Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 9, 2010

THE THREATDOWN IS SUPPOSED TO BE SATIRE.... If you've seen "The Colbert Report," you're probably aware of the "Threatdown" segment. Stephen Colbert, in a satirical attempt to scare viewers about various dangers, invariably singles out bears as the biggest threat facing America. Indeed, he tends to refer to them as "godless killing machines."

Of course, Colbert is kidding (at least, I think he is; maybe he really is afraid of bears). When Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association talks about bears, he's serious.

My friend Kyle at Right Wing Watch noted that Fischer, easily one of the nation's looniest religious right leaders, didn't just complain about some recent bear attacks, but also what he thinks the attacks represent. As Fischer put it:

"If it's a choice between grizzlies and humans, the grizzlies have to go. And it's time. [...]

"God makes it clear in Scripture that deaths of people and livestock at the hands of savage beasts is a sign that the land is under a curse. The tragic thing here is that we are bringing this curse upon ourselves."

What set Fischer off, apparently, was this LA Times piece on the unusually large number of grizzly attacks in the area around Yellowstone this year. Obviously, the incidents are awful.

But we've entered a pretty nutty territory once folks start looking at bears as evidence of America being "under a curse."

Also keep in mind, as bizarre as Fischer is, he actually enjoys some influence in modern conservatism. Jillian Rayfield noted, "Fischer is a favorite of social conservative Republicans, and even spoke at the Values Voter summit this fall alongside Mitt Romney, Jim DeMint, and other big-name Republicans."

I'm trying to imagine a liberal activist quite as hysterical as Bryan Fischer, and what kind of influence such an activist might have with the Democratic mainstream. No one on the left seems comparable, but even if there were someone similar, he/she certainly wouldn't be palling around with Dem leaders.

Steve Benen 2:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

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Don't worry, those Grizzlies will get what's coming to them when the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts.

Posted by: Geoduck on November 9, 2010 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Fischer has been spending too much time listening to late night radio. Those call-in shows, where folks seriously discuss Shadow People, Bigfoot, The Grays, and alien visitations. Insomnia can be a curse. . .

Posted by: DAY on November 9, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

The bear attacks in the Yellowstone area were rumored to have been caused by a photographer feeding them according to the officials I talked with when I was there. Photographers may be considered a curse, I've met a few that fall into that category. But, I don't think that's what Fischer meant.

There were a lot of bears in the area. We surprised a sow with cubs who was feeding about 35 feet away from a parking lot. The response of the other tourists in the lot was remarkable - they ran at the bear, holding their cameras high and shouting excitedly. Fortunately, the ranger I talked with to report the bear said that she was a very calm mother, and that this was not the threat I assumed. Over time, there will be a few bears who are not so calm, but I can't help thinking that the problem was the stupidity of the tourists. There are circumstances wherein you just can't cure stupid.

Posted by: Salmo on November 9, 2010 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

There are lots of reasons for increasing conflicts between grizzlies (and other wildlife) and humans. Habitat encroachment is major. But blister rust and pine beetles are killing lots of whitebark pine. Whitebark pine nuts are staple for grizzlies trying to fatten up for winter. If there isn't much food at high elevation, grizzlies will spend more time at lower elevations, where there also happens to be more people.

Check it out:

http://www.jstor.org/pss/3808855

Posted by: Jess on November 9, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

The grizzlies are part of God's plan and shouldn't be messed with.

How about a Yellowstone-based reality show with the Palin family, hosted by Glenn Beck. It could be called "Survival of the Fittest."

Posted by: KazooGuy on November 9, 2010 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

In my experience, bears only attack the less-than-human when provoked. Human Beings, of course, are smart enough not to provoke them.

Posted by: Ten Bears on November 9, 2010 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

That's not even good theology. You don't deal with a curse from God by getting rid of God's chosen tool. You get rid of the cause, which, as Salmo said, is idiots with cameras. If we get rid of the bears, God will send geyser monsters.

Posted by: John McKay on November 9, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Colbert is kidding (at least, I think he is; maybe he really is afraid of bears).

He's really just a self-hating bear;>

Posted by: martin on November 9, 2010 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Fischer isn't terribly bright, obviously, so I have to wonder: Is he confusing grizzlies with a sub-set of gay men? Lord knows he hates the latter, so maybe his new-found ursine hatred is just confusion?

Posted by: K in VA on November 9, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Fischer can start with Mama Grizzly.

Posted by: doubtful on November 9, 2010 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

What about Grizzly Mommas? Are those an indication of the end times?

Posted by: nerd on November 9, 2010 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

WTF-The level of superstitous ignorance displayed by this moron is outright amazing. Why stop at bears how about hunters involved in hunting accidents. Hell what about bad drivers. Let's include bactereia and how about people who die from tainteed food? Shouldn't the purveyors of that be put to death to.

Posted by: Gandalf on November 9, 2010 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

I would infinitely rather live in a world without Christian fundamentalist whackjobs than one without wild grizzlies.

Posted by: gulo on November 9, 2010 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Bears are agents of God. Remember the Bible story where God sent bears to kill the children who were making fun of the bald guy?

Posted by: mark on November 9, 2010 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

"There are lots of reasons for increasing conflicts between grizzlies (and other wildlife) and humans. Habitat encroachment is major. But blister rust and pine beetles are killing lots of whitebark pine."

The pine beetles are proliferating because of the recent series of warm winters. Typically the beetle population expands until a really cold winter kills them back. Nothing to do with Global Climate Change though.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on November 9, 2010 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't Fisher the whackadoodle that demanded that Sea World have that killer whale who killed a trainer stoned to death?

Posted by: orogeny on November 9, 2010 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

LOL. When I saw this headline on TPM, I thought he was talking about Palin and her ilk.

