June 27, 2006

Just have to humor me

I feel a Tuesday rant and just have to get this off my chest.

I think I feel really stupid. As much as I have disagreed with the conservative church, I really thought that they were sincere. I believed that conservative Christians really cared about morality and values. I believed that their disgust with Clinton was partially political, but mostly about his character. And I understood that.

So when they flocked to Bush in 2000, I understood. There was a lot to like there. I was certainly fooled by him. Not enough to vote for him, but he fooled me too. I thought that when he said that his faith was central to his life, that would mean something. I certainly thought that the whole "compassionate conservatism" might be something other than a slogan. When he appointed a white supremacist (or certainly sympathizer) in John Ashcroft and filled the rest of his cabinet with business partners, I knew we were f*cked.

But I understood why conservatives stayed with him. I understood why they made allowances for Cheney's energy "policy" and refusal to talk about it (especially when we know that Ken Lay was part of it). I understood why they rallied around him after 9-11 because we were all scared. I understood that while I thought his call to "go back to shopping" instead of asking us to sacrifice and cooperate and work together was ridiculous, people rallied around him because they needed to believe in something. .

But I was pretty sure his whole Christian thing was paper thin. And when certain things happened, I assumed that conservative Christians would start to see the holes too. I thought that, for example, despite their conservative leanings, they were all pro-military and respected military service. so when the repubs savaged a handicapped veteran senator in Georgia, that might make christian conservatives wince. It didn't. So, when they savaged Kerry, I wasn't too surprised. And no surprise, conservative Christians allowed a spoiled drunk rich kid to become a war hero and a decorated veteran savaged in the media as some kind of pacifist weenie.

But I thought national security was a big issue, so i assumed that when the White House leaked the name of a CIA agent who worked for us, that they might get angry. After all, national defense is a conservative issue, right? You don't jeopardize national security for politics. That was somethign they accused Clinton of doing.

As it turns out, they didn't care. They allowed Bush to retain Karl Rove and move along as if nothing happened. Hmm. Christian conservatives don't really care about national defense?

Then the torture thing came along. I thought, and said to SOF, this will be their undoing. Because what ever Christian conservatives are, they will find that completely incompatible with their faith. They will have to criticize Bush and what is more, he will be exposed as someone who just talks about his faith. Christians around the country will be turned off and might not reelect him because they would find torture completely unChristian.

Guess what? You guys don't care. Not a bit. Not only did Bush allow torture, he and his administration have sought ways to legitimize it and have even changed the Army training rules to take out parts that told soldiers to not do it to captured enemies. Torture doesn't even change people's mind.

It is very hard for me to even see conservative Christian values still alive. If torture isn't a problem, then what is? Today, it seems to me that as long as Bush doesn't actually challenge any of conservative Christian's lives--ask them to sacrifice; or as long as he continues to oppose homosexuality and make nice noises about abortion, he can do what ever he wants. He can torture. He can screw up our national defense. He can undermine the constitution. And conservative Christians won't care. Not one bit.

Sorry about the rant, but that is how I feel today. I can't believe that conservative Christians I know, people who have often challenged moral failings in our society and stood up for basic freedoms aren't a little sick over this administration. I can't believe those who lectured me on civil liberties and how Clinton was ruining our country haven't erupted in outrage over wiretaps and secret prisons. And I can't believe that so many people who tell me how important Christ is in their lives have absolutely nothing to say about torture.



grandma1 said...

They have there heads stuck in the sand. If you don't see or hear it you don't have to do anything about it. We have been sold the line the end justify the means.

Kevin said...

Why is this surprising to you? American right-wing evangelicalism is about getting folks into heaven when they die. Regarding the politics, I've said it once and I'll say it again, they hate Clinton more than they love Bush, therefore Bush can get away with whatever he wants.

Also, I think abortion is simply another way of affirming traditional female roles. They don't care about life. They care about power.

Also, these folks believe America is some sort of Messianic force in the world. Therefore, they bad things they do are justified, because there is a cosmic battle going on THAT WE CAN'T LOOSE!

As your other post suggest, the SBC is a far cry from the Roger Williams brand of Baptist; y'know, the ones who warned Americans of the peril of mixing church and state.


Digital Art Photography for Dummies said...

Aren't Christians supposed to be helping the less fortunate to obtain food, shelter and faith?

Streak said...

Grandma1 makes a good point. I was warned about "ends justifying the means" morality, but it is exactly what the Bushies have given us.

Kevin, you are right. I should not be surprised. I know I shouldn't. But I am. Not about the religious right leadership. I haven't trusted them since Jerry Falwell questioned Carter's salvation over the Panama Canal. But I did believe that my friends and family within the conservative church were sincere. Because I was there. I saw how much they cared about people.

That is why this is so painful. I know these people and they know better.

That make sense?

Bootleg Blogger said...

Good rant. If you haven't already, check out this Ethics Daily.com! article discussing a film screening of "Theologians Under Hitler". Pretty scary the comparisons. Could be a film you could use for class???

Greek Shadow said...

