Saturday, August 25, 2007

Guess Who's "Illegal" Now?

-- by Sara

I welcomed last week's three-part CNN series, "God's Warriors," as a positive sign that the mainstream media is finally starting to understand -- and take seriously -- the threat fundamentalism poses to modern secular democracies around the world. In particular, I was pleased that the series drew such strong parallels between the impulses that drive Muslim fundamentalism, those that feed Jewish fanaticism in Israel, and those that inspire the anti-Constitutional excesses of our own home-grown religious right.

In making clear the links between these three movements, Christiane Amanpour gave us a framework to understand that there is a culture war gripping the globe -- but it's not Islam against the West, as the conservatives would have us believe. Rather, the real battle we're facing is a rising tide of fundamentalism, in several forms, trying to overwhelm secular society in many parts of the world at once.

If you go over to Youtube and do a search on "God's Warriors," a disproportionate number of the video clips will show the segment covering Ron Luce's "Battle Cry" movement (which we've discussed at length here in the past). This isn't surprising: "Battle Cry" rallies are designed to have all the visual drama of the Nuremburg Rally -- an apt analogy on all too many levels. The sight of America's own nascent Hitler Youth movement raising their arms and declaring their commitment to the war against secular society makes for great TV. It's also a spectacle that every American should find chilling.

But absolutely nobody has picked up on another little segment I found at least as horrifying -- even before I found out it had a local Seattle angle.

The clip above is Rev. Joe Fuiten, pastor of the Cedar Park Church in Bothell, WA. In it, he carefully explains that Christian-based social conservatism is the way it's always been in America. And anyone who disagrees with that assertion or thinks it should be otherwise, is, he says -- flat out -- an "illegal alien here."

Considering how the GOP has been using "illegal immigration" as an excuse for the demonization of brown people and the suspension of all kinds of civil rights, this characterization should give us at least as much pause as the "Battle Cry" footage does. We've been arguing recently that the Christian right no longer even tries to make a secret of the fact that it considers itself a master race, endowed by the Creator with rights and privileges that exceed -- and even negate -- those of non-believers.

Now, we have the pastor of a large regional mega-church right there on national TV, asserting that those who disagree with his theology are defacto aliens in their own country. Yep. That's right. If you're not a born-again fundamentalist Christian, you can just turn in your passport and your sample ballot now. And don't bother trying to collect on any of the public services your taxes pay for, either. You don't have any more right to be here than someone who spent two days and nights crawling across the Rio Grande to pick strawberries. In fact, according to Rev. Fuiten: you have no rights worth respecting at all.

Of course, this tortured conclusion is based on gross historical revisionism. Many contemporary writers noted with astonishment that America was startlingly unchurched up through the 1840s Great Awakening. Furthermore, several of the most enduringly famous people of the 19th century were secular activists and reformers (like atheist Robert Ingersoll, Jewish activist Ernestine Rose, not to mention Stanton and Anthony and Douglass -- for decades, these people packed 'em in like rock stars wherever they spoke, and their ideas were read and debated in every household in the country. And all were devoted secularists). Fuiten also ignores the fact that other religions have always had a strong presence here -- by the conscious design of the Founders. And, finally; the Christian morals he insists have been the "native" state of Americans have been mostly honored in the breach. Like most moralists, he's referring back to some imaginary golden Mayberry that never existed anywhere except in the minds of scandalized would-be reformers. (And this utopian image, too, has a history almost as long as that of the nation.)

But it's not just a bad interpretation of the past that makes Fuiten's statement so dangerous. It's what this kind of logic can lead us to in the future. Fascism requires purity crusades against an out-group that's seen as polluting the national body politic. The line between pseudo-fascism and the real deal is crossed at the point where the state sanctions the use of violence in furthering that crusade, as it did on Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany.

Asserting that non-fundamentalists are "illegal aliens" in their own country -- the one that our own ancestors fought, paid taxes, and worked all their lives to build; or risked everything to get to and start over in -- is a potent statement of that exact kind of purity crusade thinking. It's the same libel Nazis told the Germans about their native Jews: We are something other, something less than, something not-American (and thus potentially treasonous), and perhaps not even quite human. We are not like the good volk of the heartland; we are decadent urban intellectuals who seek to corrupt all that is good. Our very presence desecrates the pure soul of the nation. We have been ejected, in their minds, from the protection of American law and the community of American citizens.

For that reason, we don't belong here; and this country does not belong to us. And, underlying it all, there's the hint of a threat that as soon as the theocrats consolidate their grip on power and finish dismantling those pesky rights (they're oh, so close now), they will be fully justified in putting us behind barbed wire, removing us from "their" country by force, or simply dispatching us on sight like the vermin we are.

To put it bluntly: Fuiten's little toss-off statement is giving his fellow-believers a fresh rationalization -- pre-loaded with more connotations that I can reasonably list here -- for a cleansing campaign of eliminationism targeting anyone who doesn't share their beliefs.

As I've been noting, this kind of remark is hardly an isolated incident. If they're willing to talk like this on national TV, you know that whatever they're saying in private among themselves is far, far worse. This is a meme that's already covering the countryside -- softening the ground for those Battle Cry/OSU - trained Christian soldiers, who are actively preparing themselves to take back the country for God, and transform our democracy into a theocratic kingdom by any means necessary.

He said it. Right out loud on CNN, without even trying to make it sound PC.

