Posts Tagged ‘Conspiracism’


The far Right, corporatist, religious and political lunatic fringe, has an extensive history of fabricating and manufacturing hoaxes to demonise perceived enemies, or competitors.

Mere reality is insufficient to satiate their lust for unbridled power, sociopathic hatreds and extreme paranoia, so that fantasies and fabrications are routinely manufactured to nourish their pornography of paranoia.

Conspiracism, the manufacture of the ‘demonic other’ and group, cultural ‘scapegoats,’ has persistently played a vital and core role, in far Right propaganda.

The grubby, listed hate preacher, Robert Spencer, adored by neo-Nazis, fascists and Catholic/Christian/Jewish extremists, is an intermediate cog in the larger, manufactured Islamophobia Industry machinery, which has been staple cash cow for far Right religious and politicised extremists, hate mongers and fascists preying and profiteering from real and fabricated cultural tensions.

Whilst innumerable examples could be cited, here’s a recent faux ‘news’ ruse, promulgated by the superstitious, Rightist Catholic fanatical loon, Robert Spencer who deludes that despite his lies, disinformation and deception, he is doing ‘the work of god.’

 

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Daily-Caller-Refugees

Via by Richard Bartholomew

Here’s one I missed from a month ago. From the Daily Caller:

A group of 51 refugees were brutally assaulted outside a night club in Murmansk, Russia, after they groped and molested women at a night club Saturday.

The refugees had previously been ordered to leave Norway for “bad behavior” and tried their luck in Russia. What they didn’t realize when they went out clubbing in Murmansk is that Russians have less tolerance when it comes to sexual assault on local women than other European countries.

…The refugees tried to flee but were quickly captured by the Russians. They then took them out to the street and gave them a beating they will remember. Police arrived to break up the fight but locals report that they threw a few punches at the refugees before arresting 33 of them. Eighteen refugees were in such bad condition they had to be take to the hospital.

As shown above, the story is illustrated with a photograph of a gang of burly men, one of whom has a club, beating up another man, who cowers on the ground.

The source given in the link above is an Italian report from Imola Oggi (without the photo), which in turn cites Fort RussThe Fort Russ article is in English (“translated by Tom Winter”), and states that it “was prepared from material on social network sites.”

However, it followed an earlier report on the same site (“translated by Ollie Richardson”) which has a somewhat different version of the story:

Several refugees from Arab countries were beaten in the middle of the night of Saturday in the city of Polyarnye Zori (Murmansk oblast), reported a FlashNord source in the law enforcement bodies of the region.

The incident occurred in the nightclub Gandvik.

“According to preliminary data, five refugees were beaten in the entertainment establishment. According to witnesses, they behaved insolently and had been pestering local girls,” — said the Agency’s interlocutor.

“Five”. As opposed to “51”. And no reference to any arrests. But there’s more: the original article from FlashNord can be seen here. It was followed up on the same day with a second article, confirming that there may have been a fight outside the nightclub, but that details could not be confirmed from CCTV and it was all over by the time the police arrived.

So, it looks like there was an incident of some kind – but it is far from clear that it was anything more significant than the kind of fight that tends to occur sometimes near venues where young men have been drinking and are perhaps “on the pull”. Were refugees involved? Was the incident provoked by anti-social behaviour towards female clubbers? Nothing in the report confirms any such details (and I can’t find further evidence elsewhere) – and the story of a mass incident involving dozens of arrests appears to have been a fiction.

The photograph used by the Daily Caller doesn’t make much sense: it shows just one man being attacked, and – somewhat crucially – it was taken in middle of the day. The site either didn’t bother – or forgot – to remove the photo’s metadata caption, which identifies it as actually showing Russian Cossacks assaulting a Ukrainian in Sevastopol in 2014. It was published in its correct context in the media at the time (see below).

Did the Daily Caller intend to deceive? Robert Spencer, always eager to spread stories about how Muslims are depraved, appears to have taken it at face value as evidence, as did other right-leaning sites.

Perhaps it was intended merely to be illustrative – but given that the Daily Caller clearly approves of the outcome in their version of the story, such a photo serves to titillate, and perhaps to exhort.

