January 15, 2008

American Taliban Extremism  Politics  Religion

Digby points to this, in which Mike Huckabee shows his true colors:

"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution," Huckabee told a Michigan audience on Monday. "But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do — to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."

That's the GOP front runner, and he's not joking. Theocracy here we come.

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December 27, 2007

Wrapped In The Flag, Carrying A Cross Extremism  Politics  Religion

Mike Huckabee says he doesn't believe in evolution. If only that were all there is to it. Excerpts from an excellent piece by Chris Hedges:

George Bush is a happy stooge of his corporate handlers. He blithely enriches the oligarchy, defends a war that is the worst foreign policy blunder in American history and callously denies medical benefits to children. Huckabee is different. He has tapped into the rage and fury of the working class, dispossessed and abandoned by the mainstream Democrats and Republicans. And he refuses to make the ideology of the Christian right, with its dark contempt for democratic traditions and intolerance of nonbelievers, a handmaiden of the corporate establishment. This makes him a much more lethal and radical political force.

The Christian right is the most potent and dangerous mass movement in American history. It has been controlled and led, until now, by those who submit to the demands of the corporate state. But the grass roots are tired of being taken for rubes. They are tired of candidates, like Bush or Bill Clinton, who roll out the same clichés about working men and women every four years and then spend their terms enriching their corporate backers. The majority of American citizens have spent the last two decades watching their government services and benefits vanish. They have seen their jobs go overseas and are watching as their communities crumble and their houses are foreclosed. It is their kids who are in Iraq and Afghanistan. The old guard in the Christian right, the Pat Robertsons, who used their pulpits to deliver the votes of naive followers to the corporatists, is a spent force. Huckabee’s Christian populism represents the maturation of the movement. It signals the rise of a truly radical, even revolutionary force in American politics, of which Huckabee may be one of the tamer and less frightening examples. [...]

Huckabee has close ties with the Christian Reconstructionist or Dominionist branch of the Christian right. The Dominionist movement, which seeks to cloak itself in the mantle of the Christian faith and American patriotism, is small in numbers but influential. It departs from traditional evangelicalism. It seeks to redefine traditional democratic and Christian terms and concepts to fit an ideology that calls on the radical church to take political power. It shares many prominent features with classical fascist movements, at least as such movements are defined by the scholar Robert O. Paxton, who sees fascism as "a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cultures of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."

Dominionism, born out of Christian Reconstructionism, seeks to politicize faith. It has, like all fascist movements, a belief in magic along with leadership adoration and a strident call for moral and physical supremacy of a master race, in this case American Christians. [...]

Dominionism teaches that American Christians have been mandated by God to make America a Christian state. A decades-long refusal by most American fundamentalists to engage in politics at all following the Scopes trial has been replaced by a call for Christian "dominion" over the nation and, eventually, over the Earth itself. Dominionism preaches that Jesus has called on Christians to actively build the kingdom of God on Earth. America becomes, in this militant Biblicism, an agent of God, and all political and intellectual opponents of America’s Christian leaders are viewed, quite simply, as agents of Satan. Under Christian dominion, America will no longer be a sinful and fallen nation but one in which the Ten Commandments form the basis of our legal system, in which creationism and "Christian values" form the basis of our educational system, and the media and the government proclaim the Good News to one and all. Labor unions, civil rights laws and public schools will be abolished. Women will be removed from the work force to stay at home, and all those deemed insufficiently Christian will be denied citizenship.

Baptist minister Rick Scarborough, founder of Vision America and a self-described "Christocrat,"...has endorsed Huckabee. Scarborough, along with holding other bizarre stances, opposes the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine on grounds that it interferes with God’s punishment of sexual license. And Huckabee, who once advocated isolating AIDS patients from the general public and opposed increased federal funding in the search for a cure, comes out of this frightening mold. He justified his call to quarantine those with AIDS because they could "pose a dangerous public health risk."

"If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague," Huckabee wrote. "It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents."

Huckabee has publicly backed off from this extreme position, but he remains deeply hostile to gays. He has used wit and humor to deflect reporters from his radical views about marriage, abortion, damnation, biblical law, creationism and the holy war he believes we are fighting with Islam. But his stances represent a huge step, should they ever become policy, toward a theocratic state and the death of our open society. In the end, however, I do not blame Huckabee or the tens of millions of hapless Christians — 40 percent of the Republican electorate — who hear his words and rejoice. I blame the corporate state, those who thought they could disempower and abuse the working class, rape the country, build a rapacious oligarchy and never pay a political price.

