Bigotry and the Texas Speaker’s Race II

Has the religious right’s effort to topple Texas House Speaker Joe Straus become an anti-Semitic smear campaign? Quorum Report (subscription required) has now posted various e-mails from groups and individuals opposed to Straus, who is Jewish. Excerpts:

“Straus is going down in Jesus name.”

“[W]e finally found a Christian conservative who decided not to be pushed around by the Joe Straus thugs.”

Another e-mail calls for replacing Straus as House Speaker so

“…that our nation will again prosper and hold to values that the Christians and Republicans hold so dear in their souls.”

Peter Morrison, who writes a right-wing e-mail newsletter, has also joined the anti-Straus battalion in the increasingly vicious Republican civil war. As Kronberg reports, a Morrison e-mail last week said that Straus’ rabbi sits on a Planned Parenthood board and then pointed out that Straus’ opponents in the Speaker’s race “are Christians and true conservatives.”

Morrison’s e-mail didn’t surprise us. TFN Insider long ago reported about the race-baiting screeds found in “Morrison Report” e-mails. See here and here for samples. Kronberg reports that, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a “white nationalist” website, regularly posts Morrison’s e-mails. In one post on VDARE, for example, Morrison suggests that affirmative action is all about “punishing white people” and turning them into “second class citizens.” Now Morrison seems to think that leadership of the state House of Representatives should be reserved for Christians. Big surprise.

13 thoughts on “Bigotry and the Texas Speaker’s Race II

  1. I am an Evangelical Christian and a Conservative Republican. I am an anomaly in that I believe strongly in pro-life issues but those that depend on that issue for their political compass have come to disgust me because of what they have allowed everything else that IS government to become. Yet I have not abandoned pro-life issues, and at the same time I argue what SHOULD be done in the pro-life arena often with my Christian brethren–all this of my own accord, I have not been influenced by outside influence in arriving at my personal positions.

    I also ran for the 32nd Congressional District’s nomination in Texas’ Republican Primary in 2010 (Sessions), so it should surprise nobody that Peter Morrison mailed me among a “select group” asking one of us to consider running against my State Rep. Dan Branch if he supported Joe Straus for Speaker again.

    I provide all of this as background to say the following. This post was literally the FIRST time that I have seen ANYTHING alluding to Joe Straus being Jewish. Maybe I’m just dense for not even considering that perhaps the Speaker were Jewish. I honestly did not know that until I read this article. And quite frankly, I couldn’t care less. Good for him.

    Mr. Morrison’s post card contained nothing alluding to the Speaker’s religious faith either. And although I do not remember the specific text of his note, nothing stood out in my eye as being anti-Semitic or anything approaching the same. Maybe I’m just a Christian and I’m used to “the terms” that religious bigots use with reckless abandon. But I doubt it. I, too, catch the occassional clown wearing swastikas or hoods and the hate speech they employ. It is pretty easy to tell when one is advocating hate against a person because they are Jewish, gay or even like dog fighting. Ideologues of all variety are pretty easy to tell apart from the more reasonable sort who may actually be 99%+ on the same page as the hate mongers of our population–Left OR Right.

    I write this to state that I have not heard anything yet, personally, that caused concern that my fellow Republicans were against Speaker Straus due to his religious faith. And quite frankly, it disappoints me to see those on the Left adamantly against the influence of Christians in the political sphere to be the ones whom I first saw broach this subject. Disappointing, folks. Coming from ONE PERSON who just happened to see YOU dealing with the topic first, I am disappointed.

    1. David,
      Perhaps you haven’t seen evidence of a religious campaign against Speaker Straus, but it’s clear that the folks at Quorum Report have. They have posted the e-mails on their website. Moreover, they are reporting similar robocalls are going out to voters across the state. Bigotry is a cancer. You can’t stop it if you pretend it doesn’t exist or isn’t spreading.

  2. David Smith,

    When you say “those on the Left adamantly against the influence of Christians in the political sphere,” are you referring to TFN? If so, please provide evidence that TFN is 1) on the left, or 2) adamantly against the influence of Christians in the political sphere.

