Glory Hallelujah, Glenn Beck is in the House!

August 31, 2010

Glenn Beck held his rally this past weekend, laden with historic symbolism and hype. Before the rally, to be honest, I had mixed feelings about the prospect of people like Beck, Palin and other demagogues speaking in the shadow of Lincoln and on the anniversary of Dr. King’s famous “I have a Dream” speech (by the way, first delivered by Dr. King in Detroit weeks earlier). What changed my opinion was listening to an opinion voiced by a liberal media commentator who decried the wrongfulness of bigots speaking on “hallowed ground on a hallowed date”. I don’t know if he was deliberately invoking the right wing arguments about the Muslim Community Center in New York City or not, but it resonated with me. I decided that if I used the same argument about the insensitivity of Beck/Palin speaking on “hallowed ground on a hallowed date” to attempt to deny them their Constitutional right of free speech, then I would be no better than the bigots using the same argument against the Community Center in New York City. Why become another American Taliban or terrorist and attempt to destroy a Constitutional right just because I despise the people exercising that right? To me, the people attempting to block the property and religious rights of Moslems in America are no different than Al Qaeda or any other terrorist group determined to destroy America. Why join them?

In fact, what Beck had to say at the rally was both a message of tolerance and respect and, at the same time, a complete contradiction of his previous speeches and of what he and Sarah Palin stand for. The fact that the rally was well attended was also notable, in that it was overwhelmingly attended by angry and alienated white people who choose to express their anger in the form of patriotic and religious symbols. This is notable insofar as it invokes the same, sad and mindless hordes of people who regularly listened to the racist and hate-filled broadcasts of Fr. Charles Coughlin (of Royal Oak, MI) in the 1930s.

People who are afraid are drawn to angry demagogues in every age and culture, and they always use patriotism and God to disguise their venom. The Scriptures calls them “false prophets” or “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. They don’t scare me, so let them rally and speak wherever and whenever they want.

Real Americans respect the rights of all Americans.

“First They Came For …”

August 17, 2010

Martin Niemoller’s famous rant from WWII came to my mind as I listened to the debate over the so-called “Ground Zero”Mosque, as bigoted and malignant a discussion as any racist rant from the 1900s. We are not at war with Islam, or rather, most of us are not. To equate the actions of a few terrorists who were Moslem with the religion of Islam is like equating the KKK or the Nazis with Christianity. Which makes it all the more despicable when the hate-mongers such as Newt  Gingrich equate the building of a community center open to people of all faiths blocks away from the “hallowed” Ground Zero with an attack on the victims and families. Over 300 American Moslems died in the World Trade Center attack.

As Jon Stewart observed on the “Daily Show”, it is like holding a religion responsible for the actions of its biggest “a-holes”. “It is not a matter of what we can do – it is a matter of should we?” Catholics can build a church next to a playground… but SHOULD they? Jews can wear a Yarmulke on Good Friday (the day they successfully killed our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ), but SHOULD they?”

The truth is that Moslems are building a Community Center with a Culinary School and Basketball courts, blocks away from the World Trade Center site, and a shorter distance to an already existing Mosque that has been in the neighborhood since before the Trade Center was even built! The Center would be open to people of all faiths. Anyone who objects to this is a simply a bigot, and we all need to speak out when they come for our fellow Americans – including Moslem Americans.

Michigan Politics

August 12, 2010

The results are in and die is cast… Snyder vs. Bernero. This is not exactly a classic confrontation between ideologies, as Snyder seems to be a genuine pragmatist, but it will be an interesting test for both political parties. What was most interesting about the results of the primary could be read between the lines about the Michigan political establishment.

On the GOP side, the culturally intolerant, religious right wing of the Michigan GOP appears to be on life-support and the few surviving Milliken-era Republicans are saying “good riddance”.  Mike Cox was the anointed representative of the “my family values” crowd, an appropriately hypocritical choice. However, Mr. Cox could never shake off the slime of the botched Kilpatrick investigation; and one has to wonder at not only at a dead political career, but about more legal fallout from his involvement in the Manoogian Mansion party once his political cover ends. People often mistake gross incompetence for some sinister motive, but he could have easily silenced critics by taking a polygraph test and releasing the results, or maybe not…

The question for the extreme right wing of the Michigan GOP is will they attempt to undermine Mr. Snyder? He has already proven them to be impotent by winning the nomination without their support and with the support of Independents and disaffected Democrats. Were they attracted by his pragmatism or by the abject horror of even more Cox in Lansing?  Hard to say, but Mr. Snyder has assiduously avoided the culture wars, probably because he is a rational, tolerant human being and, thus, could never win over the radical right of the GOP base. There must be much gnashing of teeth down at the Detroit News and the Right to Life covens today…

On the Democratic side, most of the pundits had it wrong from the start because they failed to consider the one consistent quality of the Michigan Democratic Machine: they are moths around a fire – always anointing the wrong candidate. Dillon was not in the cards because he had alienated the Democratic base in the last 4 years. Being Speaker of the most ineffective Michigan Legislature during the term of one of the most ineffective Democratic Governors in our lifetime, was hardly a qualifying dossier. However, barely being a Democrat seemed to attract the Michigan Trial Lawyers (AKA “The Justice League”) and Establishment Dems, who tried to be cute politically and backed “the only Dem that could win the general election”. They misjudged both Dillon and Bernero.

When will they get it right? Be true to your Progressive values and the base will turn out. If the Michigan GOP has finally been purged its malignant wing, then so too the Democrats might have rediscovered its soul.