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Americans Who Betray the Most Basic American Values

Americans Who Betray the Most Basic American Values

Listen up, you so-called Patriots. Any power interest that dehumanizes other Americans, other people, IS THE BAD GUY. What does it take for you to understand that?

I’m getting very tired of receiving hate propaganda in my email. The latest bit followed the predictable pattern – taking one small fact and spinning it to appeal to the dark side of the reader. In 2009, President Obama appointed two highly-qualified people to important posts. Today, in 2012, I get an email called “Wolves Will Be Herding the Sheep.”

The email in question even had its own links to Snopes and to the official announcement, but most people are too lazy to look. They just look at the commentary:

Well, boys and girls, today the fox is guarding the hen house. The wolves will be herding the sheep!
Obama appointed two devout Muslims to homeland security posts. Obama and Janet Napolitano appointed Arif Alikhan, a devout Muslim, as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano swore-in Kareem Shora, a devout Muslim, who was born in Damascus, Syria, as ADC National Executive Director as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC).
NOTE: Has anyone ever heard a new government official being identified as a ‘devout Catholic,” a “devout Jew” or a “devout Protestant”…? Just wondering.
Devout Muslims being appointed to critical Homeland Security positions? Doesn’t this make you feel safer already?? That should make our home land much safer, huh!?
Wasn’t it “devout Muslim men” who flew planes into U.S. buildings 10 years ago? Wasn’t it a “devout Muslim man” who killed 13 at Fort Hood ?
Please forward this important information to any who cares about the future of our Country.

To me, this is so obvious as to not need explaining, but obviously there are some very, very misled or very, very stupid people in this country, because this stuff – that seems so transparent- actually seems to work. These are Americans, highly qualified Americans, who were appointed to these posts, and for good reasons – not that it was even enough to prevent the use of hate flicks for training.

This message is hateful and more importantly, inaccurate. By the way, if we really expect to deal with ANY extremists, including the Hatriot movement or the dominionist “Christian” theocrats or groups like the KKK, we’ve got to learn that appealing to the darkness – through generalizing, scapegoating, fear mongering, or any other dehumanizing effort is wrong. It’s more than wrong. It’s the E word.

America is not at war with Islam. Or with Christianity. But you know, in every religion and in every country and in every large group there seems to be a subset of people who hate, who dehumanize others, who flip logic to manipulate people, and who have little to no capacity for kindness, caring or dialogue. They only care about power, authority, and control. These groups have created centuries of misery, and they make a mockery of the ideals of their religion, country, or the group’s reason for being. You will know them by their fruits. But false prophets always seem to be able to mislead large crowds, no matter what country or century they happen to be operating in.

Do people not understand the idea of America? Do they not understand that this mistake is fatal to the spirit of this country? We absolutely cannot dehumanize other people. Have we learned nothing from our own mistakes, not to mention the history of the word? The Hatriot movement and the dominionist theocrats are the mirror image of the other extremists around the world.

It’s extremely lazy and extremely dangerous to generalize from singular people or events to an entire religion, or country, or race, or class.

Anyone who insinuates that a group is subhuman – then tries to claim that it’s American to think so – is not a friend of America.

Don’t be fooled. I pray you’re better than that. I pray more of our countrymen and countrywomen come to their senses soon.

I’ve given up on trying to explain anything to the contemporary brownshirts. So many have gone past the point of reason or teaching or dialogue. It’s reached a tipping point – they’re gone. A saint would keep trying, but I’m no saint. All I can do anymore is to grieve the reality. May the universe have mercy on their souls.

Be careful out there.

Hatred is not Religious

Hatred is not Religious

Peace be in you. Peace be through you.

I feel a great urge for peace today. I am thinking about some of the wise and kind people that I have met, and the way I felt when I was near them. There are people of the book(s). There are people of people, so to speak. There are people of the cosmos. Each have their strengths and blind spots, but they share some things in common.

Such people seem to leave sparkles of light wherever they go. And some of them don’t even know it.

