Extra Lazy Saturday Afternoon Reads: Bobby Jindal’s CrusadePosted: February 7, 2015
Yesterday, Dakinikat wrote a very good post about the right wing’s hysterical response to President Obama’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast about violence in the name of religion. And predictably, her nemesis Gov. Bobby Jindal released a statement chiding the President later in the day.
Here’s what Jindal had to say, from the WaPo:
“It was nice of the President to give us a history lesson at the Prayer breakfast,” Jindal said. “Today, however, the issue right in front of his nose, in the here and now, is the terrorism of Radical Islam, the assassination of journalists, the beheading and burning alive of captives. We will be happy to keep an eye out for runaway Christians, but it would be nice if he would face the reality of the situation today. The Medieval Christian threat is under control, Mr. President. Please deal with the Radical Islamic threat today.”
If Jindal really wants to “keep an eye out for runaway Christians,” maybe he ought to take a look in the mirror. I could go on and and on about modern right wing Christian terrorism, but I won’t–I’ll just give you a few examples below.
Apparently Jindal and the rest of his fellow “conservative” whiners have managed to ignore the Ku Klux Klan–a self-proclaimed [Protestant] Christian organization that is still active today–along with the Christian Identity Movement; abortion clinic bombings and murders of abortion doctors by “God-fearing” Christians; and mass-murders by self-proclaimed Christians like Andres Brevik and Timothy McVeigh, (a Catholic). Again, I could go on and on, but I’ll just offer this top-ten list from Raw Story: America’s 10 worst terror attacks by Christian fundamentalists and far-right extremists.
From Fox News to the Weekly Standard, neoconservatives have tried to paint terrorism as a largely or exclusively Islamic phenomenon. Their message of Islamophobia has been repeated many times since the George W. Bush era: Islam is inherently violent, Christianity is inherently peaceful, and there is no such thing as a Christian terrorist or a white male terrorist. But the facts don’t bear that out. Far-right white male radicals and extreme Christianists are every bit as capable of acts of terrorism as radical Islamists, and to pretend that such terrorists don’t exist does the public a huge disservice. Dzhokhar Anzorovich Tsarnaev and the late Tamerlan Anzorovich Tsarnaev (the Chechen brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombing of April 15, 2013) are both considered white and appear to have been motivated in part by radical Islam. And many terrorist attacks in the United States have been carried out by people who were neither Muslims nor dark-skinned.
When white males of the far right carry out violent attacks, neocons and Republicans typically describe them as lone-wolf extremists rather than people who are part of terrorist networks or well-organized terrorist movements. Yet many of the terrorist attacks in the United States have been carried out by people who had long histories of networking with other terrorists. In fact, most of the terrorist activity occurring in the United States in recent years has not come from Muslims, but from a combination of radical Christianists, white supremacists and far-right militia groups.
I’ll just list the incidents listed in the article, and you can read more about them at the link.
1. Wisconsin Sikh Temple massacre, Aug. 5, 2012.
2. The murder of Dr. George Tiller, May 31, 2009.
3. Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church shooting, July 27, 2008.
4. The murder of Dr. John Britton, July 29, 1994.
5. The Centennial Olympic Park bombing, July 27, 1996.
6. The murder of Barnett Slepian by James Charles Kopp, Oct. 23, 1998.
7. Planned Parenthood bombing, Brookline, Massachusetts, 1994.
8. Suicide attack on IRS building in Austin, Texas, Feb. 18, 2010.
9. The murder of Alan Berg, June 18, 1984.
10. Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing, April 19, 1995.
Can anyone make a similar list of atheist terrorist attacks?
Read more below the fold . . .
Back to the WaPo article cited above:
Jindal also seized the moment to accuse the president of failing to deal with terrorism abroad.
“Today, however, the issue right in front of his nose, in the here and now, is the terrorism of Radical Islam, the assassination of journalists, the beheading and burning alive of captives,” he said.
