World Net Daily is a news service for people who think that National Review and American Statesman are too moderate.
So I was very surprised when WND distributed the following poster to mark the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.
I understand that for many conservative Christians repentance is not necessarily linked to a specific sin but to a general condition of sinfulness that is inherent in being human.
But this poster seems to come very close to suggesting that Americans bear some responsibility for what happened on September 11, which is essentially what got people such as Ward Churchill into so much hot water.
Considering those two alternatives in interpreting the poster, I doubt that the Far Right is either quite this apolitically devout or quite this careless in its messaging.
So I have done a Google search to remind myself of whom the Far Right blamed for the September 11 attacks—besides all Muslims and, of course, Obama.
I didn’t have to look long before locating accounts such as this summary of a televised exchange between Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Spoiler alert: the abortionists, the gays and lesbians, and the ACLU were mostly to blame. WND is, in effect, asking its readers to pray for their repentance.
“The comments came as Falwell was appearing as a guest on Robertson’s daily 700 Club program. Both expressed their sorrow and outrage over the attacks and advocated a strong response to the terror. Then Falwell elaborated on who, in addition to the terrorists who perpetrated the attacks, was responsible for them.
“’God,’ he told Robertson, had protected America ‘wonderfully these 225 years. And since 1812, this is the first time that we’ve been attacked on our soil and by far the worst results.
“‘Throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools,’ he said. ‘The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad.
“‘[T]he pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America,’ Falwell continued, ‘I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.” ‘
“’Well, I totally concur,’ responded Robertson.”
Robertson later claimed that he had not understood what Falwell had said and with what he was concurring.
Ward Churchill probably should have forsaken his “extremist” views and bitten the bullet of hypocrisy by feigning dumbfounded surprise not just at the controversy that he had excited but also at what he himself had said.
I was recently scanning the table of contents of The Norton Mix, a reader intended to be used in college composition courses. It includes an essay on the September 11 terrorist attacks, conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer’s “This Isn’t a Legal Matter, This Is War.”
So, I wondered, if I were to use this essay in class, would I be allowed to lead a discussion on the political complexities and ambiguities in our responses to those terrorist attacks? Could I point out to my students that Krauthammer is a Conservative and that his opinions reflect and serve his political ideology as pointedly as the most determined Progressive’s views might inform an anti-war perspective or a cynicism about the Bush administration’s subsequent framing of the invasion of Iraq as a direct consequence of the September 11 attacks?
If I raised those issues in a composition course, would I be filmed by some Conservative student with a cell phone and the video posted on CampusReform.org, which presents $100 awards to students for “outing leftist abuse” by professors?
What if this discussion occurred in a Progressive faculty member’s political science course? Would the discussion then be deemed more or even less appropriate?
And what if the poster that is the topic of this post was introduced as a topic for discussion in either of those types of courses or, perhaps, in a course on religion, or, even more specifically, a course on religion and politics?
Assuming that the faculty member led a very reasonable discussion, would he or she be able to express his or her own Progressive views in a reasonable and non-doctrinaire way without being accused of attempting to brainwash his or her students?
More fundamentally, what value does critical thinking have if the professors who are supposed to teach it are afraid to express their own critical thinking?
If I believe that dinosaurs were extinct millions of years before human beings came into existence or if I state the obvious, that many of those who are most visible and most vocal on the Far Right are unabashedly racists, homophobes, and religious absolutists, does that make me a Left-wing ideologue?
Or does it simply mean that I am someone who doesn’t believe that The Flintstones is a documentary (borrowing a joke from Lewis Black) and someone who is simply willing to believe that Far Right extremists mean what they are actually saying and writing?
Or am I being expected, in effect, to sanitize what they are saying and writing, to frame their extremism as if it reflects mainstream American values?