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April 7th, 2006

Almost Cute

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Memo to the Evangelical Right: DUH.

Apparently, the evangelicals are a bit upset about the case of Abdul Rahman. You remember him. Had to run off to Italy because he converted to Christianity and thus was facing execution in newly freed, liberated Afghanistan?

Well, it seems that Rahman's case has caused some evangelicals to realize that maybe American foreign policy isn't as concerned with freedom and democracy as they were led to believe. We on the left welcome you to that finish line like a Special Olympics volunteer. With a hug, and a cookie, and assurances that you really are winners after all.

But as I hear them talk about it, I start to get a picture of what they actually thought they were getting out of the bargain. And it's so naive it could almost be cute, if it weren't also incredibly tragic.

The reason Abdul Rahman is so disheartening to them is not because he's a convert. But because he's the first convert. And given the treatment he got, he may well be the last. And it all starts to become clear.

When they say we're fighting for freedom, they're thinking freedom to become Christian. When they say we're fighting for democracy, they're thinking the ability to vote in Christians. The Muslims weren't the only fundamentalists listening when Dubya called this a "crusade". We went over there to make the Middle East more like America. And if you ask any one of these assholes, they'll tell you that America is a CHRISTIAN NATION.

Listen to the subtext. First up is Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern. And he is Christian, and he is concerned. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"America paid for Afghanistan with blood and money. We didn't pay for Taliban Lite. We wanted freedom, religious freedom."

It's like the twisted inverting of the Pottery Barn Rule - You fix it, you own it. They think they paid for something in particular, and Abdul Rahman is proof they didn't get it.

You need to understand something here. Americans across the board are not going to allow their Congress or allow their Government to provide financial aid and to provide military aid and have American soldiers and American sailors and American airmen have their lives put at risk to defend a legal system that does not guarantee basic rights of conscience." - Bush appointee and Southern Baptist Richard Land.

Really? Americans won't allow that? Americans have been allowing exactly that for decades, dumbass. Our financial and military aid is how these places got like this in the first place.

"The segment of our population that is perhaps the most overwhelmingly supportive of Mr. Bush's democracy-building and freedom-enhancing foreign policy is the evang community." - Land again. And this is true. But only because the evangelicals are thick enough to say things like "freedom-enhancing" with a straight face.

Land still believes in the cause, but for a more disenchanted view, let's hear from Richard Cisik. He's the vice-president of policy for the National Association of Evangelists, and he is, on the dick scale, about a six and a half out of ten. He'll criticize Pat Robertson and pay lip service to the rights of Muslims, but still thinks us "secularists" are out to get Christians in general and Dubya in particular.

"Evangelical support for the president's war is on the razor's edge, on the tipping point, and this is the president's base. A lot of evangelicals have struggled with the problem of 19 Islamic dictatorships in the Middle East alone, wondered and prayed for decades what we would do.

And that prayer worked out about as well as it did for all those heart patients, didn't it?

"And some of our community decided early on that we would support the president's policies because it might provide the shock therapy, whatever it would take you see, to change these dictatorships." - More from Cisik

Isn't that lovely? I'm sorry, but I read that, and put it through my bullshit filter, and what comes out is that Islam is a psychological disorder. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but Pat Robertson's the only one of them who'll still say what they all think, so interpretation is occasionally necessary. And here's the kicker.

"If in fact the Afghan constitution doesn't guarantee a religious freedom that we believe in, and ought to be guaranteeing as the result of our efforts there, then wow, watch out." - There's the Freudian slip right there. "A religious freedom that we believe in". Religious freedom strikes me as the kind of concept you don't have to qualify. Hell, even I support religious freedom most days.

But Cisik hints at his real desire for a very specific type of religious freedom. The type that would appeal to right-wing evangelicals. The kind of religious freedom the Puritans came to this country to establish - freedom to agree with the Puritans or else.

But at least they're disillusioned with Bush. We take what we can get.