Steve Malzberg invited Rep. Steve King onto his Newsmax program on Friday to discuss issues ranging from the church shooting in Charleston, which King blamed on prescription medication, to undocumented immigrants, whom he said have killed “multiples of the victims of the September 11 attacks,” to Caitlyn Jenner, whom he said illustrates “how far this society has gone from rational thought.”
The Iowa Republican also had some thoughts on Hillary Clinton’s slam of Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric in his presidential announcement. King said that Clinton unfairly made the “presumption that perhaps there will be some white people that might discriminate against some not-so-white people on the basis of being inspired by Trump’s speech.”
He also attempted to criticize the former secretary of state for inconsistency: “It’s Hillary that says ‘I’m not going to channel my husband,’ but she would channel Donald Trumps announcement speech instead to try to gain a political advantage out of that.”
The confessed shooter who massacred members of a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, made it clear that he sought his victims out because of their race and wanted to start a race war. However, Republican politicians and Fox News pundits have either feigned ignorance about the shooter’s admitted motivations or have come up with alternative explanations for the massacre.
While conservative pundits have blasted people for stating that the attack on a black church was a hate crime — based on statements by a witness to the massacre and the shooter himself — many seem to have no problem speculating wildly about other possible explanations. In fact, the only thing they are more angry about is the suggestion that the shooting had anything do with guns.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, furious that President Obama linked the shooting to America’s problem with gun violence dismissed any discussion of the country’s gun laws, saying that the shooter in Charleston was probably drugged-up.
While Perry called the attack “a crime of hate,” he also described it as “an accident.”
Right-wing radio personalities Alex Jones and Michael Savage also wondered if the shooter was on drugs and even part of a government plot to stir up racial violence.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum posited that the attack was part of a larger “assault on religious liberty,” a recurring theme that Santorum and other Republicans use on the campaign trail to blast gay rights laws and the separation of church and state. Lindsey Graham, another presidential candidate, made a similar claim: “There are people out there, looking for Christians to kill them.”
The pundits at Fox News, where many of the GOP leaders get their talking points, were in agreement. Steve Doocy said it’s “extraordinary” that the police called the attack a hate crime since it was “was a white guy apparently and a black church,” positing that the attack was the result of the shooter’s “hostility towards Christians.” Brian Kilmeade said the shooter “hates Christian churches” and Elisabeth Hasselbeck called it an “attack on faith,” all the while ignoring the shooter’s explicit mentions of race.
E.W. Jackson, a Fox News contributor, agreed: “Most people jump to the conclusions about race, I long for the day we stop doing that in our country,” before he himself assumed that the shooter was motivated by hatred of Christians. In a radio show interview, Jackson said that gay people, liberals and President Obama all were culpable since the shooting was likely the result of “growing hostility and antipathy to Christianity” and “the biblical worldview about sexuality.”
RedState founder Erick Erickson had a similar take, even throwing Caitlyn Jenner’s gender transition into the mix: “A society that looks at a 65 year old male Olympian and, with a straight face, declares him a her and ‘a new normal’ cannot have a conversation about mental health or evil because that society no longer distinguishes normal from crazy and evil from good. Our American society has a mental illness -- overwhelming narcissism and delusion -- and so cannot recognize what crazy or evil looks like.”
“It’s a lack of value for human life…You kill babies in the womb, kill people in their beds, shoot people on the streets, so now you go into the church when people are praying,” she said.
Alex Jones was upset that “the police and Obama keep talking about how coldblooded it was to go sit down with people in a church, and it was, super coldblooded, but isn’t it more coldblooded to kill babies and then go have lunch?”
Blame The Victims
National Rifle Association board member Charles Cotton had some strong words for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine people killed in the shooting, who was the pastor of the church and a state senator: “[H]e voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”
Not to be outdone, the leaders of Gun Owners of America, father-son duo Larry and Erich Pratt, also blamed Pinckney. The younger Pratt, the organization’s communications director, called Pinckney an “anti-gun activist,” while Larry Pratt blasted Pinckney for supposedly leaving his congregation “defenseless.”
Bryan Fischer of American Family Radio similarly accused the pastor of turning the church “into a shooting gallery.”
Jeb Bush opened his remarks today at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority summit by saying that no one can ever really know the true motivation behind the attack. Later, he told reporters that he still doesn’t know why the shooter carried out the attack:
Jeb Bush: "I don't know what was on the mind or the heart of the man" who shot up the church in Charleston
Following the murder of nine people in an apparent hate crime in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday night, many Americans, including prominent political figures, are calling for South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from the North side of the state’s capital building. Gov. Nikki Haley, who defended the flag during her campaign for reelection last year and supported its placement because business leaders had not complained to her about its posting, said today that “the state will start talking about” the flag issue again following the shooting.
The following Republican presidential hopefuls have voiced their support for the Confederate flag to remain on government buildings and public property.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina came to the defense of the South Carolina Confederate flag display yesterday, describing it as an integral “part of who we are”
While Graham did admit to CNN that the flag has been “used in a racist way” in the past, he argued that “the problems we have in south Carolina and the world are not because of a movie or a symbol, it’s about what’s in people’s heart.”
