Monday, December 21, 2009
Sarah Palin is an Evita Peron Lipstick Fascist, Republicans Hate America and How Dare They Call us Names
Frank Schaeffer is a religious Christian and a member of the Greek Orthodox Church. As he often likes to point out, he is the son of the late Francis Schaeffer and helped create the modern religious right during the 1970s and early 1980s, before turning on the movement. He is a strong supporter of President Barack Obama and a vocal critic of Republicans, the religious right, Tea Baggers and Libertarians. He calls Sarah Palin "our home grown very own Evita Perón" and "the new face of Lipstick Fascism." The Republican Party is castigated for being "the enemy of America" and "an insurrection against law, living and love." According to Schaeffer, Jesus hates American Christians for their "war against the poor who have no health care" and for how they have treated "the downtrodden gays scorned and mocked by society." I am not here to criticize Frank Schaeffer's politics. I have no great love for the Republican Party, the religious right or for Sarah Palin. For my own part I fail to see how Libertarians fit into all of this and wish he would leave us alone. I see Sarah Palin as an inexperienced and naïve small time politician, who ended up, by circumstance, way over her head as governor of Alaska and then really over her head as a vice-presidential candidate. I certainly have no desire to see her in the White House in the near future.
I do believe that it is important to be open and honest about our political beliefs and that means being willing to pay the full consequences for what one believes. Unlike the parlor trick that politicians play when they talk about being for things (whether it is motherhood, apple pie, family values or a strong America), intellectual honesty requires the recognition of that everything comes at the expense of something else. This is most obvious in terms of finances (every dollar spent on health care is a dollar not being spent fighting the war in Iraq), but this also goes for ideology. Schaeffer expresses his horror that Christian opponents of Obama would wear t-shirts sporting Psalms 109:8: "May his days be few; may another take his office" as a "prayer" for Obama. The next verse is "May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow." Schaeffer is certainly justified when he wonders whether this is code for a call to assassination. My only request from Schaeffer is that he willingly turn the sniper-scope upon his own words.
What would it mean for us to take his very words about Palin and Republicans seriously? Forgive my Asperger syndrome, which causes me to read things very literally and matter of factly. Take the example of Sarah Palin; let us assume that Schaeffer is right and that she is a fascist and the tip of the iceberg of a vast conspiracy being hatched by Rupert Murdoch and Franklin Graham to take over the United States, subvert the democratic process and install a fascist theocracy. (In essence of having the bad manners of plotting to take over the world and not allowing Jews like me to be in on it.) If this is the case then clearly we have an emergency situation where the Constitution is under threat and extra constitutional measures become acceptable for its long term salvation. I would give the examples of Phineas in the book of Numbers, of Mathias in Maccabees and Jack Bauer in the television show 24. (We can debate the relative sacredness of each of these examples.) Frank Schaeffer! I am calling you because I have Sarah Palin in the crosshairs of my sniper-rifle and I wish to know whether I should pull the trigger or not. Can you give me a principled reason not to take the shot? By principled I mean to exclude all arguments from pragmatism. It means nothing if you tell me not to do it simply because I might get caught, this might embarrass the movement or that Palin can be defeated by less drastic measures. These arguments would rightfully be dismissed as dodging the real issue at hand, the morality and even the necessity of assassinating Sarah Palin in order to save American democracy. Either Frank Schaeffer is calling for the elimination of Sarah Palin or he is just mouthing off and defaming a politician above and beyond what she actually deserves.
This goes further. What can all those on the right, acting in good faith, assume about Frank Schaeffer and his president? Since Schaeffer has given a hit order against their leadership, while lacking the intellectual honesty to openly admit to what he has done, it would seem an act of necessary self defense to come after Schaeffer, his people and his president. Both sides can, in the hope of defending our constitutional process, abandon peaceful democratic elections and turn to civil war; just as long as we keep things civilized.
Just as Schaeffer is willing to implicitly approve of violence in the name of condemning violence from the other side, he brings in his own form of religious totalitarianism in the name of defeating the Christian right. As a libertarian, I believe in the importance of charity, to make sure that everyone has their basic needs, such as food and healthcare, taken care of. I believe that these things are handled best through private charity and not the government. Does this make me a bad "Christian?" (Besides for the fact that I am Jewish) Would someone with my political views be welcome into Frank Schaeffer's church? How is his willingness to turn health care into a religious issue not simply another type bringing religion into politics?
When I first found Schaeffer he seemed to me to be an interesting voice that could move beyond the traditional political lines. Since then he has clearly fallen to the temptations of the internet and the extremist rhetoric it encourages. The democratic process requires moderation and a willingness to give those in the opposition the benefit of the doubt. You cannot view the opposition as something satanic and still claim to work with them in a democratic system. Either you are lying or you lack the moral spine necessary to defend democracy in its time of crisis.