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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Westboro Hate Cult Wins Big, Rightwingers Too Busy With Their Own Hate to Notice

Westboro protesters
Hate won big yesterday as a court in Missouri declared a state ban on protests at military unconstitutional. The decision clears the way for a small Kansas cult to march around at funerals with signs that read "GOD HATES AMERICA!" and "THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS!" Why does God hate America, you might ask? Because we don't hate gay people nearly enough. Cult leader Fred Phelps says that our war dead are God's punishment for allowing gays to exist in America, which explains the additional "GOD HATES FAGS!" and "AIDS CURES FAGS!" signs. Of course, the thought of people dishonoring the memory of dead heroes (and they will do it, the ban was in reaction to previous protests) has the nation up in arms, with politicians of all stripes elbowing each other out of the way to to denounce the cult in question, Westboro Baptist Church.

Or so you'd hope. Our reality, however, is an entirely matter. Westboro's big win for hate was widely ignored, because another battle for hate was still being waged. That battle was much, much more important: some Muslims want to build a community center in the neighborhood of Ground Zero. This is apparently more outrageous than hate-cult zombies marching around the graves of veterans with signs that read "GOD BLEW UP THE TROOPS." Never mind that once Cordoba House is built (if it is built), you'll never hear about it again; we're all supposed to think that a mosque within walking distance of the former address of the World Trade Center is a bigger insult to the memories of heroes than people with signs actively trying to insult to the memories of heroes. If you need proof that political outrage is one of the few things still manufactured in America, I'd say the silence on Phelps and his hate-squad qualifies. No one on the right seems to care, despite the fact that the court's decision clears the way for a much greater insult to America and her defenders than anything that will ever come from a community center in a neighborhood most people will never even see.

But, of course, Phelps' hate is based in homophobia and there are more than a few on the right who are no less hateful toward gays, just more cautious in their approach. So Phelps presents a bit of a problem for the homophobic right; how to attack him without running to the defense of the dreaded Homosexual Menace? Better just to pretend he doesn't exist and attack the groups you hate in your own way and in your own time.

And the right has been wasting no time on that front. This has been called The Summer of Hate. As the Republican Party gets closer to election day, they become more and more insane. And the GOP has never -- not in my experience anyway -- been more of the nearly exclusively white Christian party that they are today. The Republican party holds an advantage in the generic ballot only in the south. And the people they've been attacking have either been insufficiently white or insufficiently Christian. Gays, Hispanics, blacks, and Muslims are all facing rightwing hatred these days, as the politics of hatred becomes the new wedge issue the Republican Party uses to divide the electorate. When Newt Gingrich compares an entire American demographic group to Nazis, you know you've left rationality far behind.

"If we had any sense, the fall elections would be about just one thing: the economy," writes Howard Fineman. "But we do not have any sense." What we have is just fear and hate.

...We are facing what Wall Street would call the "triple witching hour." Republicans have their finger on three social-demographic hot buttons. The first is illegal immigration (in proposing a review of the 14th Amendment), and the second is Islam in America (in objecting to the mosque at ground zero). They won't be able to avoid pushing the third, race, even if they wanted to, given that the two leading congressional Democrats facing ethics charges are African-American. The Democrats, in response, label the GOP xenophobic and intolerant -- and those are the nice words. If Barack Obama's inauguration -- could it have been only 19 months ago? -- was a moment of proud, blessed calm, we are now looking at a nasty, community-shredding season of fear.

I've mentioned before how cowardly the Republican base has become, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that the GOP have become fearmongers -- and that fearmongering leads to hatemongering. And our current crop of Democrats are such pansies that they won't stand up against it. Many Democrats say they were "blindsided" by President Obama's defense of the First Amendment. And they're complaining about it.

New York Daily News:

Several Democratic campaign operatives complained that without a heads-up, they did not have the time to war-game how to handle questions from the news media or GOP attacks.

"They did the right thing -- they just didn't do it the right way," lamented another Democratic source.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has spent three days on the phone doing damage control with angry Democrats and urging them not to go public against the President, Democratic sources said.

Yes, shame on the president for not assuming you were a bunch of wusses who couldn't be counted on to stand up for American principles. For his part, Senate majority leader Harry Reid completely fell apart on the news. I wish I could say I was surprised. The man has a spine of Silly Putty.

But the spinelessness of many Democrats is no excuse for Republicans. It isn't the other party's job to be their conscience. They are responsible for their own actions and their own words and they are responsible for the almost inevitable results of those actions and words.

So when the Westboro jerks start marching around at vets' funerals with their insulting signs, ask a rightwinger what they were doing the day that became possible. The odds are good they won't have any idea, since they completely ignored it. So go ahead and tell them -- they were busy hating everyone else. Then hand them a sign and tell them to join in.

Veterans will be the only people they have left to hate anyway, so why not just go all the way? Tell them to ahead and join Fred Phelps, the only person who's actually honest about his hatred.


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