Thursday, October 14, 2010

Demonizing America - Part 2: "Kill Them All! God Will Take Care Of His Kind!"

Like it or not, the concept of bullying has been with man since the very beginning of his existence. We called it "survival of the fittest," to rationalize terrorizing the weaker species. During ancient times, bullying took the form of slavery. It took the form of victors lording it over vanquished: male rape was seen as an excellent form of bullying as well as slavery, which, if one thinks about it, is perhaps the ultimate form of bullying. In the Bible,  the ultimate bully was embodied in Goliath, the man-mountain whom the Philistines sent out to daily harass and taunt the Hebrew armies. Some people argue, however, that the ultimate bully was the God of the Old Testament. Israel was His schoolyard. Look what He did to poor, defenseless Job!

On a bet with Satan.

Size and strength characterized bullies whether in personal size or number of soldiers in an army: Napoleon and Hitler were considered bullies by the relatively defenseless Eastern European countries: when Neville Chamberlain waved the paper treaty with Hitler in front of the Britons and declared "peace in our time,"  the Czechs cowered with the thoughts of the bully Nazi army  - which did, in fact, march into Czechoslovakia days later.

Whatever the form, however, bullying was always a state of the strong ruthlessly handling the weak.

Religious bullying is not new: if you think of one sect purposely taunting, terrorizing, then ultimately killing off another sect as bullying, then you're right. The first case of western civilization genocide was the bullying, then annihilation of the Cathars of Southern France. They were different than anyone else, wore different clothes, worshipped not in churches but out in fields, did not eat meat, did not believe in hierarchy such as bishops and were extremely good to their neighbors. Naturally, the pope hated them.

To publicize their heresy, they were forced by the Church to wear yellow crosses sewn onto their tunics (demonstrating that Hitler wasn't very original) and routinely had their hands cut off, the only reason being that the church considered them heretics. Their numbers continued to grow despite the vicissitudes imposed on them, until the pope had a plan: get together with the king of France, Louis the VIII,  take their lands and simply eradicate them. That's when the battle cry above was born: while beseiging the city of Beziers, one of Louis' commanders asked the papal legate how he could tell the 200 Cathars from the rest of the 15,000 Christian citizens of Beziers. The legate's answer went down in history: "Kill them all - God will take care of his kind." Louis and Clement's strategy claimed approximately 120,000 lives over a period of some 20 years, becoming the first genocide in modern history. It was known, of course, as the Albigensian "Crusade."* 

Revisionist "historians" of Christianity always seem to overlook the Albigensian Crusade, perhaps because it not only stained the church of the Middle Ages but because it also gave rise to another dark era of religious bullying: The Inquisition. For hundreds of years, men like the legendary Torquemada  carried out the bullying of Jews and Moors (Muslims) in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France and scattered places across the rest of Europe. 

I remember the evening I went to see the film adaptation of Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code. A nun was holding a makeshift sign that said "Lies, lies, lies!" But while the movie focused on the Church organization, Opus Dei, it did not touch upon the Albigensian Crusade to any substantial degree. That was, to me, the typical philosophy touted by almost all of America's religious leaders: never admit to anything and never, ever apologize. And if you have to apologize, do it when people won't remember what you're apologizing for. The Vatican recently apologized to a very dead Gallileo for imprisoning him, and the Southern Baptist Convention apologized for its part in the institution of slavery 140 years after the U.S. condemned and abolished the inhumane practice.

Just how many religious people in America know of the "dark side" of their religion?  The percentage would be closer to "0" than you think. Today's religion and yesterday's history aren't exactly friends, which is why we're seeing revisionists cropping up, so that people of faith need not apologize for anything. One wonders if people actually know about the first Christian theologian - Tertullian - and his last-minute conversion to Montanism or that many of the Vandals and Visigoths sacking Rome were Arian Christians.  How they would react to the stories about the concentration camps for pagans in Skythopolis, Syria?  Or the persecution of heretics? And for the last hundred years little has been made about Martin Luther's horrendous anti-Semitism (he wrote the seminal work, On The Jews and Their Lies)

Other instances of religious demonizing, then bullying, were the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre (40,000 "heretical" French Protestants massacred in one day), Native American Indian slavery ("ungodly heathens" forced to build and work on the California Missions - approximately 50,000), and Chatila (massacre of 1500 Muslims by Christian Phalangists). Bullying on a continuous scale came in the form of The Crusades (millions of Jews and Muslims killed in the an untold number of major wars, minor wars and massacres), Charlemagne's forced conversions of the Saxons (legend of Widukind) and in later years, the Russian pogroms and massacres of Jewish villages and settlements.