Caring and love are much better than hatred and fear, creating a better world for everyone.

It seems so bizarre to me to feel the need to restate what I would think should be blindingly obvious: The lust for power (with all its accompanying hatred, violence, fear, and greed) is not a religious virtue.

There is a kind of mirroring between the radical pseudo-Christians of dominionism and the radical Islamicists. Both groups of hardline zealots appear – almost paradoxically – damaged, hurt and fearful. They don’t have the courage to accept others for what they are and let God be the judge. The very capacity for compassion and respectful relations with others seems stunted. Perhaps they fight to ward off fear, or in desperation, or simply from a lack of better models and leaders. Perhaps they are angry about real experiences, and perhaps some of them have valid complaints that should be discussed more openly in the public sphere.

But they claim God’s judgment for their own, and that is not a virtue in either Islam or Christianity.

Both political movements (let’s just admit that they are more political than religious, shall we?) seem very interested in earthly power, even to the point of murder and war. They have national interests. They seem very comfortable believing that they have an exclusive connection to God, and that they can speak with God’s authority.

They practice domination… and I think that pretty much explains why the big fight for the Christian (de-)”con”structionists (it can’t be “Reconstruction” if you think about it) is to display the ten commandments instead of, say, the sermon on the mount. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

I’m not someone who relies on scriptural texts for my sense of ethics or for my relationship with God (there are many reasons for that, and perhaps I’ll explain my reasoning on another occasion).

Nonetheless, there are lots and lots and lots of people who feel that their sacred books are vitally, even supremely, important. These cousins – Jews, Christians, and Muslims – are collectively “the people of the book.”

So let’s review some points from some of their sacred texts.

Pick your own translation – and sure, your in-group’s interpretation if you know it – and chew on some of this.

The Qur’an (also known by the spelling Koran)

Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.
(2:190)

Do not say to one who offers you peace, “You are not a believer,” seeking the spoils of this life. For God has abundant treasure. You used to be like them, after all, and then God blessed you.
(4:94)

Oh you who believe, stand up firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even if it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor; for God can best protect both. Do not follow any passion, lest you not be just. And if you distort or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that you do.’
(4:135)

If it had been thy Lord’s Will, they would all have believed, all who are on earth! Wilt thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!
(10:99)

Those who act kindly in this world will have kindness.
(39.10)

Goodness and evil are not equal. Repel evil with what is better. Then that person with whom there was hatred, may become your intimate friend! And no one will be granted such goodness
except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but people of the greatest good fortune.
(41:34-35)

It may be that God will grant love (and friendship) between you and those whom ye (now) hold as enemies. For God has power (over all things), and God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. God does not forbid you, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for God loves those who are just.
(60:7-8)

Our Lord! Perfect our light for us and forgive us our sins, for verily You have power over all things.
(66:8)

The Prophet once saw a funeral procession passing by a street in Madina. The Prophet was seated at that time. On seeing the funeral, the Prophet stood up in respect. At this one of his companions said: ‘O Prophet, it was the funeral of a Jew (not a Muslim).’ The Prophet replied: ‘Was he not a human being?’

Peace be upon you.

The Bible: The Christian Scriptures (under the new law of the Christ)

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
(John 15:12,17)

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
(Matthew 7:1)

And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and the disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those
who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’
(Matthew 9:10-13)

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
(Matthew 25:31-46)

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. Ad if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
(Luke 6:32-36)

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.’
(Luke 9:46-48)

And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?’ But Jesus turned and rebuked them, And he said, ‘You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.’ And they went to another village.
(Luke 9:54-56)

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!’
(John 2.13-16)

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.’
(Luke 16:10-14)

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Romans 12:21)

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:14-22)

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
(James 1:26-27)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:8-9)

Peace be with you.

