Radical Conservatives Throw Rocks, and Hide Hands, But Karma and Chickens Come Home Eventually

In the wake of the tragic and cowardly shooting that took place in Arizona over the weekend, it didn’t take long for many conservatives to begin the quick process of separating themselves from any and all possible contributions of motivating this heinous crime.

One of my conservative Facebook friends posted this hours after the shooting:

Here’s a wild and wacky idea – instead of linking the tragedy in Arizona to the Right or Left and trying to score political points off of it, why don’t we have a little sympathy for the victims and hope they fry the psychopath who did this?

I get what he was trying to say.  Media can be quick to make connections and jump to conclusions when it comes to sensationalizing a story like this one.

In fairness however, there has been some pretty tough talk and violent rhetoric in recent years from certain segments of the population.  I can recall in the last presidential election from many McCain/Palin campaign outings where several supporters would shout rants like, “Off with his head!” when it came to then Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama.  I remember that initially team McCain/Palin and their handlers as well as many right-wing pundits dismissed these types of comments as being harmless.

Personally, I felt that while the Republican candidates didn’t literally desire to see harm come to then Senator Obama (some may find that debatable) at the very least the Republicans understood very well that a large portion of their energized voter base were extreme right wingers who held their guns, confederate flags, and racism as close to their hearts as they did their bibles.  They didn’t want to turn off that block by confronting them.  Eventually McCain had to make some concessions after his poll numbers begin to drop due to these radicals.

Since the new President got into office, the rhetoric has continued, except there has also been some action behind it.  To give a few examples:

In August Gregory Lee Giusti was arrested for threatening the life of Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her support of health-care reform.

Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina was also threatened. Imagine that, supporting a health-care bill can get one killed!

In addition in months past, Rep. John Lewis and Emmanuel Clever were called niggers and Rep Barney Frank a faggot.

Some white supremacist fool even shot a security guard at the Holocaust Museum.

A questions being asked now, is whether rhetoric via talking heads and even some of the politicians themselves are contributing to the shootings.  Most who believe so don’t mean it in some literal sense as if someone like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin pulled the trigger themselves or hypnotized the murder into committing these heinous acts.  Rather an understanding that with the desperation that comes with hard economic times bring about the tendency of needing someone to blame.

Advertisers know in marketing their products successfully, one common theme is finding the right endorser.  This helps the product to generate a following.  This is why Gatorade and American Express hired Tiger Woods years ago.  The thinking is they can pay him $100 million dollars to represent the merchandise because just by his name being attached to it, Americans and beyond would purchase the product – not because it’s a superior product, but because Tiger at least says he drinks it.  We know this and yet psychologically we fall for it anyway.  Not all the time, but enough to make a killing.  (no pun intended)

In the months leading to the 2008 Presidential elections, I often listened to black radio.  DJs such as Tom Joyner and Michael Baisden used their influence with listeners to promote voter registration.  They went on and on everyday as to why this election was so important after 8 years of George W Bush.  As a result, many who normally would not have bothered to take an intense interest in the election did so with anticipation and excitement.  The minority vote was epic, as was the vote of the youth.  The combination changed the results of the election.

Of course the right has always had their talking heads too.  According to Bernard Goldberg, Rush Limbaugh makes a cool $33 million a year to galvanize his listeners.  So the evidence is there to suggest that there are varying voices regardless of the rhetoric that Americans find influential.  Of course the same could be said about politicians themselves.

With this as a backdrop, I noticed soon after the Tucson shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and 17 others (6 fatally) including a small child and a federal judge, there were many connections being made to the suspect perhaps being influence by the rhetoric via radio, television or political figures like Sarah Palin.  Equally true was that many conservatives made a point to distance themselves as far away from shooter Jared Loughner.  This was the epitaph of my Facebook friend mentioned at the beginning.  My personal feelings on the matter cause me to take a broader approach that I started by mentioning the radio personalities and product sponsors.  I think the best way to view this intelligently is to take a look at ‘like’ circumstances and gauge  reactions to similarities based on deductive reasoning and hard-core facts.  From that I come up with a list of questions to ask so that you can reflect based on your knowledge and experience of being an American.

1) Do we have military men as well as FBI monitoring websites of hate mongers, religious zealots, and most definitely Muslim extremist?  Does the government and it’s citizens believe it’s worth monitoring?

2) Were groups like the Black Panthers targeted by the FBI because of both their rhetoric and arsenal of weapons in times past?

3) If for example, Nation Of Islam Leader Minister Louis Farrakhan used something similar to Sarah Palin’s cross hairs map to target a section of someone’s district politically saying we need to target and ‘get rid’ of that person, and some black guy named Abdullah X shot a public servant in point-blank range along with a group of people similar to what Loughner did, would the Minister be able to separate himself as easily as you see Palin, Beck, and Limbaugh doing now?  Would it sit right with you as the Minister explains that Abdullah committed this dastardly wicked deed of his own volition, and was never involved with The Nation at all?  Or would you be comfortable with the FBI tearing through the offices of Farrakhan ripping every single computer to look for further possible threats, to destroy his organization.

I believe most readers who answer truthfully know the answers to these questions.  With that being said, regardless of what Loughner’s motivation stemmed from in all of it’s destructive glory and varying degrees, the ability for many Caucasians on the right to smoothly separate themselves from these criminals is quite astounding to me;  Impressive really.  From Abraham Lincoln, to the Kennedys, MLK, and so on, the story of the lone and weird spaced out anti-social vagabond gunman is one that never seems to get old does it?  It’s as if saying those very words instantly sanitizes them from the mere thought of consideration.

‘Oh no!  No responsibility on MY part!  I didn’t kill those people! I don’t subscribe to such vicious violence!  Why I never!  This is obviously a sick individual who perhaps needed help but certainly couldn’t possibly be spurned on by anything I said.”

I think our culture, our advertising and marketing departments, the hundred of millions of dollars being spent on campaign adds, say something else.

What it says is at the very least, as a nation we cannot continue to throw rocks, hide our hands, and then act with a pompous holy shame when the results of those words, those signs and pictures,  the seeds that are being planted come back with strange fruit hanging on the vines.  It is simply idiotic to suggest that people want to be leaders, have listeners, gain an audience, carry a local or national message to the hearers, win support, and take credit for such when an election is won but not when a fool goes off and does something reprehensible.

Regardless of the true motivations of one individual, it’s time that we start to re-think and carefully consider what kind of nation we are allowing ourselves to be.  And by all means don’t be surprised if we stay on this course when the future brings more of the same.   This denial and self protective attitude of embraced ignorance is long past its prime.

Is that lesson ready to be learned by those in denial of this?  I doubt it.  I just saw an article that Rep. Joe Wilson’s  words,‘You lie,” that infamous unprecedented disrespect against President Obama statement is now being engraved on….wait for it….. the AR-15 assault rifle. Oh yea they are only printing a certain amount so that they can be a ‘collectors item’.  Folks, that is as subtle as an assault rifles bullet being shot straight at our leader and anyone who supports him.  I mean, really?  “You lie,” engraved on an assault weapon?  And what segment of the population do you think they are targeting for this beast of a weapon? And again I ask what would the nation say if Muslims were engraving AK-47s with the words “Mission Accomplished”, “Jihad!” or “White Devil?”

Take in the brevity of this.  The engravings for the AR-15 is not the target of some guy from around the block.  We are talking about the current President of these United States of America!  Good old fashioned home-grown terrorism right within our midst.  Unfortunately many conservatives thinks that’s OK.  And yet… they stand poised and ready to distance themselves from the next shooter.

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Why I Refuse To Join A Church (Part 1)

 First and foremost I must say that this series is not so much a rant, as it is a possible plea for help.  Help in understanding what a church environment is going to give me with all of its many contradictions and hypocrisies.  I say ‘possible’ because perhaps it’s best after all if I don’t join a specific church organization.  Perhaps my faith is best developed at home and practiced as an example in the marketplace where it actually matters.   The problem is that I am just not sure.  Most everyone I know and respect tells me I need to be somewhere where there is corporate worship and spiritual advisement.  And while I’m not optimistic I haven’t totally given up.  I am hoping that some of the issues that I am addressing will attract some feedback that may help me to either change my mind or at least give me something to reconsider.

While I won’t bore you with all of the bloody details, keep in mind that I was raised in the church and experienced several different denominations as a child, teen and adult.  At one point I was that guy who carried his bible everywhere he went and openly ministered to co-workers and friends.  I even preached in services and did some college campus ministry as well.  I wasn’t obnoxious or spoke where I wasn’t welcome, but I was very earnest in sharing the faith that I bought into so much.  Several factors led to my straying most of them having to do with what I felt was the lack of true leadership and the belief that they didn’t really believe what they were teaching.  Instead it seemed that the real intention all along of leadership was to have followers and control over their congregants.

With that I will begin with my first example of why I refuse to join a church.

Yesterday I watched an episode of Unsung.  For those of you unfamiliar it’s a show on TVONE that chronicles the lives and careers of musical recording artist.  This episode focused on the female group The Clark Sisters, one of the most dynamic and significant gospel groups of all time.  Though they never sang pop music, their gospel success reached a milestone where they were able to perform at the Grammy awards.  Raised and groomed by Mattie Moss Clark, a hardcore purist pioneering singer, writer, arranger and director of the music for the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), the sisters wanted their mother to share in this national stage.

At their Grammy performance these sisters represented their faith and their denomination quite well.  They strolled down the isle dancing and swaying giving praise to God towards the audience that were full of the biggest and most successful performers of our time.  They dressed to the nines in classic COGIC dress attire, (long dresses that covered their legs with the classiest of designs befitting black church traditions) and sang with a joy unspeakable as if it were Sunday morning without shame proclaiming the name of Jesus.

Their performance received resounding applause.  And it helped add another nail in putting gospel music on the mainstream map.  Their hit “You Brought The Sunshine” was even played at New York’s famous Studio 54. In other words, people were dancing to a gospel song in one of the most infamous clubs in the nation.  The group was invited to sing on stage at Stuido 54.  That was a bit too much for Mattie at the time.  She wasn’t having that.  But it said something about the gospel message doing something revolutionary; reaching a mainstream audience without compromising it’s message.

The COGICs are a very strict and conservative denomination however.  The women are not allowed to wear pants to this day.  Still one would think the success of the record and the free worldwide exposure of some of the best the COGICs had to offer would be a good thing.  But it was not.  Upon returning to their local congregation after the Grammy performance, Mattie Moss Clark was called in to the elders meeting and chided for their on stage performance.  The Elders felt that the women performing at a secular event was sacrilege.  And since Clark held a high position within the COGIC hierarchy she had to vow never perform publicly with her daughters again.

(pictured l-r, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Elbertina ‘Twinkie’ Clark-Terrell, Jacky Clark Chisholm and Karen Clark Sheard )

Now I ask you what kinda shit is that?

First of all I thought the purpose of the gospel was to preach it all over the world.  If one is getting his drink and freak on at the club and a song speaking about the love of Jesus is played, isn’t that where you want the message to be exclaimed more than anything.  I believe it was Jesus who said that those who are well do not need a physician but those who are sick.  I know very well the COGICs feel that the clubber needs Jesus!

Second, the Clark Sisters have always been a very devout group and have represented the COGIC denomination well.   I saw Dorinda Clark-Cole preach myself in a small church in Illinois.  She came in looking like Miss America and by the time her sermon and singing was over with you would have through she ran a few country miles as she sweated her suit and hair doo out ceasing to care about her appearance while preaching the gospel and expressing her love for God.

I believe the issue was not the gospel at all for these Elders.  It was that the COGIC denomination like many others is a very conservative male dominated group.  They didn’t appreciate the shine these women were receiving and wanted to control it.  According to their own faith, it’s God who promotes and God who has the wherewith to get His Word across as He see fits.  God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son… or so they quote.  But in reality they don’t believe that as it relates to the Clark Sisters.  The church is a business, and far too many preachers are business men first.  One cannot rise in the Eldership of such denominations if he/she doesn’t buy into these same old school ways of thinking.  But here you have a group of pioneering and devout women arguably being used by God to present His message persecuted not by the world, but by their own church leaders for making a national impact that the preachers themselves could not make.

I’ve been around and heavily involved the COGIC denomination for many years and know the ins and outs very well.  I know some great people too involved within that particular faith that do outstanding work.  I could not on the other hand subject myself to the politics and limitations of faith this way.  If the organization itself is more important than the faith that it defends, then it’s going to be repressive more than progressive in my view.  This concept for me is a deal breaker.

This isn’t an indictment on COGICs either.  It’s merely an example of what I am talking about overall; the embracing of sexism and control over the very gospel that the organization was founded upon in the first place.