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Archive for September 27th, 2011

Max and the Bogeyman

I am about half way through a book by Max Blumenthal, Republican Gommorah, that I stumbed upon the other day at the library. I had casually opened it and ran across random information that I had never seen before. Did you know that Ted Bundy, before his killing spree, had been active in Republican politics? Or that Pat Robertson had abandoned his first wife and child? Me neither, and I thought it might be interesting to see what else the book revealed.

The book, which is a few years old, purports to chronicle the rise of the Christian Right in the Republican Party. I would like to clarify that I have not much use for either the religious Right or the Republican Party. But I also must say that I have considerable experience, during my brief time as an evangelical, with the folks Mr Blumenthal is writing about, and that in the 80s, when I was involved in the antiabortion movement, I felt a certain uncomfortable kinship with them. Since then, as the Christian Right has lined up behind every aggressive American war, and as it asserted a weird apocalyptic Zionism, I have grown more and more estranged from that worldview.

That said, Blumenthal’s book is patently ridiculous. Everything about the Right is seen in the most sinister terms imaginable. Evangelicals are “sadomasochistic”, spanking is child abuse, everything about evangelical subculture is sick and evil. When James Dobson calls someone a “friend of the family” Blumenthal changes it to “friend of the Family”, as if Dobson is speaking of some sort of weird shadowy cult. To anyone who has spent time around evangelicals, the picture he paints is an unrecognizable cartoon. Political evangelicals may have some strange and dangerous ideas, but by and large they are not the sort of insidious hypocrites Mr Blumenthal portrays. There are scoundrels and people of good will on both Left and Right, and no one has a monopoly on hypocrisy.

The book, in short, reminds me of Right wing demonization of the Left, where anyone not marching in lockstep with the Tea Party is a nefarious enemy of America, and a sexual pervert to boot. Republican Gommorah is an example of the trouble we are in these days, yet another case of people with blindfolds on, throwing bricks at each other from either side of a  wall. God forbid that anyone try to understand what motivates one’s erstwhile enemy, let alone show any sympathy for them. Of course, to follow the path of dehumanization is to follow the path of hate.

I’ll probably finish the book; the guy has done his homework and there are a lot of revealing connections made, but I will do so holding my nose. It’s a shame that Max Blumenthal preferred to create a bogeyman; however much information his book contains, he remains ignorant of the subject he has chosen to write about.

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“In a South Carolina prison sixty-six years ago, guards walked a 14-year-old boy, bible tucked under his arm, to the electric chair. At 5′ 1” and 95 pounds, the straps didn’t fit, and an electrode was too big for his leg.

The switch was pulled and the adult sized death mask fell from George Stinney’s face. Tears streamed from his eyes. Witnesses recoiled in horror as they watched the youngest person executed in the United States in the past century die.”

And he may have been innocent:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/22067139@N05/5251556905/

(Thanks to Mark Shea.)

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