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August 17, 2012 11:30 AM Criticism Is Not Persecution

By Ed Kilgore

I guess it was inevitable that the Family Research Council would move quickly to paint itself as a victim of persecution and hatred after some nut-job shot (but fortunately, did not kill) a security guard at FRC’s Washington headquarters. After all, the single most remarkable distinguishing characteristic of America’s Christian Right, in which FRC has been a permanent and powerful fixture, has been the bizarre argument that Christianity is under constant assault in the United States, and perhaps even on the verge of extermination by powerful if shadowy enemies who don’t “get” that complete control of U.S. laws and institutions is essential to the exercise of religious freedom.

But in reiterating this claim, FRC chief Tony Perkins decided to go narrow rather than broad, specifically accusing the Southern Poverty Law Center of “giving license” to the shooting by labeling FRC a “hate group.”

While unsurprising, Perkins’ argument is almost like a parody of the “P.C” over-sensitivities conservatives invariably mock when expressed by any of their enemies. Is FRC interested in civil discourse with those who dislike it’s “world view?” Not so much. As for the SPLC, it documented its 2010 decision to include FRC on its list of “hate groups” for the very specific and heavily documented reason that the organization has a long and unrepentant history of calling gay folk inherently prone to pedophilia. If that’s not a “hate” tactic, I don’t know what would qualify.

But the SPLC can defend itself quite effectively. I’m more interested in the martyrology complex that Perkins’s blast at SPLC reflects. This is a group that wants to use the coercive power of the state to keep women from controlling their own bodies and to tell churches and other religious organizations whose relationships they may honor. It also engages regularly in slurs of anyone who doesn’t agree with its agenda as secularist Christ-haters. It has a stronghold in hundreds, maybe thousands, of comfortable suburban and small-town churches, and is in a close political alliance with the wealthiest people in America and with the party that controls one branch of Congress and over half the country’s governorships and state legislatures. It’s about as endangered as the Koch Brothers’ bank accounts.

I’m truly sorry some evil or insane person wanted to inflict violence on FRC and its employees, but do not think it logical to connect this act with some general persecution of the organization or the conservative evangelical Christians it claims to represent. Those determined to frustrate the Christian Right’s desire for total secular political power are neither Romans nor Communists nor Nazis, and it is far past time for smug powerful men like Tony Perkins to climb down from that cross and stop pretending they bear any resemblance to the actual Christian Martyrs who suffered and died—and still suffer and die—for their faith.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • RepublicanPointOfView on August 17, 2012 11:57 AM:

    EVERYONE knows that it is hateful to point out that hate groups are hate groups; unless you are pointing at ACORN or the New Black Panther Party or La Raza or the democrat party.

  • c u n d gulag on August 17, 2012 12:11 PM:

    As a grifter, why take any chances.
    Ditto, as a thief.

    Why risk robbing a bank, and serving time.

    Why run for office, and risk getting caught with your extended for some bribe.

    Why take risks on the stock market and investments.

    Why, if you want to make money the easy way, wouldn't you become a religious grifter?

    You just say that you know the heart of God and Jesus (at least here in America), and it's exactly like yours! (What ARE the odds?).

    The money's GREAT.
    So are the benefits.
    You can be as hateful, and greedy as you want, because the people are stupid and gullible to believe that YOU, and ONLY YOU, can lead them to God and Jesus.

    And you can make a lot more money scaring people about other people, than asking them to love one another.
    And where's the fun in THAT?

    I have more respect for Wall Street crooks, plain old bank robberst, thieves, murderers, rapists, and serial killers, than I do for despicable religious grifters like Perkins.

    For the most part, the lesser criminals don't evoke the name of God and Jesus, and profit hugely from it, while doing the work outsourced to them by Satan.

  • Josef K on August 17, 2012 12:12 PM:

    I’m truly sorry some evil or insane person wanted to inflict violence on FRC and its employees, but do not think it logical to connect this act with some general persecution of the organization or the conservative evangelical Christians it claims to represent. Those determined to frustrate the Christian Right’s desire for total secular political power are neither Romans nor Communists nor Nazis, and it is far past time for smug powerful men like Tony Perkins to climb down from that cross and stop pretending they bear any resemblance to the actual Christian Martyrs who suffered and died—and still suffer and die—for their faith.

    Agreed on all counts, but the narrative Perkins is offering is at once simple, comfortable, and has a kind of inevitability to it that appeals to a particular mindset (the sort I kinda-sorta grew up in). I don't claim to know of understand Perkins own mind, so I don't know if he's genuinely sincere or just playing to the mob. I do think he's playing with a very dangerous fire here, and that he doesn't fully appreciate how quickly it can get out of control, never mind the real-world consequences of it doing so.

    Let's hope and pray it never gets that far.

  • Peter C on August 17, 2012 12:13 PM:

    Criticism is also usally referred to as a 'vicious attack', as in "Code Pink viciously attacked the military for engaging in torture."