We keep moving further and further into uncharted territory. Each new election cycle, things that would have seemed unimaginably grotesque in the not too distant past suddenly become mainstream. Then they, too, are surpassed. Like the proverbial boiling frog, we fail to act as things change by gradual degrees.

Resentment builds and is fed by people skilled in exploiting it. The bursting credit bubble, imploding dollar, and skyrocketing energy costs may yet push the US economy over the cliff. Then, look out.

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July 25, 2007

Messin' With Texas Extremism  Politics  Religion

Texas governor Rick Perry has appointed a creationist dentist named Don McLeroy to head the State Board of Education. The Austin American-Statesman (via Pharyngula) tells us:

In 2001, McLeroy and a majority of the board rejected the only Advanced Placement textbook for high school environmental science because its views on global warming and other events didn't comport with the beliefs of the board majority. The book wasn't factual and was anti-American and anti-Christian, the majority claimed. Meanwhile, dozens of colleges and universities were using the textbook, including Baylor University, the nation's largest Baptist college.

In 2003, McLeroy voted against approving biology textbooks that included a full-scale scientific account of evolutionary theory. The books were approved.

Just the guy to put in charge of public education.

Need I add, both Perry and McLeroy are Republicans.

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July 05, 2007

Despicable Extremism  Politics  War and Peace

Go read this, and follow its links.

These are very dangerous, very despicable people. Absolute lunatics.

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June 27, 2007

What They Say When We're Not Around Extremism  Politics

These are not nice people. Mean-spirited and godawful dumb.

Update: More here.

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April 28, 2007

Blind Spot Extremism  Media

When is a terrorist attack on US soil not a terrorist attack — in fact, not even worthy of mention on the evening news?

When the target is a women's clinic.

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April 27, 2007

Unevolved Extremism  Politics  Religion  Science/Technology

This is disheartening, putting it mildly. The graph below shows public acceptance of human evolution in 2005. You'll find the US at second-to-last.

From National Geographic's description:

Adults were asked to respond to the statement: "Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals." The percentage of respondents who believed this to be true is marked in blue; those who believed it to be false, in red; and those who were not sure, in yellow.

A study of several such surveys taken since 1985 has found that the United States ranks next to last in acceptance of evolution theory among nations polled. Researchers point out that the number of Americans who are uncertain about the theory's validity has increased over the past 20 years. [Emphasis added]

Note that the question was just whether humans evolved from earlier animals. It said nothing about evolution being by purely natural means, via natural selection, or without participation by a deity. It's just: "did humans evolve?"

It would be hard to overstate how clueless you have to be to say no.

The study also found — no surprise here — that evolution deniers in the US tend to be Republicans:

The team found that individuals with anti-abortion, pro-life views associated with the conservative wing of the Republican Party were significantly more likely to reject evolution than people with pro-choice views.

The team adds that in Europe having pro-life or right-wing political views had little correlation with a person's attitude toward evolution.

The researchers say this reflects the politicization of the evolution issue in the U.S. "in a manner never seen in Europe or Japan."

"In the second half of the 20th century, the conservative wing of the Republican Party has adopted creationism as part of a platform designed to consolidate their support in Southern and Midwestern states," the study authors write.

Miller says that when Ronald Reagan was running for President of the U.S., for example, he gave speeches in these states where he would slip in the sentence, "I have no chimpanzees in my family," poking fun at the idea that apes could be the ancestors of humans. [Emphasis added]

It would be funny, in a sick sort of way, if it weren't so downright scary, considering the belligerence and military power of the US. People who have flipped the mental switch that lets them ignore the evidence of physical reality so they can be accepted by the herd are people who can be led into all sorts of mischief. And they're armed to the teeth. Superstitious primates with guns.

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January 04, 2007

America Today Extremism

Lovely.

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December 27, 2006

In The Name Of Jesus Extremism  Religion

The inimitable Matt Taibbi on the Left Behind video game that lets you slaughter nonbelievers in the name of Jesus (aka, the Prince of Peace):

Left Behind: Eternal Forces allows you to command the tribulation force, uncover the truth about worldwide disappearances and save as many people as possible from the Antichrist.

Lead the Tribulation Force from the book series, including Rayford, Chloe, Buck and Bruce, against Nicolae Carpathia — the Antichrist.

Defend yourselves from the forces of the Antichrist. Engage in physical and spiritual warfare!

Use Prayer and Special Abilities to boost the Spirit of your forces! Command over 30 unit types through dozens of missions and online player action!

Defend against the spiritual influences and physical warfare of the Antichrist's army through the power of prayer and worship!