I guess what Jindal and his compatriots want is a president who will give a fire-breathing sermon touting Christianity as the one true religion and condemning anyone who believes differently as an enemy of the state. But the President’s job is to defend and uphold the Constitution, a document that Jindal obviously hasn’t bothered to read.
Just to put what the President said in context, here is the section of the speech in which Obama talked about religion and violence:
As we speak, around the world, we see faith inspiring people to lift up one another — to feed the hungry and care for the poor, and comfort the afflicted and make peace where there is strife. We heard the good work that Sister has done in Philadelphia, and the incredible work that Dr. Brantly and his colleagues have done. We see faith driving us to do right.
But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge — or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon. From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for faith, their faith, professed to stand up for Islam, but, in fact, are betraying it. We see ISIL, a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism — terrorizing religious minorities like the Yezidis, subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, and claiming the mantle of religious authority for such actions.
We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe, so often perpetrated in the name of religion.
So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities — the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends?
Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ. Michelle and I returned from India — an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity — but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs — acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation.
So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. In today’s world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God compels us to try. And in this mission, I believe there are a few principles that can guide us, particularly those of us who profess to believe.
And, first, we should start with some basic humility. I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt — not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.
Our job is not to ask that God respond to our notion of truth — our job is to be true to Him, His word, and His commandments. And we should assume humbly that we’re confused and don’t always know what we’re doing and we’re staggering and stumbling towards Him, and have some humility in that process. And that means we have to speak up against those who would misuse His name to justify oppression, or violence, or hatred with that fierce certainty. No God condones terror. No grievance justifies the taking of innocent lives, or the oppression of those who are weaker or fewer in number.
And so, as people of faith, we are summoned to push back against those who try to distort our religion — any religion — for their own nihilistic ends. And here at home and around the world, we will constantly reaffirm that fundamental freedom — freedom of religion — the right to practice our faith how we choose, to change our faith if we choose, to practice no faith at all if we choose, and to do so free of persecution and fear and discrimination.
There’s wisdom in our founders writing in those documents that help found this nation the notion of freedom of religion, because they understood the need for humility. They also understood the need to uphold freedom of speech, that there was a connection between freedom of speech and freedom of religion. For to infringe on one right under the pretext of protecting another is a betrayal of both.
Maybe Obama’s words were too reasonable for Jindal to comprehend? Or maybe he really believes that the U.S. should be a Christian-only nation? More likely, he’s just an amoral, failed politician trying to pander to the worst elements of American society.
Jindal himself has been traveling around doing something like what he suggests Obama should do–he’s just not a very good preacher or speech-maker. From CNN on January 21 of this year: Bobby Jindal slams ‘no-go zones,’ pushes ‘assimilation.’
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday stood by his criticism of so-called “no-go” zones in Europe, where sovereign nations allegedly cede authority to Muslim immigrants, a controversial idea that many critics say is overblown.
And the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate decried what he called immigrants’ insistence on “non-assimilation, the fact that “you’ve got people who want to come to our country but not adopt our values,” which he called “dangerous.”
But pressed for specific examples of such no-go zones, Jindal demurred, saying he had met with “elected officials and others” to discuss them and noted a report in UK tabloid the Daily Mailthat purported to highlight the challenges facing law enforcement in such areas.
“I knew by speaking the truth we were gonna make people upset,” Jindal told Blitzer.
Jindal was also unable to offer examples during an earlier interview with CNN’s Max Foster, saying that he’s “heard from folks here that there are neighborhoods where women don’t feel comfortable going in without veils … We all know that there are neighborhoods where police are less likely to go into.”
“I think that the radical Left absolutely wants to pretend like this problem is not here. Pretending it’s not here won’t make it go away,” he told Foster.
Pressed for details, Jindal said only, “I think your viewers know absolutely there are places where the police are less likely to go.”
Hmmmm. . . that sounds to me like not-so-subtle race baiting from the whitewashed Louisiana Governor.
