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Friday, February 16, 2007
Note: I'm not going to apologize for posting what's in my head at the moment, even though it's seemingly taking me in a direction that doesn't fit with what I've been doing to this point. This is not what I'm "turning my blog into," but since this stuff is bothering me as badly as it is, I want to write about it. Fair enough?
In his floor speech in the House debating the non-binding resolution on the "surge," Congressman Don Young of Alaska (R) used the following quote to open his speech:
"Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs, and should be arrested, exiled or hanged."
He attributed this quotation to Abe Lincoln. Small problem with that:
Lincoln never said such a thing.
So a congressman goes on the floor of the House, peddles a quote that's been falsified by its own initial right-wing purveyor, and uses these words to advocate that those who oppose the president should be arrested, exiled or hanged.
You don't believe that's what he meant? Let's ask his PR person to clarify:
Rep. Young added, referring to Lincoln: "He had the same problem this President has, with an unpopular war. The same problem with people trying to redirect the commander in chief."
He "totally agrees with the message of the statement." This can be taken either literally (those who oppose this war should be "arrested, exiled, or hanged") or spun into figurative language that simply advocates that opponents of this war should not express their dissent.
I fail to see how either interpretation is healthy for our democracy.
By the way, as of right now the Washington Times opinion piece that used the falsified Lincoln quote has not been corrected. That an outlet that purports to be a source for news and information is less interested in accuracy than it is in message should tell you everything you need to know about the credibility of that outlet.
So less than ten news articles are addressing this as of 10AM EST today, but over two hundred outlets have seen fit to dedicate space to the pressing issue of talking urinal cakes. Why is that? For all the talk about "liberal media," shouldn't a media that's truly biased be sinking their teeth into something that would seemingly be easy pickings?
And no CJ, CNN.com does not seem to have picked up the story on their front page, US page, or Politics page.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Hynes looks at the 2004 election and identifies two incidents in popular culture that occurred early that year to allow him to illustrate the persecution of poor, poor Christians in America today. The first is the Janet Jackson nipple-flash at the Super Bowl, which shows the latent dismissiveness in Liberal attitudes towards "smut TV." The second?
Mel Gibson's putative anti-Semitism dominated leftwing water cooler confabs in 2004. Leown Weiseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, argued, "In its representation of its Jewish characters, The Passion of the Christ is without any doubt an anti-Semitic movie, and anybody who says otherwise knows nothing, or chooses to know nothing, about the visual history of anti-Semitism, in art and in film."Naturally, he's making the case that Christians can't talk about Christianity without Jews getting all uppity about being demonized for their role in the passion, which, according to the quoted journalist, is how Christians have handled this association artistically throughout history. But this movie can't be anti-Semitic? It's Mel Gibson! Perish the thought.
When these two Americans (religious vs. irreligious) clash, we call it a culture war. On my blog, I dubbed the combatants of this culture war Janet Jackson-Americans and Mel Gibson-Americans because these two stars and their recent newsworthy antics were perfectly emblematic of the warring factions in the culture war. -- Hynes, pg 116Are we ready to rethink these "perfect emblems" yet?
As I continue to read, it's passages like this that fill me with anxiety - emphasis mine:
"Absent from any of these taunts (regarding Bush's faith) is any critical understanding of what many evangelicals believe about providence. Evangelicals believe God is the author of all things. So while American voters literally choose their presidents at the voting booth, God has already written down the outcome beforehand. Given this understanding, it would be irrational and unnatural for Bush and his evangelical supporters to believe he was not chosen by God, for whatever purpose. -- Hynes, pg 122"
I don't even know where to begin with that quote... That's a longer post for another day.
Still reading that fucking book, and I'm still irritated. Hynes analyzes his theory on how Liberals are crazy because they believe Republicans and Christians "have embedded secret code" when they talk. To wit:
No self-respecting paranoid conspiracy theory can survive for long without working an unreasonable suspicion of secret communications into the fantasy... Liberals believe that Republican politicians and conservative Christians have embedded secret code into their everyday conversation.This passage embeds this quote and fills up the bottom of the page. Before I turned the page in the book I wrote beneath the Hart quote in big block letters, "BECAUSE THEY ARE DESIGNED TO ONLY MEAN SOMETHING TO THE RESPECTIVE LISTENER!" Then I turned the page and the Hart quote continued:
Interestingly, a chapter-and-a-half later, Hynes takes the conversation in an entirely opposite direction:Indeed, coded political communications require rather cynical use of special language, including "dog whistle" messages. As the phrase suggests, these are communications on a frequency only the select can hear. If your ears are not keen enough to be tuned to the secret frequency, you will not be able to get the message. These kinds of communications are meant to shut out those that are not among the elect. The need for this kind of code language in a democracy raises all kinds of questions and suspicions. (Emphasis added for comical effect.) (BG's note: the "comical effect" quote is the author's, not mine)...(T)hese kinds of inane ramblings go beyond just one dejected former celebrity politician's discomfort in retirement. They are part-and-parcel with the paranoid style manifest in... the mainstream media's anti-Christian crusade against their invisible nemesis.
"The parties just don't get it," (Focus on the Family representative Jim Pfaff) told me. "To (Republicans) it's just a numbers game. They see thirty million evangelicals as thirty million prospective voters. And so, at the highest level, they pander to us." Pfaff said that many of Focus's (sic) closest "friends" in the political process are Democrats in state governments, not Republicans in Washington. -- Hynes, pg 78So, out of one side of his mouth Hynes is saying that Republican politicians "get" Christians, and that the talk about "values" and "faith" from candidates on the campaign trail is not an attempt to pander to them on the "issues" they find most important. Then, out of the other side of his mouth, he says that Republicans in 2004 basically pandered to Christians on the campaign trail without taking on the issues important to Christians once they took office.
Which is it Hynes?
And is it fair to assign meaning to a word like "values" or a term like "values voters?" Unsurprisingly, I did not vote for Republicans in the 2006 election, but I feel as if I voted to support the "values" that were important to me. In my opinion, keeping Rick Santorum in power represented a danger to personal freedoms - not just my personal freedoms, but to the due process owed to minorities and immigrants, to the abilities of poor people to make decisions based on their own judgements and beliefs, and to keep our country from edging closer to the proverbial "slippery slope" that a few slightly overreaching nanny-state decisions could have wrought.
Therefore, "values" means something different to me than it does to James Dobson. But there are those in the Christian Right who don't share "values" from A to Z with Dobson. It is enough, then, for a politician to find a couple of those wedge issues (gay marriage, for instance, or flag burning) that appeal to the Right and stand behind those while waving the Bible and screaming about "values." But does that word "values" align that politician with an all-encompassing platform committed to serving God? Does it even align that politician with an intention to focus on the social issues "important to Christians," whatever that's supposed to mean?
Hynes, and Pfaff from FOF (that's fun to say out loud - Pfaff from FOF) both say no. Maybe I'm just too cynical, but I would then have to believe that the word "values" is essentially meaningless coming out of the mouth of a politician. It is that sort of "dog whistle" word that says something to the listener and means nothing to the speaker.
Laugh off that "code" quote from above all you want Hynes, but maybe if you're going to accuse dirty Liberals of bastardizing language in an attempt to obfuscate honesty and disclosure:
I have come to believe that rebranding commonly used words and phrases is an exercise of the Left. They are the ones who say 'reproductive health' when they mean abortion, 'user fees' when they mean higher taxes, 'equal rights for all' when they mean gay marriage. -- Hynes, pg xiiThen you might want to trust one of those dirty Liberals who might be uniquely qualified by your definition to tell you what a politician is doing to fool you with words.
Just a thought.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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