LQCs: Religious Blame and Feral Pigs

Los Angeles Times, LZ Granderson, 1 Jun 2022: Republicans use ‘God’ to turn tragedies into talking points

A number of so-called religious conservatives like to explain away national tragedies — be they natural or man-made — through the lens of God’s wrath, or at least indirect punishment for “sins.” Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich blamed same-sex marriage for the 2008 economic crash. Former Sen. Rick Santorum blamed abortions for Social Security’s troubles.

One of the all-time classic remarks came from John Hagee, pastor of a megachurch in San Antonio, who famously said, “God caused Hurricane Katrina to wipe out New Orleans because it had a gay pride parade the week before.” So God didn’t “wipe out New Orleans” because of the “Girls Gone Wild: Mardi Gras Invasion” DVD that came out the same year Katrina hit. God didn’t punish the city for having a corrupt police department so well known for terrorizing citizens that the first sentence of a 2011 Department of Justice report read, “The NOPD has long been a troubled agency.” And God didn’t punish New Orleans for having hosted the largest slave market in the country. No, according to Hagee, God punished New Orleans with Katrina because drag queens were dancing on floats the week before.

It’s an interesting theology that conservative Christians like Hagee, Santorum and Gingrich espouse. They clearly have a period in mind in which they believe God was happier with the direction of the country, but our history makes it impossible to pinpoint a date without looking racist. So they tend to talk in nostalgic Judeo-Christian generalities. Like Sen. Ron Johnson, who recently said, “I think the solution is renewed faith,” as if there’s an agreed-upon faith or showing of that faith that we all should agree to return to.

This is a kind of deep superstition on a couple levels, one being that the world (via “God”) is somehow aware of human activities and takes retribution for human misdeeds, just as Thor did via his thunderbolts. Humans animate the world, and as the evidence became more and more sparse over the millennia for individual rocks and trees being alive, that perception was abstracted to the vague idea of “God,” an all-purpose explanation for anything. (Or a pantheon of gods, as the Greeks had, and the Catholics have with their inexhaustible supply of saints.) Especially — the second level — whatever the interpreter personally doesn’t like, in a deep egotistical reading. It’s all about them.

Ron Johnson doesn’t need to specify which faith he’s talking about; he means his own, of course. (If he understands that there are others, he thinks they’re irrelevant, I’m guessing.)

After the Uvalde shooting, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick opined about the killer: “You just cannot change character without changing a heart, and you can’t do that without turning to God.”

I would ask Patrick: When exactly did a nation built on stolen land, kidnapping and enslavement turn away from God?

With an example of what conservatives don’t want taught in schools:

In May 1961, a bus carrying Freedom Riders was attacked in rural Alabama. A bomb was thrown on board, and as flames grew, a racist mob blocked the door.

“Fry the goddamn n–,” someone reportedly said.

When the activists finally escaped, they were beaten with baseball bats.

The following year, a Supreme Court ruling banned school prayer.

So no, Campos-Duffy, many of us don’t wonder how this evil came in. We wonder why people like you won’t admit it’s been here since the beginning.

“Following year.”


Washington Post, Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent, 1 Jun 2022: The hidden perversity behind our debate over AR-15s

Sen. Bill Cassidy was recently asked why ordinary Americans need to own an AR-15, and the Louisiana Republican offered a rather creative answer.

“If you talk to the people that own it,” Cassidy said, “killing feral pigs in the, whatever, the middle of Louisiana, they’ll wonder: ‘Why would you take it away from me?’”

While we would never minimize the threat posed by feral pigs, Cassidy’s answer points to a deep perversity lurking behind our gun debate. There’s a reason it’s hard for Republicans to defend the current accessibility of AR-15-style weapons: Federal law on this matter is rooted in a deeply anachronistic understanding of what rifles in America are for, and the law hasn’t come close to catching up with today’s realities.

Again, think about that map that shows how two states, North and South Dakota, have the combined population of Manhattan, yet twice the number of senators as the entire state of New York. (At the bottom of my post two days ago.)

It’s deeply ironic that while residents of red, “flyover” states deeply resent the coastal “elites” who impose values on them, it is in fact, via the lopsided senatorial system and the electoral college, the red states who impose their values on the coastal states. The country is being run by those concerned about feral pigs, it seems.

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