Have we really reached the point where a photo of a bunch thugs beating someone up is to be celebrated because someone has said that it shows a refugee, and has further assured us that the victim did something anti-social and deserves his fate?

Spencer-vs-Mirror

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Conspiracism

It is very effective to mobilize mass support against a scapegoated enemy by claiming that the enemy is part of a vast insidious conspiracy against the common good. The conspiracist worldview sees secret plots by tiny cabals of evildoers as the major motor powering important historical events; makes irrational leaps of logic in analyzing factual evidence in order to “prove” connections, blames social conflicts on demonized scapegoats, and constructs a closed metaphysical worldview that is highly resistant to criticism.~1

When conspiracist scapegoating occurs, the results can devastate a society, disrupting rational political discourse and creating targets who are harassed and even murdered. Dismissing the conspiracism often found in right-wing populism as irrational extremism, lunatic hysteria, or marginalized radicalism does little to challenge these movements, fails to deal with concrete conflicts and underlying institutional issues, invites government repression, and sacrifices the early targets of the scapegoaters on the altar of denial. An effective response requires a more complex analysis.

The Dynamics of Conspiracism

The dynamic of conspiracist scapegoating is remarkably predictable. Persons who claim special knowledge of a plot warn their fellow citizens about a treacherous subversive conspiracy to attack the common good. What’s more, the conspiracists announce, the plans are nearing completion, so that swift and decisive action is needed to foil the sinister plot. In different historical periods, the names of the scapegoated villains change, but the essentials of this conspiracist worldview remain the same.~2

George Johnson explained that “conspiratorial fantasies are not simply an expression of inchoate fear. There is a shape, an architecture, to the paranoia.” Johnson came up with five rules common to the conspiracist worldview in the United States:~3

“The conspirators are internationalist in their sympathies.

“[N]othing is ever discarded. Right-wing mail order bookstores still sell the Protocols of the Elders of Zion…[and] Proofs of a Conspiracy [from the late 1700’s].

“Seeming enemies are actually secret friends. Through the lens of the conspiracy theorists, capitalists and Communists work hand in hand.

“The takeover by the international godless government will be ignited by the collapse of the economic system.

“It’s all spelled out in the Bible. For those with a fundamentalist bent, the New World Order or One World Government is none other than the international kingdom of the Antichrist, described in the Book of Revelation.

Conspiracism can occur as a characteristic of mass movements, between sectors in an intra-elite power struggle, or as a justification for state agencies to engage in repressive actions. Conspiracist scapegoating is woven deeply into US culture and the process appears not just on the political right but in center and left constituencies as well.~4 There is an entrenched network of conspiracy-mongering information outlets spreading dubious stories about public and private figures and institutions. They use media such as printed matter, the internet, fax trees, radio programs, videotapes and audiotapes.~5


 

If you want to jump out of this article, try these related pages:

The Conspiracism Collection:

The Sucker Punch Collection


Hagee: ‘God Will Hold America Responsible’ for Re-Electing Obama

SUBMITTED BY Kyle Mantyla

Yesterday, John Hagee opened up the “Hagee Hotline” to answer questions from parishioners about the election; questions like “do you believe [President Obama] is the precursor to the Anti-Christ?”  Hagee never really answered the question, simply predicting that an economic crash is coming that will result in the rise of a global economic czar who will, in fact, be the Anti-Christ.

But as for the election, Hagee warned that “America chose a leader who is for men marrying men” and who is “pro-abortion” and who has “attacked freedom of religion” and so this nation is “about to face the consequences of our choices” because “God will hold America responsible for that choice”:

Related articles


Scientific American

Conspiracy Contradictions

Why people who believe in one conspiracy are prone to believe others
magazine cover

ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 16, I spent several hours on a hot bus in a neon desert called Las Vegas with a merry band of British conspiracists during their journey around the Southwest in search of UFOs, aliens, Area 51 and government cover-ups, all for a BBC documentary. One woman regaled me with a tale about orange balls of energy hovering around her car on Interstate 405 in California, which were subsequently chased away by black ops helicopters. A man challenged me to explain the source of a green laser beam that followed him around the English countryside one evening.