He added that South Carolina’s “compromise” of having both a Confederate War memorial and an African American memorial at the state capitol “works.”
Hoping to mobilize white evangelical voters against Republican “establishment” candidates in 2008, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee demanded his fellow candidates stop asking for the removal of the Confederate flag from government offices.
Huckabee had this to say: “You don’t like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag…if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we’d tell them what to do with the pole. That’s what we’d do.”
During his last presidential campaign, Rick Perry came under scrutiny for his efforts to oppose the removal of the Confederate flag from display at the statehouse when he was lieutenant governor of Texas. In a March, 2000 letter to the Sons of Confederate Veterans obtained by the Associated Press, Perry wrote, “Although this is an emotional issue, I want you to know that I oppose efforts to remove Confederate monuments, plaques and memorials from public property.”
However, Perry seems to have begun to rethink his stance on Confederate symbols. In 2011, he opposed an effort to create Confederate flag license plates, and in an interview on Newsmax’s The Steve Malzberg Show this week Perry voiced his agreement with critics of the flag that “we need to be looking at these issues as ways to bring the country together. And if these are issues that are pushing us apart, then maybe there’s a good conversation that needs to be had about [it].”
Alan Keyes, a far-right Catholic and perennial political candidate, argued that the facts about human contribution to climate change have not been established and warned that “the whole push for totalitarian government remediation of the allegedly terrible damage we are inflicting on God’s creation is a slander against the human race, a sin against humanity being committed as a pretext for the rape of human life, human conscience and God-endowed human liberty.”
The never-subtle Keyes said that when he looks “in the mirror of reason at the reflections Pope Francis offers in his encyclical, what I see looks unlike Jesus Christ (who as of now still comes to save and not harshly to penalize humanity).” He added, “Pope Francis’ reflections look more like Marx, Stalin or Mao Zedong – materialistic ideologues who punished not for the sake of God or truth, but on account of resentful, self-idolizing human will and ideology.”
Over at the free-market-adoring Acton Institute, Kishore Jayabalan was more respectful, saying he welcomed the pope’s encyclical, but wrote that he was disappointed that the pope “seems to blame markets, over-consumption and especially finance, rather than human sin, for all our environmental problems.”
Others have had much harsher words for Pope Francis. The reliably bloviating Rush Limbaugh said the encyclical seems to confirm that Francis is a Marxist, a sentiment echoed by Fox News pundit Greg Gutfield. James Delingpole, an editor at Breitbart, said the encyclical includes “hackneyed language and extremely dubious science you might expect from a 16-year-old trotting out the formulaic bilge and accepted faux-wisdom required these days…” At Fox Business, Stuart Varney warned of a sinister alliance between the Pope and President Barack Obama to “reshape the world by taxing the rich, taxing fossil fuels, and redistributing the wealth.” Right-wing radio host Michael Savage, furious at the encyclical, called the Pope “an eco-wolf in pope’s clothing” and “a stealth Marxist in religious garb,” claiming that Francis will put Catholics “in chains” and is reminiscent of “the false prophet in Revelation, an ecumenical spiritual figure directing mankind to worship the Antichrist.”
It’s not just a bunch of pundits.
The Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg notes that Sen. James Inhofe, a notorious climate change denier, “bluntly told reporters that Francis was out of line.” Inhofe told attendees at a conference of the right-wing Heartland Institute, “The pope ought to stay with his job.” ThinkProgress notes that back in May, the Koch-funded Heartland Institute warned that “the Left” was working with the Pope on climate change, something akin to the “unholy alliance of international communism with the jihadi Islamists.”
Republican presidential candidates have also been slamming the encyclical. Jeb Bush, who has talked about his conversion to Catholicism on the campaign trail, has also suggested the Pope should butt out of the public conversation on climate change. “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm,” he said.
Rick Santorum said the church is not credible when “we get involved with controversial political and scientific theories,” not a concern he seems to have when the topic is, oh, same-sex couples getting married or being parents. He told an interviewer, “The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality.”
Alex Jones hosted anti-choice activist Clenard Childress on his “Infowars” program yesterday to discuss the Charleston church shooting, which the two agreed was a government “set-up” intended to foment racial violence, which would then justify the implementation of martial law.
Childress suspected that the shooter was “on a drug” and “given instructions” to massacre the church members in order to “cause a race war” in South Carolina.
“He wasn’t just trying to kill black people, he wanted to stir folks up, or whoever advised him,” Jones said, adding that the “this guy with a chili bowl hair cut guy” looks “mentally disabled” and probably not capable of planning such an event alone.
“We’re being set up,” Childress said.
“This is all a set-up.” Jones agreed: “Oh it is. Look at the priming, look at the preparations…. You can see all of the preparation building towards this, this is the big move, it’s a race war to bring in total chaos and then total federalization with this evil Justice Department, they even got rid of the other attorney general who had baggage, they put the new one in for the political persecutions of conservatives and Christians. They’re dropping the hammer.”
