Vermont Guardian, January 2005 www.vermontguardian.com/commentary/OurTribe.shtml Note: Straight ASCII text Please check paragraph end markers before reformatting "_" marks beginning and end of italics Travis Charbeneau 3421 Hanover Ave., Richmond, VA 23221 firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 804 358 0417 www.travischarbeneau.com Heathens Capture White House Travis Charbeneau slug "heathens" 658 words PULL QUOTE: "Has any evangelical delivered a sermon recently on 'turning the other cheek'? If so, did he survive to finish it?"
The day after the election, "Daily Show" fake news anchor Jon Stewart said all Bush's failures were trumped "by the idea of two dudes kissing." It's a caricature, but significant to the Republican's "divide and conquer" strategy on "values." Part of Nixon's old "Silent Majority," today's GOP Christian Right is "The Base" ("Al Qaeda" in Arabic) that Bush supposedly led. (The tail is clearly wagging the elephant here.) These "values" voters blame liberal elites for upsetting social changes dividing America between secular humanism and Christianity. But the blame is off-target, and the critical divide is between Malachi and Matthew; between Old Testament and New. Stewart's gag applies nationally, but the Old Testament/New Testament divide was clearest in the 11 states outlawing gay marriage. The Base generally was so obsessed with sexual nonconformity that it approved a fraudulent war, tax injustice and other un-Christian behavior merely in passing. This is a mindset far more energized by damnations in Leviticus than the charity so relentlessly urged throughout the New Testament. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality, but explicitly condemned divorce, now common in The Base. As for violence, rather than ask, "What kind of gun would Jesus carry?" The Base clearly favors the intolerant, "my tribe, right or wrong" Charlton Heston of the Old Testament over the forgiving, unpatriotic Jesus. Has any evangelical delivered a sermon recently on "turning the other cheek"? If so, did he survive to finish it? "Love your enemies" defines the Gospel. 'Same for removing the "beam" in your own eye before challenging the "mote" in your neighbor's. But "American exceptionalism" condemns self-examination as disloyalty. We lack simple respect, never mind love, for "ragheads" and "sand niggers." I suspect these terms come from the same bundle of hates and fears encouraged by Bush the Elder's 1988 Willie Horton boogieman, rerun last election as a gay Osama. It worked. "Base" Christians may be unemployed, kids in poor schools (or dying in Iraq), taxes unjust, air unfit, the next hospital visit inviting bankruptcy, and the President inviting nuclear detonations -- but happy knowing that homosexuals are not living in state-sanctioned monogamy. Again, this is some colossal hatred to endure so much bad government for such small-hearted vengeance. Of course, Leviticus demands death. One step at a time. But why this retreat past Malachi? The social changes of recent decades definitely stress faith. Some doubt God alone can handle liberals and their teen sex, drugs, affirmative action. But liberals aren't in it. The American Dream and technology are the engines of change. Liberals did not launch the sexual revolution. Conservative Henry Ford put bedrooms on wheels for the convenience of curious teenagers. Beatniks didn't invent the smoking of weeds. America's Founders and corporate drug kingpins gave tobacco to the world. The Emancipation Proclamation is The Original Republican Idea behind all the uppity Negroes. Liberals didn't create the troublesome Internet. That was the Pentagon. 'Same for the Bomb, of course, now proliferating like iPods into the hands of "terrorists," a slur that easily explained George Washington to the English king, who didn't like change any more than today's conservatives -- or today's liberals. Humans generally hate change. I sure do. Change happens anyway. You can try denial, like fundamentalists East and West, or you can try management. Enter your liberal pest. Liberals struggle as miserably as everyone else with changes _invariably_ unleashed by the beloved energies of capitalism and what humans since the Renaissance have rightly admired as "progress" -- all furiously amplified by technology. Conservatives are happy to take the profits, but invariably leave a mess behind in environmental, economic, political, and, finally, their own "values" upset. Then, impersonating their hated "cult of victimization," they cast stones. The Administration is captive to an Old Testament outlook that Christ Himself claimed to surpass. Their "Christian" Base acts more like some heretical Old Testament sect. Roget's thesaurus gives "heathen" for such "non-Christian" behavior, making America the frightening, lonely primitive of Western Civilization. -30-