We'd best start taking these people at their word.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday orca blogging

[Orcas in Johnstone Strait, 2005]

-- by Dave

Along with the terrific news that a new calf has appeared with L Pod, one of the endangered southern resident killer whale families, we got the depressing news that a barge carrying equipment laden with diesel fuel spilled this week in Johnstone Strait -- directly in front of the Robson Bight, a protected wildlife area known for attracting killer whales.

So far, no whales have been reported harmed by the spill, but the incident raises questions about what's being permitted to ply the waters of the Bight:
Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard, the Vancouver Aquarium's resident killer-whale expert, spent yesterday nervously counting orcas at the site of Monday's barge accident around the protected waters of Robson Bight.

To his relief, he found all the whales accounted for and none exhibiting signs of immediate distress from the diesel fuel that spilled into their environment. "They appear to be fine -- for now," he said.

But as marine mammal toxicologist Peter Ross explained, breathing and swallowing the diesel can have immediate, though unapparent impacts -- such as lung irritation -- and worse effects later, such as infection and disease.

Most of the light sheen of fuel had evaporated by yesterday afternoon, though, yielding hope that B.C.'s most iconic and beloved animals had escaped the danger.

But the entire episode left Barrett-Lennard wondering just how "protected" Robson Bight really is.

The bight contains a broad pebble beach where the whales gather and exhibit the extraordinary behaviour of rubbing their bodies along the gravelly bottom. It's one of the few places in the world where they do this and it makes perfect sense that it should be strictly protected.

Just one problem: Robson Bight is a provincial ecological reserve, while the movement of commercial shipping and fishing vessels through the area is a federal responsibility. The two levels of government have a committee to work out the jurisdictional overlap, but that doesn't always prevent haphazard interventions into the whales' sanctuary.

During the commercial fishing season, for example, up to 100 boats enter the bight to compete with the whales for salmon.

Regular readers may recall that I visited Robson Bight (actually, we just paddled up to its boundary) last year and watched the orcas frequenting the area. I made a video slide show of it that featured sounds I recorded just outside the Bight.

Now, if you listen carefully, you'll recognize that there's a steady outpouring of noise somewhere in these waters that is part of the ambient sound. That noise was provided by a tug hauling a log boom about 100 yards long (or longer) down the strait, verrrry slowly. It was present for nearly the entire afternoon we watched the whales.

One of the problems with boat traffic, as I explored recently for Seattle Magazine, is that it creates the kind of noise most likely to interfere with orcas' echolocation, which plays a critical role in their hunting (these orcas are strictly fish eaters, and their echolocation frequencies seem specifically geared for chinook, which in fact are believed to constitute the large majority of their diet).

And in Johnstone Strait, as Paul Spong has often noted, the racket can sometimes be deafening for an orca because the strait is so narrow and deep, its sides echoing like the deep canyons they are.

And when you add toxic spills from boat traffic into the mix, the need for change becomes urgent.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The law-breaking Bush bunch

[Illustration via The Satirical Political Report]

-- by Dave

We've all been impressed, I think, by the Bush administration's brazen lawlessness in the past year -- its naked flouting of the FISA courts in its wiretapping programs, its refusal to abide by lawful congressional subpoenas in the U.S. Attorneys investigation.

But when it comes to placing itself above the law, these are only the tip of the iceberg, as it, were for this administration. Perhaps its most naked -- though less noticed -- assault on the rule of law lies in its treatment of the Endangered Species Act.

You may recall that shortly after the 2006 election, the administration made it clear that it was proceeding with the conservative agenda on the ESA -- which is to say, that it intended to gut the law.

The Bush assault on environmental law began well before then, of course. As early as 2002, it transparently violated the ESA in order to accede to the demands of a pack of far-right 'Patriots' demanding the Klamath River water be diverted away from salmon, resulting in the largest fish kill in the history of the West -- a fact the administration and other Republicans are still running away from. And as subsequent reportage has detailed, the involvement reached the highest levels of the White House.

Likewise, the Bush administration has been caught playing politics with scientific decisions that affect ESA enforcement, and recently has been playing outrageous games with policies regarding the use of Navy sonar around the Puget Sound's ESA-protected killer whales.

Now the administration's top forestry official is facing contempt proceedings for his failure to adhere to the ESA and subsequent refusal at even act on a lawful court order:
A federal judge in Montana has ordered the Bush administration’s top forestry official to explain why he should not be held in contempt of court for the U.S. Forest Service’s failure to analyze the environmental impacts of dropping fish-killing fire retardant on wildfires.

If found in contempt, Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, could go to jail until the Forest Service complies with the court order to do the environmental review.

Noting that Rey had blocked implementation of an earlier review, U.S. District Judge Donald W. Malloy in Missoula, Mont., ordered Rey to appear in his court Oct. 15 unless the Forest Service completes the analysis before that time — an outcome Malloy deemed unlikely.

“It has been six years since Forest Service staff completed a ‘retardant EA’ — only to have higher-up officials embargo it,” Malloy wrote in an order issued late Friday. “The time I am giving is likely to prove insufficient if: 1) the agency is simply unwilling to follow the law; or, 2) it is prevented from following the law by its political masters, as was the case when Under Secretary of Agriculture Mark Rey ordered that formal (Endangered Species Act) consultation regarding fire retardant not to occur.”

Forest Service spokesman Joe Walsh said the agency was working on the analysis, but he could not say whether they would meet the new deadline, because it was two months away.

Rey did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.

Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, an environmental group based in Eugene, filed the lawsuit in 2003, a year after more than 20,000 fish were killed when toxic retardant was dropped in Fall Creek in central Oregon.

The administration's assault on environmental law, of course, is not restricted to the ESA. Yesterday, a judge in San Francisco has ruled once again that the administration is flagrantly violating the law (and flouting Congress as well) in its report on global warming:
The Bush administration has violated a 2004 congressional deadline for presenting the latest scientific research about global warming to lawmakers and the public and must submit its report by next spring, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Federal officials have "unlawfully withheld action they are required to take," preparing a new scientific assessment by November 2004 and a research plan by July 2006, said U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong of Oakland. "Congress has imposed clear-cut, unambiguous deadlines for compliance."

A 1990 federal law requires the government to produce a scientific report every four years on climate change and its effects on the environment, including land, water, air, plant and animal life, and human health.

The Clinton administration issued the first report in October 2000, warning of severe effects on different regions. The Bush administration has not issued a report and, according to environmental groups that filed a lawsuit in November, has tried to bury the Clinton report.

"This administration has denied and suppressed the science of global warming at every turn," said Brendan Cummings, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

I suppose that we can take some small comfort from all this: The Bush administration has established, once and for all, that rule by the conservative movement is nothing short of catastrophic to the national well-being. By 2008, it's going to be important that the voters have this knowledge embedded -- and it always helps when they're so flagrant about it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Reviving eugenics

-- by Dave

I really wasn't going to expend any energy on Jules Crittenden's attack on my post about fatherhood and masculinity at Firedoglake, because from the outset it was so fundamentally silly that it hardly seemed worth devoting any effort to reading carefully, let alone responding to it.

But then TRex, in his response, pointed out something I'd overlooked in Crittenden's post, to wit:
Look, staying home with the kids is fine, if that’s what you want to do. Nothing wrong with it. If your wife can take six months off every two years to squeeze another one out and breastfeed it, then fine. But for God’s sake stop whining about your manliness and use it. I have bad news for you. The people doing all the breeding around the world aren’t interested in consciousness-expanding gender neutrality and growing as New Age androgenoids or reducing their carbon footprints or trying to understand you in order to respect your differences or any of that. They are interested in your stuff, however, and sooner or later, they will swamp your kind out of existence. And a lot of them might not even bothering sticking around to be fathers at all while they’re at it.

This, folks, is clear and unadulterated eugenics. I know that Crittenden's friends at National Review have been trying to revive eugenics as somehow "respectable," but even John Derbyshire and Ramesh Ponnuru are smart enough to do so without appearing quite so crudely xenophobic. ("They are interested in your stuff"?)

Compare, if you will, Crittenden's formula above with that proffered by the eugenicist Madison Grant in his 1916 book The Passing of the Great Race (which was a national bestseller at the time):
We Americans must realize that the altruistic ideals which have controlled our social development during the past century, and the maudlin sentimentalism that has made America 'an asylum for the oppressed,' are sweeping the nation toward a racial abyss. If the Melting Pot is allowed to boil without control, and we continue to follow our national motto and deliberately blind ourselves to all 'distinctions of race, creed, or color,' the type of native American of Colonial descent will become as extinct as the Athenian of the age of Pericles, and the Viking of the days of Rollo.

Then there is Lothrop Stoddard's conclusion to his 1922 book, The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy, also a bestseller:
"Finally perish!" That is the exact alternative which confronts the white race. For white civilization is to-day conterminous with the white race. The civilizations of the past were local. They were confined to a particular people or group of peoples. If they failed, there were always some unspoiled, well-endowed barbarians to step forward and "carry on." But today there are no more white barbarians. The earth has grown small, and men are everywhere in close touch. If white civilization goes down, the white race is irretrievably ruined. It will be swamped by the triumphant colored races, who will obliterate the white man by elimination or absorption. What has taken place in Central Asia, once a white and now a brown or yellow land, will take place in Australasia, Europe, and America. Not to-day, nor yet to-morrow; perhaps not for generations; but surely in the end. If the present drift be not changed, we whites are all ultimately doomed. Unless we set our house in order, the doom will sooner or later overtake us all.

If Crittenden is out there reading this somewhere, I'd like him to explain to us the differences between his view of those hordes of people who are not "our kind" awaiting to invade us and that of Grant and Stoddard -- men who, as subsequent history made plain, were not only terribly wrong (particularly about the threat posed by Asians and their supposed utter unassimilability) but whose eugenics proved to be a murderously foul worldview, particularly when put into action.

I don't see how Crittenden's argument can be seen as anything other than eugenicist. Perhaps he can explain how.

Or perhaps Glenn Reynolds, who gave this post an approving link, can similarly enlighten us.

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

Minutemen: Not welcome

-- by Dave

Seems that the Minutemen have worn out their welcome in Arizona:
Arizona residents are sick of the self-proclaimed Minutemen vigilantes. Arizona businessmen armed with shotguns near Nogales, Arizona, have chased them off their property.

Human rights groups and Arizona residents say the Minutemen are unwelcome armed vigilantes.

One volunteer searching for people dying in the desert Tuesday sent this report of the Minutemen, who are out in full force in the areas of Green Valley and Arivaca.

"They park at Continental and the frontage road in Green Valley on a regular basis and yesterday they met in numbers in the parking lots of the Amado Mini Market, The Longhorn restaurant and the Cow Palace."

Already, some area businessmen have chased Minutemen off their property with shotguns.

And as luck would have it, they've also been told they're not welcome up in Illinois too:
A seminar expected to draw dozens of illegal immigration foes and perhaps hundreds of protesters to Crystal Lake on Saturday is in jeopardy after the hotel hosting the event told its sponsor it is no longer welcome.

The decision by the Crystal Lake Holiday Inn has left the Illinois Minuteman Project scrambling to find an alternate location to host Allen County, Ohio, Sheriff Dan Beck, whose efforts to deport people in the country unlawfully has earned him national attention.

“I’m disturbed by the whole thing,” Minuteman Director Rosanna Pulido said this morning. “We’re not bringing in a lunatic. We’re bringing in a sheriff.”

Pulido said her organization received an e-mail from Holiday Inn attorneys Tuesday afternoon announcing their decision to cancel her conference room reservation. The e-mail, Pulido said, indicated the decision was made after Crystal Lake police informed the hotel it would be asked to reimburse the city $3,000 or more for additional police protection.

Pulido said she does not blame the Holiday Inn for its decision, saying she understands its hesitancy about paying for added security. Instead, she blames Crystal Lake authorities for making the hotel responsible for those costs.

“I feel there’s been government interference,” she said.

However, Crystal Lake Police Chief David Linder said the city’s decision to pass along its costs is standard policy. The department has sought and received similar reimbursement for other events such as last year’s Gay Games rowing competition on Crystal Lake.

For safety reasons Linder said he could not disclose his department’s plans for Saturday’s event, but he confirmed that the Holiday Inn was told it could be asked to reimburse the city as much as $3,000.

The folks in Kalamazoo, who just paid $150,000 to provide protection for a neo-Nazi rally, might want to consider adopting a similar policy.

[UPDATED to correct locale of Crystal Lake rally.]

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

More Minutemen

-- by Sara

PastorDan at Street Prophets posted recently on this "Minuteman" group in Ohio that's taken to making protests during services at liberal Christian churches. From the Columbus Dispatch's report:
A conservative Christian values group has been interrupting services at two central Ohio churches to protest their support for homosexuality.

Minutemen United vowed to attend services every Sunday.

The group started its crusade when First Baptist Church in Granville hosted "Love Makes a Family," a traveling exhibit by the Family Diversity Project showing photos of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families.

The night the exhibit opened in July, members of Minutemen United stood outside and protested the exhibit and the church's open attitude toward homosexuality, said the Rev. Kathy Hurt, senior pastor at the Granville church.

Since then, the group has been visiting the church every Sunday, she said. On one of the first Sundays, six people came to the church's 11 a.m. service and addressed the congregation during a time designated for prayer requests and comments.

Hurt said a man, who introduced himself as a minister from the New Beginnings Church in Warsaw, Ohio, started to give a sermon about how the church was acting against God's word by accepting homosexuals.

Members of Minutemen United also visited King Avenue United Methodist Church in Columbus that same morning, said the Rev. John Keeny.

"They rebuked me as a pastor for preaching that God's love is for everyone," Keeny said.
Dan wanted to know if this group had any attachment to the Minutemen border patrol groups we've so often discussed here. Looking over their website, there doesn't appear to be any connection. This group, "Minutemen United," was organized in Ohio in 2002, and claims to comprise a group of culture warriors concerned about issues like Playboy ("entry-level pornography") in grocery stores and shutting down businesses where gays gather.

It's clear from reading their site that their agenda is driven by over-the-top hysterical homophobia; but I didn't find a word about border patrols. Like the border groups, they've appropriated the military imagery of the original Massachusetts patriots; however, their "Who We Are" page concludes with the obligatory statement that they are strictly non-violent and do not advocate the use of force in promoting their agenda; and the site is also free of the coded racist hate language that's a stock in trade of the border groups. (On the other hand, there's an absolutely bizarre page listing female teachers nationwide who've sexually abused their students -- though I didn't find a corresponding page on male teachers, of course. Did I mention that the founder of this group is a defrocked football coach?) So, Dan: no, this doesn't look like the same guys at all.

But their bullying attitude is definitely of a piece with a larger trend in right-wing behavior that's begun to emerge in recent months. I've written recently about the increasingly pushy way the religious authoritarians have been muscling others aside, revealing by their actions a new and dangerously expanded sense of entitlement. If the God's Bible trumps man's Constitution, they believe, then those who believe in the Bible have more rights than those who believe in the Constitution. And they're starting to act on that belief, elbowing their way to the front of the national microphone wherever it's offered, regardless of whether or not they have a legal right to it. Showing up at other people's churches -- invading their private property and sacred worship time -- with the intention of disrupting their services is right in line with this larger pattern of intimidation. (Can you imagine a left-wing political group doing something like this to a conservative church? Boundaries, people. They're called boundaries.) It's more evidence of the kind of escalating bully behavior I've been noting.

Though there's no connection between the groups, they partake of this same anti-democratic spirit that regards any difference as an existential challenge; and demonizes those who don't conform to their narrow ideas. Authoritarians are authoritarians wherever you find them; and it's a loss to the American civic religion that the good name of the Minutemen -- the original patriots who first put themselves on the line in defense of our individual rights so long ago -- has been co-opted by more than one group seeking to re-impose exactly the kind of reign of tyranny those first Minutemen fought to liberate us from.

Monday, August 20, 2007


-- by Dave

I can't think of any greater irony than seeing those masculine icons, Jeff Goldstein and Jules Crittenden, weighing in on my Firedoglake post on fatherhood and masculinity. And they came through with flying colors, rather vividly illustrating my point without even seeming to realize it.

Well, I hope they haven't mistaken me for someone who cares even remotely what they think (and will thus expend the requisite energy in response). Because I'm not.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for me to read my daughter her bedtime story.

UPDATE: Goldstein has more. The landscape is littered with flaming strawmen, of course. No wonder Atrios calls this guy Pasty.

UPDATE II: It's been noted in my comments by Mrs. R. that Crittenden referred sneeringly to my readership ("all three of them"). Dude, there's a thing called Site Meter, and if you bothered to click on mine, you'd notice that they are not too different from yours (between 3 and 4 thousand daily hits). One big difference: I've accrued over 4 million hits in the time I've been blogging, while Crittenden has just a little over a million. And then it's worth noting that I only published this post at Firedoglake, which has a daily readership of about 60,000.

Glass houses. Stones. All that.

UPDATE: TRex chews 'em up and spits 'em out.

Right-wing reductio ad absurdum

-- by Dave

Well, we've seen how the right-wing cult of Bush Worship -- now down to about, what, 25 percent of the voting populace? -- has steadfastly refused to accept that the Codpiece Commander has been anything but stellar in his tenure in the presidency. The Bill Kristols and Rich Lowrys reassure us that things are getting better and that, besides, his "steadfastness" (and not his "stubbornness") will be proven over time the correct course.

And so we get the Victor Davis Hansons of the world relying on near-useless historical analogies to justify the Bush wars, even arguing that a good public dose of military history would cure our ills. And he's got a point, but as Nitpicker says, "it doesn't help you if, like Hanson, you're a blind, foolish partisan infected by cognitive dissonance."

Then there's the "300 is the best movie EVAH!!! crowd, who assure us it tells you everything you need to know about why we're at war in Iraq. Right.

I guess the logical outcome of this utter absurdity is the recent work of Philip Atkinson of Family Security Matters, who earlier this month published the following:
The inadequacy of Democracy, rule by the majority, is undeniable -- for it demands adopting ideas because they are popular, rather than because they are wise. This means that any man chosen to act as an agent of the people is placed in an invidious position: if he commits folly because it is popular, then he will be held responsible for the inevitable result. If he refuses to commit folly, then he will be detested by most citizens because he is frustrating their demands.

The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands, or until they were all dead. Then there would be little risk or expense and no American army would be left exposed. But if he did this, his cowardly electorate would have instantly ended his term of office, if not his freedom or his life.

Damn that democracy. What we need is just a good ruthless dictator, right? Well, that's right:
The simple truth that modern weapons now mean a nation must practice genocide or commit suicide. Israel provides the perfect example. If the Israelis do not raze Iran, the Iranians will fulfill their boast and wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Yet Israel is not popular, and so is denied permission to defend itself. In the same vein, President Bush cannot do what is necessary for the survival of Americans. He cannot use the nation's powerful weapons. All he can do is try and discover a result that will be popular with Americans.

...If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestiege while terrifying American enemies.

He could then follow Caesar's example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court.

President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become “President-for-Life” Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.

Well, as you can imagine, this piece didn't last long. Not only has Family Security Matters scrubbed the piece from its site, they've scrubbed all of Atkinson's work from the site (as of yesterday he was still listed among their contributing editors, though today that list seems to have been scrubbed as well).

Who is Family Security Matters -- beyond, that is, their jingoist mission statement and a board that includes right-wing luminaries like Barbara Comstock, Laura Ingraham, and Frank Gaffney?

According to SourceWatch, (which in turn cites Media Matters):
In fact, Family Security Matters (FSM) is a front group for the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a conservative Washington think tank "committed to the time-tested philosophy of promoting international peace through American strength." (The phone number listed on the FSM website is answered by the CSP.)

Obviously, they're doing the right thing in distancing themselves from Atkinson now, but the natural question the incident raises is: Why hadn't anyone at FSM noticed before now that Atkinson is a certifiable loon? After all, he had a history of publishing pieces that were nearly as bad, and which in fact served as predicates to the "Bush as President for Life" piece.

In my comments, the indispensable Trefayne did some digging into what Atkinson's published at FSM and elsewhere:
For anyone who wants to dig up more editorial sludge from the piece of work that is Philip Atkinson of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, I've already taken out my shovel for you. His recent outrage is not so surprising when you look at other things he's written. ...

Atkinson's commentaries are apparently now missing from, but they were all under their "FSM's Must Reads" heading. They must have liked his work at some point, including "Conquering the Drawbacks of Democracy" [linked above]. So, why were they all deleted? Did they not know the kind of person they were dealing with, or did they get caught and embarrassed for associating with a rather open fascist?

Here are the other writings that had been on the FSM site, but which I had to find via other means. The last one is of special interest.

-- Muslims in Australia

-- The Insanity Test

-- America’s Choice -- [cache not available, and scrubbed from site]

-- Heresy Prosecutions Signal Re-appearance of Inquisition in 21st Century (which is critical of the criminal prosecutions of Holocaust deniers in Europe)

-- The Tyranny of Political Correctness (also available at Atkinson's site)

-- How Our Decaying Civilization Will End, Too Enfeebled to Resist Invasion [also available at Atkinson's site.]

This last one may be especially interesting to Orcinus readers, since it is an anti-immigrant screed by Atkinson, in which he used the "host"-"parasite" metaphor. He claims that Mexicans are "invading" and "colonizing" the U.S. [See more here and here on that.] He also mentions Indians and Pakistanis in an apparent reference to Britain, Atkinson's country of birth. He describes Hadrian's Wall as an immigration fence, and likens the 9/11 attacks to "a barbarian raid upon the USA,". The piece was titled "The Barbarians are Coming: How Our Decaying Civilization Will End, Too Enfeebled to Resist Invasion". We're clearly dealing with a second-century intellect here.

Are there any Orcinus readers in Australia? If so, you may be interested in the following.

In a couple of pages on his personal site, Atkinson defends "heroine" Pauline Hanson's "simple truths" from their treatment by the forces of "political correctness" ( here and here).

Philip Atkinson's "" has a page for one Dr. L.J.M. Cooray of Sydney, Australia, and Cooray has (or had) an e-mail address through Atkinson's domain. According to some sources, Cooray also seems to have issues with democracy, as noted by They copied a 2005 article titled "A Bunch of Theocrats" by a Brian Baxter, from Australia's The Skeptic magazine. Baxter reported that in October 2003, a document by Cooray was on the website of the Australian Christian Lobby, (formerly known as the Australian Christian Coalition), in which Cooray claimed Biblical infallibility as well as divine delegation of authority to various humans, with kings and governments listed first. I cannot verify Baxter's footnotes for these quotes, because I do not have the print article from The Skeptic, or Cooray's paper. Maybe someone else knows where to find them.

Sounds like the Anglosphere is indeed under threat. But one horde to be wary of includes Atkinson and friends.

It isn't hard to see that the "Clash of Civilizations" rhetoric employed by so many on the right regarding the current hostilities abroad leads directly down this path. At least we know that there really are people like Atkinson out there, espousing beliefs that are plainly fascist, especially in their hostility to democracy and their exaltation of violence. And we can see all too easily how they got there.

UPDATE: s9 at MojoWire has more, and Gonzo Muckraker has a revealing e-mail exchange with Atkinson.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Manly men

-- by Dave

Hope you all check out my post on stay-at-home fatherhood at Firedoglake. And thanks, Jane, for giving that post a good home. (And thanks to Digby too.)

What's fake, and what's real

-- by Dave

As many of us suspected, the video footage purportedly showing a maverick Minuteman shooting a border crosser -- along with a second video showing the same gunman taking potshots at another group of crossers -- have turned out to be fakes, at least according to the men who made them:
One Minuteman leader accused a rival Minuteman leader of videotaping the shooting of an illegal immigrant, but sheriff's deputies investigating the report Saturday said the video was fake, as did the maker of the video.

Robert "Little Dog" Crooks, leader of the Campo Minutemen, said he and his friends did shoot the video and sheriff's deputies came out to see what happened, but they know him well.

"Who in their right mind is going to shoot a smuggler, videotape it, then post it to YouTube?" Crooks said.

The video came to the attention of authorities after Jeff Schwilk, founder of the San Diego Minutemen, who Crooks said is his rival, e-mailed another border activist, warning about the Crooks video, according to a local newspaper.

The video, which is shot from the perspective of a gun scope, was probably staged, said Sgt. Mike Radovich of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department Campo station.

The video shows Minutemen targeting an illegal immigrant crossing the border. There's the sound of a gunshot, the immigrant ducks or is shot, and then the video fades out to a grave site, Radovich said.

Crooks gave a similar description of his video. He said he and his friends made the video when the Minutemen were bored discussing President George W. Bush's federal immigration reform bill, which the group calls the Amnesty Bill, and which was eventually turned down by Congress.

"The Amnesty Bill was up in the air, and we said if it goes through it'd bury America," Crooks said. "So we buried America."

The group constructed the fake grave site next to Crooks' trailer, which is near the border fence in Campo, he said. Radovich said he saw the fake grave site during his investigation of the video.

"We're old men and we're bored," Crooks said.

It was all too obvious the ending of the second video, with the grave and marker, was faked, while the other footage looked to be potentially real, but in the end unlikely. (The shooting video, which has since been removed by YouTube, was especially unlikely, as he reels off two shots but the camera -- ostensibly mounted on his scope -- shows no indication of a recoil.)

What was clearly not faked was the narrator's chilling lacking of humanity -- the viciousness with which he waited for the right moment to get off a round. What was clearly real was his wish that he could shoot one of these border crossers, and his belief moreover that we ought to be doing that. In the first video, which is still available, he mutters, after firing off a round and yelling obscenities at the ostensible crossers: "And that's how you get rid of Mexicans!"

Indeed, according to the SPLC's first report on this, Crooks actually e-mailed the video to "several other prominent nativist leaders, including Jim Gilchrist, co-founder of the original Minuteman Project."
In the E-mail, Crooks suggests that Gilchrist is a weakling who can “Talk the Talk” but not “Walk the Walk.”

“This video shows how to keep a ‘Home Depot’ parking lot empty,” Crooks (right) wrote in his sneering July 26 E-mail, titled “Homeland Defence.” Gilchrist, whose organization had earlier provided Crooks’ group with supplies, responded by banning Crooks from contact with his own group.

There's no doubt that while the video was faked, what's very real is the belief of these "Minutemen" that the way to solve the problem is to start taking shots at Mexicans.

