Unleashing the Crazy Right

I’m not sure if the insurance industry leaders using lobbyists to stir the pot know what they’ve just hooked into. Do they know that the comparisons of Obama to Hitler, and the call to break up a wholly imaginary “conspiracy” against the elderly may lead the fringe of the fringe to the next step? Is this fear of mine far-fetched? I don’t think so. To most Americans the killing of Dr. Tiller was murder. To many in the pro-life movement it was a courageous act by a patriot.
Whatever one’s opinion about abortion, the fact remains that the abortion debate introduced a political polarization that has never been healed and that has turned violent before. The fact that otherwise sane people now believe that United States government is in a conspiracy with the Obama administration to kill our elderly makes sense only when seen in the context of the hysterical, Armageddon-like expectations of the religious right/pro-life movement. When you understand the link between the hate mongers, the lobbying groups carrying water for the insurance industry and the ideology that came out of the pro-life movement then you can you understand what is happening today in town hall meetings that are being disrupted by screaming people. More importantly you can then also see where this may lead.

I’m not sure if the insurance industry leaders using lobbyists to stir the pot know what they’ve just hooked into. Do they know that the comparisons of Obama to Hitler, and the call to break up a wholly imaginary “conspiracy” against the elderly may lead the fringe of the fringe to the next step? Is this fear of mine far-fetched? I don’t think so. To most Americans the killing of Dr. Tiller was murder. To many in the pro-life movement it was a courageous act by a patriot.

Whatever one’s opinion about abortion, the fact remains that the abortion debate introduced a political polarization that has never been healed and that has turned violent before. The fact that otherwise sane people now believe that United States government is in a conspiracy with the Obama administration to kill our elderly makes sense only when seen in the context of the hysterical, Armageddon-like expectations of the religious right/pro-life movement. When you understand the link between the hate mongers, the lobbying groups carrying water for the insurance industry and the ideology that came out of the pro-life movement then you can you understand what is happening today in town hall meetings that are being disrupted by screaming people. More importantly you can then also see where this may lead.

Frank Schaeffer | Alternet

The Words of God Do Not Justify Cruelty to Women

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter.

Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Jimmy Carter | CommonDreams.org

Iran Had a Democracy Before We Took It Away

The fundamental problem in the Middle East is not a degenerate and corrupt Islam. The fundamental problem is a degenerate and corrupt Christendom. We have not brought freedom and democracy and enlightenment to the Muslim world. We have brought the opposite. We have used the iron fist of the American military to implant our oil companies in Iraq, occupy Afghanistan and ensure that the region is submissive and cowed. We have supported a government in Israel that has carried out egregious war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza and is daily stealing ever greater portions of Palestinian land.

We have established a network of military bases, some the size of small cities, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kuwait, and we have secured basing rights in the Gulf states of Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. We have expanded our military operations to Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Egypt, Algeria and Yemen. And no one naively believes, except perhaps us, that we have any intention of leaving.

Chris Hedges | CommonDreams.org

No Matter Who Is President of Iran, They Would Stone Me

No change is possible while Iran is controlled by autocratic, fundamentalist religious despots who determine the laws of the land. There has been no real election. Candidates are all hand-picked and cleared by a central religious committee. It is a farcical imitation of the free nomination/ election process that we have pictured in the free world. There is no possibility that a secular, pluralistic, freedom-loving democratic person who loves his or her country can become a candidate to run for president or any other office in Iran.

Let us not forget that Mousavi was Prime Minister of Iran in the 1980s, when more than ten thousand political prisoners were executed after three-minute sham trials. He has been a part of the Iranian dictatorship system for the past 30 years. If he had not been, he would not be allowed to be a candidate in the first place.

Lila Ghobady | CommonDreams.org

A Brief History of the Radical Right

What was the bridge between the posse movement and anti-abortionist fanaticism? The Sovereign crowd viewed women as chattel, and the prospect of an independent woman deciding to seek an abortion didnt sit well with them. I gained some insight into this line of thinking in another piece I once wrote about a young woman in Oklahoma who aspired to join the Christian Identity group, hoping that its followers would teach her to shoot and become a guerrilla. Instead, the men asked her for sex. When the woman replied that she wanted a relationship first, one of them replied, “Women are for breeding.” According to one faction of the group, women who have abortions are race traitors and should be stoned to death. With that in mind, the fact that some members of the far-right became violent anti-abortionists perhaps shouldnt come as such a surprise.

James Ridgeway | Mother Jones

Anti-Abortion Terrorism

Too often, I’ve heard about how the murder is not part of the “mainstream” anti-choice movement. Perhaps not. But vandalism certainly is. Harassment certainly is. Trespassing certainly is. The idea that you can employ little crimes but distance yourselves from the big ones is transparently disingenuous.

Once the guy with the guns decides that gluing the doors of a clinic shut, or stalking a doctor’s children, or jumping ugly with traumatized patients, or mailing phony anthrax isn’t working, what is he likely to do? Start a blog? Go back to writing impassioned letters to the editor? Not hardly.

This isn’t the time for a prayer that cooler heads will prevail on “both sides.” This is time for the country and its leaders to tell one side of the debate to knock it the hell off. Start turning in the vandals and thugs in your midst. Acquaint yourself with your friendly local FBI agent if somebody shows up at your meeting with a rosary in one hand and a Glock out in the car.

