Monthly Archives: May 2007

Hitch’s Sin of Omission

Daniel Lazare sez:

Yet one person is conspicuously absent from Hitchens’s list of religious evil-doers: George W. Bush. Yes, the man who said Jesus is his favorite philosopher “because he changed my heart” and, as governor of Texas, proclaimed June 10 as “Jesus Day,” goes unmentioned. How can this be? The explanation has to do with Hitchens’s subtitle. If “religion poisons everything,” then it must be responsible for most of the evil in the world, since belief of this sort is currently so widespread and pervasive. If a political leader is religious, he or she must be bad, and if he or she is bad, he or she must be religious. This is why Saddam gets slammed for his cynical exploitation of Islam and why Bush, author of the Global War on Terror and the war on Iraq, both of which Hitchens supports, gets a free pass. If he is to be believed, our faith-based President is defending rationalism against religious intolerance.

Note to Carter: I’m much younger than 35 years old, as you’ve alleged. You are apparently relying on my Wikipedia page, which by the way was created by Matt Sanchez, aka Rod Majors. But I guess an astroturfed far-right blogger is only as good as his sources.

Also, fyi I got into journalism a little more than three years ago. Check yourself before you wreck yourself any further.

Romney’s Hot Cause He’s Fly

Placing style over substance is the hallmark of any modern American political campaign. The notion that candidates win races on policy alone is consistently put to rest, especially in presidential contests. But according to TAP’s Garance Franke-Ruta, Mitt Romney has taken political superficiality to the next level.

This blurb, which reads as though it was penned by airhead extraordinaire Perez Hilton, actually comes from official Romney campaign literature:

“In this media-driven age, Romney begins with a decisive advantage. First, he has sensational good looks. People magazine named him one of the 50 most beautiful people in America. Standing 6 feet, 2 inches tall, Romney has jet-black hair, graying naturally at the temples. Women — who will play a critical role in this coming election — have a word for him: hot.”

As Franke-Ruta says, Democratic consultants should have a field day with this one.

“Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) was noticeably absent from the forum. The firefighters’ union was set to send a letter to its members just prior to the forum blasting the mayor for what it said were callous and disrespectful actions following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The letter was never sent, but The Hill obtained a copy just before the forum was set to kick off.

Giuliani’s campaign said at the time that scheduling conflicts prevented him from attending.”

The rise of atheismJames Studdard

The name Christopher Hitchens may not mean much to you if you are not (like me) a political wonk. Mr. Hitchens is an essayist, novelist and supreme polemicist for the Bush administration, generally, and the war in Iraq specifically.

To appreciate his stature as a insightful writer for the right, I would suggest that Ann Coulter, by comparison, would not be worthy to cook him breakfast.

His latest book is probably the most controversial since his excoriation of Mother Theresa a few years ago. He has also written biographies of George Orwell, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson. However, this new book titled, “God is not great: How religion ruins everything” given Hitchens’ support of President Bush, seems a bit of an oxymoron and some say it is moreover, a quickly written, not well thought out tome intended to deflect attention away from his dogged support of the war in Iraq. Whatever are his motives, the book is sure to raise the ire of the believers in this country.

Hitchens offers this terse preamble to set the stage for the lambasts of religion to follow in his book: “There are four irreducible objections to religious faith: that it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos, that because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism, that it is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression, and that it is ultimately grounded on wishful-thinking.”

Hitchens’ rantings about religion is not confined to any one particular sect; he equally attacks and, he thinks, debunks not only the big three monotheistic giants but also Hinduism, eastern mysticism and other faith-based political ideologies like communism and fascism.

It is evident in the book that Hitchens gleefully challenges the credentials of Mother Theresa and single-handedly dismantles the muddled arguments of the fundamentalists who advocate creationism. He even goes so far to compare Hassidic mohels (houses of circumcision) to mere child molesters. However, despite Hitchens’ occasional misplaced assumptions about religion and his often clumsy effort to turn a clever phrase, he still remains (to all but the most closed-minded) a needed check and balance against the insidious incursions of radical fundamentalists.

