Thursday, May 17, 2012

Once more ... with feeling

You may have heard about the story in today's New York Times about yet another right-wing attempt to unseat President Obama, this courtesy of one Joe Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade and who the article says plans on resurrecting the Jeremiah Wright controversy of 2008, "[doing] what John McCain wouldn't let us do," according to the proposal, originally timed for the summer's Democratic National Convention.

However, it wouldn't surprise me at all if the publicity surrounding it actually served Ricketts' -- and the Republican Party's -- purposes more so than the actual campaign.

The contempt in which conservatives hold Obama simply isn't news, nor are the racist attitudes of some of them, which is why I'm questioning the whole enterprise.  By having this come out now, they place the media in somewhat of a double-bind.

For openers, by putting the story on the front page, the Times allowed the conservative movement to justify its long-standing persecution complex, that "they're out to get us" -- even though the campaign, which would clearly be race-baiting, would be reprehensible in its own right.  But if it were placed on an inside or back page or ignored totally, the rest of the readership would complain that the paper would be kowtowing to the right.

It will be interesting to see the letters that the Times publishes in the next few days, whether readers will complain about Ricketts or they believe that the paper was simply duped into becoming part of the campaign.  The apostle Paul talked about folks who "invent ways to do evil," and we may be looking at just that.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Apocalypse now?

You may remember that four years ago James Dobson, writing for the non-tax-exempt Focus on the Family Action, published a fictional "Letter from 2012 in Obama's America" basically saying what might happen during an Obama administration.  In it he made references to terrorist attacks in American cities, churches possibly losing their tax-exempt status for refusing to perform same-gender marriages, Christian publishers being driven out of business, doctors and nurses forced to perform abortions and other statements that darkly warned about the future.

In addition to Dobson's screed being irresponsible and arrogant, it has turned out that none of these dire predictions have come true -- as have virtually none of the other wild prophecies that come about whenever a liberal Democrat ascends to the presidency or any other position of authority, some of which took place when Bill Clinton got to the White House (one woman I personally know saying that, under Clinton, Christians would be persecuted).  But that won't stop the doomsayers from insisting how bad it will be when "they" are in power.

If any of you wonder why we have so much incivility in American politics these days, start there.  In that mentality the opposition is not simply wrong but primarily the embodiment of pure evil and is never to be even considered human or worth negotiating with.  Neal Gabler, who at the time was working on a biography of the late Sen Edward Kennedy, had it right in an op-ed piece published in 2009 in the Los Angeles Times when he aptly referred to conservative ideology as "religion" which needed to be defended to the death if necessary.

I have another name for it:  Idolatry.  Such an attitude spits in God's face because it makes Him come across as unable or unwilling to preserve his people especially in the "worst" of times.

More to the point, when folks complain about "losing their 'freedom,'" what they really mean is that they fear losing their privileged status.  "I don't want to lose all I've worked for," some may say -- but who gave them the opportunity to work in the first place?  Who placed them in a situation where they were able to get a solid education to make enough money to live in a nice place?  Yet these same people often act entitled and project that onto those they see as beneath them, leaving God's Kingdom out of the picture and forgetting that what He gives He expects to be used for His purposes, not to be hoarded.

Especially during the civil-rights and anti-apartheid movements was the resistance to justice most prevalent.  The book "Eyewitness: The Negro in American History" ran a snippet concerning one group called SPONGE -- "the Society for the Prevention of Negroes Getting Everything" -- that was organized at that time in the South.  And during the movie "Cry Freedom," based on the true story of the relationship between a white South African newspaper editor and a black activist, a white police official said to the editor, "We're not going to ... give this all away."  (It should be noted that in both cases activists were often called "socialists" -- more accurately, communists.  In that context Charles Stanley's warning, also after the 2008 election, about "creeping socialism" during his "10 Things to Pray For" concerning the president should make your blood run cold.)

Well, don't "liberals" do the same thing when they talk about conservatives?  Honestly, no -- they don't need to because conservatives make their aims very clear, whether they're frank as to their intentions or you can simply connect the dots and figure things out.  Moreover, they don't have the same apocalyptic mindset as to what might happen because they have far less to lose; if it comes out, which isn't all that often, it's based on experience.

For example, speakers at the national convention, I think in 2006, of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People, which has always been despised by the political right, roundly criticized then-President G.W. Bush for his policies and prosecution of the war in Iraq; the Bush administration responded by threatening to "look into" the group's tax-exempt status.  To that, the NAACP said, "We dare you," and Bush backed down.  You see, when you have a history of seeing people die and go to jail for what they believe in, which it does, you won't be intimidated by even a president.

Which leads the to ultimate point:  Why are we American Christians afraid to die or go to jail for Christ?  Is it because we want to live a comfortable life and not have to engage in spiritual warfare?  Where do we think we are -- heaven?  This is one time I wish that, were we faced with Armageddon -- which we're not -- those followers of Jesus would say, as President Bush once did, "Bring it on."