Surely, a president who has proposed the astonishing concept of preventive detention for people who might one day abet and commit terrorist acts can muster up a more vigorous condemnation of people who are actually doing it.

Charles Pierce | Altercation

War Is Sin

The utter failure of nearly all our religious institutions-whose texts are unequivocal about murder-to address the essence of war has rendered them useless. These institutions have little or nothing to say in wartime because the god they worship is a false god, one that promises victory to those who obey the law and believe in the manifest destiny of the nation.

We all have the capacity to commit evil. It takes little to unleash it. For those of us who have been to war this is the awful knowledge that is hardest to digest, the knowledge that the line between the victims and the victimizers is razor-thin, that human beings find a perverse delight in destruction and death, and that few can resist the pull. At best, most of us become silent accomplices.

Chris Hedges | CommonDreams.org

War Room is No Place for Bible Study

A Robert Draper article in Gentleman’s Quarterly revealed that some of the top-secret “World Wide Intelligence Briefings” that Rumsfeld provided to Bush were covered with photographs of Americans at war, and captions taken from Scripture. In one, above a huddle of GIs apparently at prayer, is the question famously put by God, “Whom shall I send and who will go for Us?” Over the soldiers is the answer from Isaiah: “Here I am, Lord. Send me.” Above a trooper hunched over a machine gun is this promise from Proverbs: “Commit to the Lord, whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Another cover shows Isaiah-inspired US tanks: “Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter.”

Sent by God. Protected by God. Sure to succeed. The righteous nation. A war defined not merely as just, but as holy. Such manifestations are one thing from eccentric religious groups operating on the fringe of the US military, in space guaranteed by freedom of religion. It is another when they show up at the peak of the chain of command – and from inside the intelligence community, which is charged with nothing less than defining the character of America’s wars.

James Carroll | CommonDreams.org

The Hounds of Heaven

“The special forces guys – they hunt men, basically. We do the same things as Christians, we hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down. Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom.”

Its worse than you think.

Torture, religion, democracy, God. Theyre all part of the mixed-up, horrific business that George Bush unleashed in the Middle East and Central Asia, and that Barack Obama is struggling to control and rationalize. As the words above demonstrate, the 12th century is striving mightily to join hands with the 20th in the U.S. military: Unbridled religious arrogance is forging a link with high-tech weaponry and an unlimited defense budget.

The speaker, Lt. Col. Gary Hensley, who is no less than the chief of U.S. military chaplains in Afghanistan, was videotaped last year delivering a sermon at Bagram Air Base. Since Al Jazeera first broadcast the footage at the beginning of the week, it has spread widely on the Internet. Like so much else that the Bush administration has bequeathed us, and the world – pre-emptive war and torture, for instance – this is nothing new, but suddenly its overt. I cant exactly say this is a good thing, but certainly this is where we want it.

A U.S. military spokesman has denied that American soldiers are allowed to try to convert Afghans to Christianity – it violates Central Commands General Order No. 1 – and said that Hensley was quoted out of context. U.S. military spokesmen, of course, also routinely deny that U.S. bombing raids kill civilians.

Robert C. Koehler via The Hounds of Heaven | CommonDreams.org.

For Want of Empathy

Since 9/11, I’ve written one book and a few hundred blog entries on the issues of human aggression, the cycle of violence, and the dangerous logic of war-think. All of this is added to an earlier book (Sexual Peace, long out of print) that was written during and in response to the first Iraq War.

The one theme that I return to over and over is the abysmal lack of empathy that afflicts so many Americans and ultimately drives our war-mad foreign policy. Though I’d been writing about this in the ’90s, it was 9/11 that brought it into sharp focus.

According to most Americans: the fact that we were violently assaulted and 3,000 civilians murdered perfectly and righteously justified that thousands of young Americans would join the military, train in the ways of violence, and then fly off to foreign lands to violently assault and kill thousands of people, most of whom were civilians who had nothing to do with the attacks on us. We see these young men and women as fulfilling a sacred, even holy trust, engaged in the noblest of actions, giving their lives in defense of their country.

We certainly wouldn’t call them terrorists or evil-doers.

So they fly off to Afghanistan and Iraq and bomb whole towns to rubble; invade homes in the middle of the night and drag often innocent family members off to torture prisons, killing anyone who gets in the way; riddle cars with bullets when drivers fail to comprehend English directives; drop tens of thousands of bombs that are never “smart” enough to avoid murdering the innocent along with possibly-guilty; and, ultimately kill or displace more than a million people.

Surely, the Afghanis and Iraqis have suffered through far, far, far, far, far worse anguish and pain then Americans did on 9/11. Yet when their young men and women take up arms and attack their attackers we call them evil-doing terrorists.

And so it goes, each attack “justifying” the next, each act of vengeance assuring a new cell of “terrorists” bent on getting their just revenge.

The only way out of this ancient cycle is for some one to be big enough, bold enough, and courageous enough to say: It stops with me. I will not seek revenge. Instead, I will stand for peace and reconciliation.

To turn the other cheek: if America is really a Christian nation, it’s past time to start acting like one.

Michael Sky