Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Are Republicans Becoming 'The American Taliban'?

Indiana Governor Mike Pence, the new face of discrimination
Okay it's only Tuesday but I've decided to  award this week's George Lincoln Rockwell Award to Republican Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

Not because he's necessarily a bad guy.

But because he totally misread the American zeitgeist and shirked his moral obligation as Governor by using the power of his political office to pass a law that actually removes legal barriers from individuals and businesses that chose to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. 

Of course Pence also gets the Rockwell because of his bumbling, almost incomprehensible verbal exchange with George Stephanopoulos on the ABC Sunday news show, 'This Week'.  

Not only did he completely implode on a live national broadcast when directly asked if he thought it was right to discriminate against members of the LGBT community, his strange indignant accusations about an "avalanche" of misunderstanding and bad reporting about the "religious freedom" act were so contrived that it made it painfully obvious that he KNEW the act was discriminatory. 

He ducked the question eight different times because like many members of today's Republican party, he'll gladly back concocted measures like 'Voter Identification Laws' or 'Religious Freedom' that mask discrimination against others - as long as he's not forced to actually call those measures what they are in public.

Now let's be honest, was there some kind of unprecedented wave of secret persecution against Indiana Christians that would prompt a Republican-dominated legislative body to create a law to "protect religious liberty"?

Of course not. It's a lame-ass fabricated means to a right-wing extremist end.

One of many Iraqi Christians crucified by ISIS
To me, Pence and his conservative ilk having the gall to claim that Christians in the state of Indiana are having their "religious liberty" threatened is an insult to Christians in other parts of the world who are actually being tortured and killed for their beliefs.

If Republicans want to get indignant about "religious liberty", maybe they should focus some of their fiery self-righteous rhetoric on places like Syria, or Egypt; where 21 Christian members of the Coptic Church in the village of al-Our were beheaded by members of ISIS back in February.

Remarkably, tone-deaf Republicans are proactively defending Pence's support of The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in a klutzy effort to try and convince people that it's something other than what it actually is: a license for businesses and individuals to discriminate.

Undeterred by growing criticism that Indiana's RFRA would sanction discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers, blight the reputation of the state and become a major downer for state tourism and business, today a variety of conservatives, from religious activists in Indiana to 2016 Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush used a completely bogus comparison to support Pence's effort to legalize discrimination.

Bush, Pence and others tried to claim that Indiana's RFRA is identical to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that was passed back in 1996 under then-President Bill Clinton with overwhelming Congressional support; and similar laws that have passed in 20 other states.

That's absolutely NOT true.

DOMA is a federal law that allows states to NOT recognize same-sex marriages performed in another state. 

Indiana's RFRA goes much further. As Lambda Legal attorney Jenny Pizer was quoted as saying in a DailyKos.com article by Kerry Eleveld:

"SB 101 (Indiana's RFRA passed by Gov Pence) is substantially broader than the federal law. It extends religious rights to all businesses, no matter how large and completely secular they are. In addition, the federal law can only be invoked against government action. SB 101 goes much further, inviting discrimination by allowing religious beliefs to be raised as a defense in lawsuits and administrative proceedings brought by workers, tenants and customers who have suffered discrimination in a business transaction based on someone else's religious beliefs." 

So what's the response from Republicans in other states?

The legislature of the great state of Arkansas went ahead and passed it's own version of the RFRA and sent it to Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson to sign.

North Carolina (shocker!) is preparing to act on their own version too.

So here we are in the season of Lent, approaching Good Friday when Christians around the world prepare to mark the Crucifixion of Jesus.

We're days from Easter, the holiest day on the Christian calendar and how is the extremist wing of the Republican party observing this somber and triumphant time?
By using political majorities in state legislatures to allow Christians who've warped the true message of Christ to discriminate against American citizens.

Funny how some of the same Republicans who ceaselessly criticize the President for government overreach for providing health care for citizens and for his handling of ISIS in the Mid-East, are simultaneously using their political advantage to create their own conservative theocracy in the heartland of America.  

Writer Aaron Sorkin was right when his lead character Will McAvoy (a disillusioned ex-Republican newscaster on HBO's 'The Newsroom' played by actor Jeff Daniels) said of today's Republican party:  "We should call them what they are: The American Taliban."

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