Left Behind: Eternal Forces game synopsis

It's been a long time coming, but this week I finally received the Christmas gift I've been waiting for for what seems like ages — my Left Behind: Eternal Forces video game.

This is the first Christmas gift I've ever bought for myself. Normally, I hate Christmas. In fact, I make it a point each year to search out and print out all the news stories from around the world involving thefts from/desecrations of nativity scenes. When I'm finished, I plaster my office area with all the photos of the glum Yuletiders standing around the now-headless Josephs and Marys, and I make this news-mural my private sanctuary, the place I run to when the holidays (and particularly the holiday commercials) get to be too much to take. [...]

Anyway, back to the Left Behind game, which is the first gift I've ever gotten that actually fills me with Holiday Spirit. For those of you who are not familiar with Left Behind, it is an enormously popular Christian book series which depicts an Armageddon scenario in which the true believers are whisked up to heaven at the Second Coming, literally vanishing out of thin air even as they do things like pilot commercial jet-liners, leaving the rest of us amoral nihilists on earth to bathe in our own blood and generally massacre each other. In the video game, the Believers roam a desecrated New York City landscape (it is highly amusing that both al-Qaeda and the makers of Left Behind: Eternal Forces chose to make their masterpiece against a canvas of a burning Manhattan) wasting the forces of the Antichrist, leaving huge piles of bodies everywhere they go. It is hard to imagine a product that better encapsulates, in one package, the spirit of both modern American capitalism and modern American Christianity. If you have a serious gore jones, it's also not a bad video game. The soundtrack (especially the "Street Fight, Main Theme") kicks ass.

Those of you who were not on the original Left Behind mailing list really missed out, as the e-mails the company sent out in anticipation of this video game launch are easily some of the greatest examples of unintentional comedy ever to grace the Internet. From the start, the company asked its customers to assist them with prayer, and as such sent out regular "prayer requests," for instance this letter asking us to pray for a good reception at a Christian retail convention:

Left Behind: Eternal Forces for the PC is getting closer to completion every day, and we appreciate your prayers! We would ask that you keep the Left Behind Games staff in your continued prayers as we get closer to our release date, from spiritual warfare, and protection for our families.

We will be attending the 2006 International Christian Retail Show in Colorado on April 10th to the 13th, please pray that God will bless our presence at his show.

The company was a little quiet after that, but as the release neared and it began focusing on the inevitably problematic marketing campaign, it increasingly asked for prayer help with its promotional efforts. Here's one from October:

Left Behind Prayer Requests:
1. Wisdom as we prepare our promotional strategies
2. Travel safety as our team attends meetings and interviews
3. Unity as a team and that our efforts bring glory to our Lord

Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. God bless you!

As the launch neared, the requests began to be directed towards the reviewers:

Left Behind: Eternal Forces will be available at stores this weekend!

Thank you for helping to make this happen. We are praising God! Please keep the game in your prayers.

1. Critics and reviewers will give positive feedback on the game.

2. Church and youth leaders will see the potential of using the game as an outreach tool.

3. Players will multiply as they invite their friends to play with them online.

4. God will bless this game and it will honor Him.

But when the date arrived, the company's "Prayer Team leader," Annette Brown, began to get more and more specific in her corporate prayer goals:

1. Pray God will put it on the heart of the consumers to purchase our product at select Walamart [sic] Stores (top 100 stores) that have our invetory [sic].
2. Next weekend is the biggest shopping weekend of the year, pray the game hits record sales for PC Games.
3. The press is still reviewing the game, pray they will be kind in their reviews.

I mean, how twisted do you have to be to pray that consumers will buy your product at select Wal-Mart stores? Wouldn't you hesitate and call a psychiatrist before sending that out into cyberspace?

The requests from Thanksgiving week:

Please pray that our sales will skyrocket this weekend. We have a big God that promises to surpass all that we could ask of Him.

Once reviewers got hold of the game, and started to point out the odd dichotomy between its supposedly Christian message and its corpse-strewn video landscape, the company began to pray for good media appearances:

Prayer requests:
1. God will give Troy, Robilyn and Jeff wisdom during their many interviews.
2. God will use these interviews to open the hearts and minds of the listeners to the true intentions and purpose of the game.
3. God will bless us as we develop and choose our sales force.

Anyway, if you haven't bought it already, I strongly advise everyone reading this to log on to leftbehind.com and buy the game. It is the perfect American holiday gift. Celebrate the birth of Jesus by wasting dozens of people at a time, using a provocative variety of Christ-sanctioned weapons! You can even operate tanks to destroy whole areas of New York City! Who knows, you might even get to kill Ethan Hawke ("slumming" in a ball cap and dirty jeans) in a Marxist bookstore-coffeeshop on Eighth Street! Kill, kill, kill!