Conspiracies are a perennial favorite for television producers because there is always a receptive audience. A recent Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary that I participated in called Conspiracy Rising, for example, featured theories behind the deaths of JFK and Princess Diana, UFOs, Area 51 and 9/11, as if there were a common thread running throughout. According to radio host and conspiracy monger Alex Jones, also appearing in the film, “The military-industrial complex killed John F. Kennedy” and “I can prove that there’s a private banking cartel setting up a world government because they admit they are” and “No matter how you look at 9/11 there was no Islamic terrorist connection—the hijackers were clearly U.S. government assets who were set up as patsies like Lee Harvey Oswald.”

Such examples, along with others in my years on the conspiracy beat, are emblematic of a trend I have detected that people who believe in one such theory tend to believe in many other equally improbable and often contradictory cabals. This observation has recently been confirmed empirically by University of Kent psychologists Michael J. Wood, Karen M. Douglas and Robbie M. Sutton in a paper entitled “Dead and Alive: Beliefs in Contradictory Conspiracy Theories,” published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science this past January. The authors begin by defining a conspiracy theory as “a proposed plot by powerful people or organizations working together in secret to accomplish some (usually sinister) goal” that is “notoriously resistant to falsification … with new layers of conspiracy being added to rationalize each new piece of disconfirming evidence.” Once you believe that “one massive, sinister conspiracy could be successfully executed in near-perfect secrecy, [it] suggests that many such plots are possible.” With this cabalistic paradigm in place, conspiracies can become “the default explanation for any given event—a unitary, closed-off worldview in which beliefs come together in a mutually supportive network known as a monological belief system.”

This monological belief system explains the significant correlations between different conspiracy theories in the study. For example, “a belief that a rogue cell of MI6 was responsible for [Princess] Diana’s death was correlated with belief in theories that HIV was created in a laboratory … that the moon landing was a hoax … and that governments are covering up the existence of aliens.” The effect continues even when the conspiracies contradict one another: the more participants believed that Diana faked her own death, the more they believed that she was murdered.

The authors suggest there is a higher-order process at work that they call global coherence that overrules local contradictions: “Someone who believes in a significant number of conspiracy theories would naturally begin to see authorities as fundamentally deceptive, and new conspiracy theories would seem more plausible in light of that belief.” Moreover, “conspiracy advocates’ distrust of official narratives may be so strong that many alternative theories are simultaneously endorsed in spite of any contradictions between them.” Thus, they assert, “the more that participants believe that a person at the centre of a death-related conspiracy theory, such as Princess Diana or Osama [bin] Laden, is still alive, the more they also tend to believe that the same person was killed, so long as the alleged manner of death involves deception by officcialdom.”

As Alex Jones proclaimed in Conspiracy Rising: “No one is safe, do you understand that? Pure evil is running wild everywhere at the highest levels.”

On his Infowars.com website, Jones headlines his page with “Because There Is a War on for Your Mind.” True enough, which is why science and reason must always prevail over fear and irrationality, and conspiracy mongering traffics in the latter at the expense of the former.


Anti-Muslim Bigot Robert Spencer Comes to the Defense of Genocidal Site “BareNakedIslam”

Anders Breivik's choice for the "Noble Peace Prize," Robert Spencer

Anders Breivik’s choice for the “Noble Peace Prize,” Robert Spencer

Via:- Anti-Muslim Bigot Robert Spencer Comes to the Defense of Genocidal Site “BareNakedIslam”

Extremist far right anti-Muslim, MEK-Terror linked, Terrorist Inspirer, and conservative Catholic apologist Robert Spencer‘s bigotry and hatred for Islam and Muslims is evident to most rational individuals. Just take a brief glance at our copious documentation of his words, statements and activities if you are unsure of what we mean. You can also see what others have said about Spencer.

Spencer is so stuck in his goofy 11th century Crusader mentality that he is once again defending open calls to genocide. I guess he didn’t learn anything from the Anders Breivik fiasco, you know, the “insane” terrorist who thought Robert Spencer deserved the “Noble Peace Prize.”

This time Spencer is going to bat for the loony-even-by-Geller-standards, BareNakedIslam website, which was briefly shut down by WordPress for violating its terms and conditions.

A few days ago Sheila Musaji of The American Muslim reported on the unanimous cacophony of sadistic joy displayed by the owners and commenters on BareNakedIslam regarding the repeated arson attacks on mosques in France.

