Rep. Louie Gohmert warned President Obama last week that his “disdain” for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may cause God to punish America, insisting that the president “would have that same disdain for anyone who was a strong leader for the nation of Israel and especially if they didn’t bow down and worship at the altar of the White House.”
The Texas congressman said that since Netanyahu’s upcoming address to Congress “is important for eternity,” Obama’s decision not to meet with the Israeli leader might bring about the judgment of God: “There is judgment that will come for nations that attempt to divide the nation of Israel and this White House seems determined to do that.”
The news that David Petraeus may face an indictment for leaking classified information to a woman with whom he was having an affair appears to haverekindled a right-wing conspiracy theory that Petraeus actually stepped down from his post as CIA director in order to conceal the truth about Benghazi.
This line of argument wasn’t exactly helped by the fact that Petraeus said Hillary Clinton would “make a tremendous president” and commended her “extraordinarily resolute, determined and controlled” response to the Benghazi attacks.
“This administration knows that General Petraeus has information that would virtually destroy any credibility that the administration might still have nationally and internationally, so what else would this administration do but leave over his head for a year and a half the threat, ‘We’re going to prosecute you so you better keep your mouth shut,’” the Texas Republican said.
“So if you wonder why General Petraeus has not come out in the last year in a half and said, ‘No those weren’t our talking points, somebody that created them needs to be prosecuted, it was a fraud on the American people,’” he continued. “He’s not going to say that, he’s got this administration hanging a prosecution over his head. What do you expect? I doubt he’ll ever be able to say it without worrying about something over his shoulder coming on after him. So here he is, he’s been defensive of the administration, he’s been a good solider, said what he’s wanted them to say, he hasn’t told all he could say and they’re going to make sure he doesn’t or if he does, he pays a heavy criminal price.”
Essentially, according to Gohmert, if Petraeus says that the Obama administration didn’t do anything wrong in connection with Benghazi, that is proof that the administration did do something wrong. The congressman thinks that by not substantiating his Benghazi conspiracy theories, Petraeus has effectively verified them.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, took to the House floor today to warn that “radical Islamic terrorists realize they’re winning” because the Obama administration refuses to blame Islam for terrorist attacks such as those that took place in Paris last week.
Later in his remarks, Gohmert once again suggested that President Obama is secretly a Muslim, citing an incident in the 2008 primary season when then-candidate Obama mistakenly said he had visited 57 states, which Gohmert contends was an accidental reference to the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. (The slightly more likely explanation for the verbal mix-up is that there were 57 contests in the Democratic presidential primary, but Gohmert is never one to be satisfied with the obvious explanation!)
But that was just prelude to Gohmert’s brave declaration that he is not a bigot: “I fear God, I don’t fear any man. I’m not a ‘phobe’ of anything, but it’s time to recognize truth and that is that radical Islamic terrorists want to destroy our way of life and kill us. It’s very simple.”
Rep. Renee Ellmers blasted Tea Party Republicans yesterday for launching a half-baked movement to unseat House Speaker John Boehner in today’s leadership election. In an interview on Newsmax TV yesterday, the North Carolina Republican called the group challenging Boehner, which is led by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., “bad actors” who are “acting out” because they “thrive” on “media attention.”
“Those who are acting out right now, though, are getting some media attention,” she said. “That’s all it is. It’s media attention. These are folks that thrive on it. They’re bad actors right now because they’re acting as if they’re going against the party and there’s really no substance to it whatsoever. If they truly meant what their plan was for a new speaker of the House or moving an agenda in a different way, then they should have acted months ago and they did not.”
When host Ed Berliner asked Ellmers, who was elected in the 2010 Tea Party wave, if the rebelling members of Congress were Tea Party members, she distanced herself: “I don’t know what they associate themselves with, but I can tell you that they get a lot of media attention.”
“Louie is not going to compromise, Louie is the guy. We have another chance, America, we have another chance. Please don’t pass this signpost, please, there’s another exit, take it,” Beck said on his show today, adding that conservatives should consider themselves “done with the Republican Party” if Boehner secures re-election.
“Shut the switchboard down, tell everybody you know in the freedom movement, ‘Louie Gohmert.’ Call them now,” he said.
Gohmert also appeared on Beck’s show to outline his policy agenda, which would include gutting the social safety net and stopping the House from turning into a “dictatorship.”
A small group of House Republicans has pledged to vote against John Boehner’s reelection as Speaker of the House, and Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Florida, have thrown their hats in the race.
The two challengers have earned reputations as far-right politicians even among the deeply conservative House GOP conference. Conservative media pundits have cheered on the two congressmen, both of whom have quite a history of wild rhetoric and policy positions:
Insisted Obamacare is racist against white people because it taxes tanning beds: “It’s a racist tax and I thought I might need to get to a sun tanning booth so I can come out and say I’ve been disenfranchised because I got taxed because of the color of my skin.”