This goes along with Jim Hightower's book Thieves in High Places. In reference to a point he makes. Bushco wants idiots. Conservative Christians fit the definition. Idiotes (greek) a person of high intellegence, but who is so caught up in their own selves and do nothing for the common good. The moral mafia has it's own agenda and doesn't care about anything else, and it's agenda is Puritan sexual morality. Which is why they go bonkers over Clinton have a groupie and look the other way over Bushco lying, cheating, stealing, torturing...

Dallas Tim said...

Could someone please tell me where Jesus said that Governments don't have the rights to protect their citizens. Can Police shoot someone if they are an imminent threat? If our military catches someone who knows something about plans to kill Americans, then it is not only our right, but duty to get the information by any means neccesary. Jesus spoke on a personal level. "Don't have a refungful attitute towards your neighbour." This is person to person and has nothing to do with governments protecting their citizens. If someone tried to physically hurt my daughter, it would be my duty to use "Any means neccesary" to protect her. God has no problem with America using "Torture" as a means of self-defense.

Does this mean every time an Iraqi gives one of our soldiers a dirty look that we break his arm? Of course not! Can we police every single incident involving every one of our troops if they decide to cross the line? No. That doesn't mean our President is crossing the line if he says "Hey General, if you feel like these militants might be hiding some key info, then starve them until they talk. If that doesn't work, tie them up and leave them there until the cooperate. If they still don't talk, just let them stay in their cell until the talk or die!"
There is nothing unchristian about a policy like that.

You even mention the Valarie Plaime ordeal when it has been shown that no crime was commited. Then to call John Ashcroft a "White-Supremacist?"

Is Bush perfect? Are you kidding? We need a stronger leader who will put up with even less BS than he does. Guantanamo needs to be a rock-busting, no clean clothes wearing, bread and water eating, hell-hole that fits the type of humans who are being kept there. The borders need to be strenghtened. Abortion and homosexuality are un-bibiblical and wrong. They need to be called as such by someone who doesn't ride the fence.

As I mentioned before, I have a duty on an individual level to deal respectfully with others. That mindset is not (and never will be) mutually exclusive with the duty of my government to make sure that we are protected.

Streak said...

Dallas Tim obviously missed the whole part of "loving our enemies."

Can you seriously tell me that Jesus would advocate hooking up electrodes to a suspected insurgent's genitals? Or "waterboarding" him? WWJD?

I had a longer response written, but DT's little rant about how Gitmo should be more of a hell hole because of the people housed there. That and his contradiction between saying that government's have the right to do whatever it takes to protect their citizenry (I would assume that would include genocide, right?) and then asserting the very same right as an individual.

I really suspect that our Dallas friend is not alone, but the supposed faith presented here is not Christianity, despite his claim that both abortion and homosexuality are "unbiblical." Christianity isn't about hate, and it doesn't take pleasure in the pain of others. If someone taught you that, DT, I would ask for a new pastor.

Finally, I will be glad to defend both of my comments on Valeria Plame and John Ashcroft. The latter told the Southern Partisan that they were strong defenders of traditional values. Of course, he forgot to mention that those values historically included lynching blacks. But hey, what is a little vigilanteism among Christians? And despite what Rushbo and O'Reilly tell you, Plame was outed, and she was a CIA agent. The fact that no federal statute was violated (and I am not sure of that) doesn't take away from that fact. Our national security was lessened for a political vendetta. How Clintonian. "Depends on what you mean by 'crime.'"

You are welcome to come back for rebuttal. But defending torture is an odd stance, I must say. Especially from a putative Christian.

Streak said...

BTW, Greek Shadow, I am repeating myself, but I know many of these people. They care about humanity and their neighbors. Many of them volunteer and work hard to feed the poor.

That is why their silence on torture is so bedeviling. I do think they have been distracted with homosexuality and abortion, and think that KGP made a great comment on the "messianic force" that gives Christians some kind of devine justification. I don't think that can be underestimated. Look at Dallas Tim? He justifies our torture of terrorists because they are "inhuman." Many conservatives defend torture because terrorists behead innocents--as if they have become our moral benchmark.


Dallas Tim said...

"Crime" means a law was broken. In the Plame case... it wasn't. Maybe it was stupid. But how was our national defense weakend by it?

You imply that condoning torture means it must also be enjoyed. Wrong. I don't enjoy disciplining my children, but they have to learn that running out into the street can be dangerous. If someone gets a sick thrill from getting information by means of coercion that includes physical harm, then they are demented and should probably be relieved of duty or reassigned to a post that can put some sense into them.

The various methods of "Torture" can be debated and agreed upon by whoever is in charge. If this standard is violated then the perpetrator pays the penalty (Abu Ghraib for instance)

Equating "Strong traditional values" with lynching is silly. Treating anyone different based on their genetic disposition in both heinous and wholly unbiblical. Any southern pastor who endorsed it was stupid, decieved, and sick.

I believe homosexuality is wrong. That doesn't mean I can treat a homosexual with spite, hatred or agression in any shape form or fashion. If I do, I am sinning against God.

I can be for strong tactics in war and against the enemy. I can still want them to find the truth. If they ignore it and proceed to try and kill my friends and/or family, then I have a responsibility to eliminate the threat.

