To paraphrase historian Robert Wolff’s assessment of the Crusades, America will look back at 2005 as a "long chronicle of greed, stupidity, treachery, duplicity and incompetence." Soon after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, President George W. Bush was criticized when he used the word “crusade” to describe America’s resolve to fight terrorism. Little did anyone realize that the Christian crusades were taking place right in our own backyard.
As if we needed things to get any worse.
First there was the American spectacle of the unfortunate Terri Schiavo, where Republicans overplayed their religion card to the horror of most Americans who shuddered at the thought of Tom DeLay poking his atrocious dye job into their personal dying processes. Then we had the artificial Senate majority leader Bill Frist making complex medical diagnoses via video tape that were as kooky as the image of Virgin Mary appearing in a toasted cheese sandwich. (This was before he appeared with Conservative Christian leaders on a nationally televised rally sponsored by the Family Research Council to compare the congressional act of filibustering to lack of faith).
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, suggested that anyone who might be offended by the Senate majority leader’s participation in a Christian rally, "not watch." If you think this means he would oppose the ridiculous attack by Education Secretary, Margaret Spellings calling on PBS to ban Postcards from Buster because it featured lesbian moms, think again. The right of adults to decide what they or their children should watch only applies to Christianity-laced broadcasts. Wiccans need not yet rejoice.
As everyone fought and politicized a woman’s personal and private nightmare – with such ugliness one can only hope she was not cognizant of any of it – John Paul II lay clinging to life, powdered, puffed and swathed in silk and satin in what was interpreted by the Catholic Church as a "lesson in suffering and sacrifice." His much anticipated death quickly knocked Schiavo off the front pages, but only amplified the increasingly vulgar mix of religion and politics – particularly in America.
Following the melodramatic demise of the Pope and the prehistoric display of secret conclaves and plumes of smoke of indeterminate colors that dominated media coverage the globe over, a former Nazi-youth fossil goose-stepped from the Reichstag into the Vatican vacancy left by John Paul II, anointing himself Benedict XVI. It wasn’t a particularly long march.
Among the first things this murderous pig did in his new position, aside from fast-track John Paul’s road to sainthood, was to convince African clergy that contraception was sinful, so what if it helped stem the little AIDS pandemic plaguing the continent. African Catholics should be very wary of Benedict XVI though. What better way to racially cleanse than to trick the black folk into shunning contraceptives? You can take the Nazi out of the Reichstag, but you can’t take the Reichstag out of the Nazi. Lest anyone utter a sound, comparisons to Hitler are not trite when the man is a living protégé.
It wasn’t long before America refocused its attention back on Michael Jackson. As accusations swirled about military interrogators torturing Muslims by fucking with the Q’uran, effete, child-like anchors, such as MSNBC’s Dan Abrams, salivated over Michael Jackson, speculating about the meaning of juror’s fashion choices and offering cringe-inducing legal analysis. A mere 1,200 journalists doing little reporting outside the Santa Maria courthouse are engaged in an all out war with Jackson fans, who are holding press conferences themselves and challenging restraining orders, while talking heads at Fox News shake their shallow, empty heads in disbelief.
The cable networks have decided to torture Americans by broadcasting the spotlight whore, Gloria Allred, ad nauseum, dousing viewers with her overly-priced two-cents worth. As if the bit-player role she transformed into a starring role in the Scott Peterson case wasn’t enough.
To make matters worse, Court TV hired her nauseatingly annoying daughter, Lisa Bloom, to host a show constantly featuring her mother as a guest. A reality show about the psychological dysfunction of the Allreds disguised as a talk show. A somehow crasser, uglier and more irritating version of Joan and Melissa Rivers, if you can believe it possible.
Not to be outdone, Reverend Jesse Jackson, having tastelessly thrust himself on the Schindlers – Terri Schiavo’s self-serving parents – managed to quickly capitalize on the death of Johnnie Cochran before becoming the unofficial spokesperson for Michael Jackson. Eventually, Jackson’s attorney Thomas Mesereau told him (and Jackson’s spokesperson, Raymone Bain) to zip it, claiming he hadn't authorized anyone to hold news conferences on the singer's behalf. Jesse Jackson cancelled just one CNN appearance before returning to the cable networks with a vengeance. Alas, no one told Gloria Allred, who would daisy cut her own family if they dared come between her and a camera.
Rumors about Michael Jackson being on his death bed, his mother Katherine suffering a stoke, his spokesperson being fired, Michael Jackson body doubles going to the hospital and reams of other such crap are fueling the twenty-four hour global news cycle, only to be interrupted with an occasional update on the engagement of Paris Hilton, or a begrudging report of yet another car bomb in Iraq.