2014 was a great year for conspiracy theorists running for office, but these extreme politicians couldn’t do it without the help of a conservative media bent on pushing outlandish conspiracy theories from the fringe into the mainstream. Here, gleaned from our weekly Paranoia-Rama, are the conspiracy theories that shaped the year.
While the temporary increase in unaccompanied child migrants coming to the southern border this summer has since subsided, the children fleeing violence in Central America provoked a year’s worth of fear mongering and conspiracy theories from conservative commentators and politicians.
Gordon Klingenschmitt, a televangelist who was recently elected to the Colorado state legislature, said a Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Al Franken would “require pedophilia in all public schools” and “require pro-gay child recruiting.” He even hosted a whole show about how parents should avoid interactions with “a gay” lest he “recruit” their kids. Conservatives also railed against Common Core and other education efforts by warning that they would turnkidsgay.
Religious Right leaders who hope to criminalize homosexuality and strip LGBT people of marriage rights and antidiscrimination protections are pretty sure that conservatives are the real victims of oppression. And they not afraid to use absurd historical analogies to prove their point.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins charged that gay rights supporters are getting ready to “start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians” to concentration camps, Rick Santorum feared “reeducation camps” for gay rights opponents and pastor Scott Lively claimed gay people are using against conservatives “the same ‘blood libel’ used against the Jews by the Nazis.”
Others drew comparisons to slavery and Jim Crow, with Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association alleging that gay people have become “our new slave masters” who will “send us to the hole if we refuse the massa’s demands” and “Trunews” host Rick Wiles warning that Americans “will be saves” to the newly powerful “homosexuals and sodomites.” Wiles even said that gay people in America may soon realize Adolf Hitler’s dream of creating a “race of super gay male soldiers” who are determined to “slaughter” Christians.
Supporters of marriage equality made tremendous progress this year in striking down discriminatory bans on same-sex marriages while, on the local level, more municipalities have enacted legal protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Radical Right, however, sees these changes as a reason to find new strategies to fight what it believes is a tyrannical government bent on persecuting conservatives and inviting divine punishment. Facing losses in court and at the ballot box, many conservatives hope that their brand of anti-gay politics may find more success overseas.
Just in case you thought that the debate over gay rights was “over,” we decided to look back on some of the anti-gay Right’s worst moments of 2014.
10. Comparing LGBT Americans To Nazis And Terrorists
While conservatives rail against civil disobedience to protest police brutality, they are hopeful that the anti-gay movement will launch its own civil disobedience campaigns. In 2014, Sen. Ted Cruz urged gay rights opponents to “disregard unjust edicts from the government” and Fox News pundit Todd Starnes predicted that conservatives would take part in acts of civil disobedience and marches reminiscent of the Civil Rights Movement. Pat Buchanan, Linda Harvey and Jeff Allen also joined calls for mass civil disobedience to protest LGBT equality, while Peter LaBarbera proposed protests to stop same-sex weddings.
6. Duggars Show ‘Love’ For Gays By Fighting Gay Rights
While the Duggar family usually campaigns for Republican candidates across the country come election time, in 2014 they worked in their home state of Arkansas to repeal an ordinance in the city of Fayetteville that added the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity to existing bans on discrimination in areas such as commerce, housing and employment.
But Josh Duggar, who claims that God sent him to Washington D.C. to work with Family Research Council in opposing LGBT rights, defended their work to strip LGBT people of their rights and legal protections because it is done out of love for the LGBT community.
5. Rick Perry Goes There
As Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign flamed out after a series of poor debate performances, he used gay-baiting TV ads in one last desperate attempt to win the GOP nomination. Now, as Perry prepares for the 2016 campaign, it seems that by wearing new eyeglasses he is all of a sudden the new wonky candidate. He showed off this new-found knowledge during an appearance in California where he reacted to the news that the Texas GOP had adopted a resolution endorsing “reparative therapy and treatment” to help people “escape from the homosexual lifestyle” by comparing gay people to alcoholics.
“Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that,” Perry told the Commonwealth Club of California to audible groans from the crowd. “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”
After the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, marriage equality opponents looked to their allies in Washington D.C. to try to reverse the court’s decision. Sen. Ted Cruz was more than happy to help, and the Texas senator joined Mike Lee, Utah’s freshman senator, in introducing the State Marriage Defense Act. The bill’s stated purpose is to undercut federal recognition of married same-sex couples, and while it didn’t gain much traction in Congress, it did give Cruz an opportunity to grandstand about his dreams of curtailing gay rights. He told right-wing radio hosts that his “heart weeps” due to same-sex couples’ legal victories, calling rulings in favor of marriage equality “heartbreaking” and a sign “that our constitutional liberties are being eroded.”