Streak said...

Yeah, I know what a crime is. The laws were written very specifically to make it very hard to prosecute. Maybe that is a good idea, I don't know. But Plame was working undercover and she was working to stop the transfer of WMD into the hands of our enemies, including nuclear (sorry, nukular) technology to Iran.

You are right, I implied that torture involved enjoying it. But you imply (actually say) that torturing another human being is the same equivalency as spanking your child. That is so deeply flawed, I don't even know where to begin. DT, people die of torture, including numerous supposed insurgents in our government's care.

But you still equate torture with a strident defense of our national interests. Those two are not synonymous. There are many within the Christian tradition who are pacifists, and while I respect that position, I am not one. I believe that we can use force to defend ourselves. But that is a far cry from hooking people up to electrodes or drowning them. Far cry. And that is what the Bush administration not only wants to do, but wants to legitimize. They want torture to be legal.

I won't debate homosexuality with you here. I understand you think it is unbiblical. I disagree, but understand. But I don't think you can find support for torture in the New Testament. Again, WWJD? That has to mean something.

I think you conflate both an idea of self-defense, a "just war" defense, and the use of torture. Saying that "the various methods of "Torture" can be debated and agreed upon by whoever is in charge" doesn't help your case. That is exactly what Bush and company have done. Redefined torture, and then removed even the basics from the military regs so they can claim some kind of legitimacy.

I am not naive. I know that our government has tortured people in the past, or they have sent them to countries that didn't mind doing the dirty work. I know we have done that a lot more since Bush took over, and many of those included have not been proven in any way to be actual terrorists. I am sure that made them feel better during their torture. But what sets this administration apart is that they want the right to torture and don't want anyone telling them they can't. They want the right to define their own boundaries. I think you should take a look at their justifications, and then look at the justifications that the terrorists use to defend beheadings and suicide bombings. They are a little too close to each other for my comfort.

As for lynching and traditional values, that is my point. Ashcroft was praising one of the most odious racist organizations in the South--one from a long line of White Citizen's Councils. These are the people who endorsed and justified and looked the other way during lynchings. What am I supposed to say about someone like Ashcroft?

Alice Clay said...

God has no problem with America using "Torture" as a means of self-defense.

Where do you get off speaking for God? I don't know what God you think you're speaking for, but I'm with Streak here...you must have missed all that stuff about being peacemakers and loving your enemy. And nice touch putting torture in scare quotes...as if beating, cutting with razor blades, electrocuting, starving, etc doesn't really qualify.

What I don't understand is how the pro-torture types can automatically assume that if someone is incarcerated at a place like Gitmo, then they must surely be a militant or an insurgent...Because we would never wrongly incarcerate a person in a time of war, would we...

So if they're in there, then they must deserve to be there. And if they deserve to be there, then by god, let them suffer in a "hell-hole that fits the type of humans who are being kept there."

Where do we get off believing that God values the life of an American more than the life of an Iraqi?

Kevin said...

***I can be for strong tactics in war and against the enemy. I can still want them to find the truth. If they ignore it and proceed to try and kill my friends and/or family, then I have a responsibility to eliminate the threat.***

That sounds like common sense. But sometimes biblical faith and common sense run counter to each other.

Loving enemies the way Jesus did and asks us as his followers to do is not about doing so only if our interests are protected first. Jesus went to the cross for his enemies.

Jesus' love is always self-giving love. And we who bear his name are asked to love the same way.


Wasp Jerky said...

"Crime" means a law was broken. In the Plame case... it wasn't. Maybe it was stupid. But how was our national defense weakend by it? That's absolutely false, dallas tim. Streak and I have both posted about this. Greg Palast summed up the multiple laws that have been broken in the Plame affair:

"OK, let's accept the White House alibi that releasing Plame's identity was no crime. But if that's true, they've committed a BIGGER crime: Bush and Cheney knowingly withheld vital information from a grand jury investigation, a multimillion dollar inquiry the perps themselves authorized. That's akin to calling in a false fire alarm or calling the cops for a burglary that never happened -- but far, far worse. Let's not forget that in the hunt for the perpetrator of this non-crime, reporter Judith Miller went to jail.

Think about that. While Miller sat in a prison cell, Bush and Cheney were laughing their sick heads off, knowing the grand jury testimony, the special prosecutor's subpoenas and the FBI's terrorizing newsrooms were nothing but fake props in Bush's elaborate charade, Cheney's Big Con.

On February 10, 2004, our not-so-dumb-as-he-sounds President stated, 'Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing. ...And if people have got solid information, please come forward with it.'

Notice Bush's cleverly crafted words. He says he can't name anyone who leaked this 'classified' info -- knowing full well he'd de-classified it. Far from letting Bush off the hook, it worsens the crime. For years, I worked as a government investigator and, let me tell you, Bush and Cheney withholding material information from the grand jury is a felony. Several felonies, actually: abuse of legal process, fraud, racketeering and, that old standby, obstruction of justice."

And if you really think that Jesus would condone torture, I'd seriously recommend re-reading the Gospels.