Didn't realize he meant actual grizzlies. Good god.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on November 9, 2010 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Climate Change is God's Will.

And denying it is blasphemy. . .

(Put that on a bumper sticker, and watch the heads explode.)

Posted by: DAY on November 9, 2010 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

It sounds like Mr. Fischer is threatening Sarah Palin.

Posted by: kc on November 9, 2010 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't Fisher the whackadoodle that demanded that Sea World have that killer whale who killed a trainer stoned to death?

Please tell me you're joking. Please. (wanders off to try to imagine what a killer whale stoning might entail)

Posted by: fourlegsgood on November 9, 2010 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Please tell me you're joking.

No Joke.

Posted by: orogeny on November 9, 2010 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Yellowstone attacks are nothing; you should have seen the (mama) grizzly charge in Delaware! Thankfully, God made coons, too -- they're the only defense against grizzlies.

Posted by: exlibra on November 9, 2010 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Why do grizzlies hate America so much?

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on November 9, 2010 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

It's true.

Republicans are a curse.

Posted by: Anthony Damiani on November 9, 2010 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Nutpicking. Funny, but nutpicking does not a political movement make.

I take that back - it is kinda successful. Which is saddening.

Posted by: flubber on November 9, 2010 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Dylan Ratigan had some interesting comments about grizzlies yesterday at the end of his show. Of course, he was talking about the use of the grizzly as a symbol of the Mama Grizzlies. But he was obviously thinking of the spate of bear attacks in noting that the grizzly's response is often disproportionate to the threat -- overkill, if you will. An unarmed human doesn't really represent a threat to a mama or her cubs, but to protect her cubs from a perceived threat, the mama will often kill. I thought that was an interesting point to make in response to Palin and her "common sense" conservatism.

Posted by: jsj on November 9, 2010 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

So who is doing the cursing? If they are true monotheists there is only one God and there can be no equally omnipotent entity. Fischer doesnt say who or what cursed the land or why if the land is cursed would only bears revolt against humanity? Wouldnt the chipmunks and prairie dogs be going rabid? Birds pecking peoples eyes out?

Posted by: Kill Bill on November 9, 2010 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Fischer that it appears America is under some kind of curse. I just fundamentally disagree with him on what that curse is. Hint: It ain't the bears.

Posted by: slappy magoo on November 9, 2010 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly there must be pagans dancing in their birthday suits under full moon around a blazing fire, around midnight, in the area. Wolves howling and bats basking in la lunes light.

Say, one looks familiar. Kinda like Christine. Could it be?

Posted by: Kill Bill on November 9, 2010 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

KazooGuy...that's a show about Sarah Palin that I might actually watch.

Posted by: maggie on November 9, 2010 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Has Darrell Issa scheduled hearings on this yet?

Posted by: Tim H on November 9, 2010 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

If you have any sense at all, you should be afraid of bears. They aren't like Yogi an Boo Boo.

Posted by: nonheroicvet on November 9, 2010 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

After the grizzlies come the vampires so put a wreath of garlic on your doors and windows, maybe around your neck too. Keep some wooden stakes handy, and stay home on the night of the full moon. You can't be too careful.

Posted by: rrk1 on November 9, 2010 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

No Grizzly Bear ever got in my face to argue religion.

Once in Alaska one got in my face when we got to close to her cubs (we were floating down a river in a canoe and surprised her and the cubbies). Just a demonstration charge to send us a message to go away. She was very convincing and we followed her advice.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on November 9, 2010 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

God so totally did not say that!
I was there and I would have heard her.
Respectfully signed,
Holy Ghost Bear

Posted by: thebewilderness on November 9, 2010 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Being someone who lives in SW Montana, one of the reasons, as outlined but not explicitly, in the LA Times article in an increased number of car/bear encounters. These are encounters where the bears lose and the car wins.

Bear/Hunter encounters do not appear to be any worse than usual, in fact I have yet to hear of an encounter where a hunter was mauled by a grizzly. On the first weekend of elk rifle season a bear met a hunter in the Madison range and was killed, but no charges are pending at this time. I haven't heard of anything here in MT during the bow season, which is usually when the maulings happen. It appears as though the bears have more to fear from us than we do from the bears.

Posted by: John Sully on November 9, 2010 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Oh yeah, most years there are one or two maulings in this area. None so far.

Posted by: John Sully on November 9, 2010 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK
Bears are agents of God. Remember the Bible story where God sent bears to kill the children who were making fun of the bald guy?

@Mark My thoughts exactly from 2 Kings 2:

23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. 25 And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.

Killing 42 kids with bears, thats just how yahweh rolls. Mind you this is all for show. At this point Elisha, could totally handle himself. I mean, he had just gotten this cool magic cape from his friend Elija after Elija was whisked away in some sort of freak magic tornado while a flaming chariot with flaming horses separated them for only a second.

The story is a tad sparse on details like where the magic tornado went, how its known that it toke Elija to heaven and what happened to the flaming horses... stuff I think I would have remembered, but Elija is just glad to have gained his friends magical powers. When a bunch of prophets suggest that maybe they should go look for Elija Elisha is acting pretty much like the kind of asshole who sends bears after 42 children. He says “don't bother” and when they spend three days looking anyway and come back to say they didn't find anything, no even someone who remembered seeing tornadoes and flaming horses, he pretty much says “yeah told you so”... But I digress. The point is if you hit a river with that cape you can split the water of the river and cross it without trouble, so you can only imagine what would happen if you hit a kid with the magic cape.


So yeah yahweh kills 42 kids in a pointless horrifying bear attack but Jesus died for MY sins so its all okay and yahweh has forgiven me for my sins.

Posted by: rt on November 10, 2010 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK
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