After the Supreme Court recently refused to hear appeals in several cases involving same-sex marriage rights, Cruz decided to introduce a constitutional amendment to ensure that the 14th Amendment cannot be used in cases involving equal rights for gays and lesbians.
One American Family Association radio host blamed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the U.S. military’s “sissification,” and Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council linked the lifting of the ban on gay service members to what he called the “absolute destruction of our military readiness and our military morale.” Gordon Klingenschmitt read a statement on his “Pray In Jesus Name” program from a press release alleging that gay service members will soon be “taking breaks on the combat field to change diapers all because their treacherous sin causes them to lose control of their bowels.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, captured the mood best when he alleged that the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will make the U.S. more “vulnerable to terrorism” because gay soldiers will take after the ancient Greeks in bringing their lovers to the frontlines so they can “give them massages before they go into battle.”
This year, Uganda’s president signed into law a new version of the country’s “Anti-Homosexuality Act” which imposed extreme penalties for the crime of being gay (though dropping its provision making homosexuality a death penalty offense in certain cases). American anti-gay activists mostly offered praise to the East African nation. At least one group thought that Uganda should have kept its death penalty plank.
Glenn Grothman, a Wisconsin lawmaker who last month won his race for an open seat in the U.S. House, also attacked opponents of Uganda’s anti-gay law, warning that people like Sec. John Kerry will bring about God’s judgment on America for his criticisms of Uganda.
Shortly after last month’s elections, conservative pundit David Horowitz gathered a variety of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim activists, including a handful of members of Congress and far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, at his annual retreat at a beach resort in Florida.
It appears that Wilders formed a strong connection with Rep. Louie Gohmert who, after Wilders’ speech to the event, stood to tell the Dutch visitor about the Muslim prayer service that had been recently held in the National Cathedral in Washington. Gohmert asserted that the service was purposefully timed by “these terrorists” to mark the hundredth anniversary of a fatwa issued by the Ottoman caliph in the early days of World War I.
“Yesterday, for the first time, Friday Muslim prayers were conducted in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.,” Gohmert said. “And what the Episcopal Church didn’t realize and what you know better than most anyone, anniversaries are a big deal to these terrorists and it’s the hundredth — I’d like to say it’s the thousandth, but it was the hundredth anniversary —November 14, 1914, when the last caliph of the Ottoman Empire, the last one, issued a fatwa that started the murder spree that began with young girls being raped and then crucified. So anyway, we see what’s happening here, but hardly a peep about yesterday.”
Wilders responded by asking the audience to stand and applaud Gohmert and Rep. Michele Bachmann for having “the guts to talk about the issue.”
The exchange came after a speech in which Wilders gave his standard calls for Western countries to “stop all immigration from Islamic countries,” ban the building of mosques and “close down all Islamic schools.”
“Islam is evil,” he told the enthusiastic crowd. “We must shout this out so loud that even President Obama and all the other cowards in politics all over the West will hear it.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert invited ultraconservative pastor Robert Jeffress to deliver the opening prayer in the House of Representatives today.
End Times broadcaster Jan Markell warns that now that the elections are over, "the White House is going to unleash unholy hell on the nation of Israel."
Obviously, the key lesson to be taken away from the Eric Garner tragedy is that "the tax hungry state is out of control, using police power to crack down on petty black market sales, to enforce the obscene taxation that created the black market in the first place."
Peter LaBarbera is scandalized: "When it comes to promiscuity and perversion, homosexual men are in a league by themselves."
Finally, Janet Porter says that the American Atheists' "skip church" billboards are proof that God exists because "nobody takes out billboards to attack fairy tales."
Insisting that “not a single child, young child, ever comes across unaccompanied” because many came with the help of smugglers, the Texas Republican said that the fact that some of the children were brought to the border by people affiliated with gangs shows that they were not actually fleeing gang violence.
Gohmert quoted the border patrolman, who he said told the children: “Now you may find some gringo who buys that stuff, but you and I know you paid a gang to bring you into this country, so don’t tell me you came to escape gang violence!”
Gohmert has previously claimed that the Central American children where lying about gang violence.
In the same panel discussion, Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana claimed that unlike “the way it worked traditionally in America,” today’s immigrants “come from countries where they look to the government, that’s their tradition is that the government takes care of them.”
“Now when it destroys their civilization, when it destroys their economy, they look for another place to go. And where do they come? They come here. And then what you see is a progressive lower standard of living.”
“Many of them now when they come they refuse to learn our culture, they refuse to learn our language, they refuse to build the skills necessary to be successful in America,” he added.
In an interview yesterday with Dan Cofall, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, accused President Obama of using immigration and the Ferguson case to provoke violence.
When Cofall asked Gohmert about Sen. Tom Coburn’s claim that Obama’s executive action deferring the deportation of some immigrants could result in violence, Gohmert replied that Obama’s critics would never resort to violence since only liberals do that.