Hitchens is bi-partisan in his condemnation of faith-based hypocrisy and accuses both the Democrats and the Republicans of using religion to their benefit. He notes, that Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy were the religious darlings of the left and their religion and ethnicity was exploited shamelessly, as only a shameless Christian can do.

Those who have read Hitchens over the years knew that it was only a matter of time until he ran out of “colossal” topics which would anger the masses, and thus launch an assault on God. The book is viewed by some as a poor adjunct to Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion.” Hitchens exempts no one group as he declares religion to be a veiled form of child abuse and not to tell your children that Jesus Christ never lived is an example of it. Hitchens’ archenemy, Max Blumenthal, condemns Hitchens as mean-spirited and bigoted, using pretentious intellectual fantasies to discredit principled institutions. Blumenthal stated, “’God is not great’ represents little more than the disingenuous posturings of a certified fraudmeister who has openly cavorted with the most reactionary elements of the Christian right. If Hitchens had any principles at all — if he truly feared the cultural and political consequences of the encroachment of religion into public life — he would have used his still-considerable influence to support organizations and causes that shore up the wall between church and state and which defend the rights of non-believers. Instead, Hitchens has done exactly the opposite.”

Hitchens has reconciled himself to living only once, and only then through our children. He speculates that once people accept the fact of their short, sometimes miserable lives, the better they will be for it. Hitchens believes that one can be ethical without confession of a religion and just a easily the other way around. “Religion,” says Hitchens, “has caused innumerable people not just to conduct themselves no better than others, but to award themselves permission to behave in ways that would make a brothel-keeper or an ethnic cleanser raise an eyebrow.”

I have read Christopher Hitchens’ book, twice actually, to make sure my faith is in tact (it is) and I urge you to read it. Granted, it will test your resolve to adhere to whatever religion you profess, but if you can resolve the conflicts presented by Hitchens, then you can truly feel, in that inner-most place in your heart, that Hitchens is wrong and God is right, or at least, I did. Hitchens sort of wraps up his anti-God tome with this allusion of Blaise Pascal: “We infidels do not need any machinery of reinforcement. I am so made that I cannot believe.”

Well to Hitchens and Pascal, I say: I am so made that I must believe.

Uncle Tom’s Evangelical Outpost

Joe Carter writes:

It appears that, unlike you, Boone has actually read the Harriet Beecher Stowe’s antislavery novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” The hero Tom is admirable because he is gentle, kind, humble, etc. Is that what you are against?

Carter, you are like a gift from the far shores of the right.

Joe Carter’s Favorite Atheist and Tony Perkins’ Ministers of Minstrelsy Save the Day

I have amended an earlier post to reflect Joe Carter’s quoting of the atheist Richard Dawkins to assert that Colin Powell is not in fact black. The substance of my post has not changed at all. Carter calls Dawkins’ essay on race “insightful” and “valuable,” and uses it to provide some intellectual weight to his own point that because Colin Powell has skin nearly as light as Donald Rumsfeld’s, he is not black.

It makes sense that a fundamentalist and an atheist would find common cause on race. Fundamentalists and atheists want everyone to think like they do; they value and encourage conformity. Though Carter despises Dawkins’ atheism and doesn’t believe in science himself, he is attracted to Dawkins’ seemingly scientific case for abolishing racial classifications, especially with regards to black people. For Carter, abolishing blackness would provide the cultural groundwork for ending affirmative action, a policy he openly deplores. If there are no racial minorities, historical wrongs committed against them don’t exist either. There is no need then to right those wrongs through civil rights policies.

In an ideal world, everyone would blend into one race and hold hands and sing Kumbaya. But in this world, and in particular, in the United States, guys like Carter and Dawkins — white guys — are in charge. If Carter’s dream of the end of blackness came to pass, the position of the dominant culture would only grow stronger. And that’s exactly what he wants.

At the same time, Carter
affirms the concept of blackness by citing all the black pastors his boss, Tony Perkins, counts as allies. Not only does this argument contradict Carter’s attempt to undermine racial classifications, it reveals those pastors as nothing more than useful idiots.

