Last night Newt Gingrich made a statement in a situation where I think he thought that no-one was paying attention (as his hat wasn’t really in the ring for the evening’s votes). It was perhaps one of the most ironic statements that I’ve ever heard out of the mouth of any politician.
His comment was in reaction to the overturning of the Gay Marriage Ban in California and demand by Obama that birth control and abortion counseling be part of all publicly funded medical programs, including those in Catholic institutions. He said that this was un-American and that the original immigrants to America were people who were fleeing government persecution in Europe, coming to the shores of the U.S. so that they could enjoy religious freedom.
In saying this, he’s tripped over his own forked tongue and done a face plant into a steamy pile of horse manure. The people who fled the America to avoid religious prosecution were fleeing the dominant churches of the day and only the government insofar as they were a puppet theocracy controlled by those dominant churches, -which, by the way, was primarily the Catholic Church!! It wasn’t so much that they weren’t allowed to practice their religion but rather that they didn’t practice the dominant religion.
That Gingrich would point to the overturning of Proposition 8, which attempted to ban gay marriage in California after the legislature had made it legal as a similar kind of religious oppression, is the height of irony. This spectacularly spotlights the hypocrisy of the religious right. What is really happening (whether you agree with Proposition 8 or not) is that you have a religious group that is trying to dictate its will and values onto persecuted minority, just like it did in Europe, forcing those people to flee to America in order to find freedom. Gingrich has the shoe on the wrong foot. It is not religious America that is being persecuted. They are the persecutors. They are the religious thugs wanting to impose their will. The only way that the religious right is being victimized in this situation is the same way that the theocracy in Europe was victimized; they’re outraged that everybody doesn’t want to be like them!!
The abortion issue is similar, although a little less black and white. Notice that in the abortion controversy one side is called anti-abortion and the other side is called pro-choice. Yes, I know that after pro-choice became the popular term the opponents saw the need to frame their cause in a more positive way and came up with pro-life. The point still remains that the term pro-choice is very interesting and still speaks to the question of individual rights. Nobody is forced to have an abortion, but in some places people are forbidden to have an abortion, or are forced to undergo painful humiliation before they can have it. Once again, whether you support abortion or not, the persecution still falls squarely on the side of the religious interests. The state isn’t telling religious people what to do, but the religious people are telling the non-religious people what to do. Who is the persecutor and who is the victim?
The current issue with the Obama decree forces all workplaces, regardless of religious affiliation, to offer the same rights to all of it’s workers. What an un-American idea!! Once again we see right wing hypocrisy at work. The decree is plugging the loop hole that would allow organizations and companies to claim a religious affiliation and then use it to deny some of their workers the benefits that are mandated by law. If they find that distasteful in any way then they have the right to defer that to another party, but they still have the responsibility to offer it. There are many arguments where something that is distasteful has to be endured in order to protect the idea of freedom and equality.
Thank you, Newt, for drawing such effective parallels. I hope you didn’t choke on your foot