Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fundamentally, there might be a problem with fundamentalists and fundamentalism ...

(Above: the text for the day on the fourth Sunday of Lent).

Week in, week out, Sunday can get a little dull, what with a dash of Pellist heresy here, or a scattering of Jensenists there, or a farewelling of Archbishops of Canterbury far away.

Every so often, a different sort of fundamentalism should be introduced to the mix, so it was with relief the pond came across this little taster in David Remnick's Threatened, for The New Yorker regarding the state of the state of Israel:

These days, emboldened fundamentalists flaunt an increasingly aggressive medievalism. There are sickening reports of ultra-Orthodox men spitting on schoolgirls whose attire they consider insufficiently demure, and demanding that women sit at the back of public buses. Elyakim Levanon, the chief rabbi of the Elon Moreh settlement, near Nablus, says that Orthodox soldiers should prefer to face a “firing squad” rather than sit through events at which women sing, and has forbidden women to run for public office, because “the husband presents the family’s opinion.” Dov Lior, the head of an important West Bank rabbinical council, has called Baruch Goldstein—who, in 1994, machine-gunned twenty-nine Palestinians at the Cave of the Patriarchs, in Hebron—“holier than all the martyrs of the Holocaust.” Lior endorsed a book that discussed when it is right and proper to murder an Arab, and he and a group of kindred rabbis issued a proclamation proscribing Jews from selling or renting land to non-Jews. Men like Lieberman, Levanon, and Lior are scarcely embittered figures on the irrelevant margins: a hard-right base—the settlers, the ultra-Orthodox, Shas, the National Religious Party—is indispensable to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

There's a pattern here of course. It's always men, and they always confuse the voice of god sounding in their head with their desire to repress and control women.

It's only a hop skip and a jump across the waves and suddenly you're in Rick Santorum territory. You know stuff like:

The radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional family and convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness.

Classically, Santorum blamed his wife for writing that passage, except that his wife doesn't get a credit on his book and he only gave her the credit when he got into trouble for scribbling the nonsense.

Maybe there should have been an addendum: Rick Santorum convinced his wife to deny professional accomplishment and refuse personal credit, except when it came to taking a bullet for him. (Santorum Blames Wife for Anti-Working Woman Book Passage).

Santorum is currently providing great material for comedians. On his Friday show, Stephen Colbert caught up with Santorum telling a series of outrageous lies about euthanasia in the Netherlands:

There's more but you get the drift.

When asked about the lies, a spokeswoman said that Santorum was speaking from the heart, which is at best just a lie about the lying, but golly it gave Colbert a lay down misere comedy routine as he spoke from the heart about Santorum. (You can get the routine and the twitter frenzy here, but not the video, damn you Foxtel, damn you to hell).

And when he's not blaming his wife, or flat out lying, Santorum says remarkably stupid things, like his invitation to talk to a plant about the dangers of carbon dioxide. (here).

That copped another swipe from Colbert (no video link, damn you Foxtel, damn you to hell), as he talked to his plant.

Colbert ran together a routine involving Santorum and plants, Romney and windmills, and Gingrich talking about algae:

On Santorum and plants: “Everyone knows that before industry and cars, Earth had no vegetation. That’s why factories are called plants, okay?”
On Romney babbling about not being able to power a car with windmills: “‘If you put a windmill on top of your car, then where does the dog go?”
On Gingrich saying algae biofuel is absurd: “Algae fuel is never going to be able to power the spaceships that will take us to Newt’s completely feasible moon colony.”

It built up to a payoff where Colbert highlighted a few unlikely scenarios, including:

"Hold on there sport, you want to cure my syphilis with the mould on a hunk of bread? I’d rather remain blind and insane ... And I’m pretty sure these gentlemen feel the same way.”

It's a sorry state of affairs when the commentariat take politicians like Santorum seriously, and comedians are left to do the serious commentary.

Why is it necessary for the current crop of dog-whistling conservative politicians to sound so dumb, so anti-intelligent, so anti-science, so completely incapable of reconciling ideas, as Gingrich showed when he tried to be futurist (moon base) and luddite (algae biofuel)?

It doesn't have to be that way, and in the past conservatives could manage an intelligent response to the issues of the day, but not at the moment, and not amongst Republicans, as a creeping fundamentalism reduces the G.O.P. to knee-jerk responses which would be familiar to the Taliban, especially in the matter of women, gays and science.