  • Grumpy on August 17, 2012 12:14 PM:

    If any good comes from this shooting, it will be the reform of the law that lets private groups like the SPLC give licenses for attempted murder. That is a law, right?

  • Arachnae on August 17, 2012 12:15 PM:

    If SPLC is complicit in the FRC shooting, then Bill O'Reilly is an accomplice to Dr. Tiller's murder. Simple as that.

  • jjm on August 17, 2012 12:16 PM:

    Someone from their side put this probably feeble minded guy up to this.

    And why is this shooting, the wounding of a guard, "appalling" to Mitt Romney, whereas the Sikh temple shootings, the Aurora shootings, the College Station shootings and the shootings at the Chicago mosque not appalling to him?

    Because these 'family values' groups work for him and the 1%.

    Americans, with all these tragedies will never rise up and demand gun control, though and here is why: they are feeling utterly powerless, and impotent in all domains of life (including, probably the bedroom) and the thought of an all-powerful gun in their hands, even if they never own or use one, is their one hope for power.

    And guess who has disempowered the American people and made them feel so impotent? the 1%

  • kevo on August 17, 2012 12:17 PM:

    Oh, yes, Tony Perkins . . . a man wrought with a myopic faith condemning those whose faiths lie outside of his dogmatic understanding of Christ!

    I am truly sorry some lone crazy, violent man intruded and suffered pain upon Perkins organization. I would hope such acts of motivated rage would not continue to present themselves, but implements of fatal ruin are all too easily obtained by the unstable among us - and that is where my concern for our brethren rests!

    As for dear old Tony? Well, he's still entertaining that God-complex he's been suffering for a long time now! -Kevo

  • TCinLA on August 17, 2012 12:31 PM:

    Every time Tony Perkins and the rest of the christofascist slimeballs open their mouths, I am reminded of what Upton Sinclair said 80 years ago:

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."

    Yes, I'm glad the poor misguided moron working as a minimum-wage "security" guard didn't get killed. Had it been Tony Perkins himself, and had the guy been a good shot, I'd have broken out a magnum of champagne.

  • Anonymous on August 17, 2012 12:36 PM:

    ...some evil or insane person...

    I don't think he was evil or insane. I think he had a very clear-eyed view of who The Enemy is.

  • Anonymous on August 17, 2012 12:44 PM:

    yes, it is good to take time to reflect and not overreact. liberals are not persecutors or victims. only the shot is the victim.

    9/11 was done by a bunch of saudi misfits led by a rich psychopath, using the name of jihad.
    shooting of Kennedy, MLK Reagan, are all done by insane persons who also happened to be christians.

    but we know not to blame their religions or other people with the same faiths.
    it's very important to not place a blame on any organization or any other person by association.

    i'm irritated by liberals blaming tea partiers for gabbie gifford shooting as much as conservative blaming gay right activists for this.
    it is true that we should refrain from overtly hating words.
    at the same time, we should not be oversensitive (like Joe Biden using a common english expression "chain" as accused for being racist).

    It does not help gay rights. but it is a small matter in the flow of history, though.
    terror never could stop the way things are going. so we should be pretty confident and be patient about gay rights in the future.
    even evangelicals and mormons are pro-gay if they are young members.

  • DAY on August 17, 2012 12:48 PM:

    Shorter gulag: Organized Religion=Money Machine.

  • martin on August 17, 2012 12:56 PM:

    FRC doesn't want to go to war with SPLC. SPLC has waaaaaay more money.

  • g on August 17, 2012 1:08 PM:

    The things that's super awesome about the FRC's claim is that it's about sort of unspecific, years old general opposition. There was no recent incident, statement or issue to "incite' anyone - but the FRC feels free to whine that any strong opposition to them victimizes them. "They oppose us, therefore they are responsible for any violence against us."

    It would be as ridiculous as if the Republican party's candidate for president were to whine against the fact that the Democratic candidate was actually campaigning against him. Oh, wait....

  • g on August 17, 2012 1:10 PM:

    The things that's super awesome about the FRC's claim is that it's about sort of unspecific, years old general opposition. There was no recent incident, statement or issue to "incite' anyone - but the FRC feels free to whine that any strong opposition to them victimizes them. "They oppose us, therefore they are responsible for any violence against us."

    It would be as ridiculous as if the Republican party's candidate for president were to whine against the fact that the Democratic candidate was actually campaigning against him. Oh, wait....

  • c u n d gulag on August 17, 2012 2:03 PM:

    DAY,
    Thanks for summarizing my lengthy word-turd.

    Another way:
    Organized Religion = License to Print Money.

  • gelfling545 on August 17, 2012 2:57 PM:

    It's not only criticism that is viewed as an attack. The simple statement that one does not believe as they do can be taken as an "attack on Christianity."

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