Saturday, December 20, 2008

Why Dave Neiwert is one of my favorite writers

He understands the Radical Right in America, including the "respectable" versions. In fact, he's done some very good work pointing out how some ideas and positions migrate from the white supremacist and "patriot militia" gutters to the Republican Party through transitters like Ron Paul.

How the Christian Right sees Democrats, gays, Jews and mainstream Christians (not to mention Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and atheists)

In Some other 'bridge-building' invitees to Obama's inauguration Crooks and Liars 12/20/08, he defines the problem in dealing with rattlesnakes of the Radical Right, which now heavily overlaps with the Republican Party:

It's understandable, given his background as a community organizer (not to mention someone who pitches "the audacity of hope"), that Obama believes you can reach out a hand to movement conservatives and build such bridges. Indeed, he's made it clear all along that's the kind of guy he is.

I just hope that when he finally gets that hand back after reaching it out and discovers it has been chewed clean down to the bone by a thousand vicious cuts that he has a little awakening about the nature of the nasty little beast the American Right has become in the past couple of decades. Such gestures for them are mere signs of weakness, nothing but opportunities to advance themselves and their agendas and to destroy liberals. [my emphasis]
It's also notable here that Dave takes into account Obama's community-organizer experience, something that even good analysts (i.e., other than the run-of-the-mill Big Pundits) often neglect to do.

The Republicans during the Presidential campaign tried to demonize the whole concept of the Saul Alinski style of community organizing. But Alinski's approach wasn't just a style. It also involves a philosophy of democratic direct action along with a suspicion of grand ideology. Obama's selection of Hilda Solis as Secretary of Labor, to the cheers of organized labor across the board, including the most activist segements, was probably influenced by that background to some significant degree.

But one of the weaknesses of Alinski's approach is just what Dave points out in that post. Because the approach focuses on issues rather than broad ideology, its practitioners may be slow to appreciate how a genuinely authoritarian-oriented organization operates: like today's Republican Party and the Christian Right movement that is its main voter base today.

Dave's post has a very appropriate graphic that is not to be missed.

While we're on the subject of anti-gay, Jews-are-going-to-Hail, liberal-Christians-are-Commies leader Rick Warren, Joan Walsh took some time out from her year-end vacation to weigh in on the Christian gentleman in Disappointed by Rick Warren Salon 12/19/08:

I am not theoretically opposed to Obama choosing an antiabortion gay-rights critic; I'm opposed to Warren himself. He's a poster boy for kinder, gentler 21st century bigotry, and Obama shouldn't validate him with this lofty symbolic role. ...

Beyond his noxious political views - Warren has compared homosexuality to incest and bestiality, supports the Iraq war, and, in fact, just gave George W. Bush his first-ever "international medal of peace" (yes, peace) - I have come to distrust Warren personally. He looks to be from a long line of religious leaders more concerned about their own glory than the glory of God. I didn’t like him high-fiving with Obama about their million-dollar book deals, or complaining with McCain that $250,000 isn't rich in Orange County. I didn't like him misrepresenting the rules for the August [Saddleback] forum [featuring Obama and McCain] - he claimed McCain had been in a "cone of silence," but when that turned out not to have been true, he accused Obama supporters of "sour grapes" for complaining. It became obvious to me that the well-fed, well-coiffed Warren is full of himself, and Obama shouldn't contribute to his campaign for self-aggrandizement, especially at the expense of gay people and women, two groups who gave Obama strong support.

On MSNBC this afternoon my friend [ironically meant?] Chris Matthews kept saying that Obama has upset gays with this choice, but I'm not gay, and Warren's anti-gay rights stands are only part of my reasons for opposing his selection (although his leadership in the fight for the noxious Proposition 8, which Obama opposed, is certainly a reason to oppose his being given this special symbolic spiritual role). I object to the full Warren package, I think he's a force for division, not inclusion, and a terrible symbol for this inspiring new administration. And once again, I see an arrogance and/or naiveté on the part of Obama, when he defends his choice of Warren ... as showing "we can disagree and not be disagreeable." I'd tell that to Rick Warren, not his critics. [my emphasis]
I've also noticed that the Establishment press, echoing the position of Warren's defenders, tend to paint criticism of Warren's Inaugural role as based primarily on his opposition to same-sex marriage. Give his prominent role this year in campaigning for Proposition 8 in California - with a thoroughly dishonest claim about how Prop 8 would outlaw preachers criticizing homosexuality - that's obviously part of the reason.

But, as Joan says, there's good reason for anyone not a partisan of the Christian Right to "object to the full Warren package". His obnoxious comparison of abortion to the Holocaust sure smells like "good" ole Christian anti-Semitism to me. I wish the press (if we had a real press corps) would give more attention to that ugly angle of Warren's ideology.

When it comes to cooperating with Christian Right groups, Democrats need to take a real put-up-or-shut-up attitude. They're concerned about global climate change? Fine, if they support meaningful public policies to combat it, then let them lobby for those policies. And do it without adding in some anti-science propaganda.

They want to help combat AIDS? Great. If it's not just some excuse to promote fraudulent abstinence-only sex education that lies about medical facts around sex and reproduction and fails to provide full information on safe sex, then Democrats could probably find a way to cooperate with it.

But Democrats and mainstream Christians shouldn't enable anti-gay bigots, anti-Semites or Bircher-style fanatics to pass off their "noxious political [and religious] views" in those areas as some kind of moderation or good will.

I'm assuming when Joan Walsh talks about "kinder, gentler 21st century bigotry", she doesn't mean that she wouldn't like to see bigots become kinder and gentler. She's referring to the fact that slicker advertising doesn't mean that the basic product has become any better.

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