Merry Christmas, America.

Funny in a twisted sort of way, but it would be a lot funnier were it not for the fact that the US military is being led, more and more, by people with this same nightmare vision of what constitutes reality. Video game weapons are one thing...

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December 15, 2006

Pentecostalgon Extremism  Religion

Former Air Force JAG and Air Force Academy grad Mikey Weinstein is speaking out about evangelical Christians in the US military who are, he says, "trying to turn the Pentagon into a frickin' faith-based initiative". Here are excerpts from what Weinstein told an interviewer at Salon. He refers to a video that was shot inside the Pentagon by a group called Christian Embassy that featured very senior officers, in uniform, talking about the evangelical faith. Weinstein:

You sound like you're too young to remember Robert Redford in "Three Days of the Condor," but the premise of that movie was that there was a CIA within the CIA. We have a virulently dominionist, fundamentalist evangelical Christian element within the Pentagon. They would prefer this to be the "Pentecostalgon," not the Pentagon. That's what they would prefer. They're trying to turn the Pentagon into a frickin' faith-based initiative, and that is not what our military is about.

These are the people who, when I talk to senior members of the military at the flag-level rank [admiral or general]...that have looked at me and said, "Come on, Mikey, what's your problem? We have the cure to cancer. If you had the cure to cancer, wouldn't you want to spread the word?" They don't realize when they say it, they don't have the mental wherewithal to understand that to a person who isn't an evangelical Christian, you're calling our faith a cancer. [...]

This, to me, constitutes as much of a national security threat to this country as al-Qaida. In fact, the video itself, to me, would be the No. 1 recruiting tool...to get angry young Islamic men and women in Iran, Syria and Lebanon to join the insurrection and jihadi terrorist activities. This would be a perfect accelerant to create even further conflagration.

Now, I was a JAG [judge advocate general, the lawyers who act as prosecutors and defense attorneys within the military] in the Air Force. I spent three and a half years as a lawyer for President Ronald Reagan in the West Wing, I've been Ross Perot's general counsel. I know the religious right would love to vilify me as a tree-hugging Northern California Sierra Club membership chardonnay-sipping liberal...but I'm not. I'm a Republican...We have 115 years of combined active-duty military service to this country in my immediate family...

[T]hese people can pray all they want to themselves, like kids in school can pray to themselves, but when you're in the military, and you're coming in like that one person, [Air Force Maj. Gen.] Catton, whom I knew when I was a kid at the [Air Force] Academy, and he goes, "I share my faith, that's who I am, and let me tell you right now, the hierarchy as an old-fashioned American is that your first duty is to the Lord, second to your family and your third is to your country." That is the exact opposite of what is taught, and for anyone who understands anything about the military, it is always the country first. When you're told, "Troopers, we're going to go take that hill," you can't stop, fall to your knees and see what your particular version of Moses, Vishnu, Satan, Jesus, Mohammed, Allah, whatever they're going to say, and then quickly make a cellphone call to your family. So it is beyond-the-pale egregious, it is a national security threat every bit as bad as al-Qaida, and these people should be court-martialed.

...I get calls 24/7 from the soldiers, Marines and airmen...They're being tormented. And 96 percent of those who come flooding in, on fire with torment, are Christians, three-fourths of whom would be traditional Protestants: Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians. The other one-fourth are Roman Catholics. These are Christians being preyed upon by evangelical Christians...and being told that you're not Christian enough, therefore you're going to burn in a hell of fire. [...]

The U.S. military, which I consider a noble and honorable institution, is technologically the most lethal organization ever created by Homo sapiens. When you have the leadership believing that to be a good soldier, good Marine, good airman or sailor you have to be not just a Christian but the right type of Christian, we're no better than al-Qaida. And it's hideous, beyond belief. My kids were called "fucking Jews" and accused of total complicity, they and their people, in the execution of Jesus Christ, by superiors up and down the chain of command at the Air Force Academy.

But like I've said before, most of the people who've come to me are Christians. That's been the big sea change here. Look, Sinclair Lewis said it best, in [the 1930s]. He came back from Germany, he was observing it for a number of months ... and he [said] that he had now seen fascism up close and personal, and he knew that when it came to America it would be wrapped in the American flag, carrying a cross. And you know what? He's right. [...]

