Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rep. Giffords Shooting and the BOTW - Republican Gomorrah

      In a bizzare turn of events, one that I had not been planning - obviously - this weeks Book of the Week (BOTW) is quite pertinent to the situation that transpired in Arizona today. As many of you most likely know, Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords was allegedly shot by right-wing anarchist (or at least thats what it appears like from his Youtube Channel) Jared Loughner. Thankfully Representative Giffords is recovering in the hospital after being shot in the head, but this event underscores one of the major problems that exists within this country. Fear and the capitalization upon that Fear drive many within both the Tea Party as well as the social conservative crowd. This fear is accurately depicted in this weeks book: Republican Gomorrah by Max Blumenthal. Before I go any further, I would like to offer a disclaimer. Many people who read this might say that I am a left-wing blogger and that I am squarely in the hands of the Democrats. On the contrary, I style myself as a political moderate, who gladly will call individuals of either party to account. This week, it just happens to be the Republicans, which fall on my bad side alot in this blog because of its gay rights focus.

      Max Blumenthal makes the case that the Republican Party since the 1970's has been taken over by the fear-mongering social conservative movement. Though I would disagree with his approach to the issue, he does hit upon a key concept: Fear. Fear my friends, is what drives the social conservative movement, as well as politics in general. There must always be an enemy to battle against, and if there isn't one must be created. From Robertson to Fallwell to Dobson, Blumenthal makes the case that it is the attacking of groups that have led to the power of the Republican party. What else can explain the GOP's animosity towards gays and lesbians, immigrants, and Muslims?

      What is the consequence of this animosity and this control by the manipulating social conservatives? It is a party that is so repressed that it must act out. Hence why there were so many scandals involving Republican Senators and House members over sexual contact with other men etc. Blumenthal ends the book with a look at the rise of Sarah Palin and the influence that religion has had upon her. Scary stuff I must say. Though the book was written right after the 2008 elections, and before the influence of the Tea Party movement came on the national stage, I am sure that Blumenthal would agree that the Republicans traded one manipulative fear for another. They have "abandoned" the social conservatives - only for a bit though - and have instead embraced the "fear" of socialism and communism. A fear that has led to Republican candidates such as Sharron Angle to advocate for "Second Amendment Remedies"....or what we are seeing right now with the Giffords situation.

      Am I saying that Republicans are the cause of the shooting. Not at all, for individuals are responsible for their actions, yet was the mind of the shooter encouraged or discouraged by the rhetoric that he saw blasted day in and day out from cable news and politicians? This should be the lesson that we gain from both Blumenthal's book as well as the shooting....words DO have consequences. We cannot just say something and expect that everything will be ok, that others will not take literally what we say and what we advocate. This is why the Christian Right is so dangerous to the LGBT movement and why statements like Sharron Angles are dangerous to government as a whole. It is because of this danger that we must be very carefull of what we say, to ensure that we are not contributing to the harmful rhetoric that is spouted off around us.

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