As Americans take time to reflect on and celebrate the day the Founding Fathers declared the 13 colonies’ independence from what the they called English tyranny with flag waving, parades, and firework displays, a growing segment of the population are exploring new ways to subvert other citizens’ freedoms and expressing their desire to reinstate the same conditions that drove colonists to break away from England 237 years ago. It is little surprise that those who most demand freedom and complain their liberties are being trampled asunder are looking to a repressive nation as a model to suppress other Americans’ basic rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, and in an affront to the nation’s founders are using religious grounds as a reason to attempt abolishing some Americans’ “freedom of speech” and “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” So-called social conservatives love to wrap themselves in the flag and claim the Constitution as their own, and are wont to tout their man-god Ronald Reagan’s courage in standing up to the Soviet Union. However, now they are expressing unflagging support and glowing admiration for the former Soviet Union’s tyranny as the model they yearn to follow in preventing all Americans from exercising their Constitutional rights.
On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a measure into law that imposes harsh fines on Russian’s who hold gay pride rallies or provide information about the gay community to the public. The President of the American Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, Austin Ruse, said “you admire some of the things they’re doing in Russia against propaganda,” and then complained bitterly that “you know it would be impossible to do that here in America.” Later this summer, Ruse’s group will travel to Russia to commiserate, brainstorm, and swoon over Russian government officials and civic leaders to “let them know they do in fact have unwavering support among American non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on social issues.” However, to be perfectly clear, the anti-gay crusaders support is over religious issues and not social issues that another group’s leader had no problem putting in stark terms.
Peter LaBarbera of anti-gay Americans for Truth About Homosexuality praised the Russian government’s crackdown on the “right of the people peaceably to assemble” and claimed the restriction on free expression and freedom of speech was warranted because Russians did not follow “America’s reckless and decadent promotion of anti-biblical ideologies.” Another religious organization, the Illinois-based World Congress of Families is holding its international conference at the Kremlin’s Palace of Congresses in Moscow next year to bring together opponents of same-sex marriage and abortion to “redeem that building” in reverence of Russia’s “commitment to deep spirituality as a hope for natural family supporters from all over the world.” According to Roberta Sklar of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the American anti-gay activists “have lost their footing on U.S. soil and are trying to breathe life into a dying ideology abroad.”
Sadly, anti-gay and anti-abortion activists have not lost their footing on U.S. soil and are, in fact, digging in with a rash of threats and proposals that demonstrate their ideology is not dying at home. In fact, after State Senator Wendy Davis filibustered Texas Republican attempt to pass Draconian anti-abortion and anti-women’s choice legislation, evangelical Governor Rick Perry went on the attack and let Texans, and all Americans, know that the very issues the Founding Fathers fought to enact and preserve for American posterity are under attack. Perry transformed the meaning of the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech, expression, and assembly into “mob tactics, unprecedented anarchy, and breakdown of decency” to demonize opposition to imposition of bible-based edicts and justify taking action against Americans exercising their Constitutional rights. Perhaps evangelical Rick can travel to Moscow and get advice from Vladimir Putin on how to pass legislation to thwart free expression, assembly, and free speech he labels “anarchy” and “mob rule.”
As pointed out here Tuesday, Perry’s Lt. Governor, David Dewhurst, reminded an interviewer on Sunday that there are already Texas laws to silence opposition; especially journalists. Dewhurst cautioned media that “we have a provision in our rules that if people do not deport themselves with decorum (read silence), I’m going to take action against them and imprison them up to 48 hours.” Dewhurst’s threat is in line with new legislation Russian repressionist Vladimir Putin just signed into law and should be a wake-up call to Americans that religious extremists will, if given the opportunity, abolish Constitutional provisions the Founding Fathers insisted were part and parcel of being a nation of free people. Unfortunately for Americans, the push to thwart Constitutional freedoms is not limited to Texas.
During the campaign for the presidency last year, every major Republican candidate, including Willard Romney, signed on to the National Organization for Marriage’s pledge of allegiance and obedience to subvert the Constitution and any American who failed to adhere to the organization’s religious-based edicts. The signers pledged to enact a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, nominate U.S. Supreme Court and federal bench judges committed to reject the idea of a right to gay marriage, and establish a presidential commission on religious liberty to investigate Americans who have been harassed or threatened for organizing, speaking, donating or voting for marriage and to propose new protections. Although the entire NOM pledge is abhorrent, the last aspect poses the greatest danger to gay and same-sex marriage advocates. Anti-gay crusaders regard supporting marriage equality as harassment and a threat to their religious liberty, and a presidential commission empowered to “propose new protections” portends “crackdowns on gay rights supporters,” that, like Texas’s Lt. Governor’s threat, would mean imprisonment for Americans exercising their right of freedom of speech and peaceably to assemble.
It is possible America has faced home-grown threats to democracy in the past, but never to the extent the people are witnessing today. Freedom of speech and assembly are labeled “anarchy” and “mob rule,” journalists threatened with imprisonment by evangelical politicians, and opponents of marriage equality look with admiration to Vladimir Putin for clues on how to crackdown on gay rights in America. There are two significant factors driving the elimination of democracy and constitutional rights; Republicans and religious extremists in the states, and if any American thinks the fascists will not enact crackdowns at the national level they are either blind or willing participants in what will be the end of democracy. Republicans in states, with the blessing of the ALEC Supreme Court, have already taken major steps to eliminate voting rights, and in state after state women are being denied their right to reproductive health choices. Republicans are openly defying the Supreme Court’s gay rights decisions as “anti-biblical ideologies,” and using religious language to force women into becoming perpetual birth machines.
Americans should enjoy Independence Day, and likely one or two will reflect on the freedoms the Founders fought to provide for future generations of Americans. However, with conservatives teaching America’s students revisionist religious history, transform freedom of speech and assembly into “anarchy” and “mob rule,” and “social conservatives” seek Russian guidance to crackdown on liberty, the freedoms Americans once enjoyed will only be a reflection. Sadly, while the people wave their flags, watch fireworks, and attend parades, Republicans and “social conservatives” are hard at work assaulting liberty with impunity. Happy Fourth of July.