The media attention surrounding the Michael Jackson trial, coupled with the Newsweek magazine faux pas has given the ever-excitable bloggers more than enough with which to burn bandwidth. As Ann Coulter spread her spindly legs on the cover of Time magazine, (Playboy wisely rejected the idea?) Newsweek magazine lowered their journalism standards to mirror those of Fox News and MSNBC by failing to qualify the multitude of rumors surrounding the treatment of the Q’uran by military interrogators at Guantanamo Bay. While the stories of interrogators flushing the Q’uran down the toilet are more likely true than the military’s official version of Pat Tillman’s death, everyone seemed to forget that Newsweek’s credibility -- tied to American journalism in general -- never really had any to loose to begin with.
The loud moral crowd in America – the one that deems capital punishment for retarded kids okay, and would sooner execute gays than permit them to seal their relationships with long term commitments -- have had virtually nothing to say about the torture and abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Not a peep.
All too easily they attacked Newsweek, spurred on by an indignant White House. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, ominously responded by saying: "People need to be very careful about what they say."
"It's appalling that this story got out there," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice angrily snarled. Oh that the moral outrage for a lack of journalistic integrity was applied with as much passion to America’s abuse, torture and detention without trial. The force with which the Administration and its defenders blamed Newsweek for the deaths and riots in Afghanistan following the now-retracted report, suggested that the story had damaged America’s squeaky clean global image. As if Abu Ghraib was a mirage and joyful Iraqis had showered American servicemembers with flowers upon Baghdad’s "liberation."
In the Ungracious Sophistry of America, the military is having a tough time convincing anyone with a modicum of intelligence that dying for seemingly ungrateful Iraqis, rapidly rising oil prices and an incompetent and inadequate Defense Secretary is a patriotic imperative. Despite protestations to the contrary, military recruiters admit to abandoning admission standards and signing up individuals who are physically, mentally or morally unfit for service. Attempting to compensate for a succession of recruiting goal failures, the Army moved this month to take a harder look at keeping first-term soldiers in the force that usually would have been kicked out for problems such as drug abuse, misconduct, or for failure to meet fitness or body-fat standards.
As the military lowers their standards of morality and intelligence, there is little wonder that "bad eggs" (the quaint description Rumsfeld used to characterize the perpetrators) are responsible for incidents such as the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.
Adding insult to injury, Pentagon ordered stop-loss measures notwithstanding, the military continues to discharge highly skilled, highly trained, competent and patriotic servicemembers for being gay.
Politics and religion are certainly not strangers, and Democrats have more than their fair share of bigots, homophobes, criminals and liars, but the Republicans have been especially vocal touting themselves as the party of decency and guardian of Christian values and morals.
Following the signing of anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment at a Christian high school, Governor Rick Perry of Texas demonstrated his commitment to active servicemembers and veterans alike by mouthing this intelligent statement in response to a question during a news conference about what he would tell gay war veterans returning from Iraq: "Texans made a decision about marriage and if there's a state that has more lenient views than Texas, then maybe that’s a better place for them to live."
Aside from abusing a high school to whore his religious politics, Rick Perry is yet another anti-gay politician who seemeth to protest too much. The Washington DC-based Servicemembers Legal Defense Network estimates that more than 66,000 gay veterans reside in Texas – veterans that have fought to allow sycophantic bigots like Perry to spew his high school girl venom with impunity. His embarrassing biography boasts about his activities at Texas A&M University as a senior and junior yell leader. A glorified name for a cheerleader, sans the gymnastics, who stands shrieking on the sidelines while athletes engage in sports. Think Richard Simmons on estrogen supplements.
All too frequently, the most rabidly anti-gay politicians have little secrets in their closets as well.
Another rabidly anti-gay politician, former Republican state Senate leader and current Spokane Washington Mayor, James West, is rejecting demands for his resignation amid allegations he offered city jobs to men he met in gay online chat rooms. As he squirmed like a worm on the Today show in an interview with Matt Lauer, the repulsive look of shame on a closet queen outed made it clearly understandable why he would engage in such activities. He would never get laid otherwise. Twenty-four-year-old Ryan Oelrich said he was appointed by West to the city Human Rights Commission in April 2004 after meeting him in a gay online chat room. West reportedly made several sexual advances online and offered Oelrich 0 to swim naked with him in a swimming pool. West denies the child molestation allegations as a Boy Scout master and sheriff's deputy. Bill Clinton might believe him.
