Monday, October 13, 2008

The McCain/Palin Campaign Embraces "Agents of Intolerance". Part 1.

John McCain has offered signals that he is about to tone down his focused strategy of character attacks, and get back on the subjects and challenges that most citizens are concerned about. Still his campaign chairman Rick Davis (a Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac former lobbyist) defends his continuing advertising strategy, while leveling character assassination charges against David Axelrod (Davis' counterpart on Obama's side). Apparently Axelrod's been accusing Davis of selling access to his chief. Meanwhile Davis is out on the stump trying to put forth the case that VP candidate Sarah Palin has done nothing wrong in the "Troopergate" Scandal, despite last Friday's announcement that the Alaskan Legislature had found her guilty of an ethics violation.

Does anybody really think that these chaotic politics are going to subside during the last three weeks heading into the election? I certainly don't. In fact, Sarah Palin is trying to shake things up even more with her calls to revisit the Jeremiah Wright flap that hit the media months ago. It's understandable that she would want to change the subject from her abuse of power tactics in Alaska, but her method of altering the dialog may result in a more careful analysis of some of the figures that have shaped her own thinking. John McCain has been adamant about not wanting to inject a discussion of religion into the race. I can empathize with this view, since I've been sick of the conflation of faith and policy for the last eight years.

In 2000, John McCain spoke eloquently about the developing rifts in the American scene. He notably bemoaned the "corrupting influences of religion and politics", and even went as far as suggesting that portions of the religious right were divisive and un-American*. He specifically identified Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as "agents of intolerance". He also directed his criticism at his primary rival George W. Bush for giving a speech at the "Conservative Christian" Bob Jones University without addressing the institution's ban on interracial dating. What McCain did in the run-up to that election, not even a decade past, was truly a "maverick" move and likely cost him a primary victory.

My, how things have changed since then. In 2006, while McCain prepared to enter the current presidential race, the Arizona Senator decided to deliver the commencement address at Liberty University. That school was actually founded by "intolerance agent" Jerry Falwell, who since McCain's earlier denunciation of him "has said that Jews can't go to heaven unless they accept Christ, that the Prophet Mohammed was a terrorist, and that gays and feminists bore responsibility for 9/11" (source). While McCain claimed ,"I'm not trying to make up to anyone, either liberal or conservative or anyone else", it was clear that Falwell got the message. He replied, "I do think, like any wise politician moving toward a presidential election, he is trying to build alliances".

And perhaps it was necessary for a wizened politician seeking the GOP nomination for the presidency to embrace a group that makes up a large proportion of the most loyal base of the party. There's no doubt that McCain realized that he had to compromise his formerly-expressed values in order to have a chance at winning. This past summer McCain put together a nine-member Christian Outreach Team to travel to battleground states. In early July, he sent his exploratory committee to its first destination, where they met with the Ohio Christian Alliance. Apparently it was clear from that meeting that Evangelical Christians had specific demands that had to be met in order for Mccain to gain their support. It soon became quite clear what these demands entailed.


*"The political tactics of division and slander are not our values," Mr. McCain said. "They are corrupting influences on religion and politics, and those who practice them in the name of religion or in the name of the Republican Party or in the name of America shame our faith, our party and our country" (link).

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Anonymous Steve said...

"...has said that Jews can't go to heaven unless they accept Christ, that the Prophet Mohammed was a terrorist"

I hate to break this to you, saying that people who haven't accepted Christ aren't going to heaven is the core belief of all of Christianity. That's what the religion all about. Accepting Christ as your savior in order to get to heaven. You're going to have label all Christians as intolerant if that statement offends you. Which is a stance some could argue would make you intolerant.

And Mohammed was a terrorist. Read up on the guy. He was a war monger and a pedophile. He had a 9-year-old wife. Hopefully you don't have any muslim readers because I'll have a fatwah issued against me for saying that.

