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February 3rd, 2008

Yes Bruce, But You’re Part Of The Problem…

That would be Bruce Bower I’m referring too, not yours truly.  Bower, who wrote in Stealing Jesus how Christian fundamentalists have turned Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness into a religion utterly devoid of love let alone forgiveness, is loosing his mind.  And the first hint you get of that in his latest essay, First They Came For The Gays, is that he’s writing now for the 101st Fighting Keyboarders over at Pajamas Media.

Reading Sebastian Haffner’s disturbing memoir, Defying Hitler, I learned two facts that were surprising to me.  First, that the German people were delivered into the tender mercies of the Nazis, not by a bunch of weak kneed decadent liberal appeasers, but with the systematic destruction of the Weimar constitution by a series of right wing governments, each of which had declared that harsh measures had to be taken to protect Germany from extremists.  And secondly, that the Communist menace was, by the time the Reichstag was burning down, almost completely toothless.  It’s leaders and followers had been decimated by a series of anti-labor pogroms in the previous decade. 

As it turned out, the communist menace was a convenient scarecrow various right wing governments waved in people’s faces, so it could do away with those constitutional rights and guarantees it found inconvenient.  Not that people weren’t seriously afraid of the Communists…they were.  But the actual menace to Germany, the domestic one, the Nazis, had much more in common with the rightist governments then people cared to notice.  The argument was always that stern measures were needed to quell domestic unrest.  But by 1932 that unrest was almost exclusively the work of the Nazis, not the Communists.  The grim irony I discovered in Haffner’s book, was that if there was any appeasement going on back then in Germany, it was at the hands of the right who kept trying to appease the fanatics on Their right with the piecemeal dismantling of the democracy the Nazis detested, in order to save Germany from fanatics like…well…the Nazis.  But they didn’t save it from extremism, so much as grease the skids for it.  Here’s a clue for you Bruce: You don’t defend democracy, by abolishing it piecemeal.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Bower, an American of my own generation who has since migrated to Norway, a gay conservative who just co-incidentally has a new book out titled, While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within, plays his part:

The reason for the rise in gay bashings in Europe is clear – and it’s the same reason for the rise in rape. As the number of Muslims in Europe grows, and as the proportion of those Muslims who were born and bred in Europe also grows, many Muslim men are more inclined to see Europe as a part of the umma (or Muslim world), to believe that they have the right and duty to enforce sharia law in the cities where they live, and to recognize that any aggression on their part will likely go unpunished. Such men need not be actively religious in order to feel that they have carte blanche to assault openly gay men and non-submissive women, whose freedom to live their lives as they wish is among the most conspicuous symbols of the West’s defiance of holy law.

Multiculturalists can’t face all this. So it is that even when there are brutal gay-bashings, few journalists write about them; of those who do, few mention that the perpetrators are Muslims; and those who do mention it take the line that these perpetrators are lashing out in desperate response to their own oppression.

The "Multiculturalists" Bower refers to here, and throughout, are strawmen.  But more to the point, they are a standard right wing strawman.  And that strawman is intended not so much to discredit multiculturalism, as democracy, and its bedrock of liberty and justice for all.  In the name of sounding the alarm over the rise of anti-gay violence in Europe, Bower attaches that violence indiscriminately to a people, and to an entire religion.  And in doing so he smears, backhandedly, cowardly, in the very manner of the anti-democratic subversive he claims to be standing proudly against, the central idea of democracy itself: that all citizens are equals under the law.

To claim that multiculturalism means tolerating honor rape equally with women’s freedom is pathetic bar stool sophistry, on the order of arguing that anti-lynching laws are just as much the product of bigotry as the lynchings themselves.  This boilerplate right wing bar stool doggerel not only cheapens the political conversation, it means to actively shut it down.  It’s Orwell’s black is white, up is down, doublespeak.  And the idea here isn’t to discredit tolerance, but democracy.  Where the promise of democracy belongs only to some, it belongs to no one.  Except, perhaps, the ones who decide who is in, and who isn’t.  The Europeans are painfully aware of exactly where that leads.

And that’s probably the brick wall that Bower, an American of my own generation, keeps hitting when he babbles on and on about how the Europeans need to wake up to the Islamist Menace, like he thinks he’s Paul Revere and not Father Coughlin.  The events leading up to World War II in Europe are not so distant that the people over there have forgotten what happens when you start stigmatizing minorities, and Bower isn’t warning about a rise in intolerance and violence toward minorities: he’s warning them about the Muslims.  He’s blaming it all on them.  He’s telling Europe that it has a Muslim Problem.  That’s probably scaring his audience the hell away.  If he’d taken some time to try to understand the people he’s living among now, he might have expected that.  But then if he could open his eyes a tad to the world around him, he might not be such a brick brained conservative now either.  It’s really sad to watch a keen mind suffocate itself.

The problem facing gay people in Europe, as well as the rest of the world, isn’t radical Islamic fundamentalism, it’s radical fundamentalism period.  And that rising, anti-modernist, anti-humanist, fundamentalism isn’t just threatening gay people, and it isn’t just threatening Europe.  It’s a threat to democracy everywhere, to gay people, to women, to anyone who won’t bow down to its law.  And it wears its Jesus mask as easily as it wears its Mohamed mask.  In the end it isn’t about God or piety, it’s about obedience.  In Stealing Jesus, Bower almost seemed to grasp that.  Now he’s just letting his cheapshit xenophobia do his thinking for him.  If I could stop being tired of seeing this kind of crap I might be sad for him.

He need only look to the scorched earth war between the gay haters and everyone else in his own church, the Anglicans, to see that isn’t true.  There, the leader of the movement to chuck gay people out of the communion of Christ like so much human garbage, Bishop Peter Akinola, who once said he once literally jumped backward after realizing he’d shaken hands with a gay man, heartily endorse a proposed Nigerian law which would not only have outlawed same sex marriage, but prohibit any association of gays and lesbians, restrict their freedom of speech and movement, even to the point of making meeting in a restaurant or together in their own homes an illegal act.  Here’s what Akinola, an ersatz Christian, had to say about the law

"The Church commends the law-makers for their prompt reaction to outlaw same-sex relationships in Nigeria and calls for the bill to be passed since the idea expressed in the bill is the moral position of Nigerians regarding human sexuality."

And if that wasn’t enough…

"The Church affirms our commitment to the total rejection of the evil of homosexuality which is a perversion of human dignity and encourages the National Assembly to ratify the Bill prohibiting the legality of homosexuality since it is incongruent with the teachings of the Bible, Quran and the basic African traditional values."

So here’s Akinola embracing his Christian, Muslim and African brothers in the war on homosexuality.  Multiculturalism anyone?   And surely Bowers knows by now that the upcoming schism in his church is being funded in large measure by American right wingers, and in particular Howard Ahmanson, the former Christian Reconstructionist who now claims he no longer considers it essential to stone homosexuals to death, although "It would still be a little hard to say that if one stumbled on a country that was doing that, that it is inherently immoral…"  You can just hear him handing Akinola and his brethren the stones there.  Shara law anyone?

Jim Burroway has been doing an impressive job over at Box Turtle Bulletin documenting the rise of The Watchmen On The Walls…a group of radical, violent, anti-gay fundamentalists.  The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that,

In Latvia, the Watchmen are popular among Christian fundamentalists and ethnic Russians, and are known for presiding over anti-gay rallies where gays and lesbians are pelted with bags of excrement. In the Western U.S., the Watchmen have a following among Russian-speaking evangelicals from the former Soviet Union. Members are increasingly active in several cities long known as gay-friendly enclaves, including Sacramento, Seattle and Portland, Ore.

The trio leading the Watchmen are Alexey Ledyaev, leader of the New Generation Church, an evangelical Christian megachurch in Riga, Latvia, Ken Hutcherson, leader of the Antioch Bible meagchurch near Seattle Washington, and Scott Lively, a holocaust denier who wrote The Pink Triangle, in which he claims that Nazism itself is a form of homosexuality, and that the Nazis didn’t so much persecute homosexuals, as were themselves homosexual.  This claim he is currently busy spreading far and wide throughout Eastern Europe, a land whose people suffered a cataclysm at the hands of the Nazis during the second world war.  That propaganda has done its work on some younger Slavs…

On the first day of July, Satender Singh was gay-bashed to death. The 26-year-old Fijian of Indian descent was enjoying a holiday weekend outing at Lake Natoma with three married Indian couples around his age. Singh was delicate and dateless — two facts that did not go unnoticed by a party of Russian-speaking immigrants two picnic tables away.

According to multiple witnesses, the men began loudly harassing Singh and his friends, calling them "7-Eleven workers" and "Sodomites." The Slavic men bragged about belonging to a Russian evangelical church and told Singh that he should go to a "good church" like theirs. According to Singh’s friends, the harassers sent their wives and children home, then used their cell phones to summon several more Slavic men. The members of Singh’s party, which included a woman six months pregnant, became afraid and tried to leave. But the Russian-speaking men blocked them with their bodies.

The pregnant woman said she didn’t want to fight them.

"We don’t want to fight you either," one of them replied in English. "We just want your faggot friend."

One of the Slavic men then sucker-punched Singh in the head. He fell to the ground, unconscious and bleeding. The assailants drove off in a green sedan and red sports car, hurling bottles at Singh’s friends to prevent them from jotting down the license plate. Singh suffered a brain hemorrhage. By the next day, hospital tests confirmed that he was clinically brain dead. His family agreed to remove him from artificial life support July 5.

Outside Singh’s hospital room, more than 100 people held a vigil. Many were Sacramento gay activists who didn’t know Singh personally, but who saw his death as the tragic but inevitable result of what they describe as the growing threat of large numbers of Slavic anti-gay extremists, most of them first- or second-generation immigrants from Russia, the Ukraine and other countries of the former Soviet Union, in their city and others in the western United States.

In recent months, as energetic Russian-speaking "Russian Baptists" and Pentecostals in these states have organized to bring thousands to anti-gay protests, gay rights activists in Sacramento have picketed Slavic anti-gay churches, requested more police patrols in gay neighborhoods and distributed information cards warning gays and lesbians about the hostile Slavic evangelicals who they say have roughed up participants at gay pride events. Singh’s death was the realization of their worst fears.

"After a couple years of fundamentalist and Slavic Christian virulent anti-gay protests at almost every Sacramento gay event in the region," said local gay rights activist Michael Gorman, "what the gay community has feared for some time has finally happened." 

Now Bower again…

Not very long ago, Oslo was an icy Shangri-la of Scandinavian self-discipline, governability, and respect for the law. But in recent years, there have been grim changes, including a rise in gay-bashings. The summer of 2006 saw an unprecedented wave of them. The culprits, very disproportionately, are young Muslim men.

Well I guess it was a good thing for Satender Singh that his attackers weren’t Muslims then.  Except, he’s just as dead isn’t he?  And that didn’t happen in Europe…it happened right here in America.  Gay bashings, even killings, at the hands of young men who later claim a divine purpose to their bloodshed are hardly uncommon here.  Meanwhile, in pulpits all across America, the religious right is hyping up the Homosexual Menace.  We’re destroyers of marriage, and the family, and for good measure, civilization itself.  And when the rhetoric from the pulpits is transmuted into blood, the religious right looses no time in declaring itself innocent, and in fact itself a victim of oppression by radical homosexuals.

No, assaults by Muslims always have to be construed as defensive – as expressions not of power but of weakness, not of aggression but of helplessness. To suggest that the culprits, far from being fragile, sensitive flowers who’ve been pushed over the line by something we did, are in fact bullies driven by an overweening sense of superiority and a deep-seated malice – both of which they’ve been carefully taught at home, at school, and, yes, in the mosque – is verboten.

Boy doesn’t that sound familiar.  When was the last time you saw the American news media pointing a finger at the hate coming from the pulpits?  Can’t remember?  Neither can I.  And I know I’d have heard about it because the religious right would have been screaming about the liberal news media and it’s anti-Christian pro-homosexual agenda so loud you could hear it on the moon. 

By framing this as an exclusively Muslim problem, Bower plays right into the hands of those who raise the race card whenever Islamic extremism is called out for what it is.  But worse then that, he’s wrong.  Spectacularly wrong.  Horribly wrong.  Damnably wrong.  Shara law, when and if it delivers Europe back into the dark ages, will be wearing a Jesus mask, not a Mohamed mask.  In the Arab world it is the Mohammad mask.   Maybe elsewhere it will look something like this…

Rabbis to curse Jerusalem gay parade organizers

A Jewish invocation will be used by ultra Orthodox rabbis in Jerusalem to curse the organizers of the Gay Pride March and the police who protect them, said a spokesman for the Edah Haredit Monday.

In a ceremony known as “Pulsa D’nura” (blows of fire), rabbis of the anti-Zionist Edah Haredit rabbinic court will convene sometime before the march, which is scheduled for Friday, to conduct the kabbalistic ceremony which is believed to unleash unearthly powers against specified sinners.

According to Shmuel Poppenheim, a spokesman for the Edah Haredit, Rabbi Moshe Sternbach, head of the Edah Haredit’s rabbinic court proposed conducting the ceremony during a meeting of rabbinic judges Monday morning.

“All the rabbis were together at the rabbinic court to proceed over a chalitza (part of a levirate ceremony),” said Poppenheim. “After the chalitza, Rabbi Sternbach recommended doing the Pulsa D’nura.”

Pulsa D’nura is mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud (Baba Metzia 47a) and in the Zohar.

“If done by a competent, God-fearing rabbinic court like the Edah Haredit, the people who are cursed do not live out the year,” said a Jerusalem-based rabbi who preferred to remain anonymous.

In 2005 a young ultra orthodox Jew, Yishai Schlissel, stabbed three gay Israelis during a Pride march.  During his interrogation he said,

“I came to murder on behalf of God. We can’t have such abomination in the country.”

What you need to understand is that this violent hatred of the secular world, and all the freedom it brings, and human potential it unleashes, is not a Muslim phenomena, nor is it particular or even necessary to any one religion or faith.  And in a deeper sense, it’s not even about homosexuality.  It’s about modernism.  It’s about freedom, about the awesome human potential that modern democracy has unleashed.  It’s fundamentally about the ones who can’t cope with it…the ones who are Left Behind

In his time, Haffner saw it…

Money came into the country, the currency maintained its value, and business was good.  The older generation began to retrieve its store of experience from the attic, burnish it bright, and show it off, as if it had never been invalidated.  The last ten years were forgotten like a bad dream.  The Day of Judgment was remote again, and there was no demand for saviors or revolutionaries.  The pubic sector required only competent officials, and the private sector only hard working businessmen.  There was an ample measure of freedom, peace, and order, everywhere the most well-meaning liberal-mindedness, good wages, good food, and a little political boredom.  Everyone was cordially invited to concentrate on their own personal lives, to arrange their affairs according to their own tastes, and to find their own paths to happiness.

Now something strange happened – and with this I believe I am about to reveal one of the most fundamental political events of our rime, something that was not reported in any newspaper; by and large that invitation was declined.  It was not what was wanted.  A whole generation was, it seemed, at a loss as to how to cope with the offer of an unfettered private life.

There’s the root of it.  The threat to democracy now, and eternally, is not Islam, but the Left Behind, and their sullen, resentful, hatred of everything a human being can be, of everything humanity can become, that they cannot.  Or at any rate could, if only they weren’t so afraid of existence.  This isn’t a Muslim thing.  It’s a human thing.  The Left Behind are everywhere, in every nation, of every race, in every culture.  To embrace their cheapshit paranoias about Otherness, is to let them win the only battle that matters…the one for your soul.  You embrace their fear and hatred of The Other, and the next thing you know you will be taking the ax to your precious democracy just as cheerfully as they are.  Side by side you’ll both systematically destroy it.  And then the next thing to get the ax, will be you.  Because a race to the bottom is always won by the one that’s already there. 

It is not radical Islam that threatens to destroy the West from within Bowers, it is the likes of you and your fellow fighting 101st Keyboarders over at Pajamas.  ‘Multiculturalism’ is just one of this period’s trite little buzz-words that simply acknowledges the fact that in a free country your neighbor has the right to dress funny, and worship in a funny looking church if they want to.  And maybe, just maybe, there might be something of value in their lives for the rest of us to take note of.  Or not.  But that’s how melting pots work after all you drooling moron.  And as Jefferson said, it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God.  It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.  Multiculturalism is no more about giving Muslim men the right to rape women any more then the American civil rights movement was about giving black men the right to rape women, although a lot of white conservatives back then seemed to think it was.   Grow up.  You’re fighting the wrong enemy, and in the process you are loosing the war.

The Muslim man who looks you in the face hails from a culture that gave humanity the modern decimal system, and which preserved much of what the ancients knew through the dark ages.  You know…that period of time in Europe where the Christian church burned faggots and heretics at the stake.  And if you think that’s all in your culture’s past, and that the primative, fanatical haters of his kind don’t also have their precise counterparts among yours too, or that yours are at least no great threat to your peace and freedom, you are sadly, horribly, fatally mistaken.

The enemy within, the one you need to fear the most, is the one that wears a face much like yours, and gives you a sincere smile and a hearty handshake, and whispers in your ear that this world would be So much nicer without all those horrible other people in it…

[Edited a tad...]

One Response to “Yes Bruce, But You’re Part Of The Problem…”

  1. Jon Says:

    > “The problem facing gay people in Europe, as well as the rest of the world, isn’t radical Islamic fundamentalism, it’s radical fundamentalism period.”

    IMO … yes, but not exactly. To more accurately define the root of that problem … it’s =fundamentalism=, period.

    Throughout human history, all religious fundamentalism has been viewed as innately “radical”, and by dogmatic definition, either a fundamentalist is a “radical” fundamentalist, or he’s not a fundamentalist at all. (See “Crusades”).

    While there may, in fact, be those who consider themselves “moderate fundamentalists”, or “forgiving fundamentalists”, or “reconciling fundamentalists” so far as I’m aware, such a definition can exist only in their own self-perceptions or in disconnected stand-alone congregations. The religious organizations to which most swear allegiance recognize only one flavor – the hateful, ugly, hypocritical, and dangerously self-righteous kind, and those who don’t buy into it 100% are themselves considered “others”.

    As a gay man, my enemy is simply “fundamentalism” itself … in all its ghastly glister.

    Jon

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