The worst incident at demonizing in history?  There are so many, but arguably the most vile was the "Blood Libel" of the Jews, so strongly entrenched into the European psyche that it took hundreds of years to convince Christians that Jews did not kill gentile children to drink their blood for secret ceremonies. (BTW, this gave rise to the Jewish Legend of the Golem)


Many people were demonized during the "Age of AIDS" (1982 - 2000).. PWAs ( People With AIDS -primarily gay men) were the new lepers since during the first years medical establishments and health organizations were uncertain about how contagious the virus was. There were a few faith-based agencies in San Francisco during the beginning and the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles stepped up to the plate in 1986, but so very many churches abstained from doling out compassion. They just weren't up to the courage of Father Damien.

The Christian Right's eagerness to demonize gays, politicians and non-Christians became evident with the like of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and Pat Robertson's 700 Club. Of course, statements from people like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms didn't hurt either:

Sen. Jesse Helms says the government should spend less money on people with AIDS because they got sick as a result of "deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct," The New York Times reported Wednesday....
- I have a zero tolerance for sanctimonious morons who try to scare people.
- I know one man who was impotent who gave AIDS to his wife and the only thing they did was kiss.
Such was the fervor of the Moral Majority at the time, that it seemed as if they danced in the streets while people were dying in the streets: "Thank you God, you have sent a plague to our enemies."


Probably the most obvious (and the most vicious) holdout as far as demonizing PWAs is concerned is the powerful Southern Baptist Convention. Almost thirty years after the start of the epidemic, the SBC still cannot point to the sponsorship of any faith-based agency dealing with AIDS this country. They lauded Mike Huckabee in 1996 when he wanted to quaranteen PWAs (the casual contact theory had been disproven years befor then, but Huckabee still pushed the quarnateen - to his own embarrassment years later). Today, they still follow Jesse Helms dictum that helping AIDS victims in Africa was fine because they were "all heterosexuals" while all AIDS victims in America were perverted sodomites.***

Next Up: 

Demonizing America - Part 3:  HELL HOUSES - Causing Teen Suicides Or Rescuing Souls?

* Scholar Steven Runciman wrote:
"High ideals were besmirched by cruelty and greed ... the Holy War was nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God".
 **"That massacre, said Pope Gregory XIII, gave him more pleasure than fifty Battles of Lepanto, and he commissioned Vasari to paint frescoes of it in the Vatican"."

***I may be wrong on this since my research is over a year old. 

Demonizing America - Part I: RECENT UPDATES TELL THE STORY

How they demonize. 
Who they demonize. 
Why they demonize. 
- A Four-Part Series
As a rule I define Christof***cists as existing in two groups: the Elmer Gantrys (Rick Warren, Pat Robertson, Creflo Dollar, Rod Parsley, etc.) who are snake oil salesmen in love with their own snake oil; and, the Elmer Fudds, the gullible and unwitting followers of the Gantrys, but no less dangerous since Fudd's the one with the gun.
                                                      - The Elephant In The Room, OpEdNews, 02/06/09

In colloquial usage, the term demonization is used metaphorically to refer to propaganda or moral panic directed against any individual or group.
We've seen the results: America is becoming a nation of the bullies and the bullied. For Religious Right groups and media personalities, for gubernatorial candidates and city councils, demonizing rhetoric is the weapon of choice to harass, discriminate, degrade and (sometimes) kill the people they think are a drain on their society. And although the recent spate of teen suicides in the country seems limited to issues of sexual orientation, demonization has seeped into the public consciousness and spilled over into issues of politics, race, immigration and class struggles. The "bully pulpit" has become firmly entrenched in our American psyche and it shows no evidence of abating. In fact, it's escalating. 

In the last year, we saw a new symptom of demonizing become part of our legal lexicon: righteous assassination. The term applies mostly to people who perceive someone's "immorality" to be evil and detrimental to the rest of the country. Byron Williams, the would-be terrorist against the ACLU and the Tides Foundation was about to commit "righteous assassination" when he was stopped on California's Interstate 80 outside of Oakland, CA. He mentioned inspiration from FOX-News and Glenn Beck (read the UPDATE below). And before that incident, we were horrified at a shooting at a Unitarian Church in Knoxville, TN because the accused "targeted the congregation out of hatred for its liberal social policies." 