I'll accept an anti-religion stance across the board (like the one I hold), but I won't accept this standard liberal view that everything mainstream in America is bad (Christianity), while everything foreign is good (Islam).

11:22 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

I know plenty of Christians that don't believe that people who ascribe to other religious beliefs are going to Hell. I don't think you are being fair to them. It's mainly the fundamentalists (such as those I've mentioned in connection to McCain and Palin) that damn everyone not exactly like them to Hell.

No... Mohammed was not a terrorist. You'll have to substantiate that claim.

I'm not anti-religion, but I'd feel a whole hell of a lot better if our leaders weren't trying to represent Christian Zionists, Dominionists, and Reformationists. I've provided some links to their philosophies. Seriously, if you don't know what they are about, you should research them. There is a very real difference between them and "mainstream" Christians.

AS you can see, I am not advancing what you term a "standard liberal view" on this issue.

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...


It doesn't matter what your "Christian" friends believe. The premise of Christianity is that you have to accept Christ as your savior to reach heaven. That's the premise of any religion that has a "savior." You have to accept their savior/rules/methodology to attain ultimate salvation. You're applying modern day PC'ness to Christianity. I don't know of any religion that subscribes to the belief that everybody is going to heaven because that's the right thing to believe. If you don't believe me that this applies to Christianity, then you need to read the Bible. And if you don't believe me that this applies to Islam, then you need to read the Koran.

Just because Christianity is the prevailing religion in America doesn't mean you can push that PC point of view off on their beliefs. I can't not believe in Mohammed and think that muslims are going think I'm going to heaven. Just the same as I can't not believe in Christ and think that Christians are going to think I'm going to heaven. It's just not how things work.

Personally, I don't hold any of these religious beliefs. They all fold in the face of science, which I hold as the true test of legitimacy. I have a feeling you probably feel the same way.

I find it disturbing that you'd trumpet the beliefs of certain religions just because they aren't mainstream in America.

What else evidence do you need that Islam is a religion of violence? It plays out in front of our eyes everyday. The Middle East is what it is for a reason. They are the most intolerant, anti-civil rights culture on the planet and it doesn't help when "cultured" Americans stand up for their antiquated values in the name of political correctness. They are anti-gay. They are anti-woman. They are anti-minority. They are anti-everything that the civilized American experience is about, and you do not help your cause by standing up for their backwardness.

You are a smart man, Merge, and I love reading your opinions and debating issues with you. But this is not an area where we can have any lieniency. We know what is right. And we know what is wrong. Don't be afraid to take a stance on that because of fear you might labelled as intolerant. Those of us who have gotten to know you through your writing know better.

It's okay to be intolerant of things when you know that they're wrong.

11:49 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...


"It doesn't matter what your "Christian" friends believe."

Actually, it seems to me that belief is all that matters when it comes to faith. By definition, there's nothing logical about it. It's beyond logic. While it may seem logically inconsistent to you that someone would self-identify as a Christian (or Muslim), yet not condemn non-belivers to "hell", I assure you that such people exist. It has nothing to do with how I categorize their belief. My perception on this matter is manifestly beside the point.

Steve, don't you acknowledge that there is a wide range of Christians that disagree about Biblical interpretation? Many people who consider themselves Christians see the Bible as allegorical, rather than literal. I don't think that they would care that you would disqualify them on that account.

I don't spend any time thinking about "political correctness" because to me it's a meaningless term that everyone has a diffeent opinion about. It's too general a concept to be worthwhile to me.

Again, I'm not advocating for or against any particular religion, but rather making a distinction between fundamentalists and people that don't take everything literally. For many people faith is in essence a personal component with higlhly individualized interpretations, and they don't use it to judge others. That applies to many people who call themselves many different things.

When I refuse to superimpose black-and-white labels or generalized categories on individuals, I am truly expressing my sincere beliefs and philosophy. My thinking is often relativistic. Yes, I certainly have preferences... but I realize that they are tethered to my own subjective perspectives, and thus have no "a priori" validity.

1:49 PM  

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