Friday, May 18, 2007

Hitchens on Falwell

Many of us have seen the interesting comments by Christopher Hitchens on Hannity and Colmes recently. If not, look below...

I was a bit uncomfortable with Hitchens not having some respect for the feelings of Falwell's family, since there may be in fact someone close that actually does have good feelings for him (as unlikely as that may be). However, I must side with Hitchens on this: I simply can not think of one good thing to say about him.

Hitchens was asked to appear on the segue, so you know that it was a setup for a ratings grab. Should Hitchens feel used? Nope. He was using them just as surely. But if they are going to ask him on as guest Hannity should have treated him as one and allowed him to say his peace, no matter what he thought of Hitchens' opinion. If Hannity wants his own show to monologue on, I'm sure it will last about as long as the Chevy Chase Show. He's perfect for where he is - an uninteresting person there to make interesting people even more interesting - and he should really play his part better (i.e., moderate, not opine).

Hitchens' position is as simple as it is honest. He can't come up with anything good to say about Jerry Falwell, so why afford him respect in death that he never deserved in life? But this is just one half of the equation. The other half comes from external sources. People have come out in praise of a man that deserved our contempt. Hannity mentions Falwell giving scholarships at his own Liberty U. Liberty U is an institution dedicated to the continuation of Falwell's 'ideals'. Hannity claims to have known Falwell (when
Hannity said 'I knew Jerry Falwell' I half expected him to say 'and you are no Jerry Falwell'...) , so how could Hitchens say such awful things about the man? Easy. Aside from the lies that religion continues to spout even in view of information that shows that they are no more than man-made invention (of which I have blogged ad nauseum), there's ample information that Falwell himself supplied on his ethics. Let's take a look at those ideals of his:

"If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being."

Such a positive outlook on people that do not share his belief. I've done pretty well in life as an atheist so far, so screw him. OK, so what? That's reasonably mild, right? On who was really responsible for 9/11:

And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, "You helped this happen.""

And here it was that I thought that 9/11 was due to some other equally fanatic religious wingnuts. I love how the ACLU, an organization dedicated to protecting even his civil rights, is disparaged. He would love to reverse women's suffrage, segregate the nation once again and basically turn back the clock to a less enlightened time. He reiterates his view of the ACLU:

The ACLU is to Christians what the American Nazi party is to Jews."

Oh, but Hannity said that he apologized for this remark. So what? This isn't something you can take back, because you know he's still thinking it after the apology.

AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."

His version of a just and loving God. I must have missed the memo. Just when did he establish this AIDS-God connection? Whatever happened to "hate the sin, love the sinner"? I've yet to see a Christian separate the two except when saying this mantra.

Of course, he's quite the ladies' man:

"It appears that America's anti-Biblical feminist movement is at last dying, thank God, and is possibly being replaced by a Christ-centered men's movement which may become the foundation for a desperately needed national spiritual awakening."

His source of all Science and History is impeccable (lest those that agree think I am being serious, I am not):

The Bible is the inerrant ... word of the living God. It is absolutely infallible,without error in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as well as in areas such as geography, science, history, etc."

Must be why everybody is clamoring to get Lehigh U grads into their research programs.

My favorite was a clip played on the Randi Rhodes Show where he is discussing helping people with financial planning. If tithing wasn't at the top of the list, he said you were doomed to remain poor.

As you might expect, heads-in-their-asses right wing conservatives (is there any other kind?) were quick to jump on the bandwagon of praise for the unceremoniously fallen fundamentalist. Ann Coulter (I know I said I would never mention that bitch again, but she is entertaining, if in a scary, really stupid way):

"Let me be the first to say: I ALWAYS agreed with the Rev. Falwell."

No surprises here. Stupid is as stupid does. But I've always found it interesting that Ann is single at such a late stage in her fundamentalist life. Shouldn't she be busy obeying her husband, waiting on him while the product of their multiplying run around? Makes one wonder if she has something in common with Tinky Winky... According to Ann, he was very good at picking out homoeroticism on children's television (one can only wonder at how and why he got this reputation). Sarcastically, she writes:

Of course, Falwell also thought the show "Queer as Folk" was gay, so obviously the man had no credibility."

Wow. That took amazing powers of deduction. He get his 'reverend' moniker from Cracker Jacks, too?

Speaking of Teletubbies, I've actually watched a bit of that show and can't for the life of me figure out what made Tinky Winky so flaming. Sure, the show was sort of gay in the sense that it was dumb, but all kids shows are like that. I have an interesting hypothesis on how that conclusion was made. I posit that Falwell got together with his evangelical buddies for beer and sat around thinking of what was the stupidest thing they could get there flocks to believe. He may very well have won the bet.

So, Mr. Hannity, we are left with two possible conclusions. Either you fully agree with Jerry Falwell's beliefs, in which case you are in the racist, bigoted, intolerant, woman-hating class, or you are lying about his virtues, of which Falwell has none. Christopher Hitchens is exactly right. If there is no reason to think that Jerry Falwell had any virtuous qualities (demonstrably, he does not), even saying nothing and just nodding as people lie about Falwell in their praise of him is hypocritical. I can not help but feel that this man has fundamentalists on the run anywhere he speaks out against them and I would dearly like to buy that man a drink. They have too long held the limelight without opposition. Their time is past, and one can only hope that Falwell actually managed something that no one else has - that he found a way to take his ideas with him.

But Hitchens' most scathing comment is one of the funniest things I have heard in a long time:

"If you gave Falwell an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox."


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