Liberal Street Fighter – sick of the double standards

We’ve all read the stories, about how persecuted Christians built the church in pagan Rome (the website where I found the illustration to the right captioned it with The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Congregation.). The rightwing version of Christianity likes to talk about persecution all the time, and the Republican Party frequently uses tales of evil liberal elites, feminazis and gays to scare up votes.

This isn’t just true of the religious right, but of the free-market absolutists and conservative nominees for office and especially for the Federal Bench. There is no willingness to be clear about what they believe, no willingness to be clear and frank about their thinking, their motivations or their goals. Pretty cowardly, when you think about it.

Unlike real martyrs and people who’ve suffered REAL persecution for their beliefs, the Republican Right seeks special treatment, insists that their tender feelings and “rights” be protected, even when they are advocating beliefs or policies that will cause great harm to others.
They insist you be so careful with your language that you’re left with no words to speak, a strange twisted version of “political correctness” that is designed to stifle debate.

We are left with a repeating pattern over and over again. A winger says something egregious, then cries foul when challenged on it, claiming that they are being treated unfairly because of religious bigotry. Take this explanation of the frequently mouthed line that a homophobe “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”:

How exactly does that work?  We hate sin by refusing to take part in it and by condemning it when we see it.  Sin is not be hated, not excused or taken lightly.  We love the sinner by being faithful in witnessing to them of the forgiveness that is available through Jesus Christ.  A true act of love is treating someone with respect and kindness even though they know you do not approve of their lifestyle and/or choice.  It is not loving to allow a person to remain stuck in sin.  It is not hateful to tell a person they are in sin.  In fact, the exact opposites are true.

If you try to confront this twisted mobius loop of tortured logic, you’ll be called a bigot.

We see this dynamic with the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. From today’s press briefing:

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, some of you all wanted to focus more on religion. We focused on her qualifications and record.

Q Scott, isn’t the idea we ask the questions and you provide the answers?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and I was providing the answer. Can I not say what I want to say?

Q Don’t you wish that Scott would get back to you?

Q Can you characterize —

MR. McCLELLAN: Isn’t it my right to talk and say what I want to?

Q I defend your right, Scott.

MR. McCLELLAN: You all want to focus on side issues like religion. We’ve said from the beginning —

Q Side issues —

Q You focused on religion.

MR. McCLELLAN: We’ve said — no, we have always publicly talked about —

Q When has religion been a side issue?

Q Scott —

MR. McCLELLAN: Come on, Jim, we’ve always talked about her record and her qualifications —

Q You call this a side issue.

Q Scott, yesterday —

Q The opposition to her is in your own party. What are you going to do about that?

Q Yesterday, Scott, the President said that the American people did want to know about her background, and that her religion was part of that. And you pointed out repeatedly that her religion was part of that, as a means of letting the American people know more about who Harriet Miers is. The question was whether or not she is the type of person that has the tenacity to deal with any criticism in a confirmation process. Could you describe her and who she is, relative to her tenacity? The President has called her a pit bull in size six shoes. Could you elaborate?

MR. McCLELLAN: Carl, what we have talked about publicly is her record and her qualifications and her judicial philosophy. Some have chosen to focus on other issues. We have focused on her record and her qualifications, because that’s what this should be based on. That’s why the President selected her, and that’s why he knows that she will make an outstanding Supreme Court Justice. And some people don’t want to talk about the record and qualifications. They’re interested in setting different standards —

Q But you also called her a woman of faith, a person of faith, yesterday. Those words came out of your mouth, she’s a person of faith.

MR. McCLELLAN: She is — and she is.

Use religion, and then whine when someone calls you on it. James Dobson claims on his radio program:

But we also talked about something else, and I think this is the first time this has been disclosed. Some of the other candidates who had been on that short list, and that many conservatives are now upset about were highly qualified individuals that had been passed over. Well, what Karl told me is that some of those individuals took themselves off that list and they would not allow their names to be considered, because the process has become so vicious and so vitriolic and so bitter, that they didn’t want to subject themselves or the members of their families to it.

So, even today, many conservatives and many of ‘em friends of mine, are being interviewed on talk shows and national television programs. And they’re saying, “Why didn’t the President appoint so-and-so? He or she would have been great. They had a wonderful judicial record. They would have been the kind of person we’ve been hoping and working and praying for to be on the Court. Well, it very well may be that those individuals didn’t want to be appointed.

John: For understandable reasons, because the grilling that they get in that confirmation process is just brutal.

So, these supposed patriots, passionate believers in Originalism or the Holy Free Market or some particular brand of Evangelical Christianity AREN’T WILLING TO FIGHT OPENLY FOR THEIR BELIEFS. I think Robert Bork is a wackjob, but at least he has the courage of his convictions. Increasingly, however, the right hides and cringes and whimpers “please don’t be mean to me” while their political movement engages in vicious character assassination, outing of undercover CIA agents and ramped up eliminationist language and the politics of hate.

It’s time to go on the attack against this tactic. Ridicule, berate, call them on their contradictions and copious bullshit. I’m willing to be tolerant, but NOT when someone uses their superstitions, beliefs or political ideology to attack or hurt others. The left has been far too polite for far too long. The rightwing likes to go on and on about strenth and convictions and how others are weak and they are strong, but strength is evidenced by a clear willingness to be honest about where you stand. The Republican Right fails in that over and over again. Orwellian language, hateful bigotry … the spew continues, followed by hiding behind the skirts of OUR tolerance and decency.

Enough. No quarter folks. Our leaders won’t do it, the media won’t do it, so WE must do it. If the fundies in your life send around distorted emails attacking gays or the ACLU or LIB-ruls or furiners, hit them back hard, hitting “reply all” on the email. Will people be pissed at you? Absolutely. You may lose a friend or two (if you can even still stand to be around them), Thanksgiving might become contentious. So what? They are destroying a secular culture that took centuries of work to (imperfectly) create. 30 to 40 years ago, when I was growing up, the kind of hateful language you hear from the religious right was a fringe thing, something you had to look for, now it’s part-and-parcel of cable television and talk radio.

They are bullies. They know that if what they really believe is highlighted and confronted with white-hot light of truth, most people will reject it. It’s time to be more forceful about confronting them. Like all bullies, they will fold when confronted. We need to step it up.

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