    Just because someone might be to the left of you politically, that doesn’t mean they are a leftist. In fact, if you are an evangelical Christian Republican conservative, it’s likely that 90% of the populace is to the left of you. Many of those are still right of center, and perhaps even conservative, but still to the left of you.

    TFN is a mainstream organization. The further right you are, the more likely it is that anyone in the mainstream will appear leftist to you.

  3. David,

    It is illuminating that you consider practicing the Jewish faith to be morally equivalent to dogfighting. That is all.

  4. I’m Jewish, proudly so, and in my opinion this is the biggest mountain out of a molehill story I could’ve imagined. Frankly, it’s amusing to see “the left” suddenly embracing the cause of “religious bigotry” when it suits them, yet continue to employ some of the last remaining, truly vile anti-semitic canards in their obsessive demonization of Israel and the 7 million Jews who live there. For that matter, “the left” is so mobilized in its hatred of religion, that here it’s seized onto the words “Christian”, “Conservative” and “Jesus”, applied to them to a politician who happens to be of the Jewish faith, and come up with this “news” piece that keeps them alive just long enough to keep humping their endless media gods….until something else comes up of course.

  5. Welcome M.

    So I take it you’re perfectly comfortable with the article in the Dallas Morning News of today. I have copied and pasted an excerpt here:

    “Several e-mails have surfaced in recent days that mention Straus’ rabbi and underscore the Christian faith of his leading critics in the House Republican Caucus.

    “Straus is going down in Jesus’ name,” said one, whose origins were unclear.

    Straus, R-San Antonio , “clearly lacks the moral compass to be speaker,” said another, written by Southeast Texas conservative activist Peter Morrison.

    “Both Rep. Warren Chisum and Rep. Ken Paxton, who are Christians and true conservatives, have risen to the occasion to challenge Joe Straus for leadership,” Morrison wrote in his newsletter last Thursday, referring to two Republicans who are running against Straus for speaker.

    Morrison, asked Tuesday if he intended to signal that Straus is unfit because he is Jewish, replied in an e-mail, “I was simply making factual statements about Rep. Chisum and Rep. Paxton.”

    MY COMMENT: I don’t know if Mr. Straus lacks “the moral compass to be speaker,” or not. But even if he does not, why is it necessary to point out that Reps Chisum and Paxton are “Christians”? Why is their faith pertinent to being good moral representatives? Why point out their faith unless you’re making a faith comparison to someone else? And why would anyone say someone is “going down in Jesus’ name”? Why is that appropriate to say any more than it would be appropriate to say someone is going down in Abraham’s name, Moses’ name, Mohammed’s name, or in Buddha’s name? Just seems odd.

    Call me a “leftie,” a “religious bigot” or whatever derogatory name you wish. I just wonder why this kind of language is appropriate in an allegedly secular government.

    I’m not sure what your complaint is about labels. Christians and Conservatives call themselves thus so why is it OK for them to use those labels but it’s not OK for TFN to use them?

    And, for the record, I’ve been reading this TFN blog for a few years, and I’ve never seen one article or comment here about Israel. This is the Texas Freedom Network. Issues about foreign countries are rarely discussed here as they are not germane to Texas.

  6. David – I too am Jewish and I am proud to be a liberal. I’m sick of people claiming to know who I am or what I believe. The cause of justice and tolerance is and long has been highest priority for liberals and progressives. There are those on the left who are critical of Israel and some who are hypocritical, unfair and obsessive about it but they are just one part of the diverse and tolerant community of liberals and progressives. Among conservatives there are some truly vile and hateful people right now and you would not want to be judged by them, the crazies around you. If you have been paying attention you will agree that your crazies are really out there right now but they too are just one part of a larger community of conservatives. We all have our crazies and we have to find ways to work around them or transend them but we do not have to be identified by them. I know that I belong to a community that does not sanction discrimination on any basis, does not insist on imposing a particular religion or set of religious values on others and finds intolerable the encroachment of religion on our politics and government. It is a pernicious lie that the left is anti-Christian or anti religion. There are those on the left who are anti religion and some who are disrespectful of the religious beliefs of others. Some, not even many. Right now I choose to believe that only some conservatives think it is preferable that the speaker of the house be a Christian and more importantly that the speaker of the house not be a Jew. Some, not even many. Put away your broad brush please.

