The Religious Right seems beside itself, so much so in fact that they can’t get their stories straight. Are blasphemy laws a good thing or a bad thing? Bryan Fischer famously called for their reinstatement awhile back. Neocon John Bolton of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), perhaps riding that heady wave of Romneyism that insists Obama is sympathetic to terrorists, is now claiming that the Obama administration is planning on instituting blasphemy laws in order to protect Islam.
But wait! It gets even more complicated: Fox News’s Todd Starnes actually wants South Park investigated for blasphemy!
Both men seem to have forgotten the First Amendment (though some states still have bizarre blasphemy laws on the books), which we will make allowances for since they are both Republicans. But gentlemen! Make up your minds. You’re religious bigots, after all! Are blasphemy laws a good or a bad thing? Well, if you think you’re going to get a straight answer in the Which Mitt, er…um…the Romney Era from a conservative you can wish in one hand…well you know how that goes.
A bigger question would be why, when the United States is facing so many concrete, real-world problems, Republicans are so obsessed with things like blasphemy. We’ve got Rick Perry running around ranting about spiritual warfare of all things and this guy was running for the White House. Can you imagine a U.S. President giving a State of the Union Address about spiritual warfare? Distant as his chances seemed, he was still too close to the Oval Office for comfort.
But back to the pressing issue of blasphemy. Could it be that this is more of the Religious Right’s “religious freedom” crap: blasphemy laws protecting Christianity are great but anything protecting Islam is evil? They seem awfully confused. Peter LaBarbera called Obama’s support for marriage equality blasphemy back in May of this year but prior to that, in 2011, Pamela Geller claimed that she was a victim of a ‘blood libel,’ before claiming that criticism of her was “the enforcing of the Sharia” blasphemy laws.
How she said that with a straight face is anyone’s guess, but then I’m still wondering how Mitt Romney could claim he’s a se;lf-made man with a straight face.
It’s hard to know what to make of all this blasphemy talk. I mean, blasphemy is one of those things, like murder, that’s either good or bad. It’s not good sometimes and bad at others. So it’s untenable to claim that members of the Religious Right have the right to blaspheme Islam and Mohammed but that nobody else has a right to blaspheme against their beliefs or their God.
As I said above, this is very much in keeping with their attitudes toward religious freedom, which enshrine the right of Christians to do and say anything they wish and deprive everyone else of those same rights. They call that “religious freedom” so I suppose they can denounce blasphemy while engaging in it themselves without batting an eye.
I do wish they realized how foolish they sound. For a bunch that likes to accuse liberals of being moral relativists, they are awfully morally relativistic themselves: Bad is good and good is bad depending upon where you’re standing and who you’re talking to. They say they’re all for free speech too but if the free speech is critical of them it’s suddenly a “war on Christianity” while attacks on Islam are not Islamophobia or a “war on Islam.”
Yes, relativistic as they can be. They complain that because of bullying liberals they can’t insult Islam or defame Islam, while almost in the same breath claiming that nobody can insult or defame them. The frightening thing is that the fundamentalist base doesn’t seem to see any contradiction here. It all makes perfect sense to them.
I suppose it’s possible I’m being too harsh on them. I mean, they are the same party that has a guy who basically pays no taxes running for president while telling us that Americans would love to pay more taxes. We could take that as an admission from Romney that he’s not really an American, I suppose, but more likely it’s a symptom of a larger problem: the lack of a coherent political philosophy. A platform built on the rejection of things the other “side” believes is bound to be problematic.
This is what happens when you get a bunch of negative talking points together and try to sell them as a platform. You get a lot of inconsistency and you get contradictions. But hey, I’ve got a solution. If the power of prayer is so awesome that it can pray away the Texas drought, as Rick Scarborough said on September 18, of Rick Perry’s The Response (held in Houston in August 2011), why don’t they just pray away those nasty old Muslims? Go ahead: we’ll wait. Oh wait, the prayer fast didn’t really get rid of the drought, did it?
Right Wing Watch, ever ready with those pesky and highly inconvenient facts, points out that “according to StateImpact Texas, ‘in 2011, Texas endured the worst single-year drought in its history’ and while'”the situation has improved recently, the drought is far from over — and the conditions that caused it aren’t going away anytime soon.'”
Yowzer. Yeah, that’s not going to get the job done then, is it? Global warming, not God, is causing the drought and that’s something the Republians absolutely refuse to “believe” in. Maybe y’all ought to stick with the blasphemy fear-mongering after all. Making shit up seems about as effective as thousands of fundamentalist Christian voices raised to heaven.
But let me ask them this: So if America asking God for help was supposed to get the job done according to Rick Perry and the most extreme elements within the Religious Right – actual Old Testament-style prophets – what happened? Harry Jackson might have the answer: speaking to Pat Robertson on the 700 Club, the two men talked about the continuing need for prayer, which struck me as a little odd because Jackson opined that America economy tanked not because of eight years of Republican mismanagement but because of our poor morals! He promised the audience that “when we get things right spiritually, God will lift this hedge of protection around us and also economics will begin to thrive again.”
Snap! So if we all pray real hard and repent and become god-fearing Americans again, God will make the Muslims go away, fix the economy, end the drought, and restore America to her preeminent position in the world?
Just let me blaspheme here for a minute and ask: And when it doesn’t happen, what then?
This is the sort of thinking that drove monotheistic thinking from the Bronze Age through the Middle Ages: rank superstition. And you know, it would be bad enough if the backward-looking bastards kept it to themselves, but they not only want to open us up to the possibility, they want to force us to go along with them, which brings us right back to those blasphemy laws that got John Bolton’s nuts so twisted, and the need to defame Islam but to protect Christianity from even the tiniest hint of criticism.
Honest to any god you care to name, I talked about Matt Barber being an asshat yesterday; I think they’re all asshats. We ought to just rename their religion (because that’s what the GOP has become) Asshattery instead of Christianity so the real Christians can have their religion back. Then the real Republicans can have their political party back and America – well, America can have the 21st century back.
I’m sure that is something most folks would appreciate, what with its modern science and medicine and a little something called progress - the very thing that pulled the world out of the Bronze Age in the first place. Then we can forget about silly things like blasphemy and get to dealing with some of our real problems, things that don’t require belief, just an open pair of eyes and an open mind.
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.