Thursday, February 19, 2004

Howard Dean

"My name if Freedom Rider and I am a Dean supporter."

"Hi, Freedom Rider."

Alas, it is really over. Dean could not survive the media and establishment antagonism. I believe he was in fact electable, that is until he was portrayed as a crazy man. The question for Democrats is this. Can any Democrat survive who speaks a little bit of the truth? I will go into greater detail later, but it is clear that any Democrat who poses a threat to the party establishment and the media is doomed. Naeem Mohaiemen says it best in Alternet.

Give Me That Old Time Religion

Anyone who came to the United States with no knowledge of its history and religioius heritage would conclude that only conservatives are Christians. Those of us who are Christians and liberals have a hard time making the case that we exist.
But never fear, Freedom Rider is here. My thanks to the Dallas Morning News for accepting a guest column on the subject. Unfortunately this paper requires a very inconvenient registration process to read articles so I print it in its entirety here. I also thank Smirking Chimp and Political Aims (February 17th post) for their mentions of my tome.

Margaret Kimberley: Not all Christians are right

02:41 PM CST on Friday, February 13, 2004

By MARGARET KIMBERLEY / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

Conservative Christians have espoused their views on school prayer, public displays of the Ten Commandments, abortion, gay rights and other issues so vociferously that they have succeeded in making conservative synonymous with Christian.

The David Limbaugh book Persecuted: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity (Regnery Publishing, $27.95) is the culmination of this effort. Not only are Christians alleged to be persecuted, a specious argument at best, but they are allegedly persecuted by liberals. It of course follows that liberals must not be Christians.

As a political liberal who is also a devout Baptist, I have grudging admiration for my conservative coreligionists. They are unrelenting in the promotion of their beliefs and in their alliance with conservative politics. The ascendancy of George W. Bush has made them all the more powerful.

Christian conservatives like Pat Robertson and groups such as the Traditional Values Coalition denounce gay marriage, the ACLU, the United Nations, the Supreme Court, all liberals and any opinions or policies connected to them. But while Jesus said, "As you do unto the least of these you have done it unto me," I see no mention of the least among us in the conservative agenda.

The president and the Republican-controlled Congress so beloved by religious conservatives recently passed legislation eliminating overtime pay for as many as 5 million working Americans. Are working people not the least among us? Do Christian conservatives approve of tax breaks that favor the wealthiest at the expense of the middle class?

It appears that the operative word for those who describe themselves as Christian conservatives is conservative, not Christian. They thrive on the idea of controlling the behavior of others, whether by restricting gay marriage, preventing abortion or establishing the supremacy of their religious and political beliefs, even if their actions subvert religious life as experienced by millions of other Americans.

The Ten Commandments controversy is a case in point. Former Alabama judge Roy Moore made his display of the Ten Commandments in the courtroom a rallying point for conservatives, many of whom believe they are persecuted by those who disagree on this and other issues. In fact, many Christians argue that secular display of the Ten Commandments places them in an improper context and trivializes the important role those teachings play in our lives.

The most prominent Christian conservative, President Bush, once said that Jesus was his favorite political philosopher. It is unlikely that Jesus would approve of challenging Iraqi insurgents to "bring 'em on" when American soldiers, international aid workers, and Iraqi civilians are in harms way.

It is time for this president and other conservatives to be taken to task when they claim to follow the word of God. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill alleges that the Bush administration planned for a war with Iraq as soon as it came into office, well before the terror attacks Sept. 11, 2001. A good Christian would be reluctant to make war and would certainly not make a case based on lies. Unfortunately, liberal Christians are less comfortable making public proclamations of faith and are reluctant to debate their conservative brethren.

When former National Organization of Women President Patricia Ireland was appointed to lead the YWCA, there was an immediate uproar from Christian conservatives. She was attacked on issues such as abortion and questioned about her religious beliefs. As a result of these attacks Ms. Ireland's tenure at the YWCA was short lived – just six months.

However, when Pat Robertson expressed his disdain for the State Department by saying last fall, "Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom," the criticism from liberal Christians was far more muted. Conservatives have a well-oiled machine that responds instantly to any issue they deem important. Liberals lack such a mechanism, and their silence results in acquiesce to conservative domination on matters of religion and public policy.

Liberals who are Christians must forthrightly connect their religious and political beliefs and question conservative views that are not in keeping with Christian teaching. Just as it is unhealthy for the body politic if only one opinion holds sway, it is unhealthy for one religious view to monopolize public debate. American political and religious life will continue to suffer unless liberals and conservatives are equally outspoken in the interchange of ideas.

More on the Texas Souffle

Thursday is Black Commentator day and that means you get another dose of the Freedom Rider. This week I take on our President, his arrogance, and his self-satisfied feeling of entitlement. I point out that I do not think he is stupid. He is proudly uninterested in anyone or anything outside of his own limited experience. That makes him very dangerous indeed.