Thursday, August 30, 2012

Christian Right values at the Republican Convention

I haven't posted much about this week's Conservative White People's Tribal Festival, aka, the Republican Convention. I haven't had much to add that I'm not seeing other people say better.

But I will mention a couple of things here. One is Mike Huckabee's speech on Wednesday 08/29/2012. From Politico's transcript:

Let me clear the air about whether guys like me would only support an evangelical. Of the four people on the two tickets, the only self-professed evangelical is Barack Obama, and he supports changing the definition of marriage, believes that human life is disposable and expendable at any time in the womb or even beyond the womb, and tells people of faith that they must bow their knees to the god of government and violate their faith and conscience in order to comply with what he calls health care. [my emphasis]
This is a good statement of the priorities of the Christian Right. Their position is a religious one. But their religion produces political priorities for them that override denominational or confessional affiliations in their voting and political donation behavior.

To most of the religious factions of the Republican Party, Mitt Romney is a member of a non-Christian cult, the Mormon Church, and is headed to Hail. But they will support him with enthusiasm against Obama, who Huckabee calls a "self-professed" evangelical. A large percentage of Huckabee's Party are "self-professed" believers in the idea that Obama is a Kenyan Muslim socialist atheist Muslim fundamentalist.

Huckabee has a more pleasant public face than many Christian Right activists and leading Republican politicians. But he used his ecumenical moment to promote the sleazy notion that Obama is persecuting Christianity in the United States: "The attack on my Catholic brothers and sisters is an attack on me. The Democrats have brought back the old dance the 'Limbo' to see how low they can go in attempting to limit our ability to practice our faith." (my emphasis)

From NPR's transcript of Ann Romney's Convention Speech 08/28/2012 (video here):

I want to talk to you about that love so deep only a mother can fathom it — the love we have for our children and our children's children. ...

They are here among us tonight in this hall; they are here in neighborhoods across Tampa and all across America. The parents who lie awake at night side by side, wondering how they'll be able to pay the mortgage or make the rent; the single dad who's working extra hours tonight, so that his kids can buy some new clothes to go back to school, can take a school trip or play a sport, so his kids can feel ... like the other kids.

And the working moms who love their jobs but would like to work just a little less to spend more time with the kids, but that's just out of the question with this economy. ...

And if you listen carefully, you'll hear the women sighing a little bit more than the men. It's how it is, isn't it?

It's the moms who always have to work a little harder, to make everything right.

It's the moms of this nation — single, married, widowed — who really hold this country together. We're the mothers, we're the wives, we're the grandmothers, we're the big sisters, we're the little sisters, we're the daughters.
This is the Christian Right's vision of the proper "traditional values": it's a woman's place to be a mother, a daughter, a wife, someone whose life is defined by her relationship to the men in her family. And maybe a tiny bit by a female sibling.

Her version of this Traditional Family doesn't say it's bad for a woman to work. But if you do, you will be one of those "working moms who love their jobs but would like to work just a little less to spend more time with the kids." In other words, you should feel guilty for being a deficient mother.

And single fathers? He has to worry about making sure "his kids can feel ... like the other kids." Because, you know, if a kid has no mother in the house - or worse, two mothers, or, worse yet - two dads, well, they just aren't going to "feel ... like the other kids." Because you're a bad parent.

Yes, I'm interpreting a bit. But I'm interpreting it based on what I know about the Christian Right's concept of the Traditional Family, and how important it is to restrict women's roles in it. And outside it.

Both male and female adherents of this view often speak defensively about phantom feminists out there who criticism women who work as full-time mothers and homemakers. If there are any actual feminists who do so, I haven't encountered them. In fact, I doubt that most self-described feminists would even recognize them are feminists, since the women's movement has emphasized improving the security and protecting the dignity of women who are full-time mothers and homemakers. At the same time they have worked to prevent opportunities available to women from being restricted from irrational prejudices and laws based on a rigid, ideology model of the Traditional Family.

One result of that has also been that it is becoming more common the US for men to take a period of time off from working to be full-time fathers and homemakers while their spouses work. Doing so is scarcely considered a resume "gap" any more as it once was for men taking on that role. Even though Lady Romney no doubt considers that a father performing such a role would deprive his kids of being able to "feel ... like the other kids."

Finally, this from the Boston Globe/AP Transcript of Rep. Paul Ryan's remarks 08/29/2012 (video here):

Mitt and I also go to different churches. But in any church, the best kind of preaching is done by example. And I've been watching that example. The man who will accept your nomination tomorrow is prayerful and faithful and honorable. Not only a defender of marriage, he offers an example of marriage at its best. Not only a fine businessman, he’s a fine man, worthy of leading this optimistic and good-hearted country.
Here again, politics trumps denominational affiliation. This has been true of the Christian Right since it became an organized force in its current form during the Carter Administration.

Our different faiths come together in the same moral creed. We believe that in every life there is goodness; for every person, there is hope. Each one of us was made for a reason, bearing the image and likeness of the Lord of Life.
Here's where it's important to pay attention to tribal-code usages of words and phrases. "Life" mentioned in the abstract in such a context signals opposition to abortion, even for those whose "method of conception" (Ryan's phrase elsewhere) was being raped. "Lord of Life" just strengthens the signal. But it also is discreet, because to those in the home audience not so familiar with the term, it would just sound like a conventional reference to God. They wanted to mute their anti-abortion priorities, especially after Todd Akin so inconveniently let slip on TV something of the general attitude toward women that the antiabortion movement promotes.

He continues directly:

We have responsibilities, one to another — we do not each face the world alone. And the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak. The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.
This again would be heard by the convention audience and faithful Republicans as primarily antiabortion slogans. That's pretty much the only context these days in which you hear Republicans taking such a non-Ayn-Randish position as "the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak." That's strictly antiabortion talk for the Reps. It doesn't apply at all to anyone who is a post-birth person. Especially not women. Or African-Americans. Or Latinos. Or immigrants.

This immediately following piece of boilerplate also caught my attention:

Each of these great moral ideas is essential to democratic government — to the rule of law, to life in a humane and decent society. They are the moral creed of our country, as powerful in our time, as on the day of America’s founding. They are self-evident and unchanging, and sometimes, even presidents need reminding, that our rights come from nature and God, not from government.
First, I would be surprised if there are even two people, Ryan included, attending the Republican convention who could give any kind of decent description of what the philosophical concept of Natural Law alluded to by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. Because outside of Catholic theology, the concept pretty much isn't used any more. Fundamentalist Protestant theology completely rejects it.

And, wait, our rights come from our Creator and the laws of Nature's God, like the Declaration says? What about Lee Greenwood:

I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me

According to Lee Greenwood in the unofficial national anthem of the Republican Party, it was American soldiers who gave us our rights! Soldiers who were, uh, paid by the gubment.

Ryan continues on immediately with a verbal tribute to The Troops. Although it was surprisingly brief and entirely conventional: "The founding generation secured those rights for us, and in every generation since, the best among us have defended our freedoms. They are protecting us right now. We honor them and all our veterans, and we thank them."

If I thought this signaled some kind of a restrained attitude toward foreign policy, I might see the light treatment of military themes as some kind of hopeful sign. But since the Christian-nationalist theme of American Exceptionalism is so prominent at the convention, and since Ryan was preceded by not-yet-convicted war criminal Condi-Condi Rice talking about the need to continue the Cheney-Bush foreign policy, I'm going to restraint any surges of hope on that score.

Here's Steve Earle performing his song about Condi-Condi in 2005:

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