Don't miss the excellent summary by Heather "Digby" Parton of the Republican segregationist strategy of voter suppression aimed at African-American, Latino and poor white voters, Vote suppression in the US revs upAl Jazeera English 09/19/2011.
I use the word "segregationist" literally, because this stuff is a direct lineal descendant of the Deep South segregation procedures used to disenfranchise black voters and poor whites there. Digby makes this connection explicit:
Voter intimidation and vote suppression had long been a part of Democratic politics in the South, in places where African-Americans had been granted an illusory right to vote. But as the South made its dramatic shift to the Republican Party in the wake of the Civil Rights Act, and as African-American voters in the North then shifted to the Democrats, the Republicans began to dominate the process and thus began the decades-long GOP project to suppress the vote. Along the way it has developed into a full-blown operation to undermine democracy in general, at whatever choke points are available. [my emphasis]
Hal Crowther, columnist for the Oxford American, writes about the not-always-enlightened nature of Southern Christianity and its political manifestations in A chorus of Global Village idiots 05/30/2011. The global village angle he explains this way:
The success of Egypt's current revolution has been credited to the Internet and the devices that connect its initiates. Popular movements learn, brainstorm, strategize, and raise money online. Even the implacable bullies who rule China and North Korea have been frustrated by technology that enables a freedom-starved younger generation to conspire without congregating. Still, there's a dark side of the Global Village, a wrong side of the global tracks. In Gainesville, Florida, a fundamentalist minister with a double-digit IQ burns a Koran, for the amusement of thirty malnourished peckerwoods who make up his congregation-and in Mazar-I-Sharif, Afghanistan, a mob of Muslim fanatics slaughters twelve United Nations workers to avenge this insult to the Prophet.
Pastor Terry Jones of the (ironically named) Dove World Outreach Center had the burning videotaped, of course, and streamed it on the church's website. In just ten days, this remote spark, launched online, became a conflagration halfway around the planet. The day after the massacre at the UN compound, thousands of protesters rioted in Kandahar. Nine more people died and eighty were injured. The final body count from Pastor Terry's stupidity may exceed American military casualties for the month of April.
It's not unfair to say that there are more and deadlier idiots in Kandahar than in Gainesville. But the point is that the Global Village harbors a million village idiots, and no idiot is an island. Not anymore.
"Peckerwoods" is an excellent Southern word I need to put back into my regular vocabulary.
Crowther also treats the phony white Christian whine about how ever'body's pickin' on 'em with the dignity it deserves:
Evangelical religion of an extreme stripe-fire and brimstone, biblical inerrancy-thrives in many far corners of the republic, but the South is its wellspring and its homeland. A county-by-county map of America constructed by Dante Chinni and James Gimpel for their book Our Patchwork Nation indicates that nearly all the counties colored yellow for "Evangelical Epicenters" are in the traditional South and the border state of Missouri. Feral religion has been the South's second greatest embarrassment, after race. Unfortunately, they've been closely linked. We can never afford to forget that those were crosses the Ku Klux Klan burned at their rallies and lynchings. And there's no denying that most segregationist Protestants of the Jim Crow generations believed that heaven itself was segregated.
When Rob Bell, the influential pastor of an evangelical Michigan megachurch, suggested in his new book Love Wins that it's high time Christians set aside archaic notions of a literal, sulfurous, demon-infested hell, all hell broke loose in the Southern synod. They cling passionately to their inferno, these least and cruelest of our Christian brethren, because there's no way on earth they can take adequate revenge on those of us who disagree with them-though they claim they love us and hope to save us in spite of ourselves.
Hell is the sturdy keystone of gloomy Calvinism. [my emphasis]
"Feral religion" is an inspired phrase that I'm also going to add to my vocabulary.
Check out both Digby's article and Crowther's. They're both mind-expanding.