“Civil disobedience comes from the left,” he said. “They’re the ones that loot and shoot up and shoot up stores and do all kinds of things like that. If you look at the conservative gatherings, we even pick up our own trash. But it could be that this president is doing all he can to get conservatives who remember the country when presidents didn’t exceed their bounds and wish we would go back to those days, it may be enough to make them that angry. But I hope not, I hope there’s no violence.”
Gohmert also weighed in on the Ferguson case, accusing Obama of inciting violence: “Obviously the president and the attorney general have done all they could to help stir up animosity and fuel the fire and getting people angry at police where they shouldn’t have, but I hope and pray that doesn’t happen. It may happen in Ferguson because obviously they brought in the liberal attack people that just create all the havoc and mayhem they can but I hope and pray that doesn’t spread anywhere else. I’m sure they want it to, I’m sure that people would love to have the federal government intercede, but I would beg conservatives not to get sucked into that trap.”
Suggesting that Obama is pushing conservatives to turn to violence, the congressman said that “this administration will be totally exposed for who and what they’ve been doing.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert and other conservatives are pushing for a short-term continuing resolution that could potentially lead to a standoff with President Obama over his executive action on immigration. The Texas Republican and his allies are threatening to use the budget process after that short-term spending bill runs out to threaten a government shutdown by insisting that the government “totally defund the amnesty.”
But Gohmert wants to take it even further, suggesting that Congress also go after any golf outings and family trips the president may take.
“I think we’ve got to make it clear that ought to be a short-term CR and we ought to keep holding that over the president’s head and if he grants an amnesty we just do massive cuts in programs that Americans won’t notice the bureaucrats being gone that he cares deeply about, including his own staff,” Gohmert told Dan Cofall earlier this month.
He added: “But if we’re funding everything he wants except for certain items that are his little pet piece or saying, like, we’re not going to fund any more golf outings or any more trips, vacations where he and his family travel on different planes. Just things in America go, really Mr. President, you can keep the government running and yet you’re the one saying, ‘No I want my golf outings, I want my czar for this and my czar for that,’ really, you will shut down the government over that?”
As of today, there is only one person undergoing treatment for Ebola in the United States, and only two people have contracted the disease in the U.S., both of whom are healthcare workers who survived.
But the U.S.’s success in fighting the disease at home has not stopped Republican politicians and their allies in the conservative media from turning it into a political issue, warning of an impending massive Ebola outbreak in the U.S. and declaring that when that happens it will be all President Obama’s fault.
Here are five of the most common conspiracy theories that conservative commentators and their Republican allies are pushing about Ebola:
1. Obama Will Bring Ebola To The U.S. Through The Southern Border
Never mind the fact that the countries hit hardest by the Ebola outbreak are all in Africa. Or that there hasn’t been a single case of Ebola in Latin America, let alone among migrants crossing the southern border. Republican politicians aren’t going to waste a good opportunity to gin up vague, unfounded xenophobic fears by claiming that people infected with Ebola are about to cross the southern border. (That is, if they haven’t already!)
Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., said in July that he had heard “reports” of undocumented immigrants infected with the Ebola virus coming into the U.S. through the southern border. When asked about these “reports” by journalists, Gingrey admitted that they did not actually exist. Indiana GOP Rep. Todd Rokita similarly warned that undocumented minors from Central America could represent a threat “from a public-health standpoint, with Ebola circulating and everything else.”
This month, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., warned conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck about the prospect of the Ebola virus jumping the southern border, and in another interview speculated that Obama’s policies may cause thousands of U.S. troops to contract Ebola.
Thom Tillis, the North Carolina House speaker challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, said his plan to deal with Ebola is “to seal the border and secure it,” while Sen. Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican locked in a tight re-election race, cited Ebola as a major reason why “we have to secure the border and we cannot have amnesty.”
Mike Huckabee warned his Fox News audience that people with Ebola will begin to fly from West Africa to Mexico in order to sneak into the U.S.: “If someone with Ebola really wants to come to the U.S., just get to Mexico and walk right in."
Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who is now running for Senate in New Hampshire, said that America’s “porous” southern border will let people with Ebola just “walk across it.” He later claimed that “if Mitt [Romney] was the president right now,” then he could “guarantee you we would not be worrying about Ebola right now.”
2. Obama Will Bring Ebola To The U.S. In Order To Impose Martial Law
Naturally, the White House “orchestrated” the Ebola epidemic in West Africa to justify its Big Government agenda, according to several conservative commentators and at least one actual member of Congress.
