Posts Tagged “tea partiers”

Don't tell us the F.F.s owned slaves (based on Gadsden flag, Don't tread on us)Tea Partiers in the great state of Tennessee have decided — as the militant Christianists in Texas have already done — that schools aren’t teaching history correctly. The Memphis, TN Commercial Appeal reports on a list of demands they’ve made of their state legislature (WebCite cached article):

Members of Tennessee tea parties presented state legislators with five priorities for action Wednesday, including “rejecting” the federal health reform act, establishing an elected “chief litigator” for the state and “educating students the truth about America.”

Railing and caterwauling about healthcare reform is, of course, standard fare among tea partiers. And whining about state litigation is, too. Neither of these really is unexpected or novel, then, in light of what the tea partiers have already been doing. What’s alarming is what they demand be done in the TN’s public schools:

Regarding education, the material they distributed said, “Neglect and outright ill will have distorted the teaching of the history and character of the United States. We seek to compel the teaching of students in Tennessee the truth regarding the history of our nation and the nature of its government.” …

The material calls for lawmakers to amend state laws governing school curriculums, and for textbook selection criteria to say that “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

TN’s tea partiers, then, don’t want to hear about anything bad about the Founding Fathers. And they don’t want their kids to have to study about those “minorities.” Their complaint is based on their own perceptions about how American history is being taught:

Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.

“The thing we need to focus on about the founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn’t existed, to everybody — not all equally instantly — and it was their progress that we need to look at,” said Rounds, whose website identifies him as a Vietnam War veteran of the Air Force and FedEx retiree who became a lawyer in 1995.

The problem, of course, is that every school in the country already teaches that the F.F.s were “revolutionaries” and that they promoted their own vision of liberty. Their revolutionary nature is clearly implied, for instance, in calling the U.S. war for independence as “the American Revolution.” Moreover, mentioning that the F.F.s owned slaves, does absolutely nothing to change that. To teach both the good and the bad about the F.F.s is not wrong — if anything it’s the right thing to do.

TN’s tea partiers are trying to set up something of a “Founding Father cult” in which the F.F.s end up being venerated as saints or worshipped as demigods … bigger than life, having lived perfect lives, virtuous beyond compare. This flies in the face of reality, however; we all know that no human being is perfect, not even the F.F.s, and to suggest they were perfect, does both them and TN’s school children a disservice.

Also, the choice to do make this demand just before Martin Luther King’s birthday may be coincidental, or it might have been an intended slap at the Martin Luther King Day holiday, a frequent target of complaints about “political correctness.” I just don’t know.

It’s time for tea partiers to fucking grow up for the first time in their lives and stop screaming and wailing that history isn’t what they demand it was.

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith blog.

Photo credit: My own modified version of the Gadsden flag, from Wikimedia Commons.

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#41 - Impeach ObamaI’ve blogged before about the Right comparing Obama and the Democrats to Hitler and the Nazis. To hear them tell it, the US has already become the next incarnation of the Third Reich. Reductio ad Hitlerums have become so common that it’s almost expected. Well, the Germans have noticed, and Der Spiegel, at least, is telling the American Right to stop already with the Hitlerisms (WebCite cached article):

Many on the American right have developed a taste for including a bit of German history in their stump speeches. Hitler comparisons abound and the Berlin Wall even made a cameo recently. But the flippant references to the Holocaust are ignorant and offensive. And they should stop. …

In this midterm campaign season in the US, German history seems to be everywhere. In June, conservative columnist Thomas Sowell of JewishWorldReview.com essentially argued that President Barack Obama, by requiring that BP pay $20 billion (€14.3 billion) to compensate those harmed by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, was following in the footsteps of Adolf Hitler — and was promptly praised by Sarah Palin and Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas.

Other examples abound. A Tea Party campaign poster in Iowa depicted Obama flanked by both Hitler and Lenin. Conservative talking head and Tea Party heartthrob Glenn Beck can hardly get through one of his Fox News shows without an Obama-Hitler comparison. Palin also accused Obama’s health care plan of including “death panels.” …

During his show on Oct. 5, Glenn Beck said that Obama’s science adviser John Holdren’s concern about the global population and White House health policy adviser Ezekiel Emanuel’s warnings about global warming are “the kind of thinking that led to … the extermination program that eventually led to the Holocaust.”

Der Spiegel goes on to talk about how Germans themselves … apart from one famous example that the article cites … tend to avoid the old reductio ad Hitlerum:

For most Germans, though, the Hitler comparisons are vastly more offensive. It is almost impossible to finish high school in Germany without going on a class visit to a former concentration camp. They are not pleasant places to be. While the sites themselves might now be little more than windswept rows of foundations where hopelessly overcrowded, disease-ridden barracks once stood, the museum exhibits tend to be much more disturbing. Images of trucks full of emaciated corpses, ovens where tens of thousands of bodies were burned, photos of SS commandos on the Eastern Front shooting row upon row of Jews, a canister of the poison gas Zyklon B — all are likely to be on display. …

It would be hard to find someone on this side of the Atlantic who wouldn’t cringe at the ignorance of [Beck’s] statement [about Holdren]. Leaving aside the question as to whether or not one should be concerned about climate change and an overcrowded planet, the kind of thinking that led to the Holocaust was a different one. Hitler wanted a racially pure Germany. People with handicaps didn’t fit. Neither did Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, blacks, Asians, Arabs or homosexuals.

