The worst part about spoofing Fred Phelps is that in every instance, he’s come out a day later and essentially repeated the fake quote we doctored up the day before. Is it possible that his people are reading The Bennington Vale Evening Transcript and using our quotes? We hope not. But today, without us making up fake quotes for him, Phelps put on his hate-splattered big boy pants, all on his own, and praised his God for allowing Representative Giffords to get shot, several times.
Prior to that, Sarah Palin had drawn targets around Giffords’ head to demonstrate “enemies” of America. The New York Times made a great point:
Consider the comments of Sharron Angle, the Tea Party favorite who unsuccessfully ran against Harry Reid for the Senate in Nevada last year. She talked about “domestic enemies” in the Congress and said, “I hope we’re not getting to Second Amendment remedies.” Then there’s Rick Barber, a Republican who lost his primary in a Congressional race in Alabama, but not before airing an ad in which someone dressed as George Washington listened to an attack on the Obama agenda and gravely proclaimed, “Gather your armies.”
What puzzles me is that the most hateful public personalities in the United States operate under a pretext of “values.” But these are their values: fear, discrimination, and exhortations to violence. Where public service used to be an obligation, it’s become a compulsive way to masturbate a flaccid ego. John McCain doesn’t want to be president because he desperately sees a problem he can fix. He wants the office because it will calm his burning need for acknowledgement and acceptance. He’s got mommy issues or something. The last glimmer of his integrity disappeared in 2008, when a woman at a Minnesota town hall meeting asserted that Barack Obama was a closeted Arab. “No, ma’am, he’s not,” Mr. McCain snapped, grabbing the microphone. “He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with.” But you won’t hear this rhetoric from McCain anymore. Because he’s a “values voting” conservative now. And those just aren’t American values.
Progress as Compromise
Even progress means little to the values conservative. The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell didn’t end hate or bigotry or the wholly misguided religious crusade against members of the GLBT community, but we thought it would soften the blows when people learned that powerful entities such as the federal government, the armed services, and even Republicans in Congress acknowledged not only the equal rights of homosexuals but their patriotic contributions. It didn’t. The hate still pulses forward. The repeal was part of a deal to get the tax cuts for the rich and other compromised legislation pushed through. How very sad.
And honestly, at this this stage in the game, how could the values party not support it? As we’ve learned over the past few years, conservatives like to have a gay, old time.
We learned that Republican Senator Larry Craig’s “wide stance” referred more to his openness to explore same-sex coupling in airport restrooms than it did to his posture when urinating.
We learned that the uber-conservative Reverend Ted Haggard had paid extravagant sums of money for sex with male prostitutes and crystal meth, attempting to test his own faith in God.
We learned that Representative Mark Foley -- Chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, one of the foremost opponents of child pornography in the Senate -- was caught sending sexually charged letters to teenage boys, a practice that had gone on for years. But in his defense, the best way to teach a person to avoid his enemy is to show him his enemy first.
We learned that Representative Bob Allen offered an undercover police officer $20 to give him oral pleasure in a park restroom. But then, most people understand that $20 won’t even get you a handy in some neighborhoods. Allen might be gay, but he hasn’t been practicing very long. That, or congressional pages cost a lot less than hobos.
Why Was Giffords Shot?
What, then, are the values that drove Jared Lee Loughner, the prime suspect in the Giffords shooting, to action? A federal judge, a small child, and others were killed for a statement -- for a principle. Which was a complaint about the illiteracy rate? According to the Associated Press:
"I'm thinking of creating a new currency," he [Loughner] wrote. "Therefore, I'm thinking of a design for my new coins size, shape, color, material, and image to start a new money system."
He also wrote repeatedly about literacy. In a written message on YouTube, Loughner said: "The majority of people, who reside in District-8 are illiterate - hilarious. I don't control your English grammar structure, but you control your English grammar structure."
In a message posted on his MySpace account, titled "Goodbye friends," Loughner said: "Dear friends...please don't be mad at me. The literacy rate is below 5%. I haven't talked to one person who is literate."
In a MySpace profile, Loughner said "My favorite interest was reading, and I studied grammar. Conscience dreams were a great study in college."
Given Loughner’s actual grasp of grammar, self-hate must have played a part in all this. Just as religious figures thanking God for destroying this “enemy of the state” played a part in all this. Just as Arizona’s Spartan immigration policies and paranoid Open Carry mindset fueled the anger and cowardice that played a part in all this.
When the news of the shooting became more clear, another writer for BVET texted, “20 shots, 19 hits -- you knew it had to be a white kid.”
Of course it did. Because these are the “values” so many conservatives think are under siege: the White Anglo Saxon Protestants’ loss of control over a monopoly on power. And because there are no minorities left in Arizona.
Guns don’t kill people, in my opinion. Neither do bullets. Fear, division, and the bizarre anxiety of losing one’s creature comforts are forcing back the trigger fingers of internal terrorists. And, sadly, these are the politics of 21st century America, where those who attempt to help others are fascists, and those who urge Americans to distrust their fellow Americans are heroes.