Rep. Steve Stockman, Republican of Texas, said this month that Obama has laid the groundwork to use “emergency powers to take over control of the economy and everything” and speculated that the president might intentionally slow the government response to Ebola in order to create a crisis situation that he could then exploit:
Their terminology is there’s always a crisis which they want to use to their benefit, I would not be surprised that the reason that you see a lack of response is so that it becomes a real crisis and things can be used to correct the crisis, you know. It’s just bizarre there’s not enough action up front and I’m wondering if that’s — I’m not saying this — but I’m wondering if that’s intentional in order to create a greater crisis to use it as a blunt force to say, well in order to solve this crisis we’re going to have to take control of the economy and individuals and so forth. I don’t know. It’s just a strange non-response, a strange way of handling it and I think that if it does go forward and we do not control it, there may be an overreaction where the government starts taking away the rights of those that aren’t that necessarily involved or need that to happen. I hope that’s not that case but as you know this current government uses crisis to advance their philosophy and their agenda.
Laurie Roth, a conservative talk show host, predicted that Obama would “create a guise to declare martial law due to created outbreaks” and introduce a fake Ebola vaccine that would “act as a tracker.”
The conspiracy theorists of WorldNetDaily are sounding similar themes.
Erik Rush, a columnist for the conservative media outlet, wondered if Obama administration officials actually “want Ebola to spread in the United States,” creating a crisis “orchestrated by the White House in order to ultimately ‘legitimize’ a declaration of martial law in America.”
Mychal Massie also took to WorldNetDaily to suggest that Obama will manufacture an Ebola crisis in order to achieve his goal of cancelling the 2016 elections and staying in office indefinitely.
WorldNetDaily’s Morgan Brittany claimed that the government is showing “no urgency to stop the disease from entering the U.S.,” which she said betrays the administration’s intention to make use of its non-existent FEMA coffins, declare martial law and seize guns.
“Questions were then brought up about the stockpiling of ammunition and weapons by Homeland Security over the past couple of years and the $1 billion worth of disposable FEMA coffins supposedly stored in Georgia. Why was there preparation being made for FEMA camps to house people in isolation?” Brittany wondered. “My fear is that this has all been orchestrated from the very beginning. Who knows? Maybe the current administration needs this to happen so martial law can be declared, guns can be seized and the populace can be controlled. Once that happens … game over.”
3. Obama Will Bring Ebola Outbreak To The U.S. To Help His ‘African Brothers’
Conservatives frequently insist that none of their criticism of Obama has anything to do with race, and more than a handful have claimed that the president’s handling of the Ebola outbreak proves that he is the real racist.
Conservative columnist and Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman cited Obama’s response to the Ebola outbreak as proof that he favors “his African brothers, putting the interests of fellow blacks, with whom he feels a kinship, ahead of others.”
“Obama has favored his African brothers over the rest of us by allowing them free entry into this country,” Klayman wrote in another column. “As a result, Ebola has now been introduced into the United States, may be on the verge of spreading rapidly, with the end result being potential massive death to our citizenry.”
“Regrettably our Muslim commander in chief has favored his own creed over the rest of us,” he added.
Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly also claimed that Obama is “letting these diseased people into this country to infect our own people” in order to make the U.S. more like Africa.
“Obama doesn’t want America to believe that we’re exceptional,” she wrote. “He wants us to be just like everybody else, and if Africa is suffering from Ebola, we ought to join the group and be suffering from it, too. That’s his attitude.”
Rush Limbaugh argued that “leftist” elected officials believe that Ebola “is ultimately traced back to us; because of our slavery, we kind of deserve a little bit of this.”
Not to be outdone, Laura Ingraham maintained that Obama’s “familial connection to Africa” and “core ties to the African continent” are shaping the president’s response to Ebola to the detriment to the U.S.
4. Obama Will Bring Ebola Outbreak To The U.S. Because He Hates America
Public health experts have consistently said that knee-jerk reactions like stopping travel from West Africa and quarantining healthcare workers will do nothing to lessen the Ebola risk in America (and may in fact make it worse), and that the best way for the United States to protect itself from the disease is to help fight it at its source in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
But we all know not to trust scientists!
Republican politicians and conservative commentators have expressed outrage that President Obama has put resources into fighting Ebola in West Africa and is ignoring their calls for counterproductive flight bans and quarantines. They remind us that the president is, after all, an anti-American radical so everything he does should be held in suspicion.
Fox News commentator Keith Ablow speculated this month that “the president may literally believe we should suffer along with less fortunate nations,” arguing that Obama wants Americans to experience an Ebola epidemic out of a sense of “fairness” since he thinks the American people have “been a scourge on the face of the Earth.”
“We don’t have a president who has the American people as his primary interest,” Ablow said. “We’re not even voting for somebody who likes us. This guy, who has names very similar to two of our archenemies, Osama, well, Obama. And Hussein. Hussein.”
