Yes, Rick Warren, lying and lurching his way toward babbling a few meaningless words at the swearing in of the next U.S. president in three weeks, holds some disgusting views on homosexuality. But as Chris Hitchens pointed out in Slate yesterday, don’t let this obscure the fact that Warren, in accordance with what his favorite book of faery tales instructs him to do and think, is not only a creationist dupe who thinks man and dinosaurs frolicked together, but an anti-Semite in the strict sense that every Bible-believing Christian is.
(OK, granted: An adult claiming that an entire class of people are barred from going to an imaginary utopia because they refuse to acknowledge that an imaginary fellow is “the Messiah” is no more fraught with real-world implications than a child administering his playground buddy a “cootie shot”–i.e., a knuckle to the deltoid–in order to protect him from the various diseases carried and spread by little girls. But it’s the intent that counts.)
As Hitchens puts it:
[A] shame, too, that on Inauguration Day we may also have to stand still–out of respect rather than fear, it is true–and listen to a man who is either a half-witted dupe, a hopeless naif, a cynical tourist who does favors for the powerful, a religious nut bag, a cowardly liar, or perhaps some unappetizing combination of all five. I personally think that the all-five answer is the correct one, because you cannot just find yourself in Syria, smirking into the face of the local despot and being treated like a treasured guest. The thing has to be arranged, and these things take time.
Warren is a de facto supporter, it seems, of Hezbollah and Hamas. And indeed, he lies grandly and with apparent disregard for the likelihood he will be caught; as the Slate piece describes, he told an audience of Syrians that fully 80 percent of Americans were against the Bush administration’s policy in Iraq. The fact that Warren seems not to care about being caught in lies should, in and of itself, establish a clean separation him in the minds of concerned observers between Warren and legitimacy. No one should pretend that what he says on January 20–and I’m sure his jowly face with be spouting his best attempts at ecumenism and peacemaking–is earnest in the least.
Of course, this pig is likely capable of basic arithmetic and believes on this basis–or has to this point–that he can afford to alienate every Jewish and gay voter in the land, as the two populations combined probably make up no more than one-tenth of the U.S. citizenry. If so, it means he’s counting on non-Jews and heteros to simply ignore his alarmingly despicable views and not form judgments of our own.
But it should be clear to Warren by this time that resistance to such a poor representative of American ideals is not merely a product of his direct targets, and that (if you’ll allow me the luxury of wishful thinking) Sarah Palin’s months-long trail of vigorous rhetorical self-embarrassment has opened people’s eyes to the real danger of delusionals and liars professing a belief in black magic having few obstacles along the path of political ascendancy, and that the incurious, racist, nutjob faction of the U.S. is hardly limited to a handful of crackpots playing with snakes in the swamps of a Dixieland state or the Phelps-Roper clan. Perhaps, for the first time, people having just read the latest opinion polls in the morning paper or on the Web are looking around at their fellow countryfolk in line at the supermarket and wondering silently, “Are you one of them? What the hell are you thinking?”
[O]ne has not merely a right but a duty to object to having as an inaugural auxiliary a man who is a pushover for anti-Semitism, Islamic sectarianism, “rapture” theology, fascist dictatorship, 10th-rate media trade-offs, and last-minute panicky self-censorship all at the same time. Is there nobody in the Obama camp who can see that this is not just a gay issue? And is there no gay figure who can say that Warren is objectionable for reasons that have more to do with decency, democracy, and the Constitution? The televised, Bible-bashing entrepreneur is perhaps the single most unattractive and embarrassing phenomenon that modern American culture has ever produced. It would be nice if we could begin a new era in the absence of this racket and these racketeers, and if enough people can find their voices, we still may be able to do so.
So, it’s possible that people will one day thank Warren for opening their ideas to the reality of how common, and institutionalized, backward thinking is in the U.S. For now, the man is just a revolting spectacle given a platform in one of the few moves which, far from ironically, right-wingers are not criticizing Obama for making.