When Perkins organized a Justice Sunday rally for the confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito, a man who belonged to a whites-only “eating society” at Princeton and opposes affirmative action, Perkins trots out black pastors like Wellington Boone, who once exclaimed, “I want to boldly affirm Uncle Tom. The black community must stop criticizing Uncle Tom. He is a role model.”

When Perkins is confronted about his well-documented links to white supremacist groups, he refers reporters to his ally, Ken Hutcherson, a confirmed fraud with no known constituency and all the political acuity of a former NFL linebacker. (Hutcherson, by the way, was accompanied on a trip to Latvia by Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively).

Frauds, gay bashers and Uncle Tom admirers — these are the kind of black folks Joe Carter and his boss can live with. As for those black people like Colin Powell who carve out their own space and demand respect on their own terms, according to Carter, they shouldn’t be able to call themselves black at all.

This is the level of discourse inspired by Joe Carter:

Well let’s see, Mr. Powell: Blumenthal, a Jew, making a mockery out of Christianity..how unique.. You two must be the North American dealers in Crappola.

The LAPD’s Kent State Lite

LAPD Chief Bill Bratton learned these tactics from the best of course of all the worst.

Scratch a Racist, Find a Moron

powell family
Despite the fact that both of Colin Powell’s parents (left) are black, Family Research Council webmaster and racist auto-apologist Joe Carter claims that Powell is not black himself

Racists are more sophisticated these days than ever before. They use fancy terms to describe themselves: Vanderbilt University professor emeritus Virginia Abernethy calls herself a “racial separationist,” claiming her rationale for segregating whites and minorities derives from her expertise as an anthropologist. George Wallace didn’t need a PhD to declare segregation today, tomorrow and forever, but we’re living in a brave new world. As Howard Fineman told Don Imus, “[T]hings have changed. And the kind of — some of the kind of humor that you used to do you can’t do anymore. And that’s just the way it is.” (According to Fineman’s rules, Imus’ problem wasn’t his racism, but his failure to go along to get along).

Some of those racists who have taken Fineman’s lesson to heart have embedded themselves inside the Christian right. One of their favorite nests is the Family Research Council, the advance guard of the struggle for Christian supremacy in the United States. This group’s president, Tony Perkins, was appointed by its board of directors despite his confirmed ties to white supremacist groups, including the Council of Conservative Citizens, a well-documented link he refuses to publicly discuss. Two generations ago, Perkins would have been a leader of the forces of massive resistance, but in today’s political climate he has transmuted his penchant for racial animus into bigoted crusades against homosexuals, Muslims and insufficiently submissive women.

At bottom of the FRC’s apparatus is its webmaster, Joe Carter, a middle-aged man who spends his days engineering juvenile pranks that he himself describes as “silly.”

As I documented below, Carter has devoted several posts on his personal blog, evangelicaloutpost, to advancing the sort of racialist arguments normally found on websites like VDare and American Renaissance. Besides suggesting that blacks are genetically inferior to whites — the legal profession, Carter says, is not one of their “natural talents” — Carter quotes the atheist Richard Dawkins, who he calls “insightful” and “valuable,” to assert that Colin Powell should not be considered black because he is of “mixed race and intermediate physical characteristics,” (intermediate?) and blackness is “not a true genetic dominant.”

For pointing out the obvious racist undertones of Carter’s arguments, he unleashed a long, hysterical post larded with the usual attempts to attack me vicariously through my father, who he accuses of “nepotism” without explaining what exactly my father has done to merit this criticism. The nature of Carter’s response was entirely predictable and almost as unintentionally funny as the reactions by other extreme rightists to my factual reporting. What I didn’t expect, however, was Carter’s defense of his classification of Colin Powell as not black (read: white). Given the chance to reverse his twisted claim, Carter instead flew into a petulant frenzy.

In the interest of fairness, I am giving Carter another chance to explain how a person with two black parents could not be black. Did Carter even know that both of Powell’s parents are black immigrants from Jamaica? If not, he should correct himself. But if he did, he only further confirms his well-deserved reputation as another racist using the Christian right as a vehicle to advance the longstanding campaign to roll back civil rights for racial minorities.

Mumon at Dailykos has posted a thorough run-down of Joe Carter’s pathetic path from prankster to racist auto-apologist.