The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer said recently that he was just asking the question whether Obama wants to “punish” America with Ebola: “It looks like he actually wants Ebola to come to the United States. Why would he want that? Well, remember President Obama thinks that this country is racist to its core, it’s been racist since the beginning, it’s an evil, colonial force that’s been the root of all kinds of evil all around the world, it needs to be punished, it needs to be brought down to size, it needs to be disciplined.”
Conservative talk show host Michael Savage suggested that Obama “wants to infect the nation with Ebola,” insisting that Obama’s handling of Ebola “rises to levels of treason, it actually exceeds any level of treason I’ve ever season.”
“Obama wants equality and he wants fairness and it’s only fair that America have a nice epidemic or two or three or four in order to really feel what it’s like to be in the Third World. You have to look at it from the point of view of a leftist,” he added.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, also posited that Obama and other Democratic officials say “don’t quarantine, let’s don’t close our borders” because they “feel like we want everyone to feel included” and “don’t want anybody to feel like they’re being left out.”
Glenn Beck speculated that Obama may be allowing the disease to take hold in conservative parts of the country, telling Fox News host Bill O’Reilly earlier this month that the president was ignoring the cases of two nurses who contracted Ebola in Dallas, perhaps because the city “doesn’t particularly care for the president.”
If this were happening in Washington, D.C., right now, do you think the President and his administration would be acting like this? Do you think the Congress would be acting like this? This is happening in Dallas, Texas, this is a top-ten city in the United States of America. Happens to be one that doesn’t particularly care for the president all that much and his policies, one that the president has not been too favorable on. We are already being squeezed on our southern border, now we’re being squeezed by Ebola. Is there an agenda here? Is that possibly the reason, because I can’t figure out any other reason.
5. Ebola Is God’s Judgment On America (Especially Obama)
Of course, several Religious Right figures are responding to the Ebola epidemic by suggesting that it is divine punishment on America.
The televangelist John Hagee said this month that Ebola is a sign of God’s disapproval of Obama’s foreign policy in the Mideast.
“Our president is dead-set on dividing Jerusalem. God is watching and he will bring America into judgment,” he said, and as a result “we are now experiencing the crisis of Ebola.”
Ron Baity, a North Carolina pastor who worked with the Family Research Council and other anti-gay groups to pass a marriage equality ban, blamed Ebola on the gay community.
“We are bringing the judgment of God on this nation,” Baity said. “As sure as Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed, don’t be surprised at the plagues, don’t be surprised at the judgment of God. You think Ebola is bad now? Just wait.”
“Trunews” host Rick Wiles also linked Ebola to homosexuality, but had a slightly different view. As Wiles explained, “Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography and abortion.”
In an interview with Newsmax today, Rep. Louie Gohmert said that Texas voters shouldn’t trust state senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis…because she has been divorced.
When host Ed Berliner asked if Davis “has found enough of the will and enough prayers to get her elected,” Gohmert replied that he thought that “she’s showing the same will she had when she let her husband paid for her to get through law school and then divorced him the day law school was finished and paid for, so she’s got a lot of will and that makes her interesting.”
The Texas congressman went on to say he never says “outrageous things to get the press.”
“It’s amazing, so often I get quoted and people say it’s outrageous and then a year or two years later people go, ‘Wow, he was right all along,’” he said.
Rep. Louie Gohmert was an in-studio guest on the "Point Of View" radio program yesterday, where he went off on a bizarre tangent about Ancient Greece in trying to make the case that allowing gays to serve in the military "is not a good idea."
The Texas Republican had been railing against the Obama administration's decision to send several thousand members of the U.S. military to Western Africa to assist in the effort to control the Ebola outbreak, saying that it was just the latest example of the administration demonstrating its fundamental disdain for the military.
Somehow that discussion eventually prompted him to launch into criticism of the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in the most perfectly Gohmert-esque fashion imaginable.
"I've had people say, 'Hey, you know, there's nothing wrong with gays in the military. Look at the Greeks,'" he said. "Well, you know, they did have people come along who they loved that was the same sex and would give them massages before they went into battle. But you know what, it's a different kind of fighting, it's a different kind of war and if you're sitting around getting massages all day ready to go into a big, planned battle, then you're not going to last very long. It's guerrilla fighting. You are going to be ultimately vulnerable to terrorism and if that's what you start doing in the military like the Greeks did ... as people have said, 'Louie, you have got to understand, you don't even know your history.' Oh yes I do. I know exactly. It's not a good idea":
Similar dire warnings about the federal hate crimes law that was passed five years ago today have proven to be utterly false.
The apocalyptic rhetoric is a reaction to the advances in LGBT rights, including the legalization of same-sex marriage in dozens of states and the passage of non-discrimination ordinances in municipalities across the country. Along with categories such as race, gender, religion, age and ability, more localities are recognizing sexual orientation and gender identity as traits warranting protection from discrimination in the public domain.
