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Consequences of Not Seeing the Chains That Oppress

Monday, 23 July 2012 10:35 By Mikey Weinstein, AlterNet | Op-Ed
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Oh, what a strange and complex world we live in. The good guys and bad guys sometimes appear to say the same thing – that they only want the best for us all. How do we distinguish between what's genuinely "good" and what's genuinely "bad"? A cold, hard look at the facts is always most helpful. Let's take a perfect example to briefly analyze this dichotomy.

Proponents of Christian evangelical fundamentalism, or Dominionism, are keen to disingenuously drape their putrid extremism in the false flags of "defending religious liberty" and "upholding family values." Astute observers can easily discern these "all-American" buzzwords as dog-whistles meant to incite those multitudes of cretins who reside both inside and outside the closet of violent bigotry. However, the recent appointment of retired Army Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin as the new Executive Vice President of the putrescent Family Research Council (FRC) should leave no shadow of a doubt regarding the fundamentalists' open embrace of a most dangerous and wholly anti-constitutional brand of religious militancy.

While the morbid spectacle of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church carrying "God Hates Fags" placards may be one of the most recognizable memes conveying the face of modern Christian fundamentalism, the well-funded and influential Family Research Council are the "A-Team" of the malignant and malodorous Christian extremist lobby. The Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog aptly characterized FRC as an "anti-gay hate group." FRC's slogan? "Advancing freedom, family, and faith."

The armed forces' long-awaited repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) lifted a burden of repression from the backs of countless servicemembers. To most of us, it was a clear question of simple justice. Despite this basic fact, FRC's reaction to the repeal can only be described as mentally deranged:

Expect to see celebrations from homosexual groups... [but] there will be no press releases from the new victims of sexual harassment or assault, the soldiers exposed to HIV-tainted blood, the thousands of servicemembers who choose not to reenlist rather than forfeit their freedom of speech and religion, and the untold number of citizens who choose never to join the military.

Boykin's advocacy on behalf of inequality within the ranks of the armed services had no less a crackpot vibe of unbridled lunacy. Boykin went so far as to prophetically suggest that the lifting of discriminatory practices against lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers would hasten the eschatological "End of Days":

Jesus tells us in Luke 21 that before all the signs of His return ultimately are completed that they will take us before kings and rulers and persecute us in His name. And that is, just scripture, that's prophesy, and I think we're seeing that persecution now of Christians, particularly of Christians in uniform, Christians that are prominent Christians, Christians that are in the public eye. That persecution is going to increase as we come closer to the time of Jesus' return.

The "marriage" of FRC and Boykin should be "a match made in fundamentalist heaven," at least as far as these wretchedly bigoted parties are concerned. FRC's fervent anti-gay hysteria is matched only by Boykin's paranoid Islamophobic mania. As for the rest of us, we should be acutely vigilant regarding the hellfire and brimstone that this diabolical union can potentially invoke.

Those who are familiar with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the civil rights organization which I head, may be aware that Boykin has been one of the more despicable opponents that we've encountered in the course of our years of aggressive advocacy in support of the foundational civil rights of American military personnel. Our sole purpose has been the maintenance of the fast-crumbling (if not utterly destroyed) wall separating church and state in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Our guiding light in this battle is the Constitution of the United States of America, which prohibits the establishment of an official religion by Congress, among other critical safeguards.

At the press conference announcing Boykin's new position at FRC, the retired Lt. General cynically stated, "I realize how important it is that I do my part to restore the values that made America a great nation."

Boykin has long acted as an astonishingly ignorant human battering ram dedicated to razing the wall separating church and state. Indeed, since the outbreak of the "Global War on Terror" or "Long War," Boykin has taken it upon himself to dangerously depict the United States' fight as one against Satan himself.

Infamously appearing before packed congregations of vapid fundamentalists while in uniform, Boykin has luridly described the battlegrounds of Mogadishu, Somalia as "principalities of darkness," echoing the racist, colonial-era designation of Africa as "the Dark Continent." Boykin continued, depicting Islamist fighters as "a demonic presence... that God revealed to me as the enemy."

During the Iraq war, Boykin told an Oregon church, "Ladies and gentlemen I want to impress upon you that the battle that we're in is a spiritual battle... Satan wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army."

As I've stated before, it is absolutely no exaggeration to say that the evangelical, fundamentalist Christian fanaticism that Boykin represents mirrors the militant Wahhabi-jihadist extremism of those whom the U.S. military is fighting in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. It is precisely this modern-day Crusader language that enrages our Muslim allies, emboldens our enemies within the Islamic world, eviscerates the morale, good order and discipline of our U.S. troops, and significantly endangers the lives of our soldiers on the battlefield.

After all, who in their right mind can take the United States' comprehensive diplomatic PR efforts regarding "democracy" and "universal values" seriously when such high-ranking figures in the military openly utter such sickening sentiments, literally demonizing each and every one of the 1.8 billion adherents of one of the Planet Earth's largest religions? Perhaps this has contributed to the regional opinion that the despotic Saudi Arabian monarchy is more pro-democratic than the United States itself, as a recent poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project suggests. This travesty of literally Jovian proportion is precisely why Boykin and his fundamentalist religious predator ilk represent such a grave and formidable national security threat.

Most alarming are Boykin's dictatorial Christian-militarist domestic appetites. Boykin's unabashed hatred of all Muslims be they boys or girls, men or women, knows no cognizable borders. Such vicious, genocidal hatred was made scandalously clear when he claimed that while "every Muslim should be allowed to worship freely," "Islam itself is not just a religion – it is a totalitarian way of life," and thus "should not be protected under the First Amendment." In his deranged and fearful mind, American Muslims are hell-bent on displacing the U.S. Constitution for the purpose of imposing "Sharia law" on the rest of us.

Does the FRC's new Executive VP appointment signal a new phase in the militarization of domestic Christian fundamentalist extremism? Two things are for sure: (1) The American people must understand and intrinsically internalize the extreme danger represented by these truly sick forces that cynically rally under the disingenuously transparent banners of "freedom, family, and faith"; and, (2) they must likewise be prepared to actually DO something about it.

We, as a nation, can no longer afford the luxury of ambivalent paralysis in the face of malevolent, monstrous, religious supremacists like Boykin and the disgraceful FRC. Rosa Luxemburg said it best nearly a century ago: "Those who do not move, do not notice their chains." America, the time is now, the place is here. Break your chains of immobility and stagnation. Wake up. Wake the hell up!

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Mikey Weinstein

Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein is president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy. He previously served as White House Counsel in the Reagan administration and general counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corp. He is the author of the recently released book, "No Snowflake in an Avalanche: The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Its Battle to Defend the Constitution and One Family's Courageous War Against Religious Extremism in High Places" (2012, Vireo).


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