Demonization works.

Tony Perkins and his Family Research Council have been very busy juggling demonizations of President Obama, DADT, the "gay agenda," health care reform, everyone "liberal," "activist judges" and, well, the list goes on and on; so it might seem that FRC is the only organization doing the demonizing. WRONG. It only seems that way, because the FRC has been quicker and more vocal. The other demonizers are still out there in full force, taking notes from Perkins. Case in point: what Perkins and the FRC did in the last 24 hours shows its dedication to A-1 demonizing:


The ruling by a Federal district judge that the policy of DADT in the military is unconstitutional has garnered quick response from RR bullies across the country.From the FRC:
Once again, homosexual activists have found a judicial activist who will aid in the advancement of their agenda.
"Homosexual activist", "judicial activist", "agenda." These are demonizing buzz-words coined by Mr. Perkins himself. They may not seem as powerful as other words, but one must realize that Perkins has been using these words in the context of "destruction" of family values, "destroying" America and "demoralizing" lovers of liberty. And Perkins has used "agenda" ever since he produced his pseudo-documentary "The Gay Agenda" in 1996. This putrid piece of anti-gay propaganda is still making the rounds of churches, proving that demonization can be profitable.

And Perkins' demonizing buzz-words will be aped by people like Bryan Fischer and Pat Robertson (the judge, of course, signed a pact with the devil).

Teen Suicide UPDATE:

Another gay teen-related suicide occurred in Norman, OK. This one apparently as a result of a city council meeting where anti-gay sentiments were strongly voiced. Zach Harrington, 19, committed suicide one week after he attended a Norman City Council meeting during which residents of Norman expressed displeasure at having Norman declare October as LGBT History Month.

[Van Harrington] feels his son may have glimpsed a hard reality at the Sept. 28 council meeting, a place where the same sentiments that quietly tormented him in high school were being shouted out and applauded by adults the same age as his own parents... Some members of the audience even suggested that any council members voting in favor of the proclamation may have trouble getting re-elected.
Sometimes the demonizers turn the tables and re-demonize: Tony Perkins recently reacted to the stories of gay teen suicides by relaying faulty and erroneous statistics showing that gays have greater mental health problems than heterosexuals in a WaPo op-ed piece:
[H]omosexual activist groups like GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) are exploiting these tragedies to push their agenda of demanding not only tolerance of homosexual individuals, but active affirmation of homosexual conduct and their efforts to redefine the family. There is an abundance of evidence that homosexuals experience higher rates of mental health problems in general, including depression. However, there is no empirical evidence to link this with society's general disapproval of homosexual conduct.
But there is evidence: Tony Perkins and all his minions have been busy demonizing homosexuals so much it's amazing that we don't have more teen suicides than we do. (NOTE: the latest suicides are only a part of the larger picture - teen suicide rates have been rising for years).

And his tactics are just as nefarious: the sources he cites have been critical  about Family Research Council's free-handed jumbling of their research and statistics.


Even though it has been only three hours into this writing, you KNOW that demonizing will take place concerning the latest news: (read Pam's House Blend for the full story)

“Florida has today done grave harm to the well-being of vulnerable children who will be raised in homes with role models who cannot provide them with the true vision of what family life should be,” Matt Sprigg, Family Research Council
That was FRC's last demonizing response to repealing the ban. 

Of course, we have yet to hear what the Perkins cabal has to say about the Washington Post's interview with domestic terrorist Byron Williams:

Glenn Beck UPDATE: 10/12/10 - 11:40 AM ET

Glenn Beck's nemesis, Media Matters, has just released an in-depth interview with Byron Williams, the man who engaged in a shootout with police on California's I-80 Interstate in Oakland when it was discovered that he intended to kill people at the ACLU and Tides Foundation in San Francisco. Previously, in an Oct. 6th interview, Williams stated that Glenn Beck did not coax him to violence, but the just-released audio interviews reveal the extent Beck had indeed demonized the Tides Foundation and the ACLU. Columnist Dana Millbank, writing for the Washington Post conducted the interviews:

The columnist calls Beck an “enabler” and says the FOX host is dangerous because  “his is the one voice in the mass media that validates conspiracy theories held by the unstable.” 
Byron Williams was the perfect example of an Elmer Fudd. He was someone willing to do whatever the RR bullies and Glenn Beck wanted him to do: act on their rhetoric without being directly implicated.

Up next: The long history of demonizing.