Friday, February 06, 2015


It looked as if the Brian Williams story would keep the right occupied for days, but many right-wingers have moved on to a new Mass Rage Event, this one concerning remarks the president made at yesterday's National Prayer Breakfast about atrocities committed in the name of religion:
President Obama spoke for about thirty minutes and used almost three thousand words ... , but the only part of the speech the right wing media is focusing on is when he brought up the Crusades.
Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ....
For this he's being attackd by everyone from Victor Davis Hanson ("This is banal") and Peggy Noonan ("He always says these things as if he’s the enlightened one") to Bill Donohue of the Catholic League (who's upset because the president "singled out the Crusades and the Inquisition"), not to mention the former Virginia GOP candidate for lieutenant governor who thinks yoga is Satanic:

On Sean Hannity's show, radio ranter Mark Levin compared Obama unfavorably to Abraham Lincoln:
LEVIN: What’s ironic about it, Sean, is if Abraham Lincoln took the position of Barack Obama it would have been something like this: Lincoln saying “we’ve had slavery on every continent, in every country since the beginning of mankind.” The Egyptians enslaved the Jews, the Romans enslaved the Christians -- slavery is almost a human natural act, is it not? And Lincoln would say, following Obama’s argument, don’t get on your high horse, this is not an existential threat Obama said the other day of the genocide in the Middle East. And Lincoln might say, “why in the world would I send hundreds of thousands of men to their death to end slavery?”
Now, when I think of Lincoln, I think one of the best-known remarks ascribed to him. It was reportedly uttered during The Civil War and first appeared in Francis B. Carpenter's 1867 book, Six Months in the White House with Abraham Lincoln:
"No nobler reply ever fell from the lips of a ruler, than that uttered by President Lincoln in response to the clergyman who ventured to say, in his presence, that he hoped 'the Lord was on our side.'

"'I am not at all concerned about that,' replied Mr. Lincoln, 'for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side.'"
(Emphasis added.)

Did Lincoln really say this? It's not clear. But it's ingrained in our sense of Lincoln, so much so that even Sarah Palin felt motivated to quote it (in a somewhat garbled form) a few years back, in reference to the Bush-era wars.

The reply to the clergyman doesn't accuse Christians of crimes. But it does question whether America is on God's side, and is worthy of God's blessing.

Can you imagine the reaction to the remark if it had been publicly uttered in the Fox News era by a president Fox didn't like? Questioning whether God favors America? Implying that God might be on the enemy's side? How dare you, Mr. President!

This remark is now grandfathered as a Noble Patriotic Sentiment from a Great American. But if it hadn't attained that status, it could have outraged jingoists as much as Obama's remarks have.


Victor said...

Outside of his stupid and unnecessary "Crusade" comments, even George W. Bush did his best not to incite outright hatred by Americans for people of the Muslim faith.

You should start a daily post, 'Reich-Wing Outrage Du Jour.'

Oh, wait, that's what you're already doing!

Keep it up! :-)

Nefer said...

I like the term "Mass Rage Event."

Maybe "Today's Mass rage Event." Or "Today's Sillyass Mass Rage Event."

You're guaranteed at last a column a day.

Anonymous said...

Of course, this completely ignores the elephant (if I may) in the room - the simple fact, which has been convincingly demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt over the past 6 years: that _anything_ Obama says will be seized upon by the shrieking harpies of the GOP as evidence of his deep anti_Americanism and anti-Christianity. It doesn't matter what he says or even what he doesn't say. The reaction is always the same.

Ten Bears said...

Animals, bow down to gods. Human Beings, do not.

gocart mozart said...

Obama has a tendency sometimes to speak to people like adults. This pisses off conservatives to no end because conservatives are children. So now we can't mention irrefutable historical truths if they involve unpleasant facts about the U.S.? I await an article by Jonathon Chait about this nefarious political correctness run amok.

Ken_L said...

The National Prayer Breakfast is grossly inappropriate for a secular society and ought to be abolished.

Mark said...

Maybe these right-wingers can attack the guy who wrote this: "Another painful chapter of history to which the sons and daughters of the Church must return with a spirit of repentance is that of the acquiescence given, especially in certain centuries, to intolerance and even the use of violence in the service of truth." That would be Pope, now Saint John Paul II, in an apostolic letter from 1994, Tertio Millennia Adveniente.

Paradoctor said...

A "Mass Rage Event" is also known as a Five Minute's Hate. Kudos to Orwell.