"I led a life of hell. I know the rumors have been out there for a long time. It has been hell. I didn't date. I was celibate. That was true. Oh God. Oh God," West reportedly told The Spokesman-Review editor Steven Smith. Oh God, oh God indeed!
God and politics do not make for good bedfellows.
When President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe began persecuting gays back in the 90s, few countries batted an eyelid. South Africa, riding the crest of a wave following the adoption of its modern, ultra-progressive constitution in the wake of Apartheid embraced the ridiculously tiled "Quiet Diplomacy," quickly forgetting how America’s "Constructive Engagement" policy had allowed Apartheid to flourish under Reagan.
Mbeki’s political rhetoric and rationalization of economic ‘support’ for Mugabe’s blood-soaked regime as well as the world’s embracing of the fraudulent results of Zimbabwe’s 2000 elections simply provided political cover for investment in Zimbabwe, and all but guaranteed his re-election in 2002.
Throughout the Clinton and Bush administrations, leaders of the free world have legitimized and enabled, through greed, geocentricism or self-absorption, one of the most dangerous, megalomaniacs ever, using the laughable joke of democracy as a cloak that covers up absolutely nothing. Mugabe warned of a Tony Blair-led gay conspiracy by "the gay government of the gay United gay Kingdom." He proclaimed gays "lower than dogs and pigs."
"I find it extremely outrageous and repugnant to my human conscience that such immoral and revulsive (sic) organizations, like those of homosexuals who offend both against the law of nature and the morals of religious believes espoused by our society, should have any advocates in our midst and even elsewhere in the world," he stated in his opening speech at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair in 1995.
In 1999, Mugabe accused the British Government of setting "gay gangsters" on him over his controversial land reforms after three activists from the human rights group Outrage pounced on his car and tried to make a citizens arrest.. Moral finger pointers America and Britain, aghast at the behavior of dictators enough to fudge intelligence and lead their counties into war under false premises, did – and have done – absolutely nothing.
As Zimbabwe today spirals into deadly chaotic ruin, socially and economically, it would behoove freedom minded thinkers to pay heed to the hateful rhetoric vomited from the mouths of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Donald Wildmon, Lou Sheldon and the like. Compare their hate and ignorance to that of Robert Mugabe, and reconsider their moral agenda. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Falwell and Robertson blamed gays, feminists and liberals. Recently Pat Robertson compared "activist judges" – those that rule on issues like homosexuality (as opposed to abortion or religion) to terrorists.
As these pseudo-pious religious leaders propagandize their hate, and politicians flock to them like virgins at prison rodeos, America is in a dangerous and intolerant place. If these are the people claiming to represent God, God must have hired 49ers team public relations director, Kirk Reynolds, to promote His cause.
In response to a question by Matthew S. Bajko about the human rights violations of gay people around the world, posed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her May 27th talk to the San Francisco Commonwealth Club, Rice stated: "Well, obviously, from our point of view, a democratic and tolerant society is exactly that. It is a society in which all people are included. It does not matter what race, what gender, it does not matter what sexual orientation -- all that matters is that you are a citizen of that country."
The gay marriage issue aside, the United States military -- the largest employer in the United States – still insists on prohibiting gay people from serving openly on the twisted premise that the truth might impact morale and unit cohesion. Instead, shoving the very premise of the First Amendment aside, it demands that its troops lie about who they are so that their fellow soldiers feel comfortable during peace time. (During war, the military’s stop-loss policy, suspends gay discharges at a time, one would imagine, unit cohesion is the most critical.)
Not only is such a morally rotten, pathetic policy incredibly expensive -- training servicemembers at high costs only to be kicked out -- but the documented discharges of gay servicemembers -- 20 Arabic and six Farsi language speakers -- is a real and unacceptable threat to America's national security. Particularly as recruiting goals in almost every branch of service are at an all-time, dangerous low. In December 2004, a group of soldiers, livid that their duty tours had been extended, sued to get out of the military on the same day that a dozen former soldiers who had been shoved out for being gay sued to get back in. Air carriers being missed, anyone?
To prefer risking another September 11th to the possibility that some gay kid might happen to be taking a bullet for another's son or daughter is atrociously misguided of the religion-cloaked whores, thieves and liars insisting upon or implementing this Clintonesque, weasel-like policy.
Frankly, America -- the only NATO ally aside from Turkey barring gays from serving openly -- and Condoleezza Rice lack the moral authority to even address the question posed.
Clinton Fein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org