You know, sometimes the over-the-top reactions of the right wing to the most innocuous actions or statements by President Obama remind me of a scene from a movie. Specifically, they remind me of the scene in “Mommie Dearest,” in which Faye Dunaway, playing actress Joan Crawford, goes into a complete screaming meltdown over the fact that she finds clothes on wire hangers in her daughter’s closet.
This week’s right-wing hissy fit comes in reaction to comments that the president made at the recent National Prayer Breakfast. After acknowledging the value of the meeting for “giving us the opportunity to come together in humility before the Almighty and to be reminded of what it is that we share as children of God,” and acknowledging his reliance on God’s guidance “not just in my own life but in the life of our nation,” Obama proceeded to go after those who would use faith either as a wedge or as a weapon.
“From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris,” he said, “we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for faith, their faith, professed to stand up for Islam, but, in fact, are betraying it.” He made particular mention of ISIS “terrorizing religious minorities like the Yezidis, subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, and claiming the mantle of religious authority for such actions.”
But, the president warned, lest we get too proud or vain, we might remember that “during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
Well, the only thing that drives the Mommie Dearests of the right crazier than the president speaking at all is him saying something that happens to be true. This time was no exception.
“The president’s comments this morning at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I’ve ever heard a president make in my lifetime,” said former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, indicating that he (Gilmore) is either about 12 years old, or he really needs to get out more.
Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana used the time-honored right-wing tactic of just making stuff up. Obama, Rep. Fleming claimed, was saying that ISIS “are freedom fighters, just like the patriots of the Revolutionary War. And they’re no different; their service is just as honorable.”
Well, sir, I do know that they speak somewhat differently down in Louisiana, but to say that calling a group “a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism” (Obama’s actual words) equals “comparing them to the patriots of the Revolutionary War” causes me to doubt either your understanding of our native tongue or your honesty. For the record, I do believe Rep. Fleming speaks English.
Closely akin to the wingnut tactic of making things up that didn’t happen is the even more pervasive one of denying the existence of things that did. Such as the complaint of former Fox News host, Ted Nugent bassist and soon-to-be-failed presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who said that Obama could easily have defended moderate Muslims in his speech while condemning the radical extremists. Well, as we’ve seen above, that’s exactly what the president did, which Huck would know if he’d cared to read the speech. Or to tell the truth.
But for true hysterical hyperbole, you need to go to conservative activist and failed congressional candidate Star Parker, who told right-wing radio host Mark Levin, “Frankly, what the president did was verbal rape.” There is not a joke I could make about equating a speech at a prayer breakfast with violent sexual assault that would not be more offensive than the comparison itself. So I’ll just leave that one there.
Again, it is absolutely true, and widely accepted as such, that while great and noble things have been done in the name of God by adherents of all religions, terrible and brutal things have been done as well. Sadly, Christianity is not exempt.
To deny history and claim otherwise is nothing but pride and vanity, and while I haven’t been to Sunday School in a while, I seem to remember those being sins. I also remember something about bearing false witness. I’m pretty sure that’s bad, too.