As anti-gay politicians lose in the courts, Congress, state houses, town halls, and perhaps most importantly, at the ballot box, many have taken to conflating political defeat with a loss of rights and liberty. Only by depriving other people of their rights, so they claim, can conservatives and people of faith in this nation truly be free.
This month, many Republicans latched onto a complicated legal case in Houston to justify their hyperbolic warnings about impending doom for Christians in America. After Houston passed an equal rights ordinance this year, a pastor-led group tried — and failed — to collect enough valid petition signatures to force a referendum on repealing the ordinance. When a group of conservative activists and pastors filed a lawsuit demanding that officials accept the invalid petitions, pro-bono attorneys working for the city subpoenaed several pastors’ communications, including sermons, on petition collecting and related issues like homosexuality as part of the discovery process.
While many groups from the left and right alike called out the subpoenas as overly broad and intrusive, the Religious Right cited the legal move as proof that pastors will be, as the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody put it, “hauled off to jail for a hate crimes because they are speaking for traditional marriage.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who in 2012 warned that America was “at the edge of a precipice” and would soon see non-existent “hate speech” laws used “against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages [or] who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage,” agreed with Brody’s assessment.
(In a similar episode this month, the owners of a for-profit wedding chapel business filed a lawsuit against their hometown over a nondiscrimination ordinance, arguing that city officials have threatened them with prosecution and jail time for denying service to same-sex couples — even though officials haven’t pursued any legal action against the couple.)
We’ve seen this movie before. In 2007, members of a group called Repent America were charged after disrupting a gay pride event and refusing to abide by police orders. The way conservatives tell the story, godly missionaries were punished by law enforcement for exercising their First Amendment rights and “sharing the gospel,” but as court records show, the group tried to disturb the peace and protest inside an event without a permit.
In fact, if Religious Right were correct in their warnings, America should have experienced a wave of arrests targeting pastors, church-goers and Republicans following the passage of the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Predictions about the criminalization of the Bible, pastors locked in jail cells and concentration camps for Christians never came true, mainly because these prophecies had no basis in reality.
The Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Law was passed by Congress five years ago today, and so far, the far-right’s twisted and baseless claims about the law have all been proven false. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t stopped making the exact same discredited arguments five years after the bill’s passage:
End of Free Speech
Despite the hate crimes law’s provision making clear that it is applicable only to cases of violent crime and nothing “shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs,” Religious Right activists and their allies in the GOP nonetheless predicted that the 2009 law would bring free speech to an end.
“Gay activists will use it against preachers who present the Biblical view of homosexuality,” Rick Scarborough said at the time. “The federal hate crimes law doesn’t target crime, but free speech.” He also warned that the law’s passage would “criminalize pastors and ordinary citizens who speak out biblically against homosexuality,” telling members of his group, Vision America, that he may face arrest for “speaking out against sexual deviancy.”
Scarborough, a Texas anti-gay pastor and political organizer close to Ted Cruz, hasn’t backed down from his claims even years after the law has gone into effect. At the 2013 Values Voter Summit, Scarborough declared that the “infidels” in the Obama administration are “hell-bent on silencing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Christians wouldn’t rise up against the attacks, he feared, “until a bunch of us are thrown into concentration camps.”
The Traditional Values Coalition went as far as to claim that the hate crimes law would imprison Jesus Christ.
“I believe that ‘hate crimes’ is the most dangerous bill in America, it is precisely what they are using to silence Christians around the world,” Janet Porter, a Religious Right activist with the group Faith 2 Action, said in an interview the year before the bill was passed. “How much of a stretch is it, really, to say that because I would say to you homosexuality is a sin or it’s dangerous behavior, before that speech alone is worthy of jail time? And that’s what we’re facing.” Porter told a Washington, D.C., rally shortly after the law was passed that it “criminalizes Christianity” and “sends pastors to prison for biblical positions and speech.”
In an 2009 email message with the subject line, “The Senate Will Vote To Silence You!,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins claimed that “what ‘hate crimes’ legislation does is lay the legal foundation and framework for investigating, prosecuting and persecuting pastors, business owners, and anyone else whose actions reflect their faith.”
He also alleged that the law would “gag people of faith and conviction who disagree with the homosexual agenda” and that it “punishes a person’s beliefs — part of the Left's intolerant agenda to silence the voice of Christians and Conservatives in America and eliminate moral restraint.”
“If federal thought crimes laws are passed, your right to share politically incorrect parts of your Christian faith could become a federal crime,” Perkins warned. At another conservative event, Perkins said hate crimes laws will curtail freedom and breed “chaos in America.”
Rusty Lee Thomas of Operation Save America even encouraged opposition to the law by alleging that “there is a direct connection between the sins and crimes of abortion and the sodomite agenda and the Islamic terrorism that threatens our nation.”
One group of GOP and Religious Right figures claimed the law would be “a savage and perhaps fatal blow to First Amendment freedom of expression.”
