As luck would have it, Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement couldn’t have come at a better time for embattled Senator George Allen (R-Va.). Having just learned of his Jewish lineage, he has an unexpected chance to wash away his impressive array of sins.
Overnight, Allen went from a rising star in the Grand Old Party, to a man who looked like he was running for Grand Wizard. First, he referred to a young Indian-American as "macaca" a few weeks ago. Now, he is accused by two acquaintances of using the N-word in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Allen strenuously denies the allegations and has trotted out character witnesses to say he is the second coming of Malcolm X. But, his defense might seem more plausible if he had spent his adolescence collecting baseball cards, instead of confederate flags and nooses. He was also nicknamed “neck” during college – as in “redneck,” which certainly isn’t going to earn him any “trust me” points from the NAACP.
I don’t expect this controversy will help Allen win reelection over Democratic Senatorial candidate James Webb. These days, even racists are expected to use code words instead of the N-word, and unlike Allen, at least Mel Gibson can claim he was drunk when he made his offensive remarks against Jews.
It seems that a decade of conservative rule has eroded basic rules of civility. What used to be called mutual respect is now derisively dismissed as “political correctness.” Social conservatives now feel unrestrained and increasingly believe they are entitled to say whatever they want, no matter how obnoxious, hurtful or offensive.
For example, Dr. Gerald Schoenewolf, a “Scientific Advisory Board” member of the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), wrote an essay on the group’s website sympathizing with slavery.
"With all due respect, there is another way, or other ways, to look at the race issue in America. It could be pointed out, for example, that Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle, as yet uncivilized or industrialized. Life there was savage, as savage as the jungle…those brought to Europe, South America, America, and other countries, were in many ways better off than they had been in Africa.”
The National Black Justice Coalition responded with a powerful letter demanding that NARTH repent.
"In the name of propriety, respect, common decency and professional integrity, the National Black Justice Coalition strongly urges NARTH to issue a public apology on the front page of its website for publishing such an outrageous and offensive article," wrote H. Alexander Robinson CEO/Executive Director in the group’s letter."
The ex-gay group Exodus International got into the ethnic profiling game this week by claiming Thai students become hookers because of “materialism.”
“College students in Bangkok become prostitutes to earn money to buy brand name clothes and accessories in order to be well accepted by friends,” an Exodus affiliated ministry, Beyond Imagination, stated in its Fall newsletter.
Exodus should understand better than most that poverty is the root of prostitution.
Executive Director Alan Chambers, for instance, turned his struggling organization into a million dollar industry by pimping it out to Focus on the Family. Exodus, a onetime Christian group, seems to spend more time engaged in politics than prayer.
In a crowded field for “bigot of the week,” Rev. Dwight McKissic of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Texas, earned first runner up. At the Values Summit in Washington, the black preacher blasted the gay rights movement as “insulting, offensive, demeaning, and racist” (Did he forget anything?) Gays, he bellowed, should not “compare their sin to my skin.”
(I must confess, I am somewhat relived that McKissic came up with a good anti-gay catch phrase. I can’t be the only one who thinks the “Adam and Steve” line was getting a tad stale.)
However, the grand prize belongs to Georgia minister Wellington Boone. At the same Values Voter Summit, he announced, “I want the gays mad at me….Back in the days when I was a kid, and we see guys that don’t stand strong on principle, we call them ‘faggots.’…[People] that don’t stand up for what’s right, we say, ‘You’re sissified out!’ ‘You’re a sissy!’ That means you don’t stand up for principles.”
The next month is not for the feint of heart, as desperate Republicans will throw red meat to the base to avoid defeat and disgrace. With nothing positive to run on, they will try to win by scaring people into running away from homosexuals. But as these zealots feel more liberated to speak their minds, the rhetoric becomes more mind-boggling and the speaker’s seem more mindless than ever before.