Thursday, November 06, 2008

What we can expect: The Christianists

I take it for granted that the Republican opposition, most of whom will never recognize Obama's election as truly legitimate, just as the Gingrich gang never truly viewed Bill Clinton's Presidency as legitimate. If they want to prove me wrong, that would be great.

But the segregationist/Christianist Republicans, which are the Party's hardcore base, will be especially intransigent.

We get an early look at their position in Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America from James Dobson's Focus on the Family Christian Right group 10/22/08. Technically, it's from Focus on the Family Action which they say they have set up as "a cultural action organization that is completely separate from Focus on the Family, legally".

This document may be more revealing than the Focus on the Family group intended. It's framed as a look into the future, talking about Obama's first term in the past tense.

The "2012" document list all foreign-relations issues under "Military Policy". They present this picture of Obama's policy toward Russia and Russia's policy toward the West. As policy, it's not at all a serious look. But then, millions of people are willing to take memes floated by Christian Right leaders as Gospel:

As Vice President Joe Biden had predicted on Oct. 20, 2008, some hostile foreign countries “tested” President Obama in his first few months in office. The first test came from Russia. In early 2009, they followed the pattern they had begun in Georgia in 2008 and sent troops to occupy and re-take several Eastern European countries, starting with the Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. President Obama appealed to the United Nations (UN), taking the same approach he had in his initial statements when Russia invaded Georgia in August 2008: “Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full scale war," and "All sides should enter into direct talks on behalf of stability in Georgia, and the United States, the United Nations Security Council, and the international community should fully support a peaceful resolution to this crisis,” But Russia sits on the Security Council, and no U.N. action has yet been taken.

Then in the next three years, Russia occupied additional countries that had been previous Soviet satellite nations, including Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, with no military response from the U.S. or the U.N. NATO heads of state have severely condemned Russia’s actions each time but they could never reach consensus on military action. Liberal television commentators in both the U.S. and Europe have uniformly expressed deep regret at the loss of freedom of these countries but have also observed that "the U.S. cannot be the world’s policeman.”

President Obama’s popularity dropped somewhat after each of these crises, but media criticism was remarkably muted. And Vice President Joe Biden reminded the nation that on October 20, 2008, he had predicted that Russia might be one of “four or five scenarios” where an “international crisis” would arise. “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy,” he said. And Obama will have to make "some incredibly tough decisions," and that “it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right." [my emphasis]
1This text could have been lifted almost directly from some John Birch Society pamphlet circa 1960 and edited to change a few words here and there and add a couple of quotes from the 2008 campaign that sound to paranoid rightwingers like cowardly "appeasement". Even though Russia isn't a Communist enemy any more, those for whom this kind of thing resonates are still living in the Cold War days.

This is so goofy that anything that sounds like a fact-check risks giving it undeserved credibility. But it's also worth recognizing what a bizarre fantasy this is. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria are all NATO members. Russia is not going to invade any of them. It's policy in the Caucuses is clearly aimed at asserting political and military hegemony over Georgia and Ukraine and that is a concern for NATO and US foreign policies. But there's no good reason for anyone to expect a military takeover of either country by Russia.

This strange prediction - Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are all supposed to be conquered by the Rooskies before summer 2009! - illustrates what a high priority a hardline, neo-Cold War foreign policy is for the Christian Right.

Also, the references to the UN there sound much more sinister to the segregationist/Christianist/Bircher crowd than they would to most American readers. The UN is supposed to be an instrument of the Antichrist, and/or a big Jewish Communist plot, or a secret scheme of the Illuminati, or Lord knows what else in their view of the world.

The Christian perspective portrayed in this article isn't concerned at all about ending the torture policy. And it doesn't seem to occur to the writer than any domestic spying that can be used by the Republicans could also be used for nefarious purposes by the Obama they've spent months condemning as a socialist Marxist terrorist Arab foreigner:

President Obama directed U.S. intelligence services to cease all wiretapping of alleged terrorist phone calls unless they first obtained a warrant for each case. Terrorists captured overseas, instead of being tried in military tribunals, are given full trials in the U.S. court system, and they have to be allowed access to a number of government secrets to prepare their defense.

Since 2009, terrorist bombs have exploded in two large and two small U.S. cities, killing hundreds, and the entire country is fearful, for no place seems safe. President Obama in each case has vowed “to pursue and arrest and prosecute those responsible,” but no arrests have been made. However, he has challenged the nation to increase foreign aid to the poorer nations that were the breeding grounds for terrorism, so people could have an opportunity to escape from the cycles of poverty and violence in which generations had been trapped. [my emphasis]
That section recapitulates some of the standards justifications for torture, arbitrary arrests and secret military tribunals that the Cheney-Bush administration has used. "Foreign aid" is also an especially sinister phrase for the Christianists.

Christian Right groups were deeply involved in some of the most dubious policies of the Reagan administration in Latin America. And the writer of the "2012" letter is worried by all the Commies down yonder:

President Obama has also moved to deepen U.S. ties and U.S. trade with communist regimes in Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, regimes that had long enjoyed the favor of far-Left factions in the Democratic Party. Several other Latin American countries seem ready to succumb to insurgent communist revolutionary factions funded and armed by millions of petrodollars from Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.
It is true that Cuba has a Communist regime. The rest only illustrates their Birchite view of the world.

Most of the letter is concerned with paranoid fantasies in which sex figures very prominently. Gays and lesbians seem to worry them the most, and the "2012" manifesto is full of "dog whistle" phrases related to that. Not surprising, but still creepy. The sexual obsessions in "2012" are a reminder that lots of irrational passions can drive people in their political involvements.

The letter starts off worrying about the Supreme Court. That's probably the closest to a reality-based section of the document. Let's hope that President Obama makes their fears come true by appointing lots of solid Democratic judges to the Supreme Court and the rest of the federal bench.

Jesus is also apparently in favor of nuclear power and low taxes for the wealthy but against union organizing. And, in what is a case of political and probably psychological projection, they fear that those wicked liberals ("the far-Left" is their preferred term used) are determined to ban Christian books from bookstores and suppress the free speech of Jesus-like commentators such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Their editors seemed to have slipped up while copying from the old Bircher pamphlets and left in a reference to the "one-world government pacifists", which pretty much means anyone who doesn't despite the whole concept of the United Nations.

Warning: you may feel a strange need to take a long, thorough shower after reading "Letter from 2012 in Obama's America".

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