The Bible: The Hebrew Scriptures (under the law of the Convenant)

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty and the terrible God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.
(Deuteronomy 10:17-18)

May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:26)

My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain.
(Ezekiel 33:31)

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
(Psalm 145:8-9)

My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.
If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood,
let us wantonly ambush the innocent;
like Sheol let us swallow them alive
and whole, like those who go down to the Pit;
we shall find all precious goods,
we shall fill our houses with spoil;
throw in your lot among us,
we will all have one purse”–
my son, do not walk in the way with them,
hold back your foot from their paths;
for their feet run to evil,
and they make haste to shed blood.
(Proverbs 1.10-16)

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.’
(Numbers 6:24-26)

He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken. All the nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.
(Micah 4:3-5)

Shalom.

Intolerance lies at the core of evil.
Not the intolerance that results from any threat or danger.
But intolerance of another being who dares to exist.
Intolerance without cause. It is so deep within us,
because every human being secretly desires
the entire universe to himself.
Our only way out is to learn
compassion without cause. To care for each other
simple because that ‘other’ exists.
– Rabbi Menachem Mendle

Peace be in you. Peace be through you.

The Edwards Blogger Controversy

The Edwards Blogger Controversy

This morning, I read a great article at Salon by Lindsay Beyerstein (Majikthise) on why she refused the Edwards campaign blogging job the others accepted. I think her analysis of the issues was dead-on, and she figured it out in advance. I also thought she was perceptive about the issue of off-the-campaign surrogates:

Unfortunately, as the Edwards campaign learned the hard way, the right wing has a large network of surrogates, like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and Bill Donohue, who can propel virtually any story into the mainstream media. These professional blowhards are supported by a lavish infrastructure of publishers, partisan media outlets, think tanks, grants, lecture circuits and more.

Republican benefactors lavish funds on the conservative message machine because they recognize the value of a good surrogate. Candidates don’t pay their surrogates or give them orders. Instead, they rely on them to say all the outrageous things they can’t say themselves.

So far, the left doesn’t have much in the way of institutionally supported partisan counterweights. We’ve got Bill Moyers, they’ve got Bill Donohue. Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

Progressive blogs have the potential to become the left wing’s open-source counterpart to the right-wing noise machine. But that doesn’t necessarily mean using money and a title to yoke an established blogger to a specific candidate.

The Edwards campaign wants decentralized people-powered politics. Ironically, by hiring well-known bloggers to manage a destination Web site, it was actually centralizing and micromanaging. Every campaign needs a blog, but the most important part of a candidate’s netroots operation is the disciplined political operatives who can quietly build relationships with bloggers outside the campaign. And the bomb-throwing surrogates need to be outside, where they can make full use of their gifts without saddling a campaign with their personal political baggage.

So while I’m here, already thinking about it because of this fascinating article, here’s my take on the thing.

I thought that there would be no problem for a progressive blogger to put on the “professional hat” and work for a campaign. The Edwards campaign picked two great bloggers: Melissa McEwan (Shakespeare’s Sister) and Amanda Marcotte (Pandagon). Both women are solid workers for progressive causes. Although the genre of biting wit (and occasional vulgarity) may put off plenty of Americans, it is possible to change genres – and people do it all the time.

The objections, smears and attacks were to be expected, especially considering that both bloggers were involved with projects like the Big Brass Alliance. The “swift-boating” smear technique seems to work, and the right-wing likes it (they think it’s a good thing).

Well, Edwards fired, then rehired the bloggers. Ultimately, both bloggers resigned. Victory to the machine.

What surprised me was the first accusation, and its source. The leader of this “politically correct” (!) attack was President of the Catholic League Bill Donohue, known for such statements as “Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity,” “Hollywood likes anal sex,” and Catholics “cooperate in evil” by voting for Kerry.

This paragon of virtue (note to the rusty: that’s “irony,” “sarcasm,” and “ridicule”) accused the two feminist bloggers of being “anti-Catholic bigots.”

I have no problem with tagging certain pseudo-christians as “Christofascists” – that’s exactly what they are. I don’t see how that is anti-Catholic per se, nor is it even anti-Christian. I myself don’t find the attitudes or behaviors of dominionists and supremacists very Christian at all. Those who seek power and control in the name of God and Christ are missing the message (that is the most benevolent interpretation). If the Spirit is characterized by love and caritas and forgiveness and goodness, then… you finish the sentence for yourself.

