As the media circus over Jeremiah Wright continues, it should give us pause that the media hasn’t decided to focus on John McCain and his embrace of a wide range of religious bigots. Although McCain once called these men “agents of intolerance” in 2000, he has since done a total flip-flop and openly embraced them in the 2008 campaign. Compare this to Barack Obama, who has now fully renounced his former pastor–as he rightfully should have. Whether this slanted coverage is due to racial bias, or just to the fact that these outrageous conservative white religious figures are so ingrained in our political culture that we no longer question their role, is immaterial. Either way, this is indicative of a very screwed up situation.
Of course, since the media isn’t bombarding you with McCain’s associates’ words 24/7, you’ll have to seek them out yourself. If you are interested, though, there are two good sources to check out from today. Frank Rich has a detailed op-ed on the subject in The New York Times, and here on ScienceBlogs, Effect Measure lets you see what two of these “former” agents of intolerance–John Hagee and Rod Parsley–have to say in their own words. The highlight, in my opinion at least, is Hagee’s assertion that Hurricane Katrina was God’s response to a planned gay rights parade in New Orleans.
Even better, though, was when Jerry Falwell–just two days after September 11, 2001–placed the blame of the attacks squarely on the shoulders of “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.” Check out the video:
Despite this, McCain spoke at Falwell’s Liberty “University” in May 2006, and around this time categorically stated that he no longer considered Falwell an “agent of intolerance”. He even said that Falwell and his colleagues have “a major role to play in the Republican Party.” McCain’s subsequent cozying up to the religious right indicates that these weren’t just empty words: he’s serious about pandering to these hardcore zealots.
Now, compare what Falwell said to one of the most widely repeated sound bites from Jeremiah Wright, in which he said of 9/11 that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.” If you read the entire excerpt, this is actually part of a fairly accurate critique of American foreign policy. I’m not trying to defend Wright or anything else he has said, but in this case, at least, he’s actually said something substantive. Falwell, on the other hand, just provided a totally absurd and homophobic rant.
Yet, Obama has now fully renounced this man, while McCain continues–unhindered by media blitz–to embrace his own agents of intolerance.