    As for “media gods” may I refer you to Fox “News”.

  7. Joanne,
    Below is just a microscopic amount of the hate from the Left towards the Right and Evangelicals. Although there is not enough space on this page to include all the hate the Left has spewed about Republicans, George Bush, Right, etc., I have included a few choice flaming arrows thrown at Practicing Christians.
    “I wanted to tell you you’re evil, horrible people. You’re awful people. You represent horrible ideas. God hates you, and He wants to kill your children.” Rachel Buchman/NPR
    “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” –Steven Weinberg
    Frank Rich compares Conservative Christians to “segregationist bigots”
    Chris Hedges/Harper’s Magazine compares conservative Christians to “evil fascist supporters of Hitler” “Christians carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance are the new Hitlers.”
    For a very long time now, secular liberals have treated conservative Christians as the modern embodiment of evil, the one group you’re allowed to openly hate. Although barely noticed, this poison has been floating through our political system for decades. The fact of the matter is that the Left’s rhetorical attacks on conservative Christians have long been more extreme, more widely disseminated, and more politically effective than whatever the Christians have been hurling back. And now that our long ostracism by the media has finally forced conservative Christians to demand redress, the Left has abandoned all rhetorical restraint.
    The Left is constructing a straw man to justify this venom spewed at conservative Christians for being involved in politics. The straw man is Christian theocracy. Liberals say “the United States is just a few short steps away from having apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy, and witchcraft declared capital crimes.” The truth is witchcraft is back. Only now traditional Christians have been cast in the role of devious enemies who need to be ferreted out by society’s defenders, the Left.
    We are being turned into outcast in our own land. Traditional Christians are openly excoriated in the mainstream press as evil, fascist, segregationist bigots. Our political speech is placed under legislative threat and our political and faith institutions are attacked.
    We understand that this will ultimately get worse for us in the future and one day we will be “silenced in the name of national security” or another expedient excuse that is palatable those that will commit the crime. This country, this earth will be a mass grave to anyone who dared to stand and publically acknowledged that they were a follower of Christ. And even then there will be those that will not participate in the act but will tolerate or turn a blind to it all. A modern day Pontius Pilot washing his hands of the matter. This process has already started by those that allow comments that dehumanize us and turn us into objects. It is easier to kill an object than a human being.

    Conservative Christians have always known that this would be our fate one day but we will not stand by idly as sheep before slaughter. We will be involved in local, state and national politics and if that causes the Left to hate us more then we will accept our destiny. And Joann if you think that you’re safe as a liberal Jew then you are living a fools dream. Because when they wipe us from the face of the earth then their politically correct hunger will force them to turn their teeth on you, a religious Jew that is proclaimed by God as his chosen people. What will stop them?
    David C – Jesus is not a Republican nor was he politically involved in the matters on this earth. But you might well remember that that there were those that felt the sting from his anger and whip when he drove the merchants out the temple. We will stand up for what is right and just and if you think you can intimidate or belittle us out of politics, beware we will not willing lie down and be run over.

    1. RS,
      The paranoid hysteria evident in your comment is troubling, but it’s not surprising. We have seen it repeatedly as we have opposed efforts by the religious right to use faith to divide Americans and promote a political agenda that threatens the religious freedom and civil liberties of those who don’t share its narrow ideological perspective. Moreover, the out-of-context quotes you note fail to help your argument — at least not here. You may not realize it, but many TFN Insider readers — along with TFN members and supporters broadly — come from a variety of faith traditions, including Christianity and Judaism. Our board, for example, includes Christian and Jewish clergy as well as active members of churches and other houses of worship. Our Texas Faith Network includes more than 600 clergy from around the state. Other supporters are atheists who simply oppose efforts to use government to promote religion, and especially one religion over all others, in violation of a Constitution that has served this country well for more than 200 years. Finally, criticism of the religious right is not the same as criticism of all who are religious or religious and conservative. Indeed, there are many Christian conservatives who are appalled that their faith has been hijacked in the service of a naked and divisive political agenda. We stand with them as we do others who support religious freedom, civil liberties and strong public schools.