E.W. Jackson, a Virginia pastor and GOP politician, told a conservative rally that the law “represents a virulent strain of anti-Christian bigotry and hatred” that is “another step in the process of robbing all Americans of the very freedoms the founding fathers pledged their lives for and the civil rights martyrs gave their lives for.”
Ohio-based televangelist Rod Parsley, best known for his work supporting George W. Bush’s re-election campaign and the passage of his state’s gay marriage ban, said that the hate crimes law would force him out of the pulpit.
“This deceptive ploy of liberal, homosexual agenda begins to lose its allure once you pull the mask back and take a closer look,” Parsley said. “The legislation that’s before our United States senators right now extends to speech and can punish people not for their actions but for their culturally incorrect thoughts. This legislation could become law, and you and I could find ourselves forbidden to speak from God’s word right here in America. I could no longer share my heart with you on critical issues, such as this, through the medium of television, or even in the pulpit of my own church.”
We can report that despite Parsley’s grim predictions, he is still very much “sharing his heart” as a preacher.
Outlawing the Bible
One group of Michigan pastors, joined by local Republican politician and American Family Association state chairman Gary Glenn, filed an unsuccessful legal challenge against the hate crimes law soon after it was enacted. The group’s legal representative, the conservative Thomas More Law Center, contended that “the sole purpose” of the law was “to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.”
Pastor Paul Blair of Reclaiming America for Christ also offered an ominous warning: “If preaching the Bible is now against the law, then let us be arrested.” One WorldNetDaily commentator said the law would “crack down” on Christians for “reading the Bible.”
“Christianity Is Now Outlawed,” declared the Christian Seniors Association, a front group of the Traditional Values Coalition, in a fundraising letter following the law’s passage. “Did you know that the new Hate Crimes Act that President Obama signed into law makes the Bible illegal ‘Hate Literature?’” the letter continued.
“Most Christians might as well rip the pages which condemn homosexuality right out of their Bibles because this bill will make it illegal to publicly express the dictates of their religious beliefs,” said Andrea Lafferty of the TVC. “The ultimate objective of this legislation is to claim that ‘hate speech’ — criticism of homosexuality — incites individuals to violence and must be suppressed and punished. This will violate the First Amendment rights of any person or group that opposes the normalization of homosexuality in our culture.”
In the paranoid conservative alternate reality, pedophilia has been legal for five years now thanks to the updated federal hate crimes law.
“The main purpose of this ‘hate crimes’ legislation is to add the categories of ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity,’ ‘either actual or perceived,’ as new classes of individuals receiving special protection by federal law. Sexual orientation includes heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality on an ever-expanding continuum. Will Congress also protect these sexual orientations: zoophiles, pedophiles or polygamists?” asked televangelist Pat Robertson.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, similarly charged: “We have a record roll call vote that shows every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee voting to have pedophiles protected.”
King’s colleague Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, went one step further and said that as a result of the hate crimes law, courts would “have to strike any laws against bestiality” along with laws targeting “pedophiles or necrophiliacs.” Gohmert went on to warn that the law would effectively turn the U.S. into Nazi Germany.
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, for his part, predicted that the law would extend legal protections to “bisexuality, exhibitionism, fetishism, incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution, sexual masochism, urophilia, voyeurism, and bestiality.”
Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center claimed the law “elevates those persons who engage in deviant sexual behaviors, including pedophiles, to a special protected class of persons as a matter of federal law and policy.”
Porter dubbed the law the “Pedophile Protection Act,” “summarizing” the law by completely making things up: “Pushing away an unwelcome advance of a homosexual, transgendered [sic], cross-dresser or exhibitionist could make you a felon under this law. Speaking out against the homosexual agenda could also make you a felon if you are said to influence someone who pushes away that unwelcome advance. And pedophiles and other sexual deviants would enjoy an elevated level of protection, while children, seniors, veterans and churches would not.”
Pedophilia, bestiality and necrophilia are still against the law and such laws have not been affected by the Hate Crimes Act, while declining “an unwelcome advance of a homosexual” is still very much legal. However, we are still waiting with bated breath for Porter’s lawsuit detailing how she was forced and legally bound to succumb to the charms of a homosexual enticer.
Can the Religious Right Be Trusted?
The many frantic, unfounded warnings about the perils the 2009 Hate Crimes Act are just one example of anti-gay activists’ penchant for manufacturing myths and brazenly distorting cases of supposed persecution.
Apocalyptic warnings and blatantly dishonest remarks have always been characteristic of the Religious Right's crusade against LGBT rights and we can expect such activists to continue to engage in such shameless fear mongering and misinformation before the 2014 election.
But, like the Religious Right’s warnings about the effects of the 2009 Hate Crimes Act, these dire predictions should be taken with a heavy dose of salt.