Sunday, July 17, 2011

Which of these would you suppose constituted the greatest danger – Christian fundamentalists or Islamic fanatics? Toss a coin why don’t you? The reason for my asking this question is that, when I wrote about Michele Bachmann in a previous Blog, this comment was posted from a reader in America –

“The current Republican Party is not the Reagan Republican Party. It has been taken over by a cult known as the "Evangelical Christians." Yes, a cult. America's economy may go down the drain, we may be attacked by terrorists, we may have a second class educational system, we may have high unemployment, but BY GOD, WE'LL HAVE NO MORE ABORTIONS.
That is the mindset of the Evangelical Christian Politician. Who are these cultists in America:
Bachmann, Palin, Santorium, Pawlenty, Perry.... God help us all.”

And the reason I was reminded of this? Well…

“Did the election of Barack Obama as US president boost the growth of right-wing and so-called "hate groups"? (For right wing read Christian, not even WASP but something much darker. How they even consider themselves to be followers of Christ is anybody’s guess.

In January, in the little close-knit town of Spokane in Washington where strangers are greeted with a friendly “Good Morning” there was an attempted bombing of a civil rights march. Kevin Harpham, an army veteran with an interest in neo-Nazi groups left a rucksack filled with explosives and shrapnel and, even more horrifying, it was covered in rat poison to stop blood from clotting.

Ozzie Knezovich, Spokane’s sheriff is quoted as saying, “We live in a different world now – hate sees to be a widespread phenomenon.” The difficult truth for Washington State, for neighbouring Idaho and for all of the US, is that hate groups - anti-black, anti-Jew, neo-Nazi - are on the rise again. And nearly everyone, including members of those groups, agrees that the election of Barack Obama has been a catalyst for the increase in support.

"I wouldn't say it surprises me," says Spokane's mayor Mary Verner, "though it is alarming to me. We are seeing resurgence in hate groups because we are seeing democratic activity and empowered citizens who are not Anglo-Saxon Protestants." And it is ordinary citizens - and their children - who are at the receiving end of hate group activity in Washington and Idaho.

Rachel Dolezal, who teaches art and African-American studies, has been repeatedly harassed since word got out about what she taught. Her homes - she has moved several times - have been broken into. Nooses have been left for her, and a swastika was left on the door of her workplace.

"It seems things were kind of hush and sanitized and cleaned up, or something, and then Barack Obama just brought things to the surface that were already existent within people."

In the city of Coeur d'Alene, northern Idaho, Jerald O’Brian sits on his porch, flanked by the flags of the Aryan Nations group And the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian (!)

Mr. O'Brien insists he does not condone or encourage any acts of violence. He calls Jews "the children of Satan". He accuses Barack Obama of being Jewish - he is not - and of not being a US citizen - he is. But he has cause to thank the president. "The day after Barack Obama's election," he says, "my phone would not stop ringing. It was up to four or five a day asking for education(?) and information." Some will dismiss men such as Jerald O'Brien, and groups such as Aryan Nations, as "wackos" and "nut-jobs" but would you not say there is cause for the gravest concern here?

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