We have all heard the old saying, “You reap what you sow.” This lesson was recently learned by an Arkansas school board district member, Clint McCance, vice-president of the Midland School District in Pleasant Plains. Posting on Facebook, McCance said, in response to a campaign sponsored by GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) that people should wear purple to honor suicide victims of anti-gay bullying,
“Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed therselves because of their sin.” (sic)
McCance now realizes he went too far.
“I’m reaping what I’ve sown,” he told CNN. “I’ve had a lot of hate speech thrown at me and my family on every level.”
But it’s not just what McCance said, it’s the underlying beliefs that led to those words he used, and more than that, it’s the underlying beliefs of the people to whom he directed those words: religious bigots.
Now it’s bad enough when somebody wishes ill on somebody else. None of us should do that no matter how much we disapprove of the person or their actions. A favored religion-inspired response is to say “we don’t hate the sinner; we hate the sin” as if that makes everything okay. It doesn’t. And McCance, to his credit, did not fall back on that to explain his own words.
The lesson that must be learned here, by everyone, but especially by Republicans from whom this hate is flowing, is that you do reap what you sow. Actions have consequences. The 2006 election should have taught them that; the 2008 elections should have driven that lesson home: most Americans do not agree with them.
Words spoken have consequences, but all too often people escape those consequences due to political cronyism.
For example, Juan Williams lost his job at NRP but he has a lucrative job with FOX News, which applauds his hate-mongering xenophobia and is now leading a conservative witch-hunt against NPR. And conservative Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of George W. Bush’s disastrous and bloody Iraq strategy, after his misdeeds at the World Bank had, in Paul Krugman’s words, “a chair waiting for him at the American Enterprise Institute,” a conservative think tank.
Sometimes, what is reaped is a reward by those for who hate mongering is a lucrative business. Sadly, that includes at this point in our nation’s history one of our two main political parties, the corporate-funded GOP, and the conservative billionaire-funded Astroturf movement known as the Tea Party. American politics have become all about hatred and xenophobia. With the aftermath of Katrina we learned that what was most important to Republicans was apportioning blame. What we have learned since is that what is most important is identifying the constructed Other and then blaming them.
For purposes of conservative rhetoric, the constructed Other is anything other than a white conservative Christian. This makes target acquisition easy: anyone can be a target, from liberals (Ann Coulter) to progressives (Glenn Beck) to feminists and pagans (Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell) to gays and lesbians (too many to count) to atheists (George H.W. Bush and many others), to immigrants (too many to count), to Muslims (Sharron Angle, Judson Phillips and others), to people who ask questions (Sarah Palin, Joe Miller). All these groups are somehow responsible for destroying the America these conservatives claim once existed and that they want back.
Never mind for a moment that this America never existed. Give it time. They will soon have school books reflecting an ideologically approved revision of history. What is important is that everyone is the enemy, everyone is a potential witch. And it is not only individuals, not even ordinary people like you and me (Lauren Valle, Tony Hopfinger). It is politicians (Vice President Al Gore, Senator John Kerry, Keith Ellison, Barack Obama); it is non-profit organizations (ACORN); it is NPR, which had the courage to take a stand against the hate-mongering and xenophobia; It is the government of the United States; it is the Constitution itself.
We have all been identified as the enemy. We have all of us, because we fail to support the conservative vision of an America that never existed, who have been accused of treason and labeled traitors. But you can’t be guilty of treason against something which does not exist.
Sometimes, as in the case of McCance, the guilty party recognizes he went too far. More often than not, when they are called out, they act like they never said it (Bachman, Angle); they are being persecuted unfairly (Palin, Angle, Bachman, O’Donnell, et al) and that they are the victims, just as it is the bullies in school who are the real victims, not the kids they force to commit suicide. You won’t see any of these people apologizing or recognizing consequences.
Others, like McCance, do, however sincere the apology may or may not be. For example there is Wisconsin GOP candidate for lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who in a recent radio interview said that gay marriage is to be compared to marrying clocks and dogs.
She has since apologized, saying,
“My comments were meant to relay my concern with redefining marriage. I never intended to sound insensitive, and have the utmost respect for all people. I apologize for my poor choice of words.”
On the other hand, there is Tony Perkins, who says that gay teens commit suicide because they know they are abnormal (and your bigoted words would have nothing to do with them coming to believe that, would it, Tony?).
And there is Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas who has somehow come to the belief (remember, he’s from Texas) that that Republicans “can’t compromise on principle.” What principles are Gohmert speaking of, you ask?
Right Wing Watch reports that,
Gohmert, who recently said that God has ordained Christians to run the country, sounded a similar theme on today’s call. He said God gives the sword to government to punish evil, and urged “true Romans 13-believing Christians” to understand that America’s founders set things up so that the people are the government. “We are given the sword in this country.” He told them that God had blessed American Christians and that they’re expected to use the sword of government and hire (elect) servants (public officials) “to do what we tell them.”
The politics of hate are all around us, fueled by right-wing religious fanatics, our own Taliban, and sad to say, it is us, far less often them, who will reap the consequences of what they have sown. But we too bare responsibility when we go to the polls on November 2. If you don’t want to be a victim, don’t be. Don’t put these people in power. Don’t worry about God doing the right thing for America. YOU do the right thing for America.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.