This Week in Transcendently Atrocious Behavior
We have a special edition of Feminist Friday this week, in which we’ll be discussing just a couple of interrelated news items, centered on just one guy. They are enraging, yes. But they are so enraging that they are freeing. I’ll explain.
You know how sometimes you grit your teeth and spend valuable mental energy and personal moxie being polite and fair to someone who your gut tells you is awful because you’re trying to be a reasonable, unprejudiced adult who doesn’t Hulk out on people without good cause?
Or maybe your head is convinced right along with your gut that the awful person is, in fact, an appalling human being, but he or she puts such a benevolent face on in front of everyone that you have to stay even-keeled so you won’t seem like the one who’s out of line? Or maybe the person is sly about it in a way that makes the nastiness tough to put your finger on, like how your awesome friend’s smiley girlfriend always seems to find ways to subtly undermine her? Or how arguments always seem to start once that one satellite in your group of friends shows up, even though somehow he’s never directly involved?
The day that person finally slips up and does or says something openly cruel is usually so painful as to knock the breath out of you. But in a way, even as you try to put your friend’s heart back together, even as you gingerly test the edges of your own seared insides, there is one small comfort. Because at least you can finally stop treating that person like a valuable human being. You can simply be done and never acknowledge him or her again.
We have reached that point with Mike Huckabee.
Last Friday, within hours of the horrific shootings in Newtown, while the rest of the country was still raw from shock and grief, Mike Huckabee took to the airwaves to explain how such a terrible thing could happen.
For those of you who can’t watch the video:
First the host notes that after a tragedy like this people ask: “How could God let this happen?”
That’s something that would be cause for a little bit of introspection, don’t you think? Something like “I’m trying to understand it,” or “Things like this can make one question one’s faith,” or even a good old-fashioned “I don’t know,” or “it’s incomprehensible.”
Nope! Ol’ Mike has none of that questioning-everything-you-know-in-the-face-of-unthinkable-evil stuff! No doubt, no humility. You might think that an ordained minister like Huckabee might have some sort of an instinct to comfort people, but that’s not there either. Here, instead, is what Huckabee said:
"Well, you know, it’s an interesting thing. We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage? Because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity… life… what responsibility means… accountability. That we’re not just going to have be accountable to the police if they catch us, but one day we stand before, you know, a holy God in judgment. If we don’t believe that, then we don’t fear that.”
Let’s let go of the implication that Huckabee’s God is so callous and depraved that He is totally OK with the murder of innocents in any building where there aren’t enough posters of Him. Even though that is apparently a part of Huckabee’s theology – and a part that Huckabee seems to find fair and justified – it’s not something that he says explicitly. It’s a threat that you have to infer.
But what he does say explicitly is pretty amazing, and I can’t believe Huckabee hasn’t caught more flack for it:
“That we’re not just going to have be accountable to the police if they catch us, but one day we stand before, you know, a holy God in judgment. If we don’t believe that, then we don’t fear that.”
Mike Huckabee has moved away from simply saying that people who do not follow his particular narrow-minded brand of Christianity are wrong and implying that such people are going to Hell.
Mike Huckabee, former serious Presidential contender and man with his own talk show, said out loud on television that people who are not Christians not only aren’t good people, but that they cannot and will not stop themselves from committing mass murder.
Well, no wonder he wanted to be President. If I lived in a scary world full of evil non-Huckabees who were constantly on the edge of murder, I’d want to command an army too.
Huckabee has blown the game. He said what he thinks, and what he thinks about people who aren’t Christians (and, let’s be honest, also about Christians who are too far away from Mike Huckabee’s kind of Christianity) is that we are so incapable of self-governance that it is to be expected that we will commit murder.
Mike Huckabee is so thoroughly unable to understand what atheists or agnostics or Buddhists or Hindus or Wiccans think – and apparently is so unwilling to try – that he doesn’t even consider the possibility that a person might be good simply because the world is a better place to live in when people do that, or because a good person likes to be good regardless of religious affiliation.
Is Huckabee really so sociopathic that he’d run out and commit murder if he thought that his punisher-god had turned away for a moment?
Or is it possible that Huckabee really isn’t that obtuse and bigoted, but is only trying to consolidate his own power by spreading fear and hatred when people are at their most vulnerable? You wouldn’t do that to us, would you Huck?
On Saturday, Huckabee clarified his remarks on his own show. Usually when someone “clarifies” his or her remarks, said remarks become less awful. But not our Huck. He’s really something special.
