Threatening ‘Everything You Hold Dear!’

That got your attention, didn’t it? That’s what one far-right group in Texas was counting on today when it sent out a hair-on-fire fundraising e-mail with that subject line. We wanted to give you a taste of how far-right extremists are trying to frighten and shake down folks for money these days. From the e-mail:

“Just days ago, President Obama signed the so-called ‘Hate Crimes’ bill into law. This bill is an attack on religious freedom like never before. We must not stand by and do nothing!┬áThis new federal law could actually criminalize pastors and ordinary citizens who speak out biblically against homosexuality.”

Of course, that’s a lie.

The federal hate crimes law does nothing to criminalize speech, religious or otherwise. The new measure simply expanded existing federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by hatred of a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. (The law already included crimes based on a victim’s race, ethnicity, nationality and religion.) Honest and honorable people can perhaps disagree about the need for such a law, but shouldn’t everyone at least tell the truth? In fact, the law includes this specific provision:

“Nothing in this division 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.”

But there’s money to raise, so the e-mail includes this scare tactic:

“Imagine what the future holds for you, me, your children and our nation under this federal law!”

Yes, imagine a future in which people are not beaten to death because of who they love, how they pray, what gender or race they are or because they have a disability. And imagine, if you dare, one in which extremists aren’t trying to scare gullible people into thinking they’ll end up in an American Gulag because they pray.

11 thoughts on “Threatening ‘Everything You Hold Dear!’

  1. Three thoughts:

    1) TFN is correct. I have been doing some reading on the new hate crimes law. This letter that TFN cites has some of the biggest whopper lies I have ever seen. If a right wing Christian group was responsible for the fundraising letter in question, they should be ashamed of themselves and resort to confession—immediately.

    2) Nonetheless, their lying aside, the hate crimes bill is a resounding defeat for the far right in a special sense that I am about to state. The threat of a severe beating and/or death from right-wing criminal hands was a credible social sanction that put fear into the hearts minority members. The Christian right and other far right-wing groups would openly deny that they condoned any such beatings or killings. However, just a guess on my part, I suspect that they loved the “cold chill” that such killings sent through a minority community, and in that sense, viewed it as a positive and useful thing.

    The new hate crimes bill takes away a great deal of that fear in the minority community and TRANSFERS IT directly onto the persons who would do the killing. If such a crime were committed before this law, the perpetrators knew that they could “weasel” the justice system into giving them tolerable time in prison. Perhaps, when you think your crime is righteous and that you are doing the will of God, prison time is even worthwhile—a red badge of courage and merit. With this new law in place, anyone who commits a hate crime will be up that famous creek without that famous paddle. So, in summary, it removes the fear from the minority community and transfers it to the perpetrator community and their ideological allies. In that sense, it provides aid and comfort to the minority group and strikes fear in the hearts of criminals and the criminal-minded.

    3) The Tea Party crazies, Religious Right, and other right wing movements are always accusing people like me of being a socialist or communist, which is also a lie. I went down to my local grocery store this afternoon, and it was already flooded with shoppers. I just stopped for a moment in the produce aisle, looked around, and slowly soaked it up. Food stores are always stocked with a greater variety of foods and in greater abundance at this time of the year. The variety and abundance I saw was overwhelming. It almost made me want to cry in Thanksgiving. Of course, that abundance is a direct result of our free enterprise system, which I think everyone hear at TFN supports wholeheartedly. This abundance would not exist without it—and we like it too much to see it go away for any reason. The free enterprise system does need some reasonable regulation every once in a while, but only to make it better or protect people from excessive behavior (read that as Wall Street investment bankers, Bernie Madoff, and Enron ). None of us want to kill our free enterprise system or even choke it—and if you read the formal definitions—no one that I know wants to institute “socialism” or “communism” here in the United States–least of all me.

