Could it be: “So the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of kindergarteners.”
Its always interesting to write for a publication for the first time. When my friend Osagyefo Sekou became the Editor in Chief of the Boston version of the monthly newspaper Spare Change News, he asked me to write about the results of the marriage equality referenda in four states, and how some things have changed in the political and religious communities.
I had always admired Spare Change News. It is one of a number of similar newspapers across the country intended to provide a dignified way for homeless people to earn income without panhandling, and keep issues of homelessness before the reading public. Vendors keep a share of the cover price. The papers cover a variety of subjects — including issues of homelessness — making it a good read on the bus or the subway. At a time when newspapers are going out of business, Spare Change News is still out there.
This blog has been on a hiatus for quite awhile. When I began, I used to blog just about every day. I intend to return to the daily blog, and expand the range of things I write about. I will still be posting at Talk to Action, and elsewhere. And I will either crosspost here, or at least post a link to new things. I particularly like the post I did yesterday, Hallelujah, Mike Huckabee, Hallelujah.
Posting here at FrederickClarkson.com has been episodic for a long time. But one of my New Years Resolutions will be to post more frequently. Its a good discipline, but the truth is, when I get in the groove, I like it. The discipline part is secondary.
But if I am not around, I can usually be found having said something over at Talk to Action — most recently a Christmas eve rumination about the anti-Semitic roots of claims that there is a “war on Christmas” and how that bastion of evilly secular liberal media — public radio — has a little remarked upon but remarkable quarter century Christmas broadcast tradition, which in turn has roots in the early days of broadcasting.
Authors and editors, including me, supporting the Occupy movement
Media Matters for America has a report on what may be the most outrageous smear by Rush Limbaugh. Hard to imagine, I know. This time, Limbaugh is smearing president Obama for announcing deployment of some 100 special forces to Uganda to combat the terror group, Lord’s Resistance Army. Limbaugh’s charge is that Obama is out to get Christians. Good grief. Although LRA professes to be a religious group, it slaughters Christians, and in one infamous episode detailed by Jane Bussmann. I wrote about Bussmann and her book last year for Religion Dispatches:
Back in 1996, according to a document reprinted by Bussmann, the Ugandan and Sudanese governments knew exactly where Catholic school girls kidnapped by the LRA were being held. The Ugandan army had been tipped that the LRA was going to attack the elite St. Mary’s school, but had done nothing to protect or to rescue the 139 girls abducted. And yet, a brave school administrator, Sister Rachele, almost singlehandedly gained the release of 109 of the children. The LRA kept the rest—except for the one they hacked and tortured to death with machetes. Sister Rachele and the girls’ parents met with world leaders from presidents Museveni and Bashir, to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, to Kofi Annan, and Pope John Paul II.
“None of them got the girls back,” Bussmann observed. “Meanwhile, Kony built his city of children in the desert and shipped in his prize, the highly educated St. Mary’s girls. The girls were raped, impregnated, given syphilis, and watched as babies were smashed against trees.”
In fact, sweeping bipartisan majorities in both house of Congress required the administration to take action against the LRA, and it included the option to use force to remove the LRA and its leaders from the battlefield.
An important diary at Daily Kos today reports that Rush Limbaugh described “leftists” and President Obama as “cockroaches” during a recent show. The diarist goes on to remind us that in the run-up to the Rwandan genocide in the 90s, “cockroaches” was the favored term of Rwandan radio provocateurs.
While the use of the term is more than coincidental, the analogy to Rwanda remains remote. Limbaugh et al are not yet pounding out eliminationist themes in proportion to the Rwandan media of the 90s. (Here is the clip.) And no one is, as far as we know, openly arming themselves with machetes or other weapons for mass killings. When making comparisons of this sort, it is important to consider the differences as well as the similarities in order to arrive at a proportional understanding of the situation.
That said, Limbaugh’s eliminationist theme is unmistakable and it is worth considering the anti-democratic implications if his entire three minute tirade, as he tells his audience that they are in a “war.”Eliminationism has been building on right-wing hate radio in America for a long time, and the potential for political violence beyond isolated incidents is evident.
Dave Neiwert details how this can happen this in his book The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, which I reviewed awhile back:
“What motivates this kind of talk and behavior,” Neiwert writes of the sometimes surprising viciousness from otherwise ordinary people, “is called eliminationism: a politics and a culture that shuns dialogue and the democratic exchange of ideas in favor of the pursuit of outright elimination of the opposing side, either through suppression, exile and ejection, or extermination.”
Neiwert stresses that eliminationist rhetoric “always depicts its opposition as beyond the pale, the embodiment of evil itself, unfit for participation in their vision of society, and thus worthy of elimination. It often further depicts its designated Enemy as vermin (especially rats and cockroaches) or diseases, and disease-like cancers on the body politic. A close corollary—but not as nakedly eliminationist—is the claim that opponents are traitors or criminals and that they pose a threat to our national security.” [emphasis added]
“The history of eliminationism in America and elsewhere,” he writes, “shows that rhetoric plays a significant role in the travesties that follow. It creates permission for people to act out in ways they might not otherwise. It allows them to abrogate their own humanity by denying the humanity of people deemed undesirable or a cultural contaminant.”
[Crossposted at Dirty Hippies]
President Obama has been taken to task by many of those who earnestly supported his candidacy, for turning away from the movement that swept him to power. The historic losses for the Democratic Party in 2010 are certainly partly attributable to grassroots disaffection, loss of hope, and lack of interest. That is what makes Governor Deval Patrick’s discussion of state and national politics with the The National Journal so interesting:
“Pointing to his larger-than-expected victory over Republican Charles Baker and independent Timothy Cahill, Patrick said Obama’s team, which overlaps with his own, should derive lessons from the unreconstructed-Democrat approach that Patrick projected. That would be a far cry from the centrist overtures the president has made in the last few months.
I think they’ve learned a lot from us, and we’ve learned from them,” Patrick said. The 2006 campaign that made him Massachusetts’ first African American governor drew from Obama’s successful 2004 Senate bid, Patrick said, a two-year learning cycle that repeated itself when Obama ran for president in 2008 and Patrick for reelection last year.
Patrick said Obama should not turn his back on the ground-up campaign structure that propelled both men to historic wins and helped power Patrick to reelection, a template he believes could sustain Obama next year.
“I believe strongly it’s important not to underestimate the power of the grassroots,” said Patrick, who throughout his first term expressed regrets about not doing a better job of involving his grassroots election supporters in governing.
It is not clear whether Obama has any similar regrets.
Yeah, I know. Its been awhile. But I expect to be posting regularly from now on.
For today, I simply want to announce that there is a cool new group blog, Dirty Hippies: Democracy. Unwashed. I’ll be contributing from time-to-time.
Yesterday, I published a commentary at Women’s eNews titled: U.S. Religions Quietly Launch a Sexual Revolution. Its about how the Religious Institute, a progressive religious think tank has issued a 46 page manifesto about breaking the silence in religious communities about a host of sexuality issues; and although many mainstream religious institutions have a long way to go, many have also come a long way.
Unsurprisingly, the manifesto was immediately denounced by Religious Right leader Dr. Albert Mohler, the fundamentalist president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.