I'm pretty upset. Five minutes ago, moments after I fired off an email to Newsweek for its bogglingly irresponsible article, "Is Obama the AntiChrist?," I learned that a Roman Catholic cardinal at the Vatican has called Obama's agenda "destructive," "violent," and "apocalyptic," and inquired what grieving Catholics should do with "our hot, angry tears of betrayal."
Apparently it's not enough that Sarah Palin ignited the "patriots" and the racists to shout kill slogans. Now, no less than Newsweek and a member of the upper tier of the RC hierarchy have elected to stoke the flames still higher. Much higher.
My concern has partly to do with the overlaps among four populations: extremely conservative Catholics, Protestant fundamentalists, racists, and extreme Rightwing militia/minuteman/"patriots."
All of them are already whipped to frenzies of rage by the election of the young African American moderate. Just visit the Free Republic site for proof. Remember: This nation has been subjected to a steadily ant-liberal toxic infusion for some thirty years. I mean the likes of Michael Medved, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Dennis Miller, Tom DeLay, Tom Tancredo, Lou Dobbs, and the rest. When it takes only one zealot alight with holy conviction, pouring apocalyptic kerosene on the white-hot flames of race, religion, and nativism isn't merely irresponsible. It's explosive. It's all but inciting assassination.
As I wrote to Newsweek's editors:
Regarding http://www.newsweek.com/id/169192 -- Well, golly! Can’t you do something else to make sure some paranoid fundamentalist nut job kills the next President? It wasn’t enough for you that Palin stirred the “patriots” and the racists to shout kill threats? That Southern Law Poverty Center is warning of a sharp spike in threats and violence toward African Americans (and others)? Now you have to go the next giant step by giving credibility to those who think that he’s “the anti-Christ”? Why don’t you just take out a contract?
I’m aghast. There’s a responsible way to write about stuff like this, but surely it isn’t to give it the Newsweek imprimatur, as you do here:
"The people who believe Obama is the Antichrist are perhaps jumping to conclusions, but they're not nuts: "They are expressing a concern and a fear that is widely shared," Staver says."
You could have troubled to interview universally respected, educated biblical scholars such as John Shelby Spong or Elaine Pagels or Bart Ehrman, who could have spoken to End Times phantasms like “the anti-Christ” from a deeply knowledgeable, profoundly Christian place. But nooooo. In tone and content, you’ve both perpetuated the public view that only fundamentalists speak for all Christians, and quite possibly put the President-Elect’s very life in graver danger than ever.
You’ve got a young wife, two little girls, the Secret Service, the majority of Americans, and a whole, breathless, hopeful world to answer to.
If anything happens to him, the ensuing chaos will dwarf today’s troubles. Thanks ever so for upping the odds. Shame on you. Serious heaps of shame on you. What were you thinking?
Even Blitzer himself--as today, for instance--is stoking the flames. Inadvertently? Who can say. All day long, his drum beats incessant fear to thrum within conservative Americans, that Obama will abolish restraints on gay men and lesbian women in the military. Whether he will or won't we don't know. It gets ratings. Consequences be damned.
What's disturbing, in other words, is that the timing is as troubling as the content, because it adds weight to the heavy backpack of outrage that zealots on the Far Right have toted since Obama was first nominated. And remember: For at least the last eight years, Bush has explicitly "Christianized" the US military and military academies, and created his own private army. Think Mikey Weinstein. Think radical extreme Christianist Erik Prince and his private mercenary military force, Blackwater.
Bush, Blackwater, the Christianization of the armed forces, and 30 years of anti-liberal hate propaganda, in my view, raise the ante far beyond anything we might have anticipated when John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., were assassinated. There's a sinister constellation of means and motive on a scale unprecedented in this country. Not even the run-up to the Civil War saw these things.
It troubles me enormouslythat I'm not seeing or hearing, anywhere, even a sporadic appearance from even one universally respected, highly educated biblical scholar to speak for Christians (as contrasted with Christianists) about the meaning of concepts like "the anti-Christ," Apocalypse, Armageddon, and the like--what they are, what they aren't, what they mean, what they don't mean.
For that reason, all--and I mean ALL--that most Americans know are the fevered nightmare fantasiesof extreme Christianist militant Tim LaHaye, co-author of the Left Behind chronicles.
And remember: The Left Behind series of cheap novels--close to 100 million copies have sold--hawk a violent, bloody fundamentalist vision of the End Times, and reportedly have inspired at least one computer game that advocates killing anyone who can't be converted to militant Christianist fundamentalism. These things weren't even on the horizon when the Kennedys and King were assassinated. And we have no way of knowing how many folks are running around out there who've been fed this poison since birth. We do know there are a lot of them.
What can you and I do? Make ourselves and everyone we know acutely aware of these developments, challenge anything in the media anywhere that fans these flames even inadvertently, and hold the whole country accountable for ensuring that we protect this young President-Elect and all the hope that he has stirred in hearts across the world.
The alternative is unthinkable.