Here’s an interesting piece on Jindal’s response to Obama’s speech by Jonathan Chait: All This Talk of the Crusades Puts Bobby Jindal in a Crusading State of Mind.
…rebuking the Inquisition and, especially, the Crusades places Obama in opposition to a powerful strain of right-wing American Christian chauvinism. It is commonplace for conservatives who invoke the Crusades (which, to be sure, sits well down the list of their preferred topics) to defend them. (See, for instance, this classic National Review pro-Crusades column, of which numerous similar examples can be found.) And so, by this line of thinking, even to compare radical Islam to the murderous Christian extremists of 800 years ago unduly insults the Christian faith.
Into this fertile political territory has stepped Bobby Jindal, a 2016 presidential candidate who has positioned himself as the voice of the right-wing id, rebuking mainstream conservatives for their alleged spinelessness and identifying himself with all kinds of notably reactionary stances. One of those stances is as religious warrior, framing American foreign policy in the clash-of-civilization terms that American Christian chauvinists favor. Jindal picks fights with the Muslim religion in the insensitive terms his supporters crave (“Let’s be honest here; Islam has a problem”). He repeats discredited conspiracy theories about “Muslim no-go zones.” Obama’s comments provide him the perfect opportunity to replenish his Christian warrior bona fides.
I love the notion of Jindal wanting to be the “voice of the right-wing id.” It’s difficult to believe that Jindal, an educated man, truly believes much of what he says. It’s easier for me to believe that he has completely sold his soul in an attempt to gain political power.
Here’s Chait’s conclusion:
In a prepared statement, Jindal rebukes Obama, “The Medieval Christian threat is under control, Mr. President.” It’s true — as long as Jindal is out of the White House.
Wow. Luckily for us, Jindal has no chance in hell of becoming president.
One more article about Jindal’s claims about no-go zones by David Neiwert, an expert on right wing militias and hate speech: ‘No Go’ Zones Were First Made in America. Neiwert sees Jindal’s behavior as a deliberate strategy by right wingers to project their own hateful ideas and behavior onto those they disagree with.
Projection, I have observed more than once, is more than a mere trait of the American right wing, it’s a conscious strategy designed to marginalize their opposition and open the field to nearly any behavior it chooses.
One of the more revealing instances of this projection is the sudden rise of claims from various right-wing elements that radical Muslim immigrants in both Europe and the United State have created “no go zones” where “Sharia Law” is enforced and where white non-Muslims are unwelcome and unsafe. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has made something of a national ass of himself touting these claims, which of course originate deep in the fetid cesspools of the far right.
And it is telling that all this talk about “no go zones” is arising even as anti-Muslim hate crimes are spiking (with the help of the gung-ho war film American Sniper). The even broader context is that this talk is occurring even as more people are opening discussions about the ongoing influence of white privilege in both our discourse and our polity, spurring angry denials from the right that such privilege even exists.
So perhaps it is not surprising to see the persistence of these beliefs on the right, thanks in no small part to the ongoing disinformation spewing out of our TVs on Fox News on a daily basis.
That alone tells us these ideas emanate from the ugly, pestilent id of right-wing American politics, the lizard-brain component of the electorate that denies the toxic presence of racism and bigotry in our social fabric even as it spreads it. It is innately irrational, morally corrupt, and projects all of its own worst tendencies onto its enemies at the drop of a hat.
In other words, from the same dark underbelly of white American culture that invented the “no go zones.”
Neiwert is referring to “sundown towns,” cities in which anyone who was not white had to be outside the city limits or face the threat of beatings or lynchings. Ferguson, Missouri was once a sundown town. Please go read the whole thing, and if you’re interest check out the book Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, by James Loewen.
As for Gov. Jindal, perhaps he should go back to the state he supposedly leads, and figure out how to deal with his budget crisis.
So . . . those are my rambling thoughts for today. What stories are you following?