Many Americans wonder how people like the Taliban ever become popular and take power in countries like Afghanistan. Some wonder if we aren’t seeing the beginnings of an American Taliban. (By the way, don’t forget that we armed the Taliban for a decade in the 1980’s against the Soviets.)
Mullah Omar was a gifted politician as well as a popular cleric. He had a gift for reducing the social and economic problems of his country to simple religious terms and solutions. He spoke of political problems in religious terms such as “good vs. evil”. Of course, the Taliban were good, and their opponents were evil. Afghanistan is a country with a long tradition of religious tolerance. Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and Hindu religions coexisted for centuries in a country that was the crossroads of trade between the East and West. It became a disaster when religion and governmental policy were merged.
Omar started as the governor of a small Province in Western Afghanistan. Omar began by forcing all schools to teach Islamic theology and law. Eventually, the Taliban version of religious law became the law of the land, Afghanistan became an Islamic State, and the rest is all too well known.
In America we have been going through what the right wing has called a “culture war”. It is really a conflict between the secular vs. the religious. The kinds of words being spoken by GOP are not about cultural values – they are about religious values they want codified into law. Consider some of the GOP platform post-convention, and the speeches made during the GOP Convention. If speeches and platforms are any indication, consider these GOP promises:
* Change America from one Nation under God to A Christian Nation and allow Christian groups to discriminate in hiring practices if, say, hiring a gay or a Muslim, would violate their religious beliefs
* Continue to permit employers to discriminate against women with regard to equal pay for equal work and make it virtually impossible for women to get any justice (see Senate vote of McCain April 22, 2008). Appoint Supreme Court Judges such as Scalia and Thomas to eviscerate anti-discrimination laws protecting women in the workplace.
* Criminalize abortions, even when pregnancies are the result of rape or incest.
* Lifestyle decisions and sexual orientation not consistent with our “Judeo-Christian” heritage would not be afforded legal protections and could be criminalized
Those are just a few examples. If you are not Republican, you are not Christian – and that is the fundamental construct of Islamic radicals, i.e. to merge political positions with religious doctrine and then demonize the opposition. Just watch FOX news’ Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly.
Maybe you have a dissonance similar to mine when I hear Sarah Palin justifying the criminalization of all abortions under any circumstance as, well, Christian. Didn’t Jesus advocate protecting and changing people, instead of putting them in jail? Remember the passage of the adulteress in Scripture? Would Sarah Palin be next to Jesus and protect the adulteress, or would she be one of the crowd with a stone in their hands?
The Christianity of the GOP is not the one I want to see replace our Constitution anymore than the vast majority of Muslims want to live under the Taliban’s version of the “law”. The moment this becomes a “Christian Nation” is the moment we cease to be a “free Nation”. Where have you gone Thomas Jefferson? (Or Joe DiMaggio, for that matter).
Maybe what we need is an American Crusade to beat back the lip-sticked pit bulls at the gates of our Democracy.
Gotta love your style Mr.Fieger. I really wish you could have taken my husbands’ medical malpractice case.
Fox News is a caricature of itself and sadly reflects the hyper-religiosity and right-wing douche baggery of this country that you described. There was a segment in which Glenn Beck sounded damn near like something off “The 700 Club” when he went on for five minutes and blamed atheists for the rise of gang violence in America. Of course, imagine the uproar if you replace “atheists” with “Jews” or some other group. Glenn Beck is hilarious:
Another gem is where Bill O’Reilly interviews Richard Dawkins about his then-new book, “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.” Richard Dawkins handles himself like a gentleman until Bill O’Reilly loses it and starts yelling at him. Dawkins says, “Will you listen to me and stop shouting at me?” I saw Dawkins at a book signing just days after this broadcast aired, and I congratulated him for telling off Bill O’Reilly. Here’s the broadcast. Notice how the word “ATHEIST” (*GASP!*) is under Dawkins’s name throughout much of the broadcast, even though the book he’s talking about this time is not about religion (his last book was “The God Delusion” but that was his only book about religion):
In 2009, when Jack Kevorkian was on Fox with Neil Cavuto, I think he had it easy. Cavuto wasn’t as ridiculous as the aforementioned anchors, but, of course, he still dipped into the usual Fox News drivel. Cavuto asked the obligatory, “Are you an atheist?” And he also asked Kevorkian if he really didn’t believe in an afterlife, like it was really that unusual not to believe in it and the most horrible prospect in the world. Such a question carries with it the assumption that an afterlife is inevitably a Utopia. I always say to a friend of mine who I inadvertently disillusioned by telling I had no reason to believe in an afterlife, “How do you know you don’t spend eternity in Harold’s office?” (Harold was a teacher in college we both hated and we had jokes about what went on in his office when the door was locked). I would have loved to have seen Kevorkian go up against O’Reilly or Beck. That would have been great mud-slinging, and Kevorkian would have handed their asses to them. But in the interview that he actually did do, I think the best part was when he said the following, which I think would make a great T-shirt:
“When you transplant a heart from a baboon into a baby as we did, and you say the body of that baby is sacred, does that profane heart from the baboon become sacred when you place it in the body? Or when you take out a gallbladder and throw it in the garbage, is that a sacred gallbladder in the garbage? Or as soon as it’s out of the body it loses its sanctity? You see the silliness of our mythology? Children ask the questions I’m just asking now. Trouble is, children get slapped for asking questions like that because they have no defense. But you can’t slap me. I can ask the question. It’s a logical question.”
It would be great to think that Fox News is an anomaly, but it really does represent how a good portion of this country– and many powerful politicians– thinks… or doesn’t think.
Whoops, that was the wrong Glenn Beck video (it was a shortened version of the one I was looking for). Here’s the one where he links gang violence to not believing in God: