The Taliban's Shopping List
"I can tell you this,” Tony Perkins, president of the Washington-based Family Research Council, was quoted by Reuters as saying. "It was the values voter that ushered the president down the aisle for a second term." That’s the received wisdom this November, and I’m not going to go against that trend. Especially against the constant drumbeat of the religious activists’ wish lists in the media: marriage, abortion, judges – marriage, abortion, judges – marriage, abortion, judges. A few other items make the list – Grover Norquist, a conservative strategist close to the Bush administration, talks about “repealing the estate tax, privatizing Social Security, restricting medical and other liability lawsuits, closing military bases, opening more government jobs to competitive bidding to lower costs and weaken unions, imposing new disclosure requirements on organized labor, and expanding health care and investment savings accounts --but the noisy demands are sharply focused on the big three – marriage, abortion, judges.
"Now comes the revolution," crowed Richard Viguerie, the maven of conservative direct mail campaigns, while Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family outlined the revolution’s ambitious agenda: “to pass an amendment banning same-sex marriage, to stop abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, and most of all to remake the Supreme Court.”
I don’t know if Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission agrees with Dobson that same-sex marriage will “destroy the earth”, but he certainly signs on to the agenda by hoping “Bush will now give some issues of religious conservatives — namely passage of the proposed Marriage Protection Amendment — the same level of attention in his second term that the president gave prescription drug benefits in his first.” And Carrie Gordon Earll, a spokeswoman for Focus on the Family chimes in that, as Christianity Today has it, “Evangelicals are now determined to work for passage of the marriage amendment and election of “a true conservative” as the next justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. “This is a spike in the chart of evangelical passion and involvement," she said.”
Speaking as plain as day, Bob Jones, Jr. wrote to the President that “[y]ou will have opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and limited government. You have four years—a brief time only—to leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings with it the blessings of Almighty God.”
Fine words, I’m sure, for the happy fundamentalists. But what does Karl Rove -- the man who controls the Administration’s interaction with the base, and thus was the architect of Bush’s victory -- say will actually happen in the second term?
No big surprises. Rove told Fox News Sunday that Bush will seek a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. “If we want to have a hopeful and decent society,” he said, “we ought to aim for the ideal, and the ideal is that marriage ought to be, and should be, a union of a man and a woman.” Although he said that the States could deal with some of the issues – such as visitation rights in hospitals, or the right to inherit, or benefit rights, property rights – an Amendment was necessary “because without the protection of that amendment, we are at the mercy of activist federal judges or activist state judges.”
As for transforming the bench away from those “activist” judges, Rove noted that Bush campaigned on appointing to the judiciary “men and women who had no personal agenda, no political agenda, but would strictly interpret and apply the law … They shouldn't be activist legislators who just happen to wear robes and never face election … They ought to be men and women … who will strictly apply the law, strictly interpret the Constitution. That's exactly what he said he would do in the campaign, and that's what he'll do.” Men and women like Antonin Scalia, perhaps, who think the last 200 years have been a waste of time. Or maybe more like J. Leon Holmes, who President Bush appointed to a lifetime seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Judge Holmes is a hardline anti-choice bigot who has equated abortion with slavery, and pro-choice advocates with Nazis. Opposing his appointment, the People For The American Way noted that Holmes “has served as president of Arkansas Right to Life, helped form the Pro-Life Educational Alliance in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and served as a Secretary for the Unborn Child Amendment Committee … Holmes is also a member of the Federalist Society, a group whose experts on abortion frequently advocate for the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Holmes has not only been a member of these organizations, he has also served as legal counsel for anti-choice groups in cases seeking to advance the anti-choice agenda.” Holme’s fundamentalist beliefs go even deeper. He has publicly stated that wives should be subordinate to their husbands, and blamed feminists for the availability of artificial contraception.
Karl Rove, through George Bush, approved Holmes against all legal advice. As Neal Gabler put it in the Los Angeles Times: “Rovism is government by jihadis in the grip of unshakable self-righteousness … Unwavering discipline, demonization of foes, disdain for reality and a personal sense of infallibility based on faith are the stuff of a theocracy — the president as pope or mullah and policy as religious warfare.”
Although the President will need to expend political capital on Iraq and tax reform to please the neos – the other leg of his support – I am unfortunately confident Karl Rove will make sure there is enough left over to stamp the drumbeats of fundamentalism – marriage, abortion, judges – into the American psyche for a generation or more.
The Pro-Death Movement
I've been reading up on some of the Neanderthals -- mostly men -- who want to control women's bodies by taking their rights of choice and privacy away from them. They want to do this, of course, by restricting or, in fact, banning outright the medical procedure of abortion. Since 2000, Bush and Ashcroft have helped restrict the availability of this legal procedure until, across wide regions of America, a woman's right to choose is already effectively eliminated. But a total ban?
Yes. Total. Even in cases where the woman has been raped or been the victim of incest. And, most savagely, even when the life of the woman is endangered. In other words, these rigid ideologues -- Taliban-like -- would allow a woman to die simply to satisfy their own putrid moral standards. In this case, they are a pro-death movement.
Until the anti-abortion movement agrees -- at the very least -- to protect the life of the mother at all times, we should propagandize them as the Pro-Death Movement.