Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rules From The Manual of Phelpsian Publicity Followed By Reverend Terry Jones

He Got What He Wanted From Taking 
The Fabulous Fred Phelps Course
In Demagoguery And Publicity

UPDATE (2:15PM - PDT) The Reverend Terry Jones has just called off his "International Burn A Koran Day". Millions of people are relieved. Now, of course, pundits and preachers will keep him in the news for at least the next several days. Until he comes up with another "stunt" (as the President called it). 

UPDATE (7:15pm - PDT) The "stunt" might be on again, so Jones is  saying that it has been "suspended." It seems that he assumed he would be flown over to New York for a confab with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. He assumed wrong.

The analysis of this "stunt" should begin with comparisons to that master of insult and public outrage, Fed Phelps. And the parallels of Rev. Terry Jones To Fred Phelps are, well, scary: it's already been documented that Jones is, in a way, a student of Phelps. And now that his exploits in Germany have become national news fodder, Jones has the same international cache of a religious martinet and demigod that Phelps has cultivated all these years. And some say the pupil might have outdistanced his trainer:

Civil War-mustachioed Florida preacher man Terry Jones backed off his plans to burn the Islamic religious text on Saturday. So, after calling out Jones for stealing their church's 2008 attention-grabbing ploy, Phelps-Roper and her kin are picking up where Jones left off.

"The false prophet Terry Jones caved--like all false prophets do, and like we told you he would," Phelps-Roper bragged.
Some might argue that Jones still has a way to go in emulating Phelps, but let's face it: Jones definitely got what he wanted - PUBLICITY. For better or worse, his number of followers has grown exponentially and some are even calling him a "hero." He's solidified his base. 

He'll probably get a book deal.

So what are some of the rules/advisories that Jones cadged from Phelps? I've laid out the obvious ones.

From The Manual Of Phelpsian Publicity:

1. Plan an outrageously insulting event, like book burning or protesting at military funerals.
2. Make people angry enough for them to do most of the publicity work for you. Having religious leaders scorn you is OK, but get some celebrities, too. Angelina Jolie, for example.
3. Site all sorts of insane reasons for your actions, but always end up blaming God. That's easily done by putting words in God's mouth, like "God hates fags."
4. Be consistent. When you've got a good thing going, keep doing it the same way all the time. It's called "branding."
5. Make sure those apostate relatives don't get to the media before you do, if at all. They tend to spoil things. If they say that you beat them when they were kids, tell the media that they're lying, shake your head and tell them how sad you are that your children have been led astray.
6. Memorize no more than a dozen passages of scripture that support you and your actions. Anything more is unnecessary. If you get hit with a difficult question, just make something up and cite an obscure book of the Bible like Hosea. Who reads the Bible anyway?
7. Be proud of your ignorance. When asked a complicated question, hold your head up high and tell them that the Lord hasn't given you an answer to that one...yet.
8. Use your family at all times, except, of course, the ones who've run away.
9. Maintain your core group in a compound. And since America always strains to believe the little guy, it's OK if the compound is made up of small houses or trailers. Million-dollar estates tend to put people off.
10. Have a phobia, any kind of phobia. America's full of phobias. Find one and stick with it.
11. Get ostracized  by another country. This is always good publicity - it shows that people think you have influence.

And last: 

12. Keep repeating all of the above until you reach the Supreme Court.

America's Got Hypocrisy: Who's The Best At Screaming TOLERANCE! Loud Enough?

In a way, Terry Jones, the Florida Pastor of a pitiful 50-member congregation, has done a big favor to progressives everywhere: his Quran-burning pledge has rooted out the hypocrites and reinforced our views of the hardcore bigots. Many of the people who have made a cottage industry out of demonizing Muslims and Islam are competing with each other to see who can shout "tolerance" "brotherly love" "American values" and "Christian" while vilifying Jones as "un-Christian" "contemptible" "disgusting" and "bainless."

It should come as no surprise that the loudest voices come from the most bloviating bunch of bigots, the Southern Baptist Convention. Leading the pack to give the affair a slight down-home ambience was Greg Magruder, senior pastor of Parkview Baptist Church in Gainesville. He set the tone for the rest in giving the most whitewashed (pun intended) portrait of Southern Baptists:

Magruder, whose church is aligned with both the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Southern Baptist Convention, said Baptists have historically stood for religious freedom for everyone.
"Therefore, I stand with my Muslim, Jewish and Christian friends here today and plead on the basis of all our sacred texts that the Gainesville community commit to love God, love your neighbor and promote religious liberty for all," Magruder said at the Sept. 2 press conference. "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Have you stopped laughing yet? Who can forget the famous statement made by then-president Bailey Smith: "God Almighty Does Not Hear The Prayers Of A Jew"!! And the anti-Muslim statements made by some of your top 10 favorites make any statement of brotherly love look as if it must be coming from Mars:
Jerry Falwell on 60 Minutes:  “I think Muhammad was a terrorist."
Pat Robertson: "Islam wants to take over the world and is not a religion of peace."
Franklin Graham: "an evil and wicked religion." 
And let's not forget Rod Parsley's famous statement that America was created "to destroy Islam.

Of course, that was then and this is now:
Chuck Colson: "I find Jones’s plan to burn the Koran foolish and contemptible,"
Rev. Richard Cizik of New Evangelical Partnership: "I say, 'Shame on you,'"
John Hagee:  in a letter to Jones dated Sept. 7, : "What you propose to do is an absolute violation of to the Bible." 
Richard Land, director of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission: "I think it is appalling, disgusting, and brainless."
Pat Robertson: "This guy is looking for attention. He's looking for publicity. … I think it's horrible what this guy is doing."
Hey, the fun's just starting and the bandwagon is immense. 

But the show might have a few laggards and "no-shows." Some truly hardcore Muslim-haters are having a hard time making up their minds on how to approach this situation: as of this writing there is no word from Rod Parsley, Franklin Graham, Lou Engle, Tony Perkins, and Ken Copeland to name a few. That arbiter of everything moral (therefore chief Muslim-hater) Bryan Fischer, has chimed-in in his usual backhanded way:
But the response to Rev. Jones' plan proves something we have been saying from the beginning: Islam is a religion of violence, not a religion of peace.
There is irony in that perhaps the best, most heartfelt and genuine contribution to the criticism of  Jones and the affair comes from Richard Eubank, leader of the VFW:

"There is nothing to be gained and everything to lose from this selfish act. Our war is against a small number of religious extremists who kill indiscriminately and without remorse. Let's not allow an equally small number of religious extremists in America to widen the war." 

While I'm sure Mr. Eubank defines Terry Jones and his "flock" of sheep-like bigots as a "small number" we should perhaps include in that group the hyper-hypocrites who have demonized Islam while extolling the virtues of having freedom of religion.

UPDATE: Pastor Jones has a lot more in common with Fred Phelps than when people first started to compare the two. So stay tuned - there's a lot more to this show!