Crooks is hardly alone in that belief among the ranks of the border watchers. In fact, it's something that floats up in interviews all the time. Like the two Minutemen in Arizona:
"It should be legal to kill illegals," said Carl, a 69-year old retired Special Forces veteran who fought in Vietnam and now lives out West. "Just shoot 'em on sight. That's my immigration policy recommendation. You break into my country, you die."

"I agree completely," Michael said. "You get up there with a rifle and start shooting four or five of them a week, the other four or five thousand behind them are going to think twice about crossing that line."

Or the Minuteman on patrol with Chris Simcox back in 2004:
No, we ought to be able to shoot the Mexicans on sight, and that would end the problem. After two or three Mexicxans are shot, they'll stop crossing the border and they'll take their cows home, too.

Or the fellows who invented that crude video game in which the object is to gun down border crossers.

It's kind of a common theme. When immigrants are being regularly portrayed as an "invading army" with whom we are now at war, then of course this is going to one of the logical outcomes.

These kinds of haters, like most pseudo-fascists, like to talk big but they never can back it up -- and that, as far as it goes, is a good thing. They're frauds, and we're frankly glad of that.

But the fear and ugliness they foment is all too real. And someday, it's going to have real consequences -- if it hasn't already.

Manly Men

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

People who talk about masculinity — especially conservatives, who seem to obsess about it, but in a peculiarly juvenile way — have always seemed a little weird to me. It’s like the cliche retort the wealthy like to use: “If you have to ask how much it is, you can’t afford it.” Masculinity is one of those things where if you have to talk about it, you’re never going to get it. And the harder you try, the less a man you become.

So I enjoyed something of a low, mordant chortle the other day when Jane picked up, from Instaputz, something that Dr. Helen (the spouse of our old friend [ahem] Glenn Reynolds) wrote at her blog:
I have seen this fear of manliness in many modern husbands and fathers. Some men today are afraid of appearing like their own fathers, whom they thought of as unfair, controlling or condescending to women—the son swears he will not act the same way. Unfortunately, he often goes to the opposite extreme of letting his wife or others run all over him. These men are often doing dishes, watching the kids and earning much of the money all the while feeling guilty if anyone is unhappy with them. If you think this may be your problem, I have a couple of suggestions. Pick up a copy of How To Be a Man by John Birmingham and learn how to gain more self-confidence in being a man. In addition, get The Dangerous Book for Boys and build a treehouse, make a go-cart or learn to engage in fun activities that will make you appreciate how much fun it is to be a man. Ignore the societal pressures and male bashing and practice carrying yourself with pride until it feels real.
You see, for the past six years, while I’ve been editing my blog and writing my books, my primary job description has been stay-at-home father for my daughter, Fiona. She turned six earlier this summer and will start first grade this fall, so I’ve gotten a real job again and have spent much of the summer ruminating on what it’s all meant.

And I have to tell you: it’s been without question the most satisfying and rewarding thing I’ve done in my life. When I shuffle off this mortal coil, it will be with the knowledge I really did accomplish something worthwhile, and nothing — certainly not sneers from the haplessly ignorant — can take that away. The idea that it is not a masculine thing to do just seems absurd and incomprehensible to me.

Perhaps more to the point, it’s only confirmed my belief that it’s an experience more men need. It’s important not just for making men better fathers, but I think also for making women better mothers — and most of all, for giving child-rearing the cherished and significant place it should have in broader society.

My wife Lisa and I did it this way partly because, though we intended all along to have children, we wanted to do so when one of us could stay at home. I’d seen too many friends and colleagues knock themselves out to juggle child-care schedules, paying exorbitant amounts of money to have someone else do what I already knew from personal experience (when I was a teenager, I had to learn child care to help raise my then-baby brother) would be the most important and rewarding job they’d ever have. So we waited until one of us was in a position to stay at home — and that opportunity arose in 2000-2001, when I decided to step away from my work at MSNBC and try freelance writing from home for a living. Lisa was still at Microsoft, and we’d paid down much of the mortgage on our home, so we had decent revenue and low overhead.

Of course, plans never quite work out the way you envision them. The reality of caring for an infant made me quickly realize that I could no longer do daily freelance work, which entailed running to event scenes and conducting interviews and taking calls at all hours, while caring for a baby who needed regular feedings and naps and constant care outside that. (Try doing a phone interview with a baby in a Bjorn on your chest sometime.) So within a few months I’d shifted gears, focusing on writing books, which I could do evenings and weekends when Lisa was home, and about a year after that, I started blogging, which I found I could do during naptimes and playdates.

As the months and years added up, and I spent days on end at playgrounds, gymnasiums, swimming pools, and in playdates, it became plain that there really is a certain amount of resistance among a lot of people to the concept of stay-at-home daddies. There often was an assumption that I was a divorcee getting to play with my daughter on a custody date. Because I was an older father (I was 44 when she was born) sometimes I was asked if I was her grandfather (I really loved that one, as you can imagine).

And even though a lot of women thought it was neat that a man was being the primary caregiver, there was still a certain amount of resentment directed my way, from a lot of women, over my invasion of what for them was their territory. Some of this was perfectly understandable; when Fiona was a toddler, the topics of conversation among the gathered mothers often veered into various complaints with such bodily functions as breastfeeding and yeast infections and that sort of thing, and I of course was not just utterly incapable of conversing on these matters but felt like I was invading their privacy as well, so I made it a habit to wander off at such moments.