Geoffrey Kabaservice summarised the current state of play:

The appearance of a Republican Party almost entirely composed of ideological conservatives is a new and historically unprecedented development. It is only in the last decade or so that movement conservatism finally succeeded in silencing, co-opting, repelling, or expelling nearly every competing strain of Republicanism from the party. (quoted by Ryan Lizza in Life of the Party, Can the G.O.P. save itself? as he broods about the party for The New Yorker, outside the paywall at the moment).

The world currently faces many problems, but it seems the solutions being offered by the G.O.P. involve even greater income disparity, and the slashing of education funding at a time when the quality of general public education in the States is in serious decline (as Bernard Keane noted in his satirical post-Kony invitation to the world to invade America to save the children, in The time has come - we must invade America to save its kids).

So what's the thematic link?

Well, there are many places you could start, but since we've had a bash at Jewish fundamentalists, we should mention that Rick Santorum is a fundamentalist Catholic who also manages to appeal to fundamentalist evangelists (no mean feat for a child of the whore of Babylon, the Satan of the end times), Mitt Romney belongs to a cult that thinks that Christ turned up in America, and Gingrich, when he's not reviewing his history of adultery, is proclaiming the virtue of religious freedom and the evils of Obama's war on religion. (Yet it turns out Gingrich has had as many religions as wives ...)

The end result is that perhaps Cardinal Pell and the Sydney Anglicans and Tony Abbott don't end up sounding quite so crazed.

But you could only come to that conclusion by forgetting Pell pretending he's an some kind of expert who can speak with authority when it comes to climate science, or Tony Abbott dog whistling that climate science is crap.

And you'd have to overlook the Sydney Anglicans doing their worst with gays and women, not to mention Jim Wackett celebrating the Kony 2012 campaign in Mobilising the Lord's real army on the Sydney Anglican website:

The Kony 2012 campaign is advocating for the ongoing deployment and resourcing of US military forces in Central Africa aimed at conducting a limited counter-insurgency operation. It will pit military forces from the Central African Republic, the DR Congo and Uganda (along with their US Advisors) against Kony’s child soldiers. It will not be a quick, simple, or bloodless affair. I know that Kony will face ultimate justice as we all will one day before the one true judge of all. But I would also certainly like to see his movement (however small its current remnant may be) stopped once and for all this year. I’m under no illusions though that this will simply involve an online ‘love in’.

What lessons, if any, are there in the Kony 2012 campaign for Christians who have their own special message they wish to communicate as widely and as passionately and to as many people as possible? The Kony 2012 campaign has a strong message which identifies a serious problem, the solution to that problem and the action that needs to take place for that solution to become a reality. It has a deadline – 31 December, 2012 for this to happen by and uses a compelling medium to communicate all these things to a growing and passionate constituency.

Golly gee, that sounds a tad gung ho.

Full steam ahead and don't spare the horses. And don't forget to donate and fund the crusade.

Well before you too decide that what's needed is a military action, would it be wise to check out the meltdown of Jason Russell, creator of the Kony campaign, on TMZ, here? Weird or what ...

And if vulgar gossip of the in your face TMZ kind isn't your thing, why not have a read of Richard Seymour's Stop them before they kill, or Joshua Keating's Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (and other complicated things).

There's something deeply disturbing about the whole Kony affair, but there's something even more deeply weird about the colonial meddling of Sydney Anglicans in Uganda and other African countries.

So there you have it. Instead of blaming it all on liberal elites, in the manner of a delusional Brendan O'Neill, how about we make mention of the role played in opinions on all kinds of matters - the middle east, climate science, the Netherlands, Africa and Africans - by fundamentalists cavorting around with their imaginary friend ... (or friends, as the case may be if you happen to be a trinitarian as opposed to a unitarian ...) And we haven't even got on to the Islamics ...

Now some might think that this passing strangeness is new, but sad to say, there's always been a section of society, often labelled conservative, but more properly labelled backward-looking myopic patriarchal oppressive fundamentalist that's always been truly fucked in the head, ever since the dinosaurs ran rampant in the Garden of Eden and messed with their minds...

(Below: the Sydney Anglicans swallow the Kony kool aid).


  1. Some heard Abbott being merely "ungracious" about Margaret Whitlam. Others heard a whistle that, under his theocracy, abortion would be re-criminalised.

  2. As a devout fundamentalist, I have been told by God to vote for Santorum.

  3. Stephen Davis - the only Jensenite to comment on Jimbo Wackett's article - wants to have Kony 'killed on the spot'. Do the Jensenists only have 9 commandments?

  4. The totalitarian cultural agendas of USA christian fundamentalism 101

    And of course almost everyone on the "right" here in the land of Oz, whether in your face so called "religious" or otherwise are rooting (like the pigs they are)for a GOP victory in the next USA Presidential election.


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