And Why Do I Believe They Bear Some Responsibility?

Again, an amalgam of follow-up posts of mine on yesterday’s Vision 2020:

I hold Wilson, Courtney, et al, responsible (do I have to say “and not accountable” again???) because, as ministers of the Gospel — Courtney has been an elder in Christ Church and is a visible evangelical spokesman in Idaho conservative/Libertarian politics, and I believe you all know Douglas Wilson — they have failed in their mission to preach and model peace, truth, justice, and basic kindness in their public pronouncements. Worse, they have fanned the flames of a tinderbox-volatile sociopolitical, religiocultural climate, often with astonishing glee and carelessness, and are committed, judging from their own works, to calling simple political disagreement “tyranny” that must be resisted by all Christian men.

I neglected to mention that the alleged gunman’s video on You Tube — which, again, does not indicate that he is, as I first speculated, acting in the name of Christ — nevertheless echoes the same paranoid, angry, irrational anti-government stuff that Wilson, Courtney, and all of their ilk are as famous for as they are for their status as Christian ministers. While he was evidently a lone wolf, or so it appears, he was, as Wilson would say, eagerly suckling at the teat of vicious right-wing extremism of the kind they promote.

(Offended by my use of such frank mammarial language? Look up Wilson’s take on those in his congregation who might be tempted to join others in availing themselves of any social services — food stamps, WIC, even Social Security. Those who do so, even in time of great need, he terms “piglets” suckling at the teat of the Federal government. I don’t speak in a vacuum here, and that seems to me to be unreasonably judgmental and cruel).

Anyway, it’s astonishing to me that CNN and others have concluded that Jared Loughner’s shooting of Giffords and others wasn’t political. Read his You Tube posts. He talks about a lot of things, most of which make little sense, but he’s clearly fixated on treason, the supposed illiteracy of the heavily Latino congressional district Giffords represents, government, currency standards, and “federalist laws” that, it turns out, we don’t have to obey.

The fact that he’s pretty clearly not sane doesn’t mitigate what appears to be an entirely political “statement” of Loughner’s in shooting the 18. And that’s what makes the rhetoric from the far Right so dangerous — those who are unhinged need little provocation to go on a rampage, and those who call themselves Christians should be the last people to provide them such provocation with inflammatory, abusive, and reckless words and actions, whether they are speaking from the left or the right, or condemning either side of the spectrum. But the stark reality is that the ugliest political rhetoric of our day comes from the Right, and comes particularly from the Tea Party/Libertarian and putatively Christian Right, and that’s an offense to the Gospel and a danger to our republic.

In the interest of transparency, I want to say that I’ve heard indirectly from Dale Courtney and directly from Douglas Wilson, both of whom, not surprisingly, take umbrage at my characterization that people like them bear some responsibility for things like the politically motivated shootings in Tucson. You can look on Dale’s blog, and I won’t post Wilson’s emails to me without his permission, but when I take my hits for something I’ve said or done in public, I am not afraid to acknowledge those hits in public. But let’s be clear.

I did not say that Douglas Wilson and Dale Courtney shot anyone.

I did not say they are accountable for the actions of the man who did.

I did not say they are guilty in the same way the shooter is, and I didn’t say they specifically, personally encouraged him to do it.

What I said was that people who say the kinds of things these two prominent local Christians have said, and say them in the ugly and intolerant, public way they’ve said them, are responsible for the climate that helps tip unstable, paranoid anti-government types over the edge. That doesn’t seem too difficult to comprehend, and certainly wouldn’t seem to be too difficult for these two men of chest to bear. Frankly, if Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has concluded that the atmosphere of hatred and abuse swamping the country these days has incubated actions like the shootings today, it hardly seems odd that those of us who live in a place where our neighbors contribute so nakedly to that atmosphere would remark on their culpability for it.

One Response to “And Why Do I Believe They Bear Some Responsibility?”

  1. Ashwin says:

    So you dislike Mr. Wilson that much huh?

Leave a Reply