  8. RS, what’s the difference between a “traditional” Christian and a regular, garden-variety Christian?

    PS: Get therapy.

  9. I don’t know why I bothered, but I decided to look into the quotes RS lists above. Things aren’t quite what they seem. Who would’ve guessed?

    Rachel Buchman was not an NPR employee, but she did work at an affiliate station. What happened was that she had been receiving a bunch of hateful gay-bashing right-wing spam, so she got fed up, called the group, and left a message that was admittedly harsh. She was not speaking on behalf of NPR or the affiliate station. I bet if you spoke to her today, she would apologize about her remarks. Would the gay-bashing right wingers apologize about their hateful spam about gays? I doubt it.

    I don’t know if Steven Weinberg was the first person to say that quote. It’s provocative, but I don’t think it’s necessarily accurate. Good people sometimes do evil things without religion being involved. But how does the quote qualify as a “flaming arrow thrown at practicing Christians?” It doesn’t specify Christianity. On the other hand, religion does sometimes give good people excuses to do evil things, like send out hateful gay-bashing spam.

    Chris Hedges did not say that conservative Christians are “evil fascist supporters of Hitler,” nor did he say that “Christians carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance are the new Hitlers.” RS is quoting from a National Review column that summarizes (inaccurately) Chris Hedges’ remarks as such. What Chris Hedges actually did was recall some thoughts from one of his professors. The entire column is here:

    The relevant excerpt follows:

    I can’t help but recall the words of my ethics
    professor at Harvard Divinity School, Dr.
    James Luther Adams, who told us that when
    we were his age, and he was then close
    to eighty, we would all be fighting the “Christian
    He gave us that warning twenty-five years
    ago, when Pat Robertson and other prtiminent
    evangelists began speaking of a new political
    religion that would direct its efforts at taking
    control of all major American institutions,
    including mainstream denominations and the
    government, so as to transform the United
    States into a global Christian empire. At the
    time, it was hard to take such fantastic rhetoric
    seriously. But fascism, Adams warned, would
    not return wearing swastikas and bniwn shirts.
    Its ideoU)gical inheritors would cloak themselves
    in the language of the Bible; tliey would
    come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge
    of Allegiance.
    Adams had watched American intellectuals
    and industrialists flirt with fascism in the
    1930s. Mussolini’s “Corporatism,” which created
    an unchecked industrial and business aristocracy,
    had appealed to many at the time as
    an effective counterweight to the New Deal. In
    1934, Ftmune magazine lavished praise on the
    Italian dictator for his defanging of labor
    unions and his empowerment of industrialists
    at the expense of workers, Then as now,
    Adams said, too many liberals failed to understand
    the power and allure of evil, and when
    the radical Christians came, these people
    would undouhtedly play by the old, polite rules
    i>f democracy Kmg after those in power had begun
    to dismantle the democratic state. Adams
    had watched German academics fall silent or
    conform. He knew how desperately people
    want to believe the comfortable lies told by
    totalitarian movements, how easily those lies
    lull moderates into passivity.
    Adams told us to watch closely the Christian
    right’s persecution of homosexuals and lesbians.
    Hitler, he reminded us, promised to restore
    moral values not long afrer he took power
    in 1933, rhen imposed a ban on all homosexual
    and lesbian organizations and publications.
    Then came raids on the places where homosexuals
    gathered, culminating on May 6, 1933,
    with the raasacking of the Institute for Sexual
    Science in Berlin. Twelve thousand volumes
    from the institute’s library were tossed into a
    public bonfire. Homosexuals and lesbians,
    Adams ,said, would be the first “deviants” singled
    out by the Christian right. We would be
    the next.