I've had nine death threats since about 10 o'clock last night. I usually get about two or three a week. They're very grotesque, everything from wanting to gas all the Jews in America and send the corpses back to Israel to threatening to blow me up, threatening my house will be blown up, raping my wife, blowing up my house. We've had our tires slashed, we've had feces and beer bottles thrown at the house, we've had dead animals placed on the front door of the house.

I was in Topeka, on a book tour, and the local Episcopal priest came out to support me and five hours later his church was burned down. And the local synagogue in Topeka, where I was to speak that night, was desecrated with spray paint saying, "Fuck you, Jews" and "KKK," all that stuff. [...]

My response is I've given the new secretary of defense 20 days to answer the Freedom of Information Act request, which the law gives him, and at the end we intend to get as much information as we can, fashion it into a dagger and then stab at the heart of this unconstitutional, wretched, vile, darkness at the Pentagon. This unconstitutional darkness, we will stab at it with our dagger until we kill it. [Emphasis added]

Somebody should give these people a copy of the Sermon on the Mount. I don't know what Jesus they think they're following, but it's surely not the Jesus of the Gospels.

Scary stuff. Very, very scary.

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July 07, 2006

Neo-Nazis And The US Military Extremism

It just keeps getting crazier. NYT:

A decade after the Pentagon declared a zero-tolerance policy for racist hate groups, recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed "large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists" to infiltrate the military, according to a watchdog organization.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and right-wing militia groups, estimated that the numbers could run into the thousands, citing interviews with Defense Department investigators and reports and postings on racist Web sites and magazines.

"We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," the group quoted a Defense Department investigator as saying in a report to be posted today on its Web site, www.splcenter.org. "That's a problem." [...]

The report said that neo-Nazi groups like the National Alliance, whose founder, William Pierce, wrote "The Turner Diaries," the novel that was the inspiration and blueprint for Timothy J. McVeigh's bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, sought to enroll followers in the Army to get training for a race war.

The groups are being abetted, the report said, by pressure on recruiters, particularly for the Army, to meet quotas that are more difficult to reach because of the growing unpopularity of the war in Iraq.

The report quotes Scott Barfield, a Defense Department investigator, saying, "Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces, and commanders don't remove them from the military even after we positively identify them as extremists or gang members."

Mr. Barfield said Army recruiters struggled last year to meet goals. "They don't want to make a big deal again about neo-Nazis in the military," he said, "because then parents who are already worried about their kids signing up and dying in Iraq are going to be even more reluctant about their kids enlisting if they feel they'll be exposed to gangs and white supremacists." [...]

Mr. Barfield, who is based at Fort Lewis, Wash., had said that he had provided evidence on 320 extremists there in the past year, but that only two had been discharged. He also said there was an online network of neo-Nazis.

"They're communicating with each other about weapons, about recruiting, about keeping their identities secret, about organizing within the military," he said. "Several of these individuals have since been deployed to combat missions in Iraq." [...]

An article in the National Alliance magazine Resistance urged skinheads to join the Army and insist on being assigned to light infantry units. [...]

"Light infantry is your branch of choice because the coming race war and the ethnic cleansing to follow will be very much an infantryman's war," he wrote. "It will be house-to-house, neighborhood-by-neighborhood until your town or city is cleared and the alien races are driven into the countryside where they can be hunted down and 'cleansed.'"

He concluded: "As a professional soldier, my goal is to fill the ranks of the United States Army with skinheads. As street brawlers, you will be useless in the coming race war. As trained infantrymen, you will join the ranks of the Aryan warrior brotherhood." [Emphasis added]

So-o-o many chickens coming home to roost.

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December 12, 2005

The War On Christmas — Again Extremism

Apropos of all the "war on christmas" bloviating from the right again this year, here's a reminder that we've heard it all before:

Last Christmas most people had a hard time finding Christmas cards that indicated in any way that Christmas commemorated Someone's Birth. Easter they will have the same difficulty in finding Easter cards that contain any suggestion that Easter commemorates a certain event. There will be rabbits and eggs and spring flowers, but a hint of the Resurrection will be hard to find. Now, all this begins with the designers of the cards.

Henry Ford
The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem
1921

Happy Holidays.

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October 26, 2005

You've Got To Be Carefully Taught Extremism

Rogers and Hammerstein wrote:

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear
You've got to be taught
From year to year
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught
To be afraid
Of people whose eyes
Are oddly made
And people whose skin
Is a different shade
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught
Before it's too late
Before you are 6 or 7 or 8
To hate all the people
Your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught

Here is a sad, sad example.

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