somebody's got to be an honest broker to make sure that the broadly persuadable middle--the kind of people who don't read the New York Times or the blogs, and whose biggest concern at this moment is where to go for dinner tonight--hears something more than 180-proof wingnut hysteria about morality and democracy, and who stands for what. Fortunately, the talking points in response to the Taliban's gross distortions are easily within the reach of all of us, because this is the one place where what we learned in civics class, which can be problematical in the real political world a lot of the time, is actually just the ticket.

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