Monday, June 13, 2005

From Oreo Cookies, Turn Thee Away

Thanks to Stumpy, for sending me this article in the LAWeekly, titled "The New Blacklist: Corporate America is bowing to anti-gay Christian groups' boycott demands," by Doug Ireland. Ireland reports on dozens of effective product boycotts by the Rev. Donald Wildmon's American Family Association and other Christian Right groups, aimed at the commercial sponsors (like Oreo cookies!) of TV shows that the Christians don't like ... oh, you know! "Will and Grace," "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," "Desperate Housewives," "South Park," and the list goes on.

According to Ireland, The Big Chill is on. Everyone's terrified of offending the saints.

And for precisely the same reason that everybody's terrified of Islamic fundamentalists ... because they're following the orders of God.

Ireland refers us to the so-called "Great Commission" of Matthew 28:19-20: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you...." This "injunction to convert everyone to Christianity" I know well. It's what led me at age 16 to walk down a dusty West Texas lane to our neighbor's house, where I exhorted a 58-year-old semi-alcoholic housewife, for whom I regularly did farm chores at a dollar-an-hour, to get right with Jesus. She graciously thanked me and then had me drive her to her bootlegger's house and keep the motor running. The bootlegger happened to be my great-aunt, so I was doubly embarrassed.

Ireland quotes Chip Berlet, senior analyst at the labor-funded Political Research Associates, who has spent over 25 years studying the far right and theocratic fundamentalism: "The re-election of Bush was a sort of tipping point for these people, who take it as a mandate from God -- they see that the leadership of America is within their grasp, and when you get closer to your goal, it's very energizing. It reaches a critical mass, in which the evangelicals feel they have permission to push their way into public and cultural policy in every walk and expression of life."

Ireland is quite alarmed about the prospect. He sees something coming akin to the anti-communist witch-hunts of the 1950s and '60s, and the inability of Microsoft and the NYTimes to stand up to such bullying certainly concerns me too. But I don't know. I'm also rather impressed by the resilience of my 58-year-old neighbor back in West Texas. Her cheerful stubbornness was Americanism too, you know.

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