There are many groups who rally for religious preference, discrimination, and control over other American citizens.
As feminist progressives, these two bloggers (and many others) criticize policies that oppose women, homosexuality, abortion, contraception – and so on. They each use their own kind of wit to do so. For them to criticize these things does not make them anti-Catholic, just as to criticize the political actions of a government does not necessarily mean that you hate that country or its people.

Most Catholics (even many evangelicals) are not fascistic theocratic supremacists or dominionists. Some recognize that freedom of religion is exactly what allowed them to thrive in America. There are many progressive religious people – who care about the stewardship of the earth, for example, or issues about poverty and helping others and compassion. Some even take peace seriously, like the Quakers. There are feminists who have serious issues with abortion. There are even right-wing homosexuals (something I’ve always found difficult to understand).

The point is, the possible religious and political viewpoints are many in the “land of the free.”

Well, I suppose the smear machine couldn’t really go after their support of AfterDowningStreet.org, could they? They didn’t really want to attack feminism straight off. So they went for the bigotry charge. The media swallowed it.

The smear tactics are basically just operant conditioning (your basic Pavlov, Skinner) applied to language: Create the association between “Edwards,” “bloggers,” and “anti-Catholic” and “bigots.” Spin. Disseminate. Repeat.

There is no “debate” about word association memes. Kerry… Swiftboat. You try one… how about Columbine?

It’s all about making a noise, a viral repetition that sticks. Ultimately, if it is successful, then it becomes a meme existing simply to replicate itself. Contagion. Spread. Mutation. If you want to debate, it’s best to reframe the terms or you’ll simply spread the meme even further. These days, memes can travel faster than the cold virus.

Somehow, I thought that some of the right-wing bloggers might want to preserve some blogging leeway, if only to be hired themselves in a similar capacity for one of their candidates. Nah – they’ll just do it anyway. As Beyerstein points out elsewhere, right-wing bloggers can do such things as calling for murder without damaging their credentials much. There is so much hypocrisy here that it can start to wear you out just contemplating the many examples. And that’s the point.

The strength of the right-wing machine’s method (including the blogosphere) is the collective and coordinated aspect of viral smear campaigns. In line with that, there is little feel for irony, nor is there much regard for honest debate. It is strategic.

For some, off-on/right-wrong/us-them thinking is very compelling and comforting. If nothing else, it relieves them of the burden of self-determination and complex reasoning. It also blocks insights and compassion, though, especially in a context of meme-association conditioning. It results in severely limited focus, if not always outright misrepresentation.

However, you can only roll hate and smear for so long. It’s wearing thin. Attentive Americans across the spectrum are really getting tired of it. I believe that Americans long for something more positive and energizing than that, despite our tendencies toward scapegoating.

There’s nothing wrong with a campaign hiring a blogger – not at all. They should get someone witty, and someone who already agrees with most of the policies and goals of the politicians. It’s a PR job, basically, and there are some good people who can craft messaging, frame the terms of presentation, and all that. Still – that’s PR delivered in blog format. There are other, probably better, roles for journalistic and activist bloggers.

Although I was disappointed that the bloggers decided not to stay on, I also feel that it is probably better for most political bloggers (if not all!) to be independent. Bloggers are providing the kind of debate and discussion that is conspicuously lacking in other forms of media. The blogosphere is a democratic development comparable to the printing press and the copy machine. Freedom of speech – and debate and argument – produce better citizens and a better democracy.

Yes, there are hateful, horrible diatribes. Yes, there are also simple repetitions of talking points.

What I personally enjoy, though, is seeing a whole range of people trying to think things through and figure out where they stand. They get a better feel for language. Some are more compelling than others, some are better writers. The ones who write often, and think, get better and better at untwisting the spin and mutating the memes.

This is the kind of skill that can raise our collective levels of thinking toward something that can respect debate, honor a variety of perspectives, and start finding and implementing more credible and effective solutions to our problems.

