Saturday, March 12, 2011

Republicans’ bigot eruption

Note: The video at the top of this post was removed after I published it due to a dubious copyright challenge, something I talked about in a follow-up post. I've restored this post because the larger points are valid, and it's not necessary to see the video to understand those points.

The video above has been making the rounds on the Internet. It shows teabaggers and Republicans screaming at Muslim men, women and children who were attending a fundraiser for relief charity in the US. One Republican even threatens gun violence in her speech.

This week, US Representative Peter King, one of the craziest Republicans in the US House (and that’s saying something—there are a lot of crazy Republicans) decided it would be a good idea to hold Congressional hearings on the supposed radicalisation of Islam in the US. He flat out refused to consider also looking at christianist radicals, far right militias or white supremacist groups. Apparently, being a christianist terrorist, violent racist or armed radical right extremist is just fine with Peter King, but being Muslim is not.

In the video above, the teabaggers and Republicans apparently believed the money raised was going to be sent to “radical” Muslims or “terrorists”. Their evidence? Well, they don’t actually have any, of course. Ask these whackadoodles why they think this way and they point to some incident that was supposed to have happened somewhere sometime, though they can seldom recall any details. That makes a convenient shield for their bigotry.

The Republican Party has a huge problem with loud bigots like this—and that includes Rep. Peter King, actually. The video above shows some of the worst excesses of these bigots, reminiscent of the overt racism displayed in the corporation-funded and organised teabagger rallies during the fight over healthcare reform.

The video below is another display of bald bigotry, showing what happened when a Muslim man prayed in front of the White House. One “Christian” shouted at him: “What kind of god would tell you to kill somebody because you don’t believe in their god?” He obviously meant to say, “What kind of god would tell you to kill somebody because they don’t believe in your god,” but never mind; it wasn’t his sentence structure alone that betrayed his ignorance.

Indeed, what kind of god would do that? Is it the same god that told a Christian to assassinate Dr. George Tiller? Or maybe it’s the god that told a Christian to blow up gay bars. Or maybe it’s the god that told a Jew to assassinate Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Or maybe he meant the god that told a Sikh to assassinate Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The point is, there’s no god that tells people to kill anyone, but there are followers of gods who believe their deity tells them to kill. That doesn’t make them right, and it doesn’t make their religion or their deity of choice inherently violent or radical. To suggest otherwise is bigoted.

However, individuals can and do become radicalised and investigating that is reasonable and rational. But it is irrational to limit that investigation to only the people you hate while ignoring violent radicals who happen to more or less share your religion. That’s what Rep. Peter King did. Yes, that makes him an irrational bigot.

There is a direct line connecting those who would kill for their god to those who want to use the power of government to impose their religion on everyone else. Not every theocrat becomes a terrorist, but every terrorist is a theocrat. That’s what Rep. Peter King should’ve been looking into, not pandering to and fuelling Republican/teabagger paranoia and bigotry.

Does the Republican Party even know how to confront the bigotry within its ranks? Does it even want to? So far, the answer would seem to be no to both.

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