One thing I’ve learned to expect of the Christian Right is that the “outrageousness” limit of their political rhetoric knows no bounds. I’d like to think that some ideologial movements as they reach the apotheosis of their power and influence take to overreaching. The grandiosity ‘quotient’ of their rhetoric and the demonizing of ‘enemies’ denote a kind of desperation for ever more power and influence. I would hope that the American people are watching this ‘flame out’ in the making within the ranks of the evangelical activist community. I would hope they begin to take notice of the rhetorical decay setting in to this movement.
As a student of Jewish history, I chronicle in this blog the serial abuses of the Holocaust employed by the Right to justify their various parochial political schemes. I’ve featured the rhetorical sins of Grover Norquist and Phil Gramm here among others.
Now, James Dobson of Focus on the Family gets the treatment. The Forward reports that Dobson “criticized embryonic stem-cell research, saying its lack of ethics and morality was reminiscent of Nazi experiments on death-camp inmates.” When the Anti-Defamation League protested this horrific misuse of Holocaust rhetoric, Dobson’s website urged its supporters to deluge the ADL with protest e mails, which they dutifully did. Only problem was that some of the slightly more ‘vociferous’ supporters got a little carried away and used anti-Semitic rhetoric and threats in their comments.
The article’s author notes an ominous connection between Dobson’s misuse of the Holocuast and previous right wing extremists similar rhetoric:
Stem-cell advocates said that the use of Holocaust analogies is particularly alarming in this case, given that similar language was used by elements of the pro-life movement before several abortion doctors were murdered. Some religious conservative activists argue that aborting a fetus or destroying a fertilized embryo outside the womb is akin to the taking of a human life.
Radical anti-abortion activists historically have invoked the Holocaust and trafficked in antisemitism, according to an ADL investigation conducted in the late 1990s. During that decade, four out of five abortion doctors killed in the United States and Canada were Jewish, including Barnett Slepian, who was shot in his Amherst, N.Y., home in October 1998 after returning from Friday night Sabbath services.
One has to wonder whether the Christian Right will next set stem cell medical researchers as their political or even physical target given the past history of the anti-abortion movement. God help us let’s hope this isn’t the case. I know I don’t have much in common with the evangelicals and don’t understand much of their thinking–but I cannot for the life of me understand why science and religion must be at war in their evangelical worldview. To me, it’s a crying shame that stormtroopers like Dobson lead their followers in such a retrograde movement away from scientific progress and medical advances that save the lives of evangelicals and non-believers alike.
Speaking of which, I have a proposal for Rev. Dobson and other prominent evangelicals opposed to stem cell research. Will you take a pledge that should you develop any life-threatening disease (such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, spinal injury, etc.) for which stem cell research develops a cure–that you will refuse such treatment because it is not in consonance with your ethical/religious principles? Any opponent of stem cell research who refuses such a pledge is a total hypocrite in my opinion. Now, of course I don’t expect anyone to take such a pledge. You’d be a fool if you did because you’d be sealing your own death. But I think you get my point about the evangelicals not having the courage of their convictions.
Dobson has twice refused suggestions by interviewers that he apologize in subsequent media appearances (as the ADL has requested that he do).
I’d like to know what gives Dobson the right to misappropriate such a sacred portion of Jewish heritage? If I wanted to make a political point would I stoop to manipulating Jesus’ suffering on the Cross to do it? No. It would be presumptuous of me to do so both because I’m not Christian and because I wish to show respect for the suffering of the Chrisitian God. Apparently, Dobson, megalomaniac that he is, thinks it’s fine and proper to appropriate Jewish pain and suffering for narrow political gain. For shame, Rev. Dobson!