Violence is the Fault of Pro-Choice – Meme?

Violence is the Fault of Pro-Choice – Meme?

According to the Christian Newswire, Human Life International has opened up a new website that claims to expose the “Real Source of Violence” in the abortion debate. Guess who they claim is responsible for the violence?

“This website exposes the pro-choice movement as the most violent political movement in United States history. In fact, we have documented over 7,000 acts of violence and illegal activities by those who support or practice abortion,” stated Brian Clowes, Ph. D., senior analyst for HLI. “We have launched this site to expose this troubling truth and to draw attention to the fact that this violence is escalating at a very disturbing rate. Since 2000, there have been an astonishing 269 homicides and other killings committed by the pro-abortion movement.”

They include a lot under the “pro-abortion” movement. You’d have to read through the stories yourself to get a sense of some of the problems with the methods and logic. There are probably a few genuine cases of fringe pro-choicers in there – there are always a few at the edge of every line of thought. However, they are trying to conflate the pro-choice idea with an organized violence. Perhaps I’ll tackle the details on another day, but I’m kind of hoping that someone else will do it, someone who actually makes a salary as a researcher, and I can give you a link.

While there seems to be a spectrum among its members, HLI itself looks like a far-right activist Catholic organization. In as neutral a tone as they can manage, they’re calling their new site an “informational resource.” Go to the Newswire link to get the address – there’s no way I’m linking to it on this blog.

One of the things that struck me right away in the news release was their claim that pro-choicers are racists. Wow. That’s really counter-intuitive to my sense of things, so I had a “stop the train” moment. They mention an example of a Maine couple who had abducted their 19-year old daughter, “bound her hands and feet and were transporting her to New York for a late-term abortion simply because the child’s father was black.”

If this story is true, then it seems to me that abduction, kidnapping, and an attempt at an unwanted abortion upon a woman of 19 are crimes in themselves. The racism and criminal behavior, not to mention the lack of care for their daughter implied by this, cannot be generalized onto anyone who is pro-choice. That’s absurd. But this is what they do, all the while complaining at their site that they feel that prochoicers and the media “stereotype” anyone who is against abortion.

— An aside- I’m wondering who wrote this press release. This group has been around since the early 80’s, and it’s pretty big. Perhaps it’s a bias of mine, but I think of Catholics as pro-education (except for sex education, of course). It may be because of my deep admiration for some of the Catholic theologians and scholars I have read, heard, or met. My own experiences have been rather positive. There was a shrine in my hometown, and they had some beautiful christmas lights. I think of retreat, study, monastic life. I was a research assistant for a Catholic bio-ethicist in graduate school. He was a clear, calm, well-educated and kind man, bearing nothing at all like the tone expressed here. Like I say, it could be my blinders, but it doesn’t even sound Catholic to me. Usually, interactions between Catholic groups and the media are, well, better than this. Could this group be on the outs? Just wondering. It reads more like a diatribe from political Protestants, Christian dominionists in particular. I could be wrong.

In their news release, they claim that that Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, wanted the KKK’s slogan to be “to breed a race of thoroughbreds.” Well, here’s another viewpoint on the question of her supposed racism. Dr. Edward A. Kempf was the one who actually said this, and of course it has been taken out of context and with distorted meaning (again).

Sanger’s books were among the very first burned by the Nazis in their campaign against family planning, and of her, Martin Luther King Jr. said:

There is a striking kinship between our movement and Margaret Sanger’s early efforts. . . . Our sure beginning in the struggle for equality by nonviolent direct action may not have been so resolute without the tradition established by Margaret Sanger and people like her.

HLI doesn’t mention some of their own fringe leadership, like their key man in Europe, Siegfried Ernt M.D., who has said some pretty wild things, including this comment about the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s: “Why is there this attitude of degenerated masochism which makes us destroy systematically our own breed and race and which makes us passively watch how our own mental, moral, and biological inheritance is getting wasted and ruined?” (Ernst is also a close friend of the German Neo-Nazi leader Manfred Roeder, founder of several radical right groups. One would have to consider Roeder, who has stated that violence is the best cure for Germany’s ills, to be a kind of terrorist. He served over 9 years of prison time for charges related to the bombing of refugee hostels in 1980.)

It used to be weird for me to see these odd projections and reversals. It has become commonplace under the rise of the reich right. HLI is a tax exempt organization, a non-profit charity – it’s considered a “pro-life missionary group.” And what a stange mix of doctrine and politics it is! HLI is against family planning, contraception, voluntary sterilization, and medically accurate sexuality education – so they actually encourage more unwanted pregnancies, promoting and depending on unrealistic abstinence-only programs. They oppose Planned Parenthood, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). To aid in their work in 39 countries, they have conferences, publish books, issue newsletters and maintain several websites. “Outreach” programs include Next Generation (for youth), Pierre Toussaint Project (for African-Americans) and Latinos for Life (for Latinos). Its Population Research Institute argues against the notion that human overpopulation is occurring and fights UN efforts to control population growth. Their methods include or have included boycotts, clinic blockades, harassment and intimidation of clinic clients and employees, leafleting students with misinformation and other anti-choice propaganda, and misinformation campaigns featuring films such as the discredited The Silent Scream. Among their false claims are that contraception causes abortions and infertility, and that abortions cause breast cancer and severe psychological trauma.

I’m looking at this one group today because I got an email about the obnoxious press release (thanks Karyn!). I don’t mean to pick on them, not exclusively (grin). Hey, they’re only one of many. That’s one of the reasons it interests me.

You see, what you get – effectively speaking – when you spread the “evil birth control” and “evil abortion” memes is more babies born for your “team”! It’s an evolutionary meme – a contagious set of ideas, spread via evangelical marketing, that changes the views of segments of society. Of course, some will grow up and “rebel” – and some will speak differently from their actions – but what you get, generally speaking, are more of whoever supports the meme. More babies, more meme-bots.

As Monty Python’s song “Every Sperm is Sacred” from The Meaning of Life puts it, “You’re A Catholic the moment Dad came.”

Could it be that in some sense it really is about producing more babies for the church, for the fatherland or motherland or homeland, for the cause, for the power, for God – whatever your claim to authority might be for more people remarkably like yourself in some significant way? Don’t study evolution, just BE evolution – is that it?

That’s one disadvantage of higher education (and thus, deferred family-making) and serious family planning – fewer babies for that “team.” Of course, given our global conditions, fewer babies might be better for everybody. Unfortunately, I think that part will be taken care of by scarcity of resources, poverty, war, the effects of pollution and the like.

While I think the matter of abortion (especially late-term abortion) is genuinely difficult and controversial, it’s difficult to see what biblical authority anyone could claim for being against medical education and knowledge, birth control, some measure of planning when (and if) to have children – and yes, perhaps even abortion. Neither birth control measures nor abortion are prohibited in the bible. What is prohibited is the sacrifice of babies upon the alters of false gods. You may recall that other kinds of sacrifice were quite common – you may remember that Christianity itself is based on the the sacrifice of the Christ – God’s son.

To blame all those who are pro-choice for the violence associated with the abortion debate is flagrantly dishonest. Of course, it would also be dishonest to blame all of those who would never have an abortion under any circumstances (even those who believe that it is the government’s job to prohibit others from doing so) for the pro-death violence sometimes enacted under the banner “pro-life.” But not quite as dishonest, because many of the followers of “pro-life” are encouraged to condone and participate in violence for the cause. Yes, that should sound a bit familiar. I have yet to see the pro-choice terrorist. What – “honor a woman’s right to choose, or I’ll choose to blow up my body right here?” Not likely.

Oh, and if somehow, someway, you didn’t happen yet to notice, opposing birth control and abortion activated two other agendas as well as more babies for the team:

  • Stuff right-wing voters “in the booth”
  • Stuff women back “in the box”

These are two things – for sure – that America doesn’t need.

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