Thursday, March 20, 2008

Michael Gerson's Open Hypocrisy

Let's take a look at some Gerson quotes from a Fox News interview by Megyn Kelly.
But the reality is that Wright is not a representative of the African-American community, he's an extremist. He's talked about AIDS being, you know, a plot by the American government to destroy people of color, you know, blamed America for 9/11. These things are not the mainstream of the African-American tradition. He's not a symbol of these things, he's an extremist.
Now let's take a look at some of the Republican ministers who, in Gerson's mind, are free to endorse and embrace Republican candidates - and who Republican candidates need not repudiate. On God punishing us for our sins:
  • Pat Robertson: "I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don't think I'd be waving those [gay pride] flags in God's face if I were you. This is not a message of hate - this is a message of redemption. But a condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation. It'll bring about terrorist bombs. It'll bring earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor."
  • John Hagee: "All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are - were recipients of the judgment of God for that. The newspaper carried the story in our local area that was not carried nationally that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades. So I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing."
  • Jerry Falwell: "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America - I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this [9/11] happen.'"
  • John Hagee: "As a nation, America is under the curse of God."
  • Jerry Falwell: "AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."
  • John Hagee: "AIDS began in African prisons, where thousands of men, deprived of normal sex, turned to perverted sex. From the infection created by this perverted sex came the infection that birthed AIDS."
On natural disasters and terrorist acts, the distinction between Wright and the extremists Gerson deems acceptable appears to be that it is unacceptable to suggest that government policy is sinful and might inspire vengeful response, but it is acceptable to argue that God will smite people en masse because some of their neighbors engage in acts the minister (and probably Gerson) regard as sinful.

And for AIDS, it's not acceptable to say that the U.S. Government created AIDS, but it is acceptable to say that it was created by God as a plague on homosexuals and those who tolerate them. To me, you know, the former position sounds silly and ill-informed, and the latter sounds like... blasphemy. And it is apparently acceptable to assert that AIDS arose out of "perverted sex" in "African prisons", so Gerson appears to have no problem with ministers taking positions that are scientifically ludicrous and arguably racist... against Africans.
Well, uh, I guess I would say that somebody who believes the United States government is guilty of genocide is not a fierce critic. He's a dangerous man.
A dangerous man....
  • Pat Robertson (to Joel Mowbray): "I read your book. When you get through, you say, "If I could just get a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottom, I think that's the answer." I mean, you get through this, and you say, "We've got to blow that thing up."
  • Pat Robertson: "Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It's no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history."
So it's acceptable to speak of committing a terrorist act to blow up the State Department, or to suggest that the U.S. Government is engaged in a worse genocide than the Holocaust, but... I'm having trouble finding even a farcical point of distinction.
Um, and this is a, I think a genuine problem going forward. It undermines Obama's appeal to conservatives. It undermines his appeal to Jews because of this relationship with, of his Pastor's with Farrakan.
Ah yes, lest we forget the warm feelings emanating toward Jews from Gerson's acceptable extremists (and one who is considered not so extremist)....
  • John Hagee: "No one could see the horror of the Holocaust coming, but the force and fear of Hitler's Nazis drove the Jewish people back to the only home God ever intended for the Jews to have - Israel."
  • Jerry Falwell: "The Jews are returning to their land of unbelief. They are spiritually blind and desperately in need of their Messiah and Savior."
  • Billy Graham: " I go and I keep friends with [Abe] Rosenthal at the New York Times and people of that sort, you know. And all -- I mean, not all the Jews, but a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine, they swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I'm friendly with Israel. But they don't know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country. And I have no power, no way to handle them, but I would stand up if under proper circumstances."
  • John Hagee: "How utterly repulsive, insulting, and heartbreaking to God for His chosen people to credit idols with bringing blessings He had showered upon the chosen people. Their own rebellion had birthed the seed of anti-Semitism that would arise and bring destruction to them for centuries to come.... it rises from the judgment of God upon his rebellious chosen people."
I know I'm supposed to buy into the notion that ministers who believe in the "End of Days", and support a vision whereby all of the world's Jews move to Israel where they ultimately either convert to Christianity or perish in the sea of fire, are somehow Jew-friendly. But....
And it really does undermine his basic message that words of healing matter. Because these are words of hatred that he has been, you know, associated with now.
In excusing every Republican affiliation with religious extremism, Gerson makes plain that he has no genuine problem with mere "words of hatred". His goal here is not to merely depict Wright's statements as "words of hatred", but as "words of hatred" from a "scary black man". Gerson knows that to achieve his goals, that last part is all that matters.

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