Childress added that the race war is all designed to give the government an excuse to “bring in martial law very quickly.”
Yesterday, Gun Owners of America’s communications director, Erich Pratt, reacted to the shooting in a church in South Carolina by blaming the church’s pastor, one of the victims of the shooting, for voting against a concealed carry bill in his role as a state senator.
In an interview today with Houston-based talk radio host Sam Malone, GOA’s executive director Larry Pratt (Erich’s father) doubled down on the accusation, claiming that the pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, had left his congregation “defenseless” by opposing a bill that would have required churches to allow the concealed carry of firearms.
“The president and those that look at the world the way he does seem to be unshakably wedded to the idea that no defense is a good defense,” Pratt said, referring to President Obama’s remarks on the shooting. “And there you had a church where this horrible act was committed, where the pastor was a state senator who was a leading anti-Second-Amendment, pro-civilian-disarmament sort of guy. So when the dirtbag struck, he was pretty confident there wasn’t going to be anybody shooting back because they all believed that no defense is a good defense, that’s what they’d been preached about. It’s just, it was so needless. There was nobody who was able to resist.”
“It was a gun-free zone, thanks in part to the pastor, the state senator,” he said, blasting the pastor who supported keeping a policy that allows churches to choose whether or not to allowed concealed carry, or, as Pratt called it, “that stupid provision that if the church wants to be defenseless, that’s fine.”
Rabbi Daniel Lapin was among the speakers today at Ralph Reed's "Road To Majority Conference," where he declared that "secular fundamentalism" has become an "official state religion" and that, just like Islam, it is seeking to "obliterate" Christianity from American society.
"The only form of sex that the official state religion of secular fundamentalism despises is the sex described as ideal in God's book, the Bible," Lapin said. "All other forms of sex [are] highly desirable and indeed brave and courageous to practice, but what you and your spouse do, that's retrogressive and negative."
"It's exactly what the Muslim hoards did when they invaded Spain in the eighth century," he continued. "They obliterated every sign of Christianity and that's what the state religion of secular fundamentalism does as it conquers our society, works at obliterating the only hope this country has, which is a fervent, revived Christianity."
Gun Owners of America, unsurprisingly, is reacting the shooting at an African American church in Charleston this week by urging people to carry guns to church. Not only that, but GOA’s communications director Erich Pratt implies in a post on the group’s website that the church’s slain pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was partly to blame for the massacre because he had voted against a bill in the state senate that would have allowed the concealed carry of guns in churches.
He goes on to attack Pinckney for being an “anti-gun activist” who opposed concealed carry in churches.
“One of the biggest problems at South Carolina church is that the potential victims were disarmed by law,” he writes. “In the Palmetto State, a concealed carry permit holder can carry in places of worship with permission from a church official. Unfortunately, the pastor was an anti-gun activist. As a state senator, the Pastor had voted against concealed carry.”
GOA is also circulating a Facebook share image urging people to carry guns to church in order to protect against attack:
Mike Huckabee spoke today to Todd Starnes of Fox News, who was agitated that the “despicable” President Obama “wants to go after the guns” following the shooting at an African American church in Charleston. Huckabee agreed, claiming he was “disappointed” that the president considered the shooting “a great opportunity for me to grandstand and jump up on the stump and talk about gun control.”
The GOP presidential candidate said that the only thing that could have stopped the shooting would have been an armed member of the church. Channeling the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, Huckabee said: “It sounds crass, but frankly the best way to stop a bad person with a gun is to have a good person with a weapon that is equal or superior to the one that he’s using.”
Starnes ended the brief interview by castigating Obama for “playing politics” and “scoring cheap political points on the graves of the innocent” when he should’ve remained silent.
In an interview today with Steve Malzberg of Newsmax, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry described the mass shooting at an African American church in Charleston earlier this week as an “accident” that was possibly caused by the over-prescription of medication.
(Update: A Perry campaign aide now says that the former governor misspoke in the interview when he used the word “accident.”)
Perry and Malzberg kicked off the discussion of the shooting by attacking President Obama for mentioning the failure to pass gun reform. Perry, a GOP presidential candidate, said that the president is trying to “take the guns out of the hands of everyone in this country.”
“This is the MO of this administration, any time there is an accident like this — the president is clear, he doesn’t like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message,” Perry said.
Instead of talking about guns, Perry said, we should be talking about prescription drugs: “Also, I think there is a real issue to be talked about. It seems to me, again without having all the details about this, that these individuals have been medicated and there may be a real issue in this country from the standpoint of these drugs and how they’re used.”
He said that such drugs are responsible for high suicide and joblessness rates, adding that “there are a lot of issues underlying this that I think we as a country need to have a conversion about rather than just the knee-jerk reaction of saying, ‘If we can just take all the guns away, this won’t happen.’”
He added that while the shooting was “a crime of hate,” he didn’t know if it should be called a terrorist attack.