An anti-Muslim site called Bare Naked Islam has posted an article celebrating this. The article is titled “WOO HOO! Yet ANOTHER anti-Muslim attack on a French mosque”.  Just in case they take it down, CAIR has saved the page here.  The headline of the article states Apparently, Hell hath no fury like a Frenchman scorned. It’s the third attack on a mosque just this month. Will the Muslims ever get a clue that they are not welcome in France?

Most of the comments below the Bare Naked Islam article are hateful.  Some examples:

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Musaji notes:

This last comment by Keith Mahone is the most extreme, and a particular concern since he says in his long rambling rant that he regularly drives past a mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, and that the sight of that mosque causes him distress.

I waded through a few articles on the site and the comments, and found that this sort of rabid hatred of Muslims and encouragement of not only limiting the civil rights of American Muslims, and encouragement of not only limiting the civil rights of American Muslims, but also actually murdering them is common.

Read Sheila Musaji’s complete piece, it details even more examples of the rabid and visceral genocide calling on BareNakedIslam.

Spencer has linked to BareNakedIslam for years now and they seem to have a mutual admiration for one another. Spencer does not take issue with BNI’s anti-Muslim genocidal rants nor does he condemn them, rather he resorts to conspiracy theory and forwards the argument that BNI is a victim of “Islamic supremacist” warfare.

Instead of apologizing for associating with BNI he rushes full hog into their corner, lauding them as an “anti-Jihad website.” He gives the meager caveat that “he doesn’t agree with everything they write,” and that “he doesn’t condone threats” but then he goes onto deflect, saying they were just a few “unhinged comments.”

No, Spencer, they aren’t a few comments they are just an example of the consistent violent anti-Muslim rhetoric pervasive in the Islamophobesphere, including your own blog (one example out of many):

Spencer also oddly attempts to deflect by posting screen shots of comments by commenters “Mosizzle” and “RefutingActs” on Spencerwatch which he interpreted as a threat, but which even some of his own followers considered a ludicrous stretch. It is really a pathetic attempt at “deflection” when anyone with half a brain knows that what is written on a daily basis on JihadWatch and BareNakedIslam cannot compare to our meticulous care in deleting hateful or bigoted remarks and even allowing some Islamophobes such as “halal pork” to post.

At the end of the day, Spencer is so far down the rabbit hole he probably doesn’t understand what he is doing. At this point he’s hoping for a Hail Mary that may somehow redeem his hateful and bloody fantasies of a world without Muslims.


[As previously blogged, conspiracism or conspiracy thinking and religious fundamentalism go hand in hand. Both are irrational world views. Conspiracism, like religion, provides a false sense of enlightenment and “… a thread of insistence exists that only certain, truly enlightened people can see the truth behind the secret plots. Most conspiracies are, so the thinking goes, invisible to the vast majority of sheeplike citizens who go grazing through the pasture of life, never suspecting the evil wolves lurking behind the rocks of everyday occurrences.

In a way, conspiracism can be comforting to true believers because it removes the scary notion of randomness from the universe. For some, conspiracies can seem like an extension of religious faith, with God and Satan locked in a struggle for supremacy on Earth. In fact, many conspiracists are strongly connected to a belief in the coming of the end of the world. After a specific series of world events happens, these “millenialists” believe, those events will usher in Armageddon, the final battle between the forces of good and evil on Earth.”]

Ref:- Pat Robertson Lapin Up 9/11 Bible Prophecy Nonsense
Posted on October 6, 2011 by Richard Bartholomew

A double-whammy of stupidity from Rabbi Daniel Lapin, in conversation with Pat Robertson:

The Torah, in ancient Jewish wisdom the Bible, actually explains something which we have lived through which is one of the great mysteries: the plot of 9/11… Not only do we find references in Zachariah to four mysterious crafts that come through between two mountains made of metal, in biblical terminology mountains can be natural mountains or also anything tall that grows up like two buildings, also the idea that the plot was hatched not in Mecca or Medina or Riyadh or anywhere else in Saudi Arabia, that plot was hatched in Hamburg, Germany…

Lapin is making a garbled and absurd reference to Zechariah 6: 1-8:

I looked up again, and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains—mountains of bronze. The first chariot had red horses, the second black,  the third white, and the fourth dappled—all of them powerful. I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these, my lord?” The angel answered me, “These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world. The one with the black horses is going toward the north country, the one with the white horses toward the west, and the one with the dappled horses toward the south.” When the powerful horses went out, they were straining to go throughout the earth. And he said, “Go throughout the earth!” So they went throughout the earth. Then he called to me, “Look, those going toward the north country have given my Spirit rest in the land of the north.”

