“[T]hat’s all it is, it’s grotesque. Was he neglected as a child? I don’t know what his problem is he seems to crave attention?”
Kimberly Guilfoyle, a commentator, said this of Richard Dawkins on Bill O’Reilly’s show recently. She went on to say that “he’s an idiot and mentally unstable.” Bill said that Dawkins’ and Harris’ legal efforts to have the Pope arrested are a “cheap publicity stunt by a man who just hates organized religion.”
As you might expect, there wasn’t really a lot of what you or I might recognize as an “argument” in the philosophical sense. The intention of the piece is clear, mainly in its lack of content. I know… no surprise. It’s Fox. It’s Bill O’Reilly. But it has to be mentioned. The viewer is supposed to come away with feelings, not a reasoned opinion.
- Dawkins — Unstable. Idiot. Neglected child. Attention whore. Publicity stunt. BAD!!
- Pope — Christianity, mistakes way, way in the past. Good man being victimized.
It’s certainly one of the more effective ways to get things done in the sphere of public opinion. Give ’em feelings, not facts. Attack the man. Attack the enemy! Enemy bad! Klarg STOMP!!
But the Christian Crusade is being fought on more than one front. It’s not just about numbing the brains of the flock with ad hominems. It’s also an organized, well funded, and politically savvy system of movers and shakers, openly discussing what their “Christian America” will look like.
Pastor Russell Johnson preaches with a cross and an American flag in the background. In 2004, he was the leader of the Ohio Restoration Project. If you didn’t know, that’s an organization whose sole purpose is to get fundamentalist Christians elected to public office. Their motto is “Pray, Serve, Engage.” It’s about directed action.
We’re on the beaches of Normandy, and we can see the pillbox entrenchments of academic and media liberalism. We’ll take back our country for Christ.” — Russell Johnson
I’ve mentioned the book, “American Fascists” before, and I think it’s worthwhile for me to quote from it at some length. On page 150, Hedges writes:
Johnson likens America’s predicament to that of Nazi Germany. He tells the gathering of about 400 supporters that church congregations in Germany would sing so that they could not hear the passing of trainloads of crying Jews headed for nearby concentration camps. He accuses Christians in America of leading “Neville Chamberlain lives,” referring to the British prime minister who naively signed a neutrality pact with Adolf Hitler. As Johnson speaks, pictures of Hitler and Chamberlain flash on the screens. If Christians do not begin to act, they will be next. They will be hauled off in freight cars like the Jews in Nazi Germany and murdered.
The rhetoric creates an atmosphere of being under siege. It also imparts the warm glow of comradeship, the feeling that although outside these walls there is a dangerous, hostile world, here we are all brothers and sisters. It is clear to whom Christians bear a moral obligation: to fellow Christians. The world is divided into friends and enemies, neighbors and strangers…
Bill O’Reilly and Russel Johnson are two different kinds of weapons deployed on the same front. Johnson is coming out directly and telling Christians — in private — where their loyalties must lie. He gives them the marching orders while instilling in them a sense of fear. They become afraid that the leftists, communists, fascists, atheists, humanists, and… well… everybody else who isn’t a Born-Again… are all plotting against them. It’s a sinister plot. They control the airwaves. They control Hollywood. Wall Street. Most of Europe.
While they’re getting the real propaganda in Church, Bill O’Reilly and his cronies are reinforcing the words of the pastors. Atheists are vilified, shouted down, portrayed as lunatics or conspiratorial elitists. George W. Bush is portrayed as a “man’s man,” who would have a beer with you and talk about ranching. Al Gore is portrayed as an out of touch intellectual elitist and a lackey for socialists and leftists. We never hear the out-and-out Christian propaganda on the news. Too many non-Christians watching. But that’s the beauty of it. The non-Christians are being fed the same worldview as the Christians, which makes it that much easier when a non-believer is being recruited. After all, the pastors are offering solutions to the problems that we see all around us — the ever-tightening noose of liberalism.
It’s a two pronged approach, and it’s very effective. I was reminded of this just a couple of days ago when I overheard a conversation between two Republican types who frequent one of my favorite watering holes. I happen to know that neither of them is particularly religious, but it was clear from their tone and the derisive things they said about Richard Dawkins that they believe there’s a left wing conspiracy to literally destroy America. Even though these folks aren’t on board with the full Christian Plan, they’re accessories. They’re playing their part without knowing that the whole thing is being orchestrated on a political level, all the way from local churches to network heads to political lobbyists, congressmen, and at least for now — Supreme Court Justices.
It’s disturbing to me that the talking points right now are all about how Richard Dawkins — a Brit — is working to take down America by moving against the Pope in Britain. Remember that many of the fundamentalist American Christians believe that Catholics are not true Christians. I asked a conservative just a few days ago how he felt that protecting children from pedophile priests was threatening to American Protestantism. He looked confused for a second, then ranted about how the whole thing was because of liberal values being presented in the media. I asked him if he could name one liberal talk show host on the radio. He thought for a minute and said, “That Colms guy.”
The propaganda is everywhere, and it’s not just the Christians buying into it. They’re using the non-Christians, Catholics, liberals and moderate Christians as pawns. This isn’t just about “improving the image of atheists.” It’s also about doing everything we can to combat the systematic and deliberate distribution of propaganda in the war against everything not Christian.