Der Spiegel puts the whole thing into perspective:

The Holocaust was the result of murderous ideological fanaticism of the kind not to be found in leaders forced to face re-election every four years. It was not the result of a policy meeting.

Similarly, back in June Glenn Beck said that children singing for Barack Obama was “out of the playbook … of the Third Reich ….This is Hitler Youth.” One can assume that not all of Beck’s listeners and viewers know what the Hitler Youth was. Beck himself, an astute, if cynical, student of history, certainly does. The Hitler Youth was the ideological training grounds designed to prepare German boys for a glorious career in the SS murdering anyone who stood in the way of the Führer’s dream of a vast and racially pure German Reich. It was not a dictator’s private children’s choir.

One can forgive those like Glenn Beck and his Tea Party followers for hating Barack Obama. The liberals, after all, were passionately opposed to George W. Bush and rarely shied away from hyperbole in their expressions of loathing. But it is hard to imagine even the most hard-bitten Tea Party activist sincerely believing that President Barack Obama wants to systematically murder over 6 million people like Adolf Hitler did.

One of the “justifications” for this sort of reasoning which folks on the Right have offered, is that during the George W. Bush administration, many on the Left made similar accusations about Bush, Vice President Cheney, and the Republicans. They are correct in pointing out this happened — as I noted previously — but they’re wrong about this justifying their rhetoric. It doesn’t, quite simply because two wrongs don’t make a right. That the Left did something it shouldn’t have, years ago, does not grant the Right license to do the same thing, now.

I have no doubt that Tea Partiers and assorted creeps like Glenn Beck will not stop using appeals to Hitler and the Nazis, but it sure seems as though Der Spiegel said something that has desperately needed to be said, for a long time … and did so from the perspective of its native country, Germany, which was home to Hitler, his Nazi party, and the Third Reich.

Photo credit: elviskennedy.

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Since I started this blog, I’ve mentioned the amorphous Christian movement known as “dominionism” many times, and have suggested that it’s much more of a motive force for the Religious Right than even they might let on. I’ve been asked if my assertion might not be more paranoia than insightful conclusion.

Let’s face it, not many people really know what dominionism is or what it’s trying to do; and I fully admit that at least some Religious Right leaders sincerely do not view themselves as dominionists. Not only that, the scenario does carry of whiff of “conspiracy theory” and I’m far too skeptical to be susceptible to that. So it’s rare that anyone ever says anything that offers any similar thinking. But I recently came across something that speaks to this movement and the tentacular entanglements it has throughout the Right in the US. That comes from Sarah Posner over at Religion Dispatches:

Despite all the attention paid to the religious right’s declining interest in gay marriage as a key issue, it’s clear homosexuality is still a vibrant bogeyman—but the tea party bandwagon is simply more enticing at the moment. [Chaplain Viviana] Hernandez’s activist roots, for example, are with the National Organization for Marriage, though she is now affiliated with a group called the City Action Coalition International which, she says, trains pastors to be political activists. It is led by Bishop Joseph Mattera, whose son, Jason, is a well-known conservative activist and blogger who led another Values Voter workshop, “Turning the Tide in Your Generation.” …

The continuing influence of “Christian nation” mythology and dominionism is evident in Hernandez’s activist trajectory. She told me that before running (unsuccessfully) for state senate and city council in New York, she attended classes at the Providence Foundation, a small group based in Charlottesville, Virginia that has been described as Christian Reconstructionist. …

Religion Dispatches goes on to describe this group and its relationships to other arms of the Right:

Stephen McDowell, Providence’s co-founder, said in a telephone interview that he would not consider himself a Christian Reconstructionist, “but I do believe that the Bible is the template that we ought to look to to build our life upon and our family and our business and our civil society. That’s where the people who founded America looked.” According to its Web site, “The Scriptures contain a theology of the family, the church, and the state. Principles in God’s written Word that relate to civil government, politics, economics, and education are timeless and universally useful for the benefit of any culture on Earth today.” …

Although it’s a small operation, Providence has the blessing of David Barton, the religious right propagandist and Republican activist who claims the separation of church and state is a myth, and who serves on its board. Barton’s attempts to influence both politics and public education with his “Christian nation” mythology are legion; most recently, right-wing members of the Texas State Board of Education appointed Barton to serve as an “expert” on its social studies curriculum. McDowell serves on the board of Barton’s organization, WallBuilders. …

Whatever the tea party movement is—Dick Armey’s astroturf to kill health care reform, Rupert Murdoch’s marketing plan to boost Glenn Beck’s ratings, a grassroots outlet for right-wing rage and paranoia—the Values Voter Summit made clear the religious right is hitching its wagon to that horse. Sharing a common enemy (Obama, the Democratic Party, liberalism writ large), different participants wrap their rhetoric in red, white, and blue, whether the endgame is a romanticized rebellion of “authentic” patriots, uber-libertarianism—or Biblical law.

The notion of a “Christian nation” is one that the country’s Christian majority finds attractive. Rightist Christians definitely would love to see the US government overtly “Christianized,” even if they do not count themselves among dominionists. The truth is, though, that this sentiment makes them tacit dominionists. And even some Christians who are not committed Rightists, may find some appeal in it.

The dominionism movement is very dangerous, because its appeal is pervasive and because it’s often very hard to discern deep under the Religious Right’s machinations. Be afraid … be very, very afraid!

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