Revolution #62, September 24 2006
Rosie O’Donnell’s Bold (and Truthful) Comments on Network TV
On September 12, people watching ABC’s day-time TV talk show The View saw this rather remarkable exchange between Rosie O’Donnell, one of the four co-hosts on the show, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, another co-host:
Rosie O’Donnell: We were attacked not by a nation, and as a result of the attack and the killing of nearly 3,000 innocent people, we invaded two countries and killed innocent people in their countries.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck: You do understand that the belief funding those attacks, okay – that is widespread. And if you take radical Islam and you want to talk about what’s going on there you have to, you have to…
Rosie O’Donnell: Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam. [Applause] In a country like America, where you have separation of church and state, we’re a democracy.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck: We’re not bombing ourselves here in this country…
Rosie O’Donnell: …But we are bombing people in other countries, true or false?
Rosie had only been a co-host on The View for a week, and there has been a lot of controversy over her being hired for this major network show because she is openly gay. So it was very bold of her to cut through the war mongering that Bush and his regime has been whipping up around 9/11—in front of The View’s average TV audience of 1.1 million. At a time when those in the arts and entertainment and other public figures are under enormous pressure (with threats to their careers, etc) to remain silent about the horrendous crimes of Bush & Co., Rosie was exemplary with her forthright—and true—words about the danger of Christian (as well as Islamic) fundamentalism and about the U.S. wars.
The “Republican noise machine” immediately went into overdrive. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, for example, accused Rosie of “bigotry and intolerance” for her remarks on radical Christianity, encouraged a boycott of ABC until she is fired, and called on viewers to demand an apology from her.
What is the truth about the danger of “radical Christianity,” or Christian fascism? Let’s take Scarborough’s assertion that no radical Christians today are attempting to get their hands on nuclear weapons the way that radical Islamic forces are. Well, what about the born-again President who has openly stated that he believes God called him to be President and to launch the war on Iraq—and who has his finger on the “nu-cular” trigger? Isn’t this Christian fundamentalist currently heading up the only government in the world that has ever pulled that trigger? And isn’t Bush and his regime now threatening to use these nukes in a new war against Iran?
And the entire U.S. military is crawling with born-again crusaders. Take General Jerry Boykin who was charged with capturing Osama bin Laden. He stood up in a church in full military uniform and proclaimed that Bush was put in the White House by God—after which he was promoted.
These radical Christians don’t need to go hide in underground caves hatching schemes to come up with nukes in five to ten years—they’ve already got them!
Scarborough also said that under an Islamic state, Rosie would likely have been flogged for her remarks and stoned to death for being a lesbian. So, somehow she should be grateful to be in a country that’s in the early stages of such legislated brutality? Where already laws in many states restrict gay marriage, creating separate legal categories for gay people? Where Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative has made it legal for federal money to fund agencies that refuse to employ gay people or non-Christians? Where high-level office holders advocate executions for abortion providers, assail basic truths like evolution, sabotage condom distribution in a world ravaged by the AIDS pandemic, and argue openly that homosexuality is akin to bestiality? Newsflash: the rationale for all of this is undergirded by the use of Christian scriptures.
The Christian bible not only condones but celebrates: stoning disobedient children, raping women, taking slaves, and destroying whole villages of “God’s enemies.” Any student of history can tell you how media stonings, like the one Scarborough is helping spearhead, often pave the way for actual reactionary violence. And anyone who’s been paying attention can’t honestly dismiss the fact there are powerful forces gaining ground in their quest to turn this country into a Dark Ages theocracy.
The point is not to argue, as Scarborough tries to pose things, over which brand of religious fundamentalism is preferable. The point is that radical fundamentalist Christianity is embedded in the most powerful military and governmental power in the world, and it is this government and military that is destroying millions of lives and creating conditions in the Middle East where Islamic fundamentalism is spreading including in many places which once were quite secular. And it is this whole deadly (and mutually reinforcing) dynamic between McWorld/McCrusade and Jihad that we have to break out of.
In this regard, people must not only defend Rosie, but join her in rejecting the notion of placing the “safety of Americans” above the lives of those around the world and in refusing to give a pass at intolerance and bloodshed just because it is dressed up in Christian garb.
Even more, as the rulers in the U.S. (with powerful elements of Christian fascists) rattle their sabers and prepare for a new war against Iran, and as the right-wing media steps up its assault on truth-speakers, it is necessary for hundreds of thousands of people to step out visibly in the protests planned for October 5th by World Can’t Wait and to show the whole world that the people of this country are determined to bring all this to a halt.
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