Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fred Clarkson on Huckabee's Response to Sandy Hook Shootings, and More Reflections on Intersection of Catholic Hierarchy and U.S. Religious Right

Fred Clarkson has just posted a piece at Talk to Action updating folks about what Rev. Mike Huckabee has been up to since he had to walk back his astonishingly insensitive comments about the Sandy Hook massacre. As I noted last week (and most readers of this blog will know), Huckabee's initial suggestion was that the massacre happened because God has been booted out of the American public square.

When he was resoundingly criticized for the callousness of his remarks immediately after schoolchildren had been shot, he then tried to walk back his initial statements, only to turn around and double down on his initial arguments, adding a further twist to his argument: this is the assertion that tax-funded "abortion pills" and the normalizing of "sinful acts" in American culture are responsible for the Sandy Hook massacre. These claims, of course, continue the downright dishonest rhetoric of the political and religious right (the Catholic bishops included) about "Obamacare" forcing believers to pay for abortion pills, and they also include a nasty jab at the gays, who are the object of the "normalizing" rhetoric.

Fred Clarkson's analysis dissects Huckabee's latest doubling-down rhetoric. As I read Fred's analysis in light of the Christmas statements of various Catholic hierarchical officials about marriage equality, re: which I posted earlier today, I'm struck by the overlap between Huckabee's toxic arguments and those now being pushed by Pope Benedict and members of the Catholic hierarchy:

1. I noted in my previous posting that the claims of Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Bishop Mark Davies that the Cameron government in Britain is forcing marriage equality on the British people without a mandate are counterfactual. As both Terry Weldon and Daniel Martin note in their statements to which I link in my posting, the claim of Nichols and Davies that the Cameron government has no mandate to implement marriage equality is, in fact, flatly untrue. 

2. Huckabee's counterfactual (i.e., flatly untrue) assertion that Americans are now being forced to pay for "abortion pills" runs in precisely the same vein. The fact that the U.S. bishops have refused to relinquish this false rhetoric after the medical community has strongly asserted that plan B is not, in fact, an abortifacient suggests that there's a strong political intent underlying the continuation of this false assertion about "Obamacare." The rhetoric is being continued to attack the Obama administration.

3. I noted in my posting earlier today that the Catholic hierarchy continues to demand that it have a veto right regarding marriage equality in pluralistic secular democracies, and that its ultimate goal is to demand minority control over laws governing civil marriage even after a majority of citizens of many democracies support marriage equality. I also noted that, when the Catholic hierarchy is blocked in exercising the kind of control it wants in this area in contemporary pluralistic secular democracies, we see its unscrupulous (e.g., its willingness to play fast and loose with the truth) and downright mean-spirited side emerge.

And because I assessed the recent flurry of Catholic hierarchical Christmas statements about marriage equality from that standpoint earlier today, I'm very interested by Fred's conclusion about Huckabee and what he's up to with his doubling-down rhetoric. Fred writes,

That Huckabee and his allies on the Christian Right want hegemonic conservative Christian control over our society, our institutions and our laws, is no secret even if they do not always speak openly about it.  But when the leaders of the Christian Right are speaking more frankly, we hear declarations that they have a God given mandate to seek and achieve that hegemony. And when they don't get their way, they blame the unspeakable on their failure to achieve the unspoken. And, of course, it is someone else's fault.

To my mind, this conclusion tends very much to confirm what I wrote earlier today, that the egregiously mean-spirited rhetoric of the Catholic hierarchy about the gay community and marriage equality right now derives at least in part from are from the American religious and political right, has disproportionate influence now in the Vatican--in large part, due to the money these folks flash around in Vatican circles. When the pope and Mike Huckabee begin to sound as if they're reading from the same script, you can be pretty sure who's writing that script.

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