    I attended one of the largest universities in the country. When I was a graduate student back in 1979, a delegation of communist intellectuals from the Soviet Union was on campus for some sort of conference, no doubt accompanied by a Communist Party political officer to keep them in line and to avoid sudden defections. In the student center, we had a huge, two-story campus bookstore stocked to the hilt with the widest imaginable array of merchandise. Access to the bookstore was controlled by turnstiles, but one could stand in a lobby-like area and cast ones eyes across the vast bounty. Well, these Soviet guys had to pass through this lobby-like area on the way to one of their meetings. My wife saw it and described it to me later. The bounty literally paralyzed them and froze them in their tracks. They were speechless—like kids in a candy store. Not allowed to go inside and touch, many nearly broke their necks from craning to get a clear glimpse. Clearly, they had never seen anything remotely like this in the Soviet Union where people stood in lines for hours in front of stores with nearly bare shelves—just to get one loaf of bread—maybe. I certainly would not want to live in a place like the Soviet Union or make my country be anything like the Soviet Union. Therefore, I continue to be utterly amazed at the right wing crazies who accuse people like me of being a socialist or communist. It’s downright insulting and a flat-out lie. I just hope that the sensible people out there in Texas will come to understand what lying SOBs these right wingers are.

  2. The point is that these fund raising liars know what they are doing. The next step will be to send out another letter for more money, because “your generous contributions have helped stop the liberals in their tracks, but we need to be ever more vigilant” or some such when what the liars are screaming about now never comes to pass.

    Charles – I had a similar experience in college. At the time I worked as a meat cutter in a local supermarket paying my way through. One time I was filling the shelves and saw someone just wandering through the store taking pictures and staring. A woman who was with him said he was a relative who was visiting from Russia and couldn’t believe the amount of food that was available to people, so he was taking pictures to show the folks back home. It was sad actually.

  3. I agree Pineyman—very sad. I think everyone here would fight to ensure that our country never becomes like the one he was going back to. Personally, I am not going to take any of this “socialist” or “communist” crap from the far right. Too many people died in those Soviet gulags to tolerate the kind of trivialization they practice.

  4. I am not trying to let the liars off the hook; they are violating the some of very principles they claim as so dear to them — not the least of which is the “suggestion” not to bear false witness. However, I have noticed somewhat similar tactics by humanists, environmentalists, and others not aligned with the religious right. When your existence depends on contributions, you tend to shade the truth — often by overstating a threat. It is apparently difficult to get many people to cough up money, if they do not see a dire threat to what they hold dear.

  5. I’m one of those who tend to doubt the need for “hate crimes” laws, since they don’t punish anything that isn’t already a crime, but I don’t for a moment think that they will punish people just for expressing their opinions– however hateful or otherwise objectionable those opinions may be. People making such a claim either haven’t bothered to read the legislation, or they are deliberately lying.

  6. Why on earth would any Christian object to a law prohibiting physical violence against other persons? Unless they’re planning to assault individuals not to their liking, why do they care?

    These people need to read their Bibles. WWJD? Do they think Jesus would oppose a law protecting God’s precious creations?

    Are they admitting that they are preaching hate and encouraging violence against homosexual, transgendered and bisexual Americans? Seems that way to me.

  7. To Marsha C. Elgin: Pastor Rick Warren approves of and supports a new law in Uganda that would imprison – even execute – homosexuals. The law would also imprison anyone who did not report the identity of a homosexual to the authorities – though he disengenuously denies his support. And the Rev. Rick Warren is a Christian. And not just Rick Warren but the entire Family promoted and supports this law, and the Family is Christian to the max.

  8. Cytocop, I find it hard to refer to anybody as “Christian” who supports such extreme actions against homosexuals — and then LIES about it. I just find that beyond reprehensible. If seems the rightwingnuts, however, believe that it is their mission from God (!) to destroy homosexuality, and they will stop at nothing — even destroying homosexual individuals — to rid the Earth of gays.

    Did you see Richard Cohen on The Rachel Maddow Show a couple of nights ago? He’s trying to backpeddle and say that he doesn’t support the Ugandan legislation. It was his “emissary” who went to Uganda to convince them to discriminate against gays — even to the point of execution. Doesn’t Cohen realize that he looks like the liar his is?

  9. Marsha, it isn’t ME who says Rick Warren is a Christian. It is RICK WARREN who says he’s a Christian. So don’t blame ME! If you doubt me, check out his website.

    Notice that since he’s been caught with his pants down, he’s backpedaling on his support for the Ugandan law.

    Lying has become a cherished tradition among today’s Christian evangelicals. I’m surprised this seems to be news to you.