And there were moments — whispered comments, offhand remarks — where I was reminded that a lot of people, both men and women, privately viewed stay-at-home daddies as wimps or out-of-work losers. Sort of like Dr. Helen.

Well, all this melted into insignificance in the daily reality of raising a child. It’s impossible, I think, to put into words the immensity of the rewards that come with it: you watch them grow in body and spirit, become real little persons with real minds and dreams and desires all their own, and you bond with them in a way that lasts for life and maybe beyond. I’ve done many good and rewarding things in my life, but none of them — not even marrying a great woman, or publishing three books, or building up a good blog, all of them great things — has meant quite as much as being Fiona’s daddy.

What other people thought, really, hardly mattered at all, because I knew what the score was. Certainly, it never seemed to me that my masculinity might be at stake.

Some of this has to do with how I was raised — which is to say, in an extremely masculine environment in southern Idaho. I was raised doing things that a lot of people like Glenn Reynolds and Dr. Helen seem to regard as the essence of masculinity: handling guns, hunting, fishing, being a woodsman, learning to be a hunter/provider from the time I was able to talk. I was a capable fisherman by the time I was 8, and I shot and gutted a deer when I was 12.

When I reached working age, I found work that was similarly male-dominated: a farmhand hauling irrigation pipe, a welder/mechanic in a farm-machinery factory, roller and chip-spread operator on a road-construction crew. These jobs put me through college, where I shifted from my blue-collar upbringing to white-collar world.

It’s tempting to say that this shift provided me with my first encounter with men who actually were concerned, consciously, about their masculinity, but it would not be true. Certainly, there seemed to be more of them, but I’d been encountering them from my early years too.

I remember camping out with my dad and his buddies during deer-hunting season and encountering these kinds of men then, too. They were always the guys who had to drink the most, carry on the loudest, and make a competition out of everything, especially to see who could shoot the first buck and who got the biggest one. They were the kinds of guys you really hated hunting with, because they were terrible woodsmen and even worse companions; they were the ones who always forgot some critical camp item, and the ones who would accidentally knock your meal into the fire. Mostly, there was always the chance they were going to shoot their own fool heads off if not yours.

I later knew men like this in the working world too. It always seemed like they were also lousy fathers and husbands. They’d whack their kids and their wives, and were usually more interested in going out drinking with the guys than doing anything with their families. They were abusive and boorish louts, and they largely formed the opposite of my notion of what it meant to be a man.

In my world, these kinds of men were half-men, because masculinity was all image and show and petulance to them. Being a real man, the way I was taught by other men — in that silent way that cannot be communicated in mere words — meant being a whole man. Men like that — well, they had their moments and could be fun to be around. But you always knew they were missing something.

So I grew up masculine because I knew in my bones what I was, first of all. I never thought much about it because maleness lies in the doing and the being, not the thinking. I did without thinking things that I now realize many people view as masculine not because they made me manly, but because they were in my nature. I don’t fish or camp or kayak now because they’re manly, but because they’re what I do.

And in all those years of doing “manly” things — including, I guess I should add, my roustabout bachelor years chasing women, which happens to also be when I learned how to be a good cook and to clean my house (ahem!) — I’ve never encountered anything that came close to making me feel like a “real man” as being a daddy. I never felt more manly than in moments like those captured in the top of the post.

Obviously, it was also incredibly fun (and still is). I used to joke with the other mothers at times that this was their great secret: that being the stay-at-home parent was the best job on the planet. Some of them smiled wryly at this.

Certainly, more men ought to be stay-at-home dads because they’d find, like me, that not only are they good at it, but it’s the best job they ever had. But I also think we need to encourage more men to become caregivers because it’s in the best interest of all of us.

Caring for children teaches us patience and generosity — forces it upon us, really — and that makes better men, regardless of what John Wayne or Dr. Helen might say. Masculine men (that is, if your notion of maleness is about strength and drive) also bring a groundedness and confidence to the table that I think nurtures children in ways that women often do not.

Encouraging stay-at-home fatherhood makes for a healthier society in a lot of ways. It makes better men of us because it makes us better fathers. That in turn makes for better-rounded children who are going to be better citizens. It also helps women whose goals might extend beyond family-rearing reach those goals. It makes more equal partners out of us, and I think makes for a stronger marriage.

I suspect, in fact, that part of my being enthralled with the job had to do with its being somewhat special if not unique — sensing that in many ways, I scored extra points (in the great Parenting Game in the Sky) just for doing it. But this also made me realize that women don’t get those extra points. They’re expected to do the child-rearing, and so for them the job often loses its specialness, at least insofar as getting some recognition and respect for what they do. It seemed to me that being a stay-at-home mom becomes drudgery for many women, and that is a sad thing, really. Yes, it is hard work, but it’s great work.

Raising children — especially in their first six years — is something that a sane and healthy society should celebrate as one of its most cherished and celebrated jobs. It’s how we shape our future, and that is a task for men and women alike, equally. It’s a task to be embraced, not delegated to the back bench, as do so many boorish, insecure men — the half-men I’ve known since childhood — and the women who enable them. Women like Dr. Helen.

Along the way, I hope, we’ll learn to discard foolish old notions of masculinity — the kind you get in half-baked reactionary books and articles, as though reading such things could actually make a man out of you — that have more to do with insensate petulance and self-absorption than with being a real, whole man.

And it will be the children themselves who show us how.

Fiona and the fountain