There are no “mysterious crafts”: instead, the author is obviously describing symbolic chariots for the four “spirits of heaven”. The “mountains of bronze” are not buildings: the image has been taken from Babylonian mythology to represent the gateway into heaven. It should be further noted that the chariots are “coming out from between” the two mountains, rather than crashing into them, and that their drivers are spirits sent to do God’s work around the world, rather than terrorists sent to the USA to massacre people. Lapin is either a fool or a fraud: but either way, it’s clear from this that he doesn’t give a damn about interpreting the Bible with any kind of integrity. And the same goes for Robertson, for endorsing such a farrago of nonsense.

But while we’re still trying to swallow that, Lapin serves up a dessert. 9/11, he explains,

… was based on a dream that Adolf Hitler had in 1943 which was to fly suicide Luftwaffe German air force bombers into the towers of Manhattan… That was a Hitler dream described in a book called ‘Spandau Diary’ written by one of the Nazis who was captured after the war and who witnessed, and actually I’ve seen drawings, and I don’t doubt for a moment that the Muslim plotters, in the mosque in Hamburg who laid out the plans for 9/11, I don’t doubt for a moment that they encountered those same plans. I don’t think they thought of this themselves. This was the fulfillment of a dream that was really put in place early on in World War II.

Lapin is referring to Spandau: The Secret Diaries, by Albert Speer. In his entry for 18 November 1947, Speer recalls that

I never saw [Hitler] so worked up as toward the end of the war, when in a kind of delirium he pictured for himself and for us the destruction of New York in a hurricane of fire. He described the skyscrapers being turned into gigantic burning torches, collapsing upon one another, the glow of the exploding city illuminating the dark sky. Then, as if finding his way back to reality from a frenzy, he declared that Saur must immediately carry our Messerschmitt’s scheme for a four-engine long-range jet bomber. With such range we could repay America a thousand-fold for the destruction of our cities.

The plan for a “jet bomber” is mentioned again in passing in the entry for 2 November 1953. There is no mention of Manhattan, and no concept of a suicide mission: the “jet bomber” was obviously envisioned as dropping bombs on New York, rather than as being a bomb itself.

Last year, Lapin took part in Glenn Beck’s “Divine Destiny”, as one of Beck’s “Black Robe Regiment” of conservative pastors. A subsequent Media Matters post, drawing on earlier Washington Post reports, notes Lapin’s links to Jack Abramoff, whom I previously discussed here.

(H/T Right Wing Watch)


10 Signs God Is Furious With the Right
Whatever disaster strikes, there’s always an upside in
religious rightland, always somebody to point the finger at with glee. Let’s
turn the tables.
September 16, 2011  |
Editor’s note: the following is satire… for the most part.

Why is it that whenever disaster strikes, right-wing religious nuts seem to
have all the fun? Some might say it’s just because they’re sadists, but they
always seem to find the silver lining. 9/11? God’s calling on America to repent!
(No, not for it’s foreign policy, you dummy!) Hurricane Katrina? It was that
darned homosexual parade the organizers forgot to tell anyone about!

Whatever disaster strikes, there’s always an up-side in religious rightland,
always somebody to point the finger at with glee. How come they get all the
fun?

So when the East Coast got a one-two punch last month, earthquake-hurricane
within a few days of one another, it got me thinking. When another hurricane
followed up afterward, it was more than I could bear. And so, I offer you a list
of God’s Top 10 Targets from a
not-so-right-but-possibly-more-righteous point of view.

There are at least three different ways to approach this subject, and we have
examples of all three. First is to identify specific target groups for repeated
offenses—sinners who just won’t mend their ways. Second is to identify
geographic targets for specific offenses—sin city or state, as the case may be.
Third is to identify specific individuals.

1. Republicans, for bearing false witness.

It’s not just one of the Ten Commandments — the Bible has repeated warnings
against slander, false testimony and plain old lying. But Republicans apparently
think that God was talking to somebody else—the exact opposite of their usual
assumption—especially since Barack Obama arrived on the scene. Obama was born in
Kenya, he is a Muslim, he’s a socialist, a Marxist, a fascist, he hates white
people (like his mom and his grandparents), he hangs out with terrorists. It
goes on and on and on.

God has repeatedly told them not to act like this—yet they pay Him no mind.
It’s not just Obama, either. When it comes to science, things get just as bad,
be it evolution, global warming, reproductive health, or gender orientation;
when the science isn’t on their side, the lying and slander take up the slack.
It’s not just that the science is against them, you see. Scientists are
fraudsters; they are always conspiring against God and his people, according to
some of the more whacked out types—like GOP senators, for example. God may have
a great deal of patience, but when folks start trying to drag Him into the mix,
that’s when the earthquakes and hurricanes begin.

2. The Religious Right, for ignoring Jesus on the separation of
church and state.

More than 1,600 years before John Locke and 1,700 years before Thomas
Jefferson weighed in on the subject, Jesus said, “Render therefore unto Caesar
that which is Caesar’s and unto God those things which are God’s.” (What’s more,
he said that, in part, as a way of opting out of a tax revolt!) But the
Religious Right defiantly continues to oppose Him. God’s been extremely patient
with them over the years, but that patience has finally run out, as the most
anti-separationist elements of the Religious Right—known as dominionists—have come increasingly to the fore.

Some might say they’re embarrassing Him personally. Others will say it’s starting to get
really dangerous. Whatever the reason, God’s had enough.

3. The nativist right and the GOP, for a rash of anti-immigrant
laws.

“Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in
the land of Egypt.” Exodus 22:21 could not be clearer—unless, of course, we
switched from the King James Bible to the New International Version: “Do not
mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.”

But for some in the GOP, them’s fightin’ words. All they can think about is
disobeying God. They are positively possessed with the Satanic spirit of
disobedience. It began with Arizona’s SB-1070 last year. And while a number of
states followed Arizona’s lead with anti-immigrant laws of their own, the most
notorious was Alabama, which faced “a
historic outbreak of severe weather” in April.

The same day the law was signed, Alabama’s Episcopal, Methodist and Roman
Catholic churches filed a separate lawsuit, claiming the law unconstitutionally
interferes with their right of religious freedom. Church leaders said the law
“will make it a crime to follow God’s command.” Among other things, the suit
said, “The bishops have reason to fear that administering of religious
sacraments, which are central to the Christian faith, to known undocumented
persons may be criminalized under this law.”  If criminalizing Christian
sacraments isn’t inviting divine retribution, what is?

4. The predatory lending industry and all who enable
them.

There are numerous Bible passages condemning usury. Typical of these is
Exodus 22:25: “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do
not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest.” Naturally, the whole of
modern capitalism is built on ignoring a broad reading of this. But predatory
lending is a particularly egregious form of defiance. It’s proved rather costly
to our country as well.

A Wall Street Journal article on December 31, 2007 reported that Ameriquest Mortgage
and Countrywide Financial, two of the largest U.S. mortgage lenders, spent $20.5
million and $8.7 million respectively in political donations, campaign
contributions, and lobbying activities between 2002 and 2006 in order to defeat
anti-predatory lending legislation. Such practices contributed significantly to
the financial crisis that plunged us into the Great Recession. But it seems that
wasn’t a clear enough lesson, especially since those who lobbied most intensely
benefited most from the bailouts as well, according to an IMF
study
. So earthquakes and hurricanes are an old school, Old Testament way
for God to make his point.

5. The GOP, for its contempt for the poor.

For more than half a century, the GOP has attacked Democrats and liberals for
their concern for the poor. At least since the 1980s, the neo-liberal wing of
the Democratic Party has tried to distance themselves from the poor, and
reposition the party as defenders of the middle class, instead. The GOP has
responded with policies to impoverish the middle class as well, so that they can
be safely demonized, too.

But the GOP’s venom for all but the wealthy has reached new heights during
the Great Recession. Not only should those who caused the crisis be taken care
of while all others suffer—far too many national Democratic politicians seem to
agree on that one—but a renewed rhetoric of contempt for the poor has emerged,
in direct contradiction to what Jesus said, in Luke 6:20: “Blessed are you who
are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

Increasingly, it seems, Republicans don’t think poor people are even
human. In January 2010, South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Baurer (R) compared poor people to stray animals: He told an audience
that his grandmother told him “as a small child to quit feeding stray animals.
You know why? Because they breed.” He compared this to government assistance,
which he said is “facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person
ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too
much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail
that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.” Then, in early August,
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, the frontrunner for the GOP senate
nomination, compared poor people to scavenging racoons. Talk like that is
what causes earthquakes and hurricanes.

6. Privatized public utilities, for the worship of
Mammon.

Public utilities are natural monopolies, totally unsuited to private
enterprise, since there is no competitive marketplace. This, of course, makes
them perfect targets for monopoly capitalists—Mammon’s greatest worshipers.

Against them, God struck a mighty blow. In Mansfield, Massachusetts, which
has had its own municipal power service since 1903, electrical service was
restored for most customers within 24 hours after Irene hit, even though 4,000
out of 9,500 households had lost power—quite unlike what happened to nearby
communities served by a commercial outfit. According to a local report, the storm “uprooted old trees and knocked down
utility lines all over town.”

“Unlike homes and businesses in Easton, Norton and Foxboro, however, local
customers did not have to wait for National Grid to respond with crews or listen
to a recording on the telephone…. [M]uch of Easton waited three days for power
to return and areas of communities such as Foxboro are still in the dark.”
According to another report, about Foxborough, “The outrage expressed… is
similar to the movie Network in the scene where people flung open their windows
and said, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.’”

Then there are a couple of geographically specific targets:

7. Virginia.

Virginia was the site of the earthquake’s epicenter and the second state
where Irene made landfall, so the state is a target-rich environment.

There’s House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. On God’s bulls-eye scale, the
epicenter near Mineral, Virginia is in Cantor’s district—a direct hit. And in
budget negotiations this year, Cantor’s contempt for the poor came through loud
and clear. He’s been the most aggressive congressional leader when it comes to
budget-cutting and pushing the economy as hard as possible over the cliff. Then,
after the earthquake hit, Cantor said any federal relief would have to be offset
with spending cuts, and quipped, “Obviously, the problem is that people in
Virginia don’t have earthquake insurance.” He reiterated his demand for offsetting cuts when Hurricane Irene hit shortly
afterward—even though he voted against such a provision after Tropical Storm Gaston hit
the Richmond area in 2004.

Then there’s Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. No way he escapes
God’s wrath. Cuccinelli’s widely criticized witch-hunt against eminent climate scientist Michael Mann
represents the most extreme right-wing attack on the mythical “climate-gate”
scandal, which consisted primarily of scientists making snide remarks about
ignoramuses like Cuccinelli. He’s all wrapped up in sin of bearing false
witness. Which is where Hurricane Irene comes in—although it surely doesn’t help
that Cuccinelli is suing to keep people sick, and has told Virginia’s colleges
and universities that they can’t ban anti-gay discrimination.

And, of course, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has tried to have it both
ways with God, as well as with the people of Virginia. On the one hand, all the
way back in 1989, he wrote a Christian Reconstructionist M.A. thesis, “The
Republican Party’s Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of the Decade” at
the College of Law at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. McDonnell’s authorship
of the thesis came to light during his 2009 campaign for governor, but because
the establishment is in deep denial about Dominionism in general, and Christian Reconstructionism in
particular, the full weight of his thesis never really sunk in. On the other
hand, McDonnell has tried very assiduously to walk away from that past, given
that almost no one wants to admit to such extreme views. He’s wobbled back and forth on a number of issues, but generally
tried to strike a reasonable demeanor—in sharp contrast to Cuccinelli. But God
doesn’t like folks who run hot and cold, which is why McDonnell’s a target,
too.

Finally, just to be a wee bit bipartisan about it, we need to include
Virginia’s Democratic Senator Mark Warner in our list—though with a bit of
twist. On the day of the earthquake, Warner was scheduled to speak at the
Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpepper,
Virginia. He arrived about 10 minutes after the quake, according to the local Star Exponent, which reported:

The building had been emptied of its staff and the approximate 75 people who
came to hear Warner so the former governor talked from under a tree atop Mount
Pony.

“I was not going to mention the fact that one of the last times I was in
Culpeper there was a tornado,” he said of an appearance years ago at
CulpeperFest marked by wild weather. “If you don’t want me to come back, there’s
an easier way to do this. If we start seeing frogs, it may be a sign of things
to come,” he said.

So it’s not that God is angry with Warner, exactly. He just targets Warner
for amusement, to see what he’ll say next. And, of course, because he, too,
represents Virginia, truly a state of sin.

8. North Carolina.

Hurricane Irene could have barreled directly into South Carolina, but it
delivered a stiff upper-cut to North Carolina instead. And why not? Governor Bev
Perdue tried her darnedest to protect the state. She vetoed its draconian budget
bill, only to see her veto over-ridden. It too was an attack on the poor — the bill
didn’t just fail to balance spending cuts with tax increases, it actually let a
temporary one-cent sales tax expire, along with some income taxes on high
earners, while cutting $124 million in local education funding on top of $305
million cut in previous years. Perdue also vetoed a highly restrictive abortion
law—one that, among other things, has a 24-hour waiting period, and force-feeds
anti-abortion propaganda to women seeking an abortion—call it the “Bearing False
Witness By Doctors Act.” But that veto was over-ridden as well—by a single vote in the
state senate. So, really, God’s hand was forced on this one. He had no choice
but to strike North Carolina, and strike it hard.

Finally, there are two individual targets to consider:

9. Rick Perry.

While the one-two punch of the Virginia earthquake and Hurricane Irene were
far removed from Texas Governor Rick Perry’s stomping grounds, God had not
forgotten Perry, but was merely preparing to toy with him. Perry, after all, had
responded to a terrible drought in Texas not by implementing any long-term
policy measures (which might make Texas better able to deal with the prospects
of more severe droughts to come as global warming impacts increase), but by
calling on Texans to pray.

Back in April, Perry proclaimed the “three-day period from Friday, April 22,
2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of
Texas.” Since then, however, things have only gotten worse, as Timothy Egan noted in the NY Times “Opinionator”
blog, “[A] rainless spring was followed by a rainless summer. July was the
hottest month in recorded Texas history….Nearly all of Texas  is now in
‘extreme or exceptional’ drought, as classified by federal meteorologists, the
worst in Texas history. Lakes have disappeared. Creeks are phantoms, the caked
bottoms littered with rotting, dead fish.”

Somehow, though, it seemed like most folks outside of Texas had no idea of
Perry’s failed prayer initiative. That’s where God came in, following up Irene
with the tantalizing prospect of a Gulf of Mexico storm that would finally bring
relief to the Longhorn state. But alas no. First Tropical Storm Jose petered out
entirely, then Tropical Storm Lee turned to Louisiana instead. If you pray with
Perry, you obviously take the Lord’s name in vain. As one frustrated Texan wrote on Reddit, “Perry’s prayer has been answered. The answer
was ‘No’.” God is making things perfectly clear, as Richard Nixon would say: If
you want someone praying for America in the White House, Rick Perry is not your
guy.

10 God.

Yes, it’s true, God Himself was one of the main targets of God’s wrath,
particularly during the earthquake, which did remarkably little damage to the
living. But, as Rob Kerby noted at BeliefNet, churches took some pretty hard hits:

“Churches seemed to bear the brunt of Tuesday’s 5.8 earthquake on the East
Coast.

“Significant damage was reported to Washington, D.C.’s National Cathedral and
St. Peter’s Catholic Church, historic St. Patrick’s Church near Baltimore, and
two churches in Culpepper, Va., close to the epicenter — St. Stephen Episcopal
Church and Culpepper Christian Assembly.”

Okay, so maybe God’s not self-flagellating. Maybe it’s the tenants who are
being targeted. But who’s to say, really? And if the God’s wrath biz is all
about appropriating authority to cast blame around, then why not think really
big, and proclaim God Himself to be the target? Pat Robertson & company have
monopolized this gig for far too long. If the rest of us are to have any hope of
catching up, we’re got to make ourselves a splash. And what better way to make a
splash than proclaiming that God is the target?