This time we learned that tolerance for the LGBT community and “abortion pills,” by which I believe Huckabee means “ordinary birth control pills,” caused the shooting.
That is not a joke. That is what he said.
“Well, the predictable Left lit up the airwaves and blogosphere with a vile and vicious reaction and jumped to the conclusion that I said that if there was prayer in schools, the shooting wouldn’t have happened.”
That’s pretty much exactly what you said, Huck, but do go on.
“Well, I said nothing of the sort.”
“It’s far more than just taking prayer or Bible reading out of the schools. It’s the fact that people sue a city so we aren’t confronted with a manger or a Christmas carol. That lawsuits are filed to remove a cross that’s a memorial to fallen soldiers. Churches and Christian-owned businesses are told to surrender their values under the edict of government orders to provide tax-funded abortion pills. We carefully and intentionally stop saying things are sinful, and start calling them disorders, sometimes we even call them normal. And to get to where that we have to abandon bedrock moral truths, then we are asked, ‘Well, where was God?’ And I respond, that as I see it, we’ve escorted Him out of our culture, and we’ve marched Him off the public square, and then we express our surprise that a culture without Him actually expressed what it’s become.”
Oh, OK, then, that’s much better! It’s loving your fellow human beings regardless of sexual orientation that makes the mass murders of tiny kids happen!
And Huckabee seems to think it’s well within Jehovah’s right to do absolutely nothing to stop the horror if we’re going to be so terrible as to be cool with loving same-sex relationships or… Well, I’m not entirely sure what Huckabee means by “tax-funded abortion pills.” He’s a “personhood” guy, you see, so he doesn’t think the Pill should be available, because personhood folks claim that birth control pills cause abortions. (No, they don’t.) Is he really saying that birth control – You know, that thing that allows couples to plan for kids and not tumble into poverty? – is why we really shouldn’t be surprised about mass murder?
Is Mike Huckabee really saying that the Sandy Hook murders happened because of consenting sexual relationships and a lack of straight hate? Because he sure seems to be.
After the shooting, I saw a lot of people who were simply unable to process what had happened and were honest about the fact that they couldn’t. I also saw parents, politicians, mental health professionals, and even people in the movie, TV, and video gaming industries become introspective and try to figure out what they personally could have done to somehow prevent the shooting and what they might be able to do differently to prevent another one. They questioned themselves and took deep personal stock.
Not Mike Huckabee. He placed the blame squarely on people who were not enough like Mike Huckabee. He didn’t even look at this as an important test of his own faith: He just launched right into accusing people who don’t follow his religion – or those who do, but don’t happen to think if should be forced on children who don’t – of causing murder.
In a way, the well intentioned sitcoms of the ‘70s and ‘80s did our society a disservice: In trying too earnestly to teach us that bigotry is wrong, they made bigots awful, shouty people, always getting in people’s faces and using ethnic slurs. They were almost always prone to temper tantrums and trying to hurt people for the sheer mean pleasure of it.
And while that simplicity did teach much (but not enough) of America that bigotry is wrong, it rendered many bigots incapable of recognizing themselves.
I bet you anything that Mike Huckabee does not think he is a bigot. He’s a guy who smiles and speaks in moderate tones. He knows enough to not say “fag” or “dyke” in public, and he does not kick puppies. I bet Mike Huckabee thinks that he can’t possibly be a bigot because he’s nothing like those furious screaming sitcom bigots.
But let’s take a look at what Mike Huckabee is really saying in those soft, measured tones:
This shooting happened because all people don’t pray like I do, or where and when I want them to. This shooting happened because society has grown tolerant of people who aren’t straight, and because women have sex and control their own fertility.
And, by way of comparison, let’s take a look at what the people that I’m going to call The Dingleberries have to say about the Sandy Hook shooting. (You’ve heard of The Dingleberries. They’re that vicious media whore church that pickets funerals.):
You’ll notice that Mike Huckabee’s message is not different in kind from that of the vicious funeral picketers. It’s just different in tone.
The Dingleberries are vile, worthless human beings. But at least they understand that they’re a hate group.
Mike Huckabee is a bigot. We all know that for sure now, so let’s stop inviting him on television and getting quotes from him about anything other than the state of bigotry, because he has invalidated any pretense of having serious, thoughtful opinions.
Mike Huckabee is a bigot. And that means we don’t have to pay attention to him anymore.