World Net Daily is a news service for people who think that National Review and American Statesman are too moderate.
So I was very surprised when WND distributed the following poster to mark the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks:
I understand that for many conservative Christians repentance is not necessarily linked to a specific sin but to a general condition of sinfulness that is inherent in being human.
But this poster seems to come very close to suggesting that Americans bear some responsibility for what happened on September 11, which is essentially what got people such as Ward Churchill into so much hot water.
Considering those two alternatives in interpreting the poster, I doubt that the Far Right is either quite this apolitically devout or quite this careless in its messaging.
So I have done a Google search to remind myself of whom the Far Right blamed for the September 11 attacks—besides all Muslims and, of course, Obama.
I didn’t have to look long before locating accounts such as this summary of a televised exchange between Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Spoiler alert: the abortionists, the gays and lesbians, and the ACLU were mostly to blame. WND is, in effect, asking its readers to pray for their repentance.
“The comments came as Falwell was appearing as a guest on Robertson’s daily 700 Club program. Both expressed their sorrow and outrage over the attacks and advocated a strong response to the terror. Then Falwell elaborated on who, in addition to the terrorists who perpetrated the attacks, was responsible for them.
“’God,’ he told Robertson, had protected America ‘wonderfully these 225 years. And since 1812, this is the first time that we’ve been attacked on our soil and by far the worst results.
“‘Throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools,’ he said. ‘The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad.
“‘[T]he pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America,’ Falwell continued, ‘I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.'”
“’Well, I totally concur,’ responded Robertson.”
Robertson later claimed that he had not understood what Falwell had said and with what he was concurring.
Ward Churchill probably should have forsaken his “extremist” views and bitten the bullet of hypocrisy by feigning dumbfounded surprise not just at the controversy that he had excited but also at what he himself had said.
I was recently scanning the table of contents of The Norton Mix, a reader intended to be used in college composition courses. It includes an essay on the September 11 terrorist attacks, conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer’s “This Isn’t a Legal Matter, This Is War.”
So, I wondered, if I were to use this essay in class, would I be allowed to lead a discussion on the political complexities and ambiguities in our responses to those terrorist attacks? Could I point out to my students that Krauthammer is a Conservative and that his opinions reflect and serve his political ideology as pointedly as the most determined Progressive’s views might inform an anti-war perspective or a cynicism about the Bush administration’s subsequent framing of the invasion of Iraq as a direct consequence of the September 11 attacks?
If I raised those issues in a composition course, would I be filmed by some Conservative student with a cell phone and the video then be posted on CampusReform.org, which presents $100 awards to students for “outing leftist abuse” by professors?
What if this discussion occurred in a Progressive faculty member’s political science course? Would the discussion then be deemed more or even less appropriate?
And what if the poster that is the topic of this post was introduced as a topic for discussion in either of those types of courses or, perhaps, in a course on religion, or, even more specifically, in a course on religion and politics?
Assuming that the faculty member led a very reasonable discussion, would he or she be able to express his or her own Progressive views in a reasonable and non-doctrinaire way without being accused of attempting to brainwash his or her students?
More fundamentally, what value does critical thinking have if the professors who are supposed to teach it are afraid to express their own critical thinking?
If I believe that dinosaurs were extinct millions of years before human beings came into existence or if I state the obvious, that many of those who are most visible and most vocal on the Far Right are unabashedly racists, homophobes, and religious absolutists, does that make me a Left-wing ideologue?
Or does it simply mean that I am someone who doesn’t believe that The Flintstones is a documentary (borrowing a joke from Lewis Black) and someone who is simply willing to believe that Far Right extremists mean what they are actually saying and writing?
Or am I being expected, in effect, to sanitize what they are saying and writing, to frame their extremism as if it reflects mainstream American values?
Apparently Pat Robertson has forgotten what he apologized for a dozen years ago–what he regretted agreeing with and then not understanding and then not knowing what he himself may have said as a result. (I recognize that the last element of this sentence is disjointed and creates a mixed construction, but I’m doing the best that I can here to do justice to some remarkably loopy public statements.)
Robertson has marked this anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks by making the following statement:
“I remember when George Bush came on after 9/11 and said ,’Don’t blame Islam. Islam is a religion of peace,’ and I said he was not appointed as Chief Theologian, he was appointed as Chief Executive, and he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Islam does not mean peace, it means submission. And it means submission to Mohammad and it means submission to Sharia, it means submission to the Koran and all the teaching and tenants of that faith. That’s what Islam is all about. And they believe that anybody who doesn’t submit is at war with them and they are prime targets, and for the Western nations to welcome this fifth column into their midst is just committing suicide.
“The reason is they have lost their faith in God, they have lost their faith in Jesus Christ, they don’t believe in what the Bible says and the core values of our society have gone away. We’ve done it here in America, we’ve abolished prayer in the schools, we’ve taken out Bible-reading in the schools and little by little by little we’ve eroded the rights—we keep talking about separation and this that and the other.
“But here in the country we’ve still got a great core of people who believe in foundational values. And that’s the hope of the next generation.”
Apparently, Pat Robertson believes that most Muslims are former Christians who have rejected their faith and that they are somehow connected to the efforts to maintain the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state. So somehow, in America, Sharia Law has become linked to the insistence on a separation of church and state, even though in Islamic countries, it represents the polar opposite–the attempt to fuse church and state.
Moreover, it seems that the Far Right’s constitutional rights are being “eroded” by the resistance to their being imposed on everyone who doesn’t share Robertson’s belief in “foundational values,” which are apparently some alternative to or variant of constitutional rights, which the Founding Fathers somehow either forgot to write into the Constitution or expressed so unclearly that, for more than two centuries, Constitutional scholars have misunderstood their intent.
To close, this sentence seems to me to be an unintentional self-characterization: “they believe that anybody who doesn’t submit is at war with them and they are prime targets.”