David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, and Jann Wenner, editor of Rolling Stone, have a problem with Michele Bachmann’s religion. Two recent articles by both magazines focused almost exclusively on her religious convictions, which, in the words of Matt Taibi make Mrs. Bachmann “batshit crazy. Not medically crazy, not talking-to-herself-on-the-subway crazy, but grandiose crazy, late-stage Kim Jong-Il crazy”.
Recent American history has for the most part avoided deep discussions regarding the "validity" of personal religious beliefs in politics. This is no longer the case and a can of worms has been opened by The New York Times, The New Yorker, Newsweek and Rolling Stone that will have implications for all the political forces in Washington, not just the Christian right.
Taibbi’s piece came out first, and he painted her in very Taibbiesque colors as a politically shrewd religious fanatic. The copycat hatchet job in The New Yorker came off as boring and tactless with far too much cringe factor. Ryan Lizza’s 8,500 word piece began with the shocking revelation that the middle aged Bachmann is careful not to be photographed in casual clothes.
The New Yorker of years gone by could have summed up Michele Bachman's religious beliefs with a terse sentence describing how God spoke to her and told her to become a tax attorney for the IRS: enough said. The remaining 8,450 words could have been spent on William James or the origins of Lutheran communities in Texas.
The bottom line on both pieces is that Michele Bachmann is dangerous because she actually believes in her religion, and that will not do for Mr. Remnick and Mr. Wenner; they would much prefer she became a Unitarian. Both are convinced that we cannot actually have people really believing this stuff running for president.
The New York Times editor, Bill Keller, jumped on the bandwagon with his editorial: “I care a lot if a candidate is going to be a Trojan horse for a sect that believes it has divine instructions on how we should be governed..”
Newsweek/The Daily Beast was not to be outdone with their double whammy Newsweek cover of the crazed Bachmann and Michelle Goldberg’s article explaining how Bachman and Texas governor Perry are dominionists and dangers to the Republic. “..the GOP is now poised to nominate someone who will mount an all-out assault on (the separation of church and state). We need to take their beliefs seriously, because they certainly do.” According to Goldberg these overtly Christian candidates are on the fringe because they believe a country that is 90% Christian should be governed by Christians and be culturally biased toward Christianity.
It's clear that our mass media is not thrilled about Michele Bachman’s religion. But to what extent is Michele Bachmann's religion really dangerous? Has it started any wars or cost the taxpayer anything? Is it guiding our foreign policy or alienating the United States from large swaths of the world?
Keller from the The New York Times opens the floodgates for asking tough questions about our political leadership's religious beliefs:
"This year’s Republican primary season offers us an important opportunity to confront our scruples about the privacy of faith in public life — and to get over them. We have an unusually large number of candidates, including putative front-runners, who belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans."
Eric Cantor is not running for President but he is the House Majority Leader and third most powerful person in the House of Representatives. In a recent meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Cantor’s office made the following statement: "Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington." The official statement goes on to say that “that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.”
This statement is remarkably dangerous, and possibly treasonous. Mr. Cantor is basically telling the world that his office will serve as a check on the President on behalf of Israel. The second part of the statement is ludicrous. How is the United States reliant on Israel for its security? It's a perfect example of how endlessly repeating a piece of rhetoric somehow makes it true.
Is Mr. Cantor convinced that the United State’s strategic geopolitical interests are intertwined with Isreal’s because of his religious beliefs or did he come to that conclusion through sound strategic thinking?
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a tough chat with Netanyahu following Joe Biden's humiliation in Israel, when, unbeknownst to him, the Israelis announced new settlements in Jerusalem during his visit. Later, the administration made a statement that said the "relationship" between the United States and Israel depended on the pace of negotiations with the Palestinians. An infuriated Senator Chuck Schumer, the third ranking Democrat in the Senate, made this statement.
"That is terrible," Schumer said today. "That is the dagger because the relationship is much deeper than the disagreements on negotiations, and most Americans—Democrat, Republican, Jew, non-Jew--would feel that. So I called up Rahm Emanuel and I called up the White House and I said, 'If you don’t retract that statement you are going to hear me publicly blast you on this,'" Schumer said.
Mr. Schumer is willing to take the side of Israel over the Presidential administration of his own party because of his allegiance to Israel. What is the relationship with Israel doing for the United States? Is Mr. Schumer’s support of Israel directly related to his religious beliefs and the religious beliefs of many of his constituents?
AIPAC is sending 20% of Congress to Israel this summer. According the The Washington Post
“A record 81 House members, about a fifth of the chamber, are spending a week in Israel this month, courtesy of a foundation set up by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobby.”
Considering Congress’s brilliant performance this summer with the debt limit, do they have nothing better to do then spend 10 days being lobbied by the Israeli government? Are they there because Israel supplies us with oil or because of someone’s religious beliefs?
Michele Goldberg of Newsweek/The Daily Beast said we must take Michele Bachmann's and Governor Perry’s “beliefs seriously, because they certainly do”. But will Perry and Bachmann get us into a regional war because of their beliefs?
The Arab Spring has invigorated the democratic aspirations of all peoples of the Middle East and its logical last act will be the West Bank and Gaza. Egpyt’s religious fundamentalism is no longer under the firm hand of the American supported Mubarak. Syria’s Assad is desperately holding on to power against the Sunni majority and is certainly capable of making a diversionary attack on Israel to maintain his control. Finally, when the millions of disenfranchised Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan rise up, Israel could very well face a a battle on several fronts. Should the United States commit itself to a multi-front war against practically the entire Middle East because of Eric Cantor’s and Chuck Schumer's religion?
This September the United Nations will be voting on whether it should recognize Palestinian statehood. This measure will pass the general assembly by an overwhelming majority but it will be vetoed by the The United States in the Security Council, enraging Muslims across the world and causing lasting anti-Americanism. Geo-politically it's a losing position, yet the United States will sacrifice it’s own well being for that of Israel. This is a clear example of how religion effects politics, yet Mr. Remnick, Mr. Wenner, Ms. Goldberg and The New York Times will not question the religious beliefs of Mr. Cantor and Mr. Schumer.
September 11 and Iraq
During the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks little will be heard on why we were attacked. Were we attacked because of Michele Bachmann’s religion?
Robert Frisk of The Independent addresses this directly.
"But I'm drawn to Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan whose The Eleventh Day confronts what the West refused to face in the years that followed 9/11. "All the evidence ... indicates that Palestine was the factor that united the conspirators – at every level," they write. One of the organisers of the attack believed it would make Americans concentrate on "the atrocities that America is committing by supporting Israel". Palestine, the authors state, "was certainly the principal political grievance ... driving the young Arabs (who had lived) in Hamburg".
The motivation for the attacks was "ducked" even by the official 9/11 report, say the authors. The commissioners had disagreed on this "issue" – cliché code word for "problem" – and its two most senior officials, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, were later to explain: "This was sensitive ground ...Commissioners who argued that al-Qa'ida was motivated by a religious ideology – and not by opposition to American policies – rejected mentioning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict... In their view, listing US support for Israel as a root cause of al-Qa'ida's opposition to the United States indicated that the United States should reassess that policy." And there you have it."
The war in Iraq was part of an agenda created by neo-conservatives in the 1990’s. The neo-conservatives aligned themselves with Israel for religious reasons, and they used the events of 9/11 to promote their agenda for a new Middle East. There is no escaping that the neo-conservative agenda was forged in large part do to religious beliefs, beliefs that eventually led to hundreds of thousands of dead civilians, thousands of dead soldiers and millions of refugees, many of whom where Christian.
American support for Israel has no strategic logic, only a religious one. This begs the question, which religion is the true danger to the United States?
Matt Taibbi writes that “Bachmann is a religious zealot whose brain is a raging electrical storm of divine visions and paranoid delusions.” He may be correct, but is she dangerous? Mr. Cantor believes that a family in Miami Beach that can demonstrate its Jewishness has every right to pickup and relocate to a settlement in the West Bank while a Palestinian who was born there, whose parents and grandparents where born there must remain in a refugee camp because he is a member of the wrong religion. This is abhorrent to any American yet Mr. Cantor and Mr. Schumer insist we must support "the relationship".
Is Michele Bachmann’s Religion a Danger to America?
Is Michele Bachmann’s Religion a Danger to America?