Sunday, June 19, 2005

One of the funniest recent political trends is the hand-wringing on the Left over the calls from Christian organizations for boycotts of various corporations:

Spurred on by a biblical injunction evangelicals call "The Great Commission," and emboldened by George W. Bush's re-election, which is perceived as a "mandate from God," the Christian right has launched a series of boycotts and pressure campaigns aimed at corporate America -- and at its sponsorship of entertainment, programs and activities they don't like.

Even The New York Times is feeling the chill. At the beginning of May, an internal committee of 19 Times editors and reporters, who'd been asked how to improve the paper's "credibility" with a wider swath of America, came up with a key recommendation: Deliberalize the paper's news columns, especially through more coverage on religion from a sympathetic point of view.

The committee's report, "Preserving Our Readers' Trust," added that "the overall tone of our coverage of gay marriage, as one example, approaches cheerleading. By consistently framing the issue as a civil rights matter -- gays fighting for the right to be treated like everyone else -- we failed to convey how disturbing the issue is in many corners of American social, cultural, and religious life."

Oh, "disturbing" to whom? Why, to the Christian right, of course -- whose email complaint campaigns against the Times are legion: It's the paper the fundamentalists love to hate. So why is the Times -- one of the few newspapers in the latest available study of circulation released earlier this year to significantly increase circulation rather than lose it -- feeling the need to kowtow to the religious opponents of gay marriage? The paper's willingness to do so is about as frightening a testimony to creeping theocracy as one could imagine.

Stop. You're killin' me here.

I type "boycott" into Google, and I get...not even one of these nefarious Christian boycotts.

On the first page: boycottsbg.com, "A centralized source for the boycott of Sinclair Broadcast Group's advertisers" for daring to show the Swift Boat Vet ads. Boycott Microsoft, "A call to stop Microsoft's Fascist software distribution policy." Boycott Israeli goods, boycott Bush, boycott the recording industry...not a fundie in the bunch. Who knew that Google was part of the evil fundie Dominionist conspiracy?

So I look up Boycott News, the publication "founded to further communication about boycotts, past, present, and future"...and I find boycotts against Carl's and Domino's pizza for "donating to pro-choice candidates," against Monsanto for creating Agent Orange (40 years ago!), Mitsubishi and Texaco being boycotted by the Rainforest Action Network.




I guarantee, though, that all these boycotts are part of the Evil Christian Fundie Dominionist Conspiracy. I'm sure of it.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.
- Senator Richard Durbin, 6/14/2005 on the floor of the US Senate

The blinding ignorance of this statement is especially notable for its utterly ahistoric quality. Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge, for example, didn't torture people especially--it just made it illegal for them to be literate, or to speak a foreign language, or to wear glasses, or to have uncallused hands. If you violated any of these rules, they would take you out into a field and hit your head with sticks until your brains spilled out of your skull. Or if you lived in a city they decided you had no right to eat, and they made it illegal for people who lived in cities to eat. In a country of five million, two million people died this way.

And for someone to compare this with...TURNING UP FRIGGIN AIR CONDITIONING is beyond any superlative of both stupidity and evil.

Monday, June 13, 2005

I'm way behind on my latest column, and precious little time to finish it, but I do have some unconnected thoughts.

Just watched the much-hyped premiere of The Closer, which held true to the strictest rule of modern television murder mysteries, which is that The Avowed Christian Always Did It.

Brilliant article in today's Asia Times about the cultural diseases in Iraq that are producing suicide bombers. Basically--says the piece--Iraqis understand tolerance as a zero-sum game; that is, if the Shiites are no longer getting brutalized in Iraq, it can only mean that it's time for the Sunnis to get brutalized. No other possibility occurs to them. (This reminds me of the old Russian phrase that Lenin was fond of bringing up: Kto-Kogo, literally "Who-Whom?"--that is, the only relevant question is, who is imposing his will on whom?

This reminds me--if I can drift even a little further--of a famous selection from Tocqueville about the sources of American prosperity:

“I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors…; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.”

The point was that it wasn't simply a political/economic structure that created the enormous wealth machine that is America: The deeper Christian context informed a society, says Tocqueville, where people could trust each other. Which contrasts sharply with the zero-sum world of Iraq, and, more broadly, Islam.

There's a telling Hillary Clinton quote in John Harris's book The Survivor:

Hillary taunted her husband's aides as being wimps by not fighting hard enough on Whitewater - "JFK had real men in his White House!" (pg. 108)

I cannot express in words how overwhelmingly despicable women like this are: women whose entire career foundation, whose entire political appeal is that they aren't one of those mean, insensitive Men. Women are nurturing, women are compassionate, if only women ruled the world, we'd have no war and violence, etc, etc. But when it suits them they demand that men act in exactly the manner that they would otherwise find